Fitbit Announces Three New Activity Trackers

Fitbit Announces Three New Activity TrackersI wrote a week or two ago about the new activity tracker that Fitbit has in the pipeline, a smart watch-type device called the Surge. It has a larger screen compared to Fitbit’s previous offerings, providing users with a range of important data they once needed a smart phone to view. The Surge seems designed for people who are active rather than people who are trying to become more active. It has a built-in GPS and keeps track of your running or cycling, and it can keep tabs on your heart rate as well to ensure you’re getting it up where it should be. This new wearable is priced at $250 and will be released sometime next year.

The two other new wearables that Fitbit is releasing I didn’t write about last week, but I will cover in this blog post. They are more in line with what the company has previously released and are updated versions of those devices.

The first of these new activity trackers I’ll look at is the Charge, which is essentially an upgraded version of the Fitbit Force. It’s about the same size with a similar screen and you can expect it to last about seven days, which is the same as the Force. However, the Charge has an updated textured band which will hopefully not include any nickel, which gave a lot of people rashes last year. The Charge also has an improved sleep function which no longer requires you to tell it when you’re sleeping. It’s now smart enough to know when you are sleeping and keep track of it for you automatically. The Charge is available now for $130.

The final of the third activity trackers to be released by Fitbit is the Charge HR, and this will also be coming next year much like the Surge. The Charge HR is basically the same as the Charge yet it features an integrated heart rate monitor. It may not be as accurate as some of the straps that wrap around your chest like serious athletes wear, but it’s certainly cheaper and more convenient. The one caveat is that the heart rate monitoring ability will drop the battery life of the Charge HR from seven days to five compared to the basic Charge. As I mentioned, the Charge HR will be released next year and it will be priced at $150.

Details on Fitbit’s New Wearable Activity Tracker, the Fitbit Surge

Details on Fitbit's New Wearable Activity Tracker, the Fitbit SurgeDetails about the new Fitbit Surge activity tracker were recently leaked by the people over at The Verge. It looks like the latest version of the Fitbit will be hopping aboard the smart watch craze.

The nice thing about previous iterations of Fitbit wearables is that they were cheap. They were priced at less than $100 and because they didn’t have screens, they worked with a smartphone to help keep the price down. Everyone has a phone with them nowadays, so it wasn’t really necessary for Fitbit fitness trackers to have screens. You could just pull out your phone to check your stats throughout the day. Plus the Fitbit Flex and Force wearables were minimal enough that they could be passed off as an unassuming rubber bracelet, not unlike one of those Live Strong ones that everyone was wearing a decade ago.

The Fitbit Surge seems to be aimed at people who exercise more frequently than those who would likely buy the Fitbit Flex or Force. Along with a screen, the Surge has a built-in GPS for keeping tabs on your route while running or cycling and a heart rate monitor to see if you’re in the right range. Runners and cyclists will especially find this information useful, but the device will still monitor stairs climbed and calories burned when you’re not exercising like previous versions of Fitbit wearables. But all these new features will cost you. While previous versions were priced at $100 or less, the new Fitbit Surge will run you $250.

The silver lining to this is that there’s no need to carry around a smartphone with you. If you’re going for a run or a hike, you might not want to lug your phone with you to keep tabs on your progress. But let’s face it, a lot of people use their phones for listening to music, and the majority of people keep a phone with them at all times in case they need to be contacted. I can’t imagine that many people will be ditching their phones while they exercise in favor of keeping the Fitbit Surge with them.

The other issue I see with the Fitbit is that there are so many new smart watches becoming available. The iWatch is in the pipeline and there are already multiple smart watches available for the Android platform. If these watches become as popular as Apple, LG, Sony, and Samsung hope they will, people likely won’t wear a Fitbit Surge on one wrist and a smart watch on the other. I feel that if someone wants a smart watch, they’ll choose that over an activity tracker, perhaps opting for a Fitbit Flex or Force rather than the bloated Fitbit Surge. Sure, Fitbit promises that the Surge will be able to receive notifications from your phone about calls and texts, and it will be able to control your music, but it won’t completely eliminate the need for a smart watch for the people who want a smart watch.

It will be interesting to see if reviews cover some of these “issues” that I can see with the device, but we’ll have to wait a few weeks and see once the device becomes available. The Fitbit Surge should be out by the end of November, priced at around $250 as I mentioned, and available in a trio of colors: black, gray, and orange.

Do I Need to Wear My Fitbit on My Wrist?

Do I Need to Wear My Fitbit on My Wrist?There are many styles of Fitbit activity trackers. Some simply clip onto your clothes, while the two most advanced and latest iterations of the Fitbit come with rubber wristbands. In these wristbands you slide in the tiny activity tracker so you have easy access to view your progress throughout the day.

