Fitbit Wireless Personal Trainer
Most helpful customer reviews
478 of 488 people found the following review helpful.
A great little gadget – easy and fun – does everything it promises
By Ron Cronovich
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
177 of 182 people found the following review helpful.
I’ve been using this since early spring without ANY problems
I took a look at the FitBit this spring when it was clear that my ultra-budget heart rate monitor was not cutting it at the gym. Interference galore froze the poor thing. Something that is quite painful for those of us…I hope it’s not just me….obsessed by numbers. What’s my Heart Rate? How many calories have I burned? Give me numbers and not just sweat!
I liked the precision of the BodyBugg and what it had to offer. I did not like the price. Call me cheap. No, really, call me cheap. I could have justified saving up for it if it wasn’t for the monthly fee required to use the web tools. That’s like buying a car but having to pay extra to see the dashboard. Those two items should go hand in hand. Off the soapbox.
Enter the FitBit. A calorie tracker, pedometer, sleep tracker all in one. Pretty up there on the technology level yet affordable. It’s actually a cute little thing without a cumbersome chest strap or arm band or anything else accentuating anything I don’t want people looking at to begin with. The bonus was that the web tools are FREE!!
The fit bit is 2-inches long and about ½ inch wide. It looks a bit like a money clip. It’s black with a fashionable yet gender neutral aqua blue interior.
How it works
The FitBit uses 3D motion sensors similar to those used in the Wii. It has the ability to track steps, miles walked, calories burned, and sleep patterns. The information is automatically transmitted from the FitBit device through the base station and onto the user’s website whenever the FitBit is within 15 feet of the base station. Each Fitbit has a unique number so any FitBit can use any base station for transmission. It gives the user an idea of the daily amount of calories expended and level of activity exerted during the day. With online tools it provides a historical view of this data. Food and activity logging online can assist the user in losing, maintaining or even gaining weight.
What the $99 fee includes:
The FitBit clip on device
Base Station/charger with cord that plugs into a USB port
Wrist band for sleep monitoring
An extra clip for use with thick belts.
A website address to go to in order to download the free tracking software necessary in order for the Base Station transmissions to occur. This is a necessary step to use this product. It doesn’t take long and it’s easy to do. Even I managed to do this properly without blowing up my computer.
Shipping was extra and the product was sent by USPS Priority Mail.
Charging & Battery Life:
The FitBit will stay charged for approximately 10 days. Charging is done of the base station. I usually stick it on there when I shower. The battery life can be seen from the website. It takes about 90 minutes to fully charge the battery when it’s fully worn out.
The data that the Fitbit collects is stored in the device for 10 days. The display data itself renews at midnight in the users time zone (which is set by the user online). The reset does not delete any data not transmitted. It’s just to make it more user friendly and efficient. I always hated clearing the data on my HRM so this feature is much appreciated.
The fun stuff is all online. If the user is away from the base station, for work or travel, simply press the button on the FitBit and a pretty blue display will show calories burned, steps taken and miles walked. There is also the image of a growing flower. The longer the stem, the more active the individual has been that day. That is a cutesy feature for a quick activity level check.
I love this feature. Press the button down for 2 seconds and the word “start ” appears. Then put the FitBit in the wrist holder, wrap it on the non-dominant wrist and head to bed. In the morning press the button again for 2-seconds until “stop” appears. At the next data transmission, the website will be updated with sleeping activity. Not only does the data tell you what time you went to bed, how long it took to fall asleep, the amount of time spent in bed, the actual sleep time, but it also shows exactly what times you woke up and how often. The data then gives you a sleep efficiency percentage. It’s awesome. Especially for someone like me who has had lifetime sleep issues. I thought it would be hard to remember to start and stop the sleep tracker but it’s not. The wrist wrap is a good reminder.
Graphs, data and tracking
On the website there is a space to enter height, weight, gender, goals and stride length. Stride length is easily measured using the water test. Make a puddle of water on cement. Step in it with bare feet and walk forward. Measure the tip of the right big toe to the tip of the left on the footprints. Do this for a few sets and average out the number of inches. Repeat the test with running. This helps the FitBit better count the number of steps taken and miles walked.
This was interesting for me. I walk in quick short steps so I always figured I walked so many miles during the day. Um, not so much. I do take a lot of steps, 10,000+ on most days. But the short stride length makes it harder to hit the big mileage numbers.
The website has lots of cool graphs and comparisons. These cover everything from activity levels to calorie expenditures to weight changes. Lots of fun things to look at and help reach fitness goals. There are privacy features to hid most or all of your profile to pubic and/or forum friends.
The FitBit Forums are in their infancy right now. There is a decent amount of participation. If I compared it to a party, I would say it would be like small bursts of quality conversations followed by short periods of silence. You won’t miss out on too much if you don’t check the main forums daily yet much of what does get post is pretty good stuff.
There are also groups set up on the site. This is an easy way to find other s with similar interests. It’s also helpful to be able to bounce ideas off others. Not to mention the support this offers for weight loss or whatever fitness goals are made.
There is a nice touch added to the forums and that is a suggestion forum to communicate items the developers should consider for future FitBit upgrades. It’s even nicer that replies from the founders are readily seen in this specific forum. These guys read what is suggested and they respond. There is comfort in this. This is a product that has developers who actually care about the quality and satisfaction of their customers. To me, a strong selling point.
What it can’t do:
It can’t be used for swimming or in the shower. Nor should it be washed worn in any areas where it could get wet. Don’t take this to an amusement park and wear it on a water ride. Be sensible.
It might not accurately track EVERY SINGLE thing you do. If you’re wearing the FitBit in a shirt pocket and bicycling…it probably isn’t going to pick up that activity with 100% accuracy.
It doesn’t track heart rate. At first I was bummed about this but when I’m in the middle of some butt kicking cardio, the last thing I want to do is throw off my groove to look at my FitBit. Although it would be nice if there was some type of tracking that could be transmitted to my online profile but not viewed on the device itself. For example, minimum & maximum heart rate and minutes in that zone. Things like that. I can see the graph in my head now.
Without the heart rate feature the calories burned are based on height/weight/gender and not on cardio conditioning. This could possibly lead to a few small inaccuracies. Although, those I’ve communicated with who use the FitBit in conjunction with a HRM (heart rate monitor) do get similar calorie burned readings on most activities.
It doesn’t automatically track food. This is a “Duh”. But the user has to remember to go into the site and add the daily food intake. The site is so addicting that this probably won’t be a problem. This is the easiest it’s ever been to see calories expended vs. consumed. Unless the user is WAY OFF on portion sizes, this feature is close to flawless. If the calories burned are greater than the calories consumed weight loss will occur. If they are close weight will stay stable. If consumption is more than calories burned, gain weight will occur. It’s not even a matter of subtracting the difference (unless you are obsessed like me) it’s simply a matter of seeing which number is bigger. The food tracking also makes it easier to change unhealthy eating habits.
This is an excellent product. I’d buy it again in a heartbeat. At the rate I lose things, I probably will. My ONE HOPE is that reviewing data transmission and graphs remains a free privilege for FitBit owners.
339 of 359 people found the following review helpful.
Great in Theory
By C. Kemper
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.
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