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Monday, November 4, 2013

May The Force Be With You: Fitbit Force First Impressions

UPDATE: There is a recall for FitBit Force due to skin irritation/allergies. Please see here for the return kit. You will receive a $140 check after they get the unit back.


Looking for pedometers is kind of difficult. Sure, you can get the cheapo ones or heck, use your old Pokéwalker from Heart Gold or Soul Silver from but is counting your steps the only thing you want it to do? What about a sleep tracker? Elevation keeper-upper? A gentle alarm to nudge you and coo sweet nothings in your ear and whisper, "Good morning, Sempai.."...okay, well, Fitbits don't do that last one but most do have a vibrating alarm built in.

My Fitbit Experiences:

I first looked for a pedometer back in April 2012 during one of my "hogods, I need to start getting fit for DragonCon" stints. I purchased the Ultra from Best Buy which had elevation, sleep tracker, and a host of other nifty things. I ran with it around work to gauge my physical activity. It worked well until it accidentally got washed and even then was still maintaining my stepage (sleep tracker was out of the question since nothing else worked) until one day in the theatre projection booth I lost it somewhere in those dimly-lit haunted hallways...or maybe it was the Coke-stained, maroon jungle foliage carpeted hallways. After that loss of $100 (which lasted me about a year before it went buh-bye), I took a break and waited for something better to come along -- specifically something that would sync with Android phones.

Conclusion -- Ultra:

Pros: Good starter pedometer with bonus features, easy to clip onto bra, informative display of progress
Cons: Easy to lose, sleep tracker was useless if the tracker wouldn't stay on the wrist holder.

I had noticed the announcement of Fitbit's Flex near the beginning of the year which was a bracelet design and decided I should get that one since my previous problem was forgetting my Ultra and putting it through some rough seas and tumble dry. I purchased the Fitbit Flex after I came back from my Taiwan/Hong Kong trip. It was simple. It was convenient. It did what I wanted. Regrettably, shortly after the band began to rip:

What happened there was due to slipping the actual device in and out of the rubber-like band, the spot where the plastic display connects to the rest of the band began to pull apart. Since you must take the device out of the band to charge it (which the charge lasted for me about 7 days if I didn't shake or tap it enough for it to come out of idle), this action was repeated every week.

Even with the tearing, I continued with it for another three months until it was just held together by the last seam at the top. At that point I was glad there was a redundant secondary but different sized band included in the packaging. It still fit me if I adjusted the larger band to the smallest notch.

One of my biggest complaints with the Flex is the fact that you have to tap it to do things. Tap once for a dot display of your step goal progress (if you want exact numbers you'll have to log on the app or website), tap twice to start the sleep tracker. Sounds easy, correct? Naw, bro...naw. In reality, what happens is this: driving in the car or exercising sometimes randomly counts as one or two taps which then I have to go to the website to say, "No, indeed I have not slept for 18 hours, thankyouvurrymuch." Or this: I lie down for some well-deserved ZZZs and tap the device twice -- it shows my step progress. Tap-tap? Same. Tap.....Tap? Did you wanna check your progress 'cause Lady, it hasn't changed. TAP TAP! Newp. TAP TAP TAP TAPTAPTAPTAP... then my rudely-awoken fiancé rolls over and asks if I'm...taking care of myself or something. I'm just...


Conclusion -- Flex:

Pros: worn on the wrist to avoid washing, water-resistant, swappable band colors
Cons: +$30 for different band colors, band material tears with normal use, display is super minimal but does not extend battery life, no buttons so there is a lot of frustrated fa-er-tapping going on

Then the Fitbit Force appears! It uses we-learned-from-the-Flex move! Super effective!

Yes, I already removed it from the box by this point.

So I received it today from ye olde mailman. Upon opening the box, the packaging looks like every other Fitbit: a column of clear plastic with a box that contains the peripherals (charging cable and wireless dongle).

First Impressions of the Force

The Force is strong with this one (heh). It is heavier. Not by much, but it doesn't feel so...cheap. Which makes sense I suppose since it was $30 more than all the other Fitbits excluding the very very basic one (Zip). It is wider than the Flex by about a third and you choose a size upfront rather than have both sizes included when you order so be sure you know which one you want.


What I like about it that aside from having all the features of the Flex, it also counts elevation again (yay!), has an informative display again (double yay!), as well as being a solid piece rather than having to pull the actual device out of the band like the Flex. I am mildly concerned with the exposed connections on the underside of the Force. It is set in a little recessed area that you plug the charging cord in and since it is supposed to be water-resistant and I tend to wear anything on my wrists loosely...hrm. I suppose we shall see how that goes.


All in all, I am excited to try it out and *cough* see if the Force will be with me, always.


Okay, okay I'm done with the Star Wars.

Wanna friend me on Fitbit.com and compete for stepage?

FTC » This is NOT a sponsored review.