So over the last weekend, I acquired myself a Fitbit flex. I was actually looking for a Fitbit Force, but turns out there was a nasty reaction to the Force’s plastic / wristband that the product was called off the shelves and now is not available anywhere. So instead I