Fitbit Force is a well received update from the previous model, the Flex. But is it the wearable device I needed? After almost three months of use I am ready to express my thoughts and they are not all full of praise. It's a great device, but it has its share of compromises making you reconsider its full-time place on your wrist.
Working too much made me realize I am way behind any sort of physical/fitness activities. So I made a plan: eat healthier, exercise more and get the recommended hours of sleep. As far as it goes I am currently failing the "exercise" part. Therefore Fitbit came right on time to complete the ideal fitness trifecta: Gym + Fitbit + Fitstar, althouth It has been a while since I finished a whole program on Fitstar (shame on me, I know). But back to Fitbit Force.
Fitbit Force is a wristband dedicated to track your daily activity. This includes stats like:
- daily number of steps
- distance walked
- calories burned
- floors climbed
- your active minutes
- sleep tracker
The Fitbit also has a food plan (with an impressive meals database, but not that efficient), a tracker for how much water you consume and many other stats and graphs.
You can choose between two colors: black and blue (I went with black). It comes also in two sizes (large and small), but unlike the Flex you cannot switch between sizes (the product is built within the strap, so choose wisely when you order).
The display is as basic as it can be. It makes sense after all - it shows only the data you need and the low quality makes up for the battery.
On the left side of the display lies the button where you switch between your daily stats. Sometimes it can be a bit difficult to reach, but again I think the display stays asleep to make the battery last longer. Kudos for that.
The Force is not that water resistant as the Flex. Ok, you can splash it with water if you wash your hands, but I don't recommend you go swimming with it.
Wearing the Fitbit can be very fun. You can add friends to your Leaderboard and race them (based on the number of steps). You can "taunt" (Fitbit's version of poke) or cheer them. To stay on track, I switched my 10.000 daily steps goal to 5.000. This way I can gain more steps faster (and it worked).
Regarding the battery I must say I am impressed. A full recharge kept the device active for two weeks and I never got to see it shut down.
First things first: because of Fitbit I don't take the elevator anymore - I prefer to walk up and down the stairs. Also I prefer to go for longer walks just to reach my goal - yes, I am the competitive type. Sometimes I go around the block a few times just to hit that number.
I have no shame admiting that Fitbit helped me become more active. It's just a matter of choice - some use Endomondo, others Strava. For now I am sticking with Fitbit until the next best thing appears.
The bad and the ugly
As much as I enjoy the product I consider it incomplete. For starters, I don't use the Food plan feature - it relies heavily on a time consuming configuration: search for meals, add your meals, but wait - are those meals from the database the exact ones you ate? Also it makes you stick with the online web app and honestly, I prefer a more independent actual wearable experience.
The sleep tracker is a great addition to the device. It gives you intel on how many hours of deep or reckless sleep you had during the night. The thing is you have to set it up each night and sometimes you forget to do so - you fall asleep or you take the device off your wrist. To avoid this I set an alarm dedicated to remind me to turn on "sleep" mode.
Regarding the alarms, it's a bit shame you have to depend on the app in order to set them. I managed to configure them from the iOS app (despite not finding the option on the web app). Setting the alarms through the device would have been nice.
Honestly, I find the online web app pretty useless. I used it only once when I had to configure the device for the first time. Since then all syncing and configuration I've done it was with the help of the mobile apps (both Android and iOS).
And of course let's not forget about the rash. I thought I would never get one, but after 3 months of use I got a little wound on the left edge of my wrist. Since then, I started taking it off more often. I know Fitbit can make a refund, but I got mine with Marius Ursache's help while he traveled in the United States. Giving it back will be more of a burden than actually buying it in the first place.
Fitbit is a solid piece of hardware but its features inconsistencies and health warnings made this competitor on the wearables leaderboard go down a few positions. If you are looking to buy one, I recommend you wait for the next version or go with the Flex. I know I'm thinking about it. Also I wonder what Apple is cooking up.