I asked my parents to get me a Fitbit for Christmas. I had been thinking about getting one of these types of devices for several months and decided Christmas was a great time to actually get one. I did my research, or so I thought, and decided on the Fitbit Force over the Jawbone Up Band, and the Nike Fuel Band. I was really only thinking about getting a band rather than something like the Fitbit One that you either clip on or put in your pocket so I didn’t do any research on that. Most of the comparisons I saw were actually comparing the Fitbit Flex to the other two bands. I only really read one online review of the Force itself, and it was fairly positive so I wrongly assumed that the other good reviews of the Flex would carry over to the Force, which seemed the same except for the upgrade to include a digital display.
After getting the Force set up it was immediately apparent to me that it was not logging my activity correctly. Most days I walk either at the gym or outside on routes that I know the mileage for and the Force was logging only about 60-70% of the mileage I was walking (a little bit better if I ran). Because I hadn’t entered my stride length in the settings at first I thought perhaps that might be the problem. I figured out my stride length and hoped that the problem would be resolved, but it wasn’t. There was no appreciable change in the mileage the Force was recording for me, which I then gathered was a result of it inaccurately counting the number of steps that I take. I did a number of tests in which I counted the number of steps I was taking and compared it to the number the Force was recording. Again at best it was recording about 75% of the steps I was taking.
The sleep function seemed to work pretty well, but I realized after a few days that I wasn’t really learning anything from that. My sleep patterns are pretty consistent at least at home, so there isn’t really any reason I need to monitor this all the time. It is kind of interesting to see it all laid out on the screen and see when I woke up, which I usually have recollection of anyway if it involved enough movement to register on the Force.
Apparently I should have done my research better because once I started looking into it more I saw that the Amazon reviews and comments in the forums on the Fitbit site were not very flattering for the Force. A lot of people actually had the opposite issue in that theirs were recording far more steps than they were taking due to arm movements. I did see a few other people complaining of my problem though.
I have a couple friends plus someone I follow on Twitter who all provided me feedback on their Ones. They all seemed to think that they were fairly accurate, and the reviews for the One online were much more favorable. Though I had initially wanted a band I decided I would give the One a try for myself and return either it or the Force if I liked the One better. (Though the Flex might work better than the Force, I wanted something with an integrated display so I can check on my steps throughout the day without having to get on a computer or my phone thus going for the non-band One instead.)
Testing for both mileage and step count on the One confirmed that it was much more accurate in keeping track of my steps and mileage. I haven’t tried out the sleep band with it yet because I actually haven’t added it to my dashboard yet given that I was just testing it. Some people in the reviews indicated that the One was registering extra steps when they were driving and hitting bumps. I specifically monitored to see if that happened, and it didn’t. The One read the same number of steps when I got out of the car as when I got in, and I live in Baltimore where the streets are crap so I think I’m good on this one.
I really wanted the Force to work for me, but it just didn’t. I am going to be keeping the One instead because it is far more accurate for me. I don’t know if my Force is just defective, the product itself doesn’t work as advertised, or if the way I move is just not compatible with the way it operates, but no matter what the reason I don’t want to keep a product that doesn’t really work like it should.
I think I do prefer the form factor of the Force over the One, but it’s a moot point given its inaccuracy. It’s much easier to just wear the Force all the time as opposed to remembering to move the One around from various articles of clothing. I will not be at all surprised if it winds up going through the wash or I lose it somehow. Though hopefully neither of those things will happen. I also doubt I will wind up using the sleep band with it. In order to monitor sleep with the One you have to take it out of the clip you normally wear it on and put in an arm band. That seems like a lot of work to do every day just to find out what I already know about my sleep patterns.
That being said I did start wearing the Force during the winter when it’s cold outside and I’m wearing long sleeved shirts. The Force isn’t exactly the most stylish or attractive thing to be wearing on your wrist, so I may be happier being able to clip the One to my clothes or throw it in my pocket as opposed to wearing the Force on my wrist once I start wearing short sleeved shirts. Also, the plastic of the Force might also become more uncomfortable on my wrist once we hit summer and it’s routinely 95 degrees with 100 percent humidity here in Baltimore. I can imagine it feeling especially gross when I have to wear sunscreen. I do also find accessing the display on the One slightly more difficult than just easily pressing a button on my wrist and glancing at it, but that’s a minor complaint.
Despite the issues I’ve had with the Force, I am happy to have the Fitbit. It’s definitely been making me move more. I’m more conscious about moving while I’m at work. So far it has been especially effective on weekends when I normally don’t make a trip to the gym. I’m determined to get my steps in now, so in the few days I’ve had it that I haven’t gone to the gym I’ve moved a lot more than I normally would have. This may or may not have involved me walking back and forth in front of TV while watching basketball and Veronica Mars.
I will be returning the Force this week and officially setting up the One so it starts providing a more accurate account of my activity to my Fitbit Dashboard. I might have to up my step goal per day as I was managing to meet 10,000 steps every day even with the Force only registering a fraction of the steps I was actually taking.