481 of 491 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I love my fitbit, but don't buy one! As of October 2011, this model is being replaced by a new model, the Fitbit Ultra, for the same price as the original one.
The Fitbit ultra adds a few features, like an altimeter. But it includes all of the features of the original model, so everything I wrote in my review applies to the new ultra model.
I got my fitbit in early 2010 and have been using it on and off (mostly on) since then. I am very happy with it and highly recommend it. It's an easy and fun way to track your activity levels and estimate calories burned, and it should appeal to fellow gadget lovers.
The device weighs under one-half ounce and clips securely to clothing. I'm paranoid about losing stuff (justifiably so), so I keep mine in a little USB drive holder with a clip.
It has an accelerometer chip, like most smart phones, iphones and other gadgets, which can measure its movement in three dimensions.
At any time during the day, you can push the one little button on the fitbit to display an estimate of calories burned, steps taken, miles walked, and a graphic of a flower that grows more petals as you're more active.
When you're near your computer, plug the included fitbit receiver into a USB port, and the receiver will wirelessly collect data from your fitbit tracker, then send the data to the fitbit website. You use this website for most of your tracking and analysis. (The only software you load on your computer is a driver/client for the receiver that plugs into your USB port.)
I find fitbit very accurate for estimating my walking (number of steps and total distance), calories burned, and activity and intensity levels. While these are just estimates, they're pretty good estimates, and they take into account my age, height, and weight. As the data accumulates over time, you can identify trends and measure progress in your fitness regime.
Some people complain that the fitbit system makes you use its website rather than providing software for your computer. I actually prefer it this way. For one, the website is extremely well designed and easy to use. Second, you don't have to worry about using up your hard drive space (an issue if you use a netbook, ipad, macbook air, or older laptop), and you don't have to worry about downloading updates when the developers issue bug fixes or add new features - these just show up at the website without requiring any effort from the user. Third, this way keeps the cost down. Fourth, you can access the fitbit website from any computer with an internet connection.
The website shows graphs of your activity levels and calories burned throughout the day. At this website, you can also enter specific activities you do (like bicycling, working out at the gym, etc). You have to enter these manually, but it is very easy to do so and it's very useful to have a record over time of the specific activities you do.
The website also lets you track your eating. I didn't start using this feature until just recently - I thought it would be too much of a bother. However, I see now that the website makes it very easy. For instance, as you start typing a food (whether from the grocery store or a chain restaurant), it'll suggest a bunch of near-matches from its (extensive) database. You can click on one of these near matches, and it'll fill in all the nutritional info. I force myself to be very honest and complete, even when I break down and gorge on unhealthy comfort food. Keeping a record makes me aware of what and how much I eat, and keeps me honest. And I'm less likely to order a desert after dinner if my log shows that I've already eaten a few deserts this week.
You can also wear the fitbit tracker when you sleep (you slip it in a cloth wristband that comes in the fitbit package). In the morning, sync the data from the device to the fitbit website, and it will keep a record of when you went to bed, how long it took to fall asleep, how often you woke up during the night, and what time you woke up. It tells you your "sleep efficiency," which I think is the time spent actually sleeping as a percentage of time spent in bed. I do not find the sleep data as accurate as the other data fitbit measures (like walking and activity level while awake). For example, it'll say you took 8 minutes to fall asleep when you know that you really took at least 20 minutes: if you lay still enough, fitbit thinks you're asleep. Yet, I find the sleep data interesting and useful enough to keep wearing my fitbit to bed every night: with virtually no effort on my part - fitbit keeps a record over the long term of how much sleep I'm getting and the quality of that sleep, even if the measurements are somewhat noisy. This allows me to identify trends, and if I get sick or feel tired during the day, I can get a sense of whether it might be due to not getting enough quality sleep.
The fitbit is not perfect and cannot do everything. It cannot tell when you're bicycling, or how hard you're working when you're bicycling. While a little sweat or rain shouldn't hurt it, it's not waterproof and shouldn't be worn when swimming.
But fitbit doesn't promise to do everything. It promises to do SOME things (like estimate how much you walk, how many calories you burn, record your activity level at each time of day and let you identify trends). And it does what it promises very very well, in my experience. The device and the fitbit website are well-designed and easy and fun to use, and fitbit completely lives up to my expectations.
At this time (October 2011), fitbit has tons of very positive user reviews. In its early days, there were a fair number of negative reviews, though, but it seemed to me that most people who were disappointed in the device had unrealistic or misinformed expectations when they bought it. My suggestion to you before you order is: visit the fitbit website, read about what it can do, read the FAQ, and maybe google "fitbit review" and look for some reputable reviews (the WSJ has a good one). Then you will get a realistic sense of what the device can and cannot do, so you can make an informed decision. If you like what you see on the website, I'm pretty confident you will be satisfied like me.
