Review: The Fitbit Force Activity & Sleep Tracking Wristband from Verizon Wireless
Fitbit has been making activity trackers since 2007, long before the wearable fitness technology craze started really heating up and their latest offering, the Fitbit Force, appears to be their best device yet. But now, there are several companies making devices that will let you know just how active (or lazy) you are and it is starting to look like 2014 will be the year of wearable gadgets.
With companies like Nike, Motorola, Garmin, Sony, Jawbone, LG, Samsung, and even the gaming peripheral company, Razer all currently selling or planning to release similar wristbands, is the Fitbit Force still a good option? We’ll attempt to answer that question in our full review.
Fitbit Force Unboxing
Along with the tracker itself, the Fitbit Force’s retail packaging includes a USB charge cable, a USB dongle for PC-based syncing, and a single sheet of paper that directs users to Fitbit’s Website to setup their new device.
Nothing too exciting here, just the normal items you’d expect to find included with a Fitbit tracker. The charge cable is about six inches long and the USB sync dongle does what it is supposed to do. I have one Fitbit dongle that is always left in a USB port on my desktop PC, that allows my tracker to sync its collected data with my account automatically throughout the day without me even needing to think about it.
Fitbit also sells both the charge cable and USB sync dongle separately, in case you should ever need a spare or replacement.
Fitbit Force Wristband
In a nut shell, the Fitbit Force is a wrist-worn activity and sleep tracker. It is like they took the electronic guts from the Fitbit One and stuck them in a rubbery, wristband to create a stylish new device. It accurately tracks all of your movements throughout the day and night and that collected information provides users with a overall look at their lifestyle and can be extremely helpful in motivating them to become more active and begin making healthier decisions.
The Fitbit Force’s array of sensors automatically track how many steps you’ve taken, the total distance you’ve traveled on foot in miles, how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed and how much sleep you get at night. On the software side of things, users can manually add meals to keep track of how many calories they are consuming.
The wristband itself is rather comfortable to wear and is so lightweight that I actually forgot that I was wearing it at times. That’s good news as the Fitbit Force was designed to be worn around the clock. The Fitbit force is even water resistant, so sweat and splashes of water from washing your hands shouldn’t be a problem. I only took the band off while showering, although I think it may have handled that also as my review unit survived being submerged in water while I was washing dishes.
For a size comparison, we see that the wristband itself is only slightly wider than the Fitbit One and much smaller than the watch I wear everyday. The size is great. It’s small and compact, but just large enough for the display to be read easily.
Fitbit Force Display
Fitbit’s first attempt at a wrist-worn fitness tracker, the Fitbit Flex, had one potentially deal-break flaw. It lacked a traditional display, and instead used a odd LED system to give wears a rather limited view of the data it had collected. I much prefer the design of the Fitbit Force.
Having a display on the device itself allows the wearer to quickly check the time and all of their stats without needing to use a smartphone or PC. Each press of the Force’s button causes the display to scroll through the different stats (steps, distance traveled, calories burned and stairs climbed), making for a device that is convenient to use.
With all of that said, the Fitbit Flex is $30 cheaper than the Force at the time of writing this review and the only real difference between the two units is the display. So the added convenience does come with a higher price. However, in my opinion, the display on the Force is well worth the $30 extra.
Fitbit Force Software
As is the case with all Fitbit devices, the Fitbit Force includes a free Fitbit.com membership. Users can access their Fitbit account using either the website or an application that is currently available for iOS and Android devices. Both options include mostly the same features and information, they each allow you to easily monitor your personal stats over time and log foods and activities to help you live a healthier life.
Fitbit membership also offers several features to help keep user motivated, such as achievement badges for specific milestones that you have reached. These milestones include things like reaching 5,000 or 10,000 daily steps or climbing 10, 25 or 50 flights of steps. The Fitbit also offers a compelling social aspect. You can add your friends to your Fitbit account and then compete with them by comparing stats. Like the badges, this competitive element serves as even more motivation to keep you active.
The Fitbit Force will need to be synced before you can use either the app or website to view the data that it has collected. Syncing can be accomplished by using either a PC and the included dongle, or certain Bluetooth 4.0 equipped smartphones and tablets. Fitbit has been constantly adding wireless sync support for new Android smartphones and you can view the current list of devices capable of wireless syncing by heading over to Fitbit’s Website.
My Nexus 4 is one of the Android devices that was recently blessed with the wireless syncing feature and I must say that I love the new addition. It is convenient, works well and I haven’t noticed it adversely affecting either my phone’s or Fitbit tracker’s battery life.
Fitbit Force Battery Life
Every Fitbit tracker I’ve used has had great battery life. So I wasn’t all that surprised when the Force had no problems handling over a week worth of daily use per full charge of its minuscule, Lithium-ion polymer battery pack.
Once it’s finally time for a recharge, the Fitbit Force will let you know by displaying a low battery indicator on the display. Users can also check the remain battery life of their tracker at any time by using the Fitbit app or website. Charging is accomplished by plugging one end of the included charge cable into any available USB port and the other end into the underside of the tracker itself.
Charge time for the Fitbit Force is around an hour and a half. After that, you’ll be ready for another week worth of use. Man, wouldn’t it be nice if smartphone batteries worked like that?
If you’re already a fan of Fitbit’s line of trackers, you’ll probably love the Force. It takes all of the great features found on the Fitbit One and puts them on your wrist. In side-by-side tests, the Force is as accurate as my Fitbit One is and battery life is equally impressive on both devices. The Fitbit Force matches the One in every way, is light weight and comfortable to wear and features a display, making it a significant upgrade over its predecessor, the Fitbit Flex.
Newer wristbands may come out with new and unique features, but the Fitbit Force stands as a great option for anyone who is looking for a activity and sleep tracker.