Review: The Fitbit One Activity and Sleep Tracker

FitBit One 1

Fitbit has been making activity trackers for a number of years now. Their latest model, the Fitbit One, brings a whole new look, improved tracking and a few new features for the same price as the model it’s replacing. This little gadget promises to track your steps, distance traveled, calories burned, and flights of stairs climbed. It even monitors how much sleep you’re getting each night. Sounds pretty awesome right?

Well, Verizon Wireless was kind enough to supply us with a review unit of the Fitbit One, and I’ve used it over the last few weeks. Let’s take a closer look at this $99 pedometer on steroids.

What comes in the box

FitBit One unboxing

Your new Fitbit One ships with everything you’ll need to begin using the device the moment it arrives. Other than the Fitbit itself, you’ll find a silicone sleeve for clipping the One to your belt or clothing, a wireless sync dongle, a charging cable and a wristband for wearing the device while you sleep.

FitBit One Sleeve  FitBit One Wristband  FitBit One Clip

Each of the included accessories are available separately from Fitbit’s website. That’s great for situations where you need a misplaced or break a part and need a replacement or you want an extra dongle for use with another computer.

 

Hardware & Design

FitBit One Pedometer

Measuring 0.2 x 0.8 x 2.2 inches and weighing in at just 8 grams, the Fitbit One is easily the smallest device we’ve ever reviewed. The small size and ultra light weight allows the Fitbit One to be worn at all times without getting in the way.

Available in either Black or Burgundy, the Fitbit One is a curvy, oblong pebble shaped device with a single button and a LED screen on the front and two charging contacts on the rear. That pretty much sums up the external design. There isn’t much to the design, but then again, there doesn’t need to be. The single-button allows you to easily scroll through the list of stats and the screen is bright and easy to read. The design is very minimalistic, but effective.

FitBit One Rear

The Fitbit One’s tiny body is filled with a bunch of goodies, such as a 3-axis accelerometer and a altimeter that work together to measure your activity levels. The accelerometer tracks your motion to determine how many steps you’ve taken and total distance traveled. While the altimeter monitors how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed. The data from the two sensors is used to determine how many calories you have burned and your overall level of activity. The Fitbit One can also be used as a stop watch and it will even monitor how much sleep you’re getting.

Other hardware features of the Fitbit One include a vibration motor that acts as a silent alarm, Bluetooth 4.0, which allows for wireless syncing, a rechargeable Lithium-ion polymer battery that is good for 5 to 7 days per charge, and enough internal memory to store up to 7 days worth of stats.

Software

FitBit One dashboard

Each Fitbit One comes with a free Fitbit.com membership, which includes access to features like the Fitbit dashboard. It allows you to easily monitor your stats over time and log foods to help you keep track of your diet. Membership also offers achievement badges for milestones you’ve reached. Such as reaching 5,000 or 10,000 daily steps or climbing 10, 25 or 50 flights of steps. Fitbit keeps track of how many times you receive each badge and even offers fun trivia to go along with them. For example, letting me know that I’ve climbed the World’s tallest Lego Tower. Accumulating badges can become a little addictive and it helps keep you motivated. I actually feel a bit guilty if I don’t unlock at least the 10 flights climbed and 5,000 steps badges each day.

The Fitbit also offers a compelling social aspect. You can add your friends to your Fitbit account and then compete with them by comparing your stats. Like the badges, this competitive element serves as even more motivation to keep you active. I don’t know about you, but I’d hate for my friends to have evidence that I spent my entire day sitting on the couch, in front of my television. That thought a lone is usually enough to make me get moving.

Besides the website, there are apps for both iOS and Android devices. The Fitbit apps offer up most of the features found on the website, including your friend list. Unfortunately, the Android version of the Fitbit app has one problem that will effect a lot of Android users. It only offers wireless syncing if you happen to be using either the Samsung Galaxy S3 or the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. I currently use the Nexus 4, which does have the required Bluetooth 4.0 hardware, but I still have to sync using my PC. It is more than a little frustrating to know that my phone could and should work with this great feature, but wont. I’m hoping they bring wireless syncing to more Android devices soon.

You also have the option to use your Fitbit account information with several other applications and services. During my testing, I used the Fitbit One to monitor my activity levels and the My Fitness Pal app to keep track of my diet. The way the two services work together is pretty convenient. I enter food into MFP by scanning the food item’s bar-code with my phone’s camera and whenever my Fitbit is synced, the calories I burned are accounted for in the MFP totals. The foods I enter into MFP also shows up in the Fitbit dashboard and app.

Living with the Fitbit One

I have been using the Fitbit One for almost a month now and I am impressed with it’s ability to become a part of my daily routine. As soon as I wake up, I shower, get dressed and transfer the Fitbit One to my clean pair of pants. It requires next to no effort and I go on about my day like I normally would.

I wear it clipped to my front right pants pocket with the Fitbit facing towards my body and the clip facing out. That position seems safest to me, because if the clip were to fail for some reason, the Fitbit would just drop inside my pocket and I could easily order a replacement sleeve for ten bucks. The Fitbit One is so small and light that I don’t even notice it being there until I reach my hand in my pocket.

Syncing is effortless also. I left the dongle in my desktop PC that I use everyday, that allows the Fitbit One to automatically sync whenever it is within range of my PC. It’s all very easy and I love how the FitBit One blends in with my daily life. It tracks, syncs and stores all of this useful information without me even needing to think about it.

Getting fit with the Fitbit One

The previous section of this review went over how forgettable the Fitbit One can be. And it really can be easy to forget about the Fitbit during a normal day. To be honest, I rarely even think about it being on me while going about my daily tasks. That can result in some rather disappointing, but honest statistics. To put it bluntly, the FitBit One forced me to take notice of how inactive I really am.

I know I spend way too much time sitting at my desk and a lot of other people are in the same situation. The Fitbit One has sort of slapped me across the face and made me realize that I need to change my lifestyle and find ways to be more active. So after days of simply living with the Fitbit One, I spent a couple of weeks trying to get fit with it and I am very impressed with the results.

I’ve managed to lose just over 12 pounds so far for the month of February. The key for me has been setting realistic steps per day goals, never allowing myself to miss them and slowly making the goals harder to achieve. I increased my daily steps from around 2,500 to over 6,000 and I limited my daily calorie intake to 1500. That’s pretty much all I did. I still spend too much time at my desk, but the Fitbit has caused me to take a step in the right direction.

I thought about the Fitbit One much more frequently while trying to get fit with it. I went from forgetting it was on me, to checking my stats every hour, always taking the stairs and I even began parking the car in the spot furthest from the building. I also had several nights where I found myself running around my property at 11 pm in an frantic attempt to get the last of my required total of steps in before midnight. The Fitbit One has motivated me to be more active.

 

Conclusion

FitBit One battery indicator

Other than wireless syncing not working with my Android phone of choice, I have nothing but good things to say about the Fitbit One. It has exceeded all of my expectations. It is simple to use and so tiny and lightweight that wearing it everyday is a joy.

The information it collects is useful, easy to read and very accurate also. I spent a bit of time violently shaking my review unit to try to get it to register fake steps and I came to the conclusion that it actually requires less effort to just walk. I also counted out 50 steps to myself then checked the display to see how far my total had advanced. Each time I tried that test, the Fitbit One recorded my steps with 100% accuracy.

Bottom line, I love the Fitbit One, it does everything it claims to do and I highly recommend it to anyone that is looking to become more active. The Fitbit One activity and sleep tracker is available from Verizon Wireless for $99.99