Review : Fitbit Force

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Fitbit is a relatively young company that creates wearable technology focused on health and fitness.  The company is behind Fitbit Flex, which could be considered as the predecessor for the current Fitbit Force.  It also has the Fitbit Zip, which is purely a wireless activity tracker, and Fitbit One that solely tracks sleep behavior and patterns, as well as the quality of your sleep.  There is also the Fitbit Aria, which is essentially a weighing scale that makes use of a Wi-Fi connection to help you record your weight. For today, let us focus on Fitbit Force.

Fitbit Force is a wireless sleep and activity tracker that you wear on your wrist.  You can then sync the data to your devices, smartphones and PCs.  You can also see real-time updates on your Fitbit Force wristband, smartphone or PC.

Fitbit Force is slightly more affordable than other activity and sleep trackers out there.  For only less than $130 you get the Force tracker wristband, the charging cable, a wireless sync dongle, a free membership to Fitbit.com and access to the iPhone and Android app.

You have two colors to choose from: black and slate.

The basics

Fitbit Force comes in two sizes:

  • small – which measures 5.5 inches to 6.9 inches long
  • large – which measures 6.3 inches to 8.2 inches long.  Both sizes have a width of 0.76 inches.

You will find it rather difficult to wear the wristband at first, but give it time and a little getting used to.   It is good to know that you really do not have to take off the band while you shower at it is water resistant.  You cannot wear it when you swim, though.

How it works

If you already have Fitbit’s earlier wristband, Fitbit Flex, then you would be very familiar with Fitbit Force as it works the same way as the Flex.  The only difference between the two is that Force has a display.

Fitbit Force has a three-axis accelerometer that detects your movements to estimate how much calorie you have burned, or the distance you have traveled.  It also makes use of an altimeter to measure how many floors you have climbed.

Fitbit Force also allows you to sync to your personal computer or Mac without having to do anything.  Using Bluetooth 4.0, it transmits all your data to your computer when you come within 20 feet of the sync dongle, which may be plugged into your computer’s USB port.

Moreover, you can sync with your mobile phone via the same technology.
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Fitbit Force will be able to keep logs of your every activity and sleep behavior within the last 30 days.  You would need to sync the data you have on the wristband with your computer or smartphone to make sure that you keep logs for a longer time and enable you to get fitness trends over six months, a year or even longer than that.

But for your convenience, you can just glance at your Fitbit Force wristband and check your progress on the tiny LED display.  Fitbit Force has a button on the side of the band that you press to cycle through the seven different screens:

  • Steps
  • Time
  • Floors Climbed
  • Alarm
  • Distance
  • Active Minutes
  • Calories Burned

So you can access everything you need to know on the small screen on your band.  You do not have to boot your computer or take out your smartphone to do that!

You can also easily switch to sleep mode by pressing and holding that same button.

Now the fun part: The companion app and Web site

You have everything you need on the Fitbit Web site where you can keep track of all the metrics that Fitbit Force records.  Same thing with the mobile app.  But what makes Fitbit’s site and apps better is that you can add information from other sources.  For instance, you can instantly record your weight if you are using the Fitbit Aria weighing scale to your profile or you can link it with your Lose It! account to help you track your calorie intake.

With the mobile apps, you could easily get push notifications that would encourage you to finish a goal.   And when you do accomplish something, the mobile app will send you a congratulatory e-mail.  These are just some of the ways the mobile app motivates you in order to help you achieve your goals and do more stuff.

One charge will last you seven to ten days.  That’s how low power Fitbit Force is.

What we would like to see improved

The Fitbit Force is impressive in that it gets the job done mostly automatically and without you needing to pay too much attention.  The wristband looks good and the one-button cycling mechanism is intuitive as well.  And, of course, the software is equally impressive.

But there are some things that we would like to see in the next Fitbit offering:

  1. It would be a good idea if the screen lit stays longer than the few seconds it is lit now.  This would allow the Fitbit to also mimic a wristwatch.
  2. We hope that the company would find ways to use Bluetooth technology and allow people to sync without needing to rely on the dongle.  Not only is the dongle very small and very easy to lose, it also takes up a USB slot on your laptop or computer.
  3. Fitbit can do a lot more with its sleep-tracking feature.  Instead of just telling you how long you have slept and how long you have been awake, it should also estimate the quality of your sleep.

More than anything, a fitness activity and sleep tracker would be useless if it does not motivate you.  The Fitbit Force is no different.  And in a way, making all the data and details of your sleep and fitness activities easily accessible is a good motivator in itself.  For example, it motivates you to walk to the office because you have only logged around 2,000 steps when you are aiming to walk 5,000 steps in a day.  It encourages you to sleep early, because you have slept less than 8 hours for the past seven days. Fitbit Force makes all of these as simple as it can be.

According to Fitbit, their users take 43% more steps with their devices, giving proof of their success in motivating their customers.

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