But the newest version of the Fitbit, the Fitbit Force, has been recalled. Apparently a lot of people were getting skin irritations and rashes from the material used to construct the wristband. This lead me to wonder, do I need to wear my Fitbit on my wrist inside the included wristband?

Now, I don’t have the newest version of the Fitbit. I actually have the model that’s one generation older, the Fitbit Flex. Although this particular model is missing some features of the newer Fitbit Force–most notably the ability to count stairs climbed and an OLED screen–the overall shape and size of the unit is virtually identical.

While I do love my Fitbit, I don’t necessarily love wearing it on my wrist. I haven’t worn a watch in years, and don’t really like having anything on my wrist. The somewhat bulky wristband is always sliding down my wrist and the way the wristband attaches isn’t as secure as wearing a watch. Also, I use my smartphone to check my progress throughout the day rather than tapping on the LED display to view my progress.

For these reasons I wondered if I had to wear the wristband at all, or if I could slide the device out of the wristband and simply keep it in my pocket. The majority of the time I wear jeans, so the small coin pocket on my jeans seemed like the perfect place to keep my Fitbit secure while I went about my day.

So, to answer my original question, no, you don’t have to wear your Fitbit Flex or Fitbit Force in the wristband. In fact, the official Fitbit website even says that you don’t have to wear it in the wristband. Simply take it out of the wristband, pop it into a pocket in your pants, shirt, dress, or shorts, and go about your day. So long as it’s secure and on your body at all times, it will continue to accurately count and measure your activity throughout the day.

Fitbit Flex Review

Fitbit Flex ReviewAt the beginning of the month I posted my first impressions of the Fitbit Flex, which I had picked up at the end of 2013 when Amazon had it on sale, which is why I chose the older Flex model over the newest iteration of the Fitbit, the Fitbit Force. Now, in stream of consciousness form, here’s my review of the Fitbit Flex.

Continue reading Fitbit Flex Review

Fitbit Flex First Impressions

Fitbit Flex First ImpressionsI wrote late last year how I had a Fitbit Force on my Christmas list, but unfortunately Santa didn’t leave one under my tree. Thankfully Amazon was running a sale on the previous version of the Fitbit Force. The version I picked up is the Fitbit Flex and its features are virtually identical to the Fitbit Force, save for the OLED screen found on the Force and the ability to count stairs climbed which is also lacking on the Fitbit Flex. Still, I had never used a fitness tracker before, so I thought I’d take advantage of the sale.

The first thing I did when I opened up the Fitbit Flex was remove the small device from its wristband and connected it to my computer to charge with the included USB cable. The Fitbit can run for around five days total when fully charged. Then, I went to the Fitbit website to download the software and began configuring the device. It didn’t take too long for the device to get to 60% charged, as the software recommends. After filling out a profile and answering some questions, I was ready to use the Flex for the first time. So far, so good!

The Flex slid easily back into the wristband (two sizes of wristbands are included in the box) so I could track my activity. I then installed the Fitbit app on my Android phone and was able to sync the Fitbit with my phone using Bluetooth 4.0. With Bluetooth turned on, I can check my phone throughout the day to see how many steps I’ve taken, how far I’ve walked, and how many calories I’ve burned. You can also check your progress by tapping the wristband twice to activate a series of LEDs which tell you how far along you are with your progress. Five dots means 100 percent–you’ve completed your goals! Each dot is 20 percent and each blinking dot is about a 10 percent.

One of the more interesting features of the Fitbit Flex is the ability to log your sleep. Using the phone, you turn on the sleep mode feature of the Fitbit. For the duration of your sleep, it will monitor when you’re awake, when you’re asleep, and the times you were sleeping restlessly. When you wake up, you just grab your phone, push the button that says you’re awake, and then it’s back to regular monitoring. You can then view your sleep data in the app, and it’s pretty interesting to see this information visualized on a graph.

Along with your sleep, you can view your steps, distance, calories burned, and very active minutes. There is also the ability to log how much water you drink and how many calories you’ve eaten, though this info needs to be added by you manually. Unfortunately these fitness trackers aren’t sophisticated enough to know exactly what you’re eating. It can also keep track of your weight manually, but Fitbit does have a wifi scale that can connect with your profile and keep track of your weight for you. That’s an extra $120 or so on top of the cost of the Fitbit.

So far, I’m pretty happy with the Fitbit Flex. I’ve only used it for a day or two thus far, but I like seeing how much I’m walking and how well I’m actually sleeping. I can see how motivating it can be to see from day to day when you aren’t doing much. I haven’t yet explored the food or water trackers yet, but I plan to in the future and will write another blog post when I do.