I love my fitbit. If I lost it, I'd replace it immediately. In fact, now that there's a newer version for the same price as the original one, the odds of me losing it seem to have increased a bit. ;-D
356 of 376 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I am a little over a year into my love-hate relationship with fitbit and to be honest, despite be religious in using it and seeing definite benefits, I really can't recommend it to anyone.
In total, I have had six (yes 6.0) fitbits. Here is our tale:
I ordered my fitbit from the company web site in December of 2009 and despite a promised delivery date of early January, I received it in late February. I should have taken this was a sign of trouble, but I am apparently a total sucker. Less than a week into owning it, my fitbit began dying during exercise which pretty much defeated the purpose. I contacted customer support and attempted to get help on their forums, both of which were deplorable.
Aside: Fitbit subscribe to a "we reply to every inquiry in 24 hours or less" customer support policy. This sounds great except that it means that they send you an automated message once a day without any actual resolution to the problem at hand. Reply to their email (even if it is mere seconds after you receive it) and you can count on waiting another 24 hours for a response.
After a week of exchanging increasingly frustrating emails, they agreed to send me a replacement.
This one shipped remarkably quickly. Unfortunately, it died in similar fashion, never lasting more than 30 minutes at a time from the moment I received it. By early March, after protracted negotiations with my friends in Fitbit customer service, my third fitbit was due to be sent to me.
The third one took well into April to be shipped. By April 14, it died in the same fashion as its predecessors. I again had to do the song and dance with customer service: repeating the problem over and over again only to receive canned email responses that suggest I try the same "solutions" that I have tried in previous iterations all the while I supplicate myself in hopes that they will deliver a working version of the product that I paid for. At the end of the day, that winds up being a bit humiliating and maddening. A little over a week later fitbit number four was on its way. For those of you keeping score, I am now a good five months into my fitbit experience and have gotten *maybe* two weeks of use out of the collective lot.
I will always look back fondly on good old number four. It served me nobly for three months before kicking the bucket and even survived some protracted athletic endeavors, a feat never achieved by any before. Sadly, by the end of July, it too stopped working.
At this point, I am a bit surprised that Fitbit continue to humor me, but they went ahead and sent me number five after number four bit the dust. The demise of number five was entirely my fault. I decided to take a dip in the ocean while on vacation in Mexico and completely forgot that I had it on. Surprisingly, it kept kicking for a good two weeks after the bath, but finally couldn't hold a charge for very long. At this point, it was a matter of principle, so I actually ordered a replacement at my expense (I figured the Fitbit had spent at least the cost of a unit in just shipping me replacements, so I couldn't let this drama end with a mistake on my part).
On a lark, I asked my good buddies in Fitbit customer service if there was any value in sending my soaked Fitbit back to them since it's sitting in the house was a constant reminder of our failed relationship. Astoundingly, despite my full disclosure of having brought this on myself, they offered to send me a replacement. I accepted their offer which means that I now am on number 6 with number 7 (the replacement I purchased) waiting in the wings.
Aside: By now, the customer service seems to have improved quite a bit ( and I say that not because they keep sending me free replacements) my last go round with them resolved my issue in a matter of hours; a significant improvement over the days and weeks it took previously.
My sixth fitbit arrived around Christmas 2010 and it has held up thus far (it is now early February 2011).
Despite my many issues, I actually do like the product...when it works. I am a bit of a data junky and it fills a gap that few other products can and requires minimal effort on behalf of the user. Aside from the problems with it not working altogether, I have never had a problem syncing to the web site and the web site is competitive with comparable sites targeting the fitness market (especially now that they have an improved mobile version). I can't say that I do or would use the food tracking portion on a regular basis, but it is passable. The community aspects are nothing more than a forum.
Things are not all rosy even now. We all have our faults and my fitbit does occasionally fail to track my sleep. I can't really explain why, but it is easy enough to fix on the site after the fact. I have also begun to suspect that it may not accurately count strides (which is its raison d'etre, and thus very disconcerting). I used it in conjunction with an elliptical machine which also tracked strides. I have to assume that the elliptical is accurate in stride count based on its design, but when I was done with my workout the count on the elliptical was 2,000 more than the fitbit. That represents a more than 20% margin of error, which is pretty much unacceptable.
Sorry for the long and rambling tale. Perhaps if you had the patience to wade through to this point, you have the patience to deal with this product and the company that makes it. The bottom line is that when you track your activity and set goals you think twice when, for instance, choosing between the stairs and the elevator. Fitbit has definitely helped me make those small changes and to focus on being as active as possible, perhaps that's why I keep coming back.