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Fitbit, the Hi-tech Fitness Gadget Reviewed

We review the Fitbit Activity Tracker, a pocket-sized fitness solution that's so much more than a simple pedometer. Use tech to try to get in shape, track your sleep, and get encouragement to help you live a more healthy lifestyle.

 

What the heck is Fitbit?

Fitbit UltraIf you're ever tried shed a few pounds or to get in shape, you'll know that you'll need all the help you can get, and two of the FrequencyCast team have been seeing great results, thanks to the little fitness gadget we're reviewing here - the Fitbit.

At first glance, you may think this is a pedometer, and our regular listeners will know that we've covered these in the past - including our previous favourite, the Fitbug. We have to say, the Fitbit is by far the best solution we've ever seen, and it's currently our favourite gadget.

By carrying this around or clipping it to your clothes, you can monitor how active you are, how many stairs you've climbed,and how well you sleep.

 

Fitbit One TrackerThe Fitbit is available for a one off fee (no subscription), from Amazon.

UPDATE: A new tracker, the Fitbit One is now available, as well as a budget Fitbit Zip.

See: Original Fitbit on Amazon ; Fitbit One on Amazon ; Fitbit Zip on Amazon

 

We'd encourage you to have a listen to our review from show 72's Fitness Products round-up, but in summary, here's what the Fitbit offers:

  • A small device that sits in your pocket, clamps on your belt or attaches to your clothing
  • The Fitbit tracks your activity - not just steps, but intensity and altitude, so it counts how many flights of stairs you climb
  • Monitors your sleep - how well you've slept and how often you wake in the night
  • Wireless sync to your computer - no manual docking needed
  • Get data on your PC, Mac, or smartphone
  • Targets, encouragements, and lots and lots of stats

 

Fitbit Audio Review

Pic of Pollyanna Woodward  Anna FowlerThe Fitbit was featured on Channel 5's Gadget Show in 2012 (some months after we'd reviewed it!), and we caught up with presenter Pollyanna Woodward to find out her views on wearable fitness trackers.

We also spoke to Gareth Jones, who is the General Manager for Fitbit in Europe, to find out more about the benefits of being tracked with a Fitbit.

We've complied a special report including our audio review of the Fitbit from Show 72, our interview with Pollyanna Woodward, and our chat with the boss of Fitbit. It's available now in our free audio special report:

Fitbit Review: Full hands-on look, plus an interview with Gareth from Fitbit (15 mins)

Play Show button Download show now button

 

Your Fitbit Statistics

As you carry your Fitbit around with you, it captures your activity constantly. You even sleep with it (in the free armband), and it records stats on your snoozes. Getting stats on your progress, graphs of how close you're getting to your target, and awards badges for activities really helps to motivate, and you can share your data with friends via a leaderboard, Facebook and Twitter.

Fitbit Site Screenshot 01

You are set a daily target, and you can decide how aggressive your fitness routine is - then work towards daily calorie, steps, stairs and activity levels, and check your progress in near real-time.

Fitbit Site Screenshot 02

The sleep monitoring is fascinating. You slip the Fitbit in the supplied armband, and turn on the timer. When you wake, turn off the timer, and see what kind of night you've had. Agreed, it's not too helpful as far as your fitness regime is concerned, but if you're not getting a decent night;s sleep - health suffers, and it's interesting to see how much to toss, turn and sleepwalk in the night!

Fitbit Sleep

Fitbit iPhone App

Being able to enter your activities and food on the move is vital, and there's a great free app for iPhone and Android smartphones that makes data entry a doddle.

Fitbit iPhone App Summary Fitbit iPhone App Food input

If you're planning to use a smartphone with the Fitbit, we'd strongly recommend you get the free MyFitnessPal app, as the two apps exchange data, and the food entry on the MyFitnessPal app is much better than on the Fitbit app. MyFitnessPal includes a decent UK database of food, and also gets the nutritional information from a product by using a barcode scanner.

 

The Fitbit Tracker

The Fitbit itself is nifty. Not more than an inch or so long, it's like a peg, so it can hook over clothes or a belt. It transmits its data wirelessly to a dongle connected to your computer, and needs to be charged once or twice a week. The Fitbit has one button, which lets you see steps, activity level, calories burnt and how many flights of stairs you've climbed. It's a doddle to use, and as long as you waft past your computer now and again, you can pretty much forget you're using it.

Fitbit Ultra

Fitbit Summary

We're struggling to find fault with the Fitbit, especially when it's used in conjunction with services like MyFitnessPal, and the wireless Withings scales we reviewed in Show 72. Only possible nice-to-have is mobile sync, as at the moment, the Fitbit syncs using a wireless dongle plugged into your computer, as opposed to direct to your smartphone. This means that if you're out of range of your computer, you can only check progress on the Fitbit screen, not on your device.

Seriously - If you need the motivation to lose weight, and want a hassle-free way of getting useful data on your progress - there's no better solution. Just get one!

 

The FitbitBuy Fitbit

  • You can buy the Fitbit Fitness Tracker from Amazon

Fitbit at Gadget Show Live 2012
The Fitbit stand at Gadget Show Live Xmas 2012

 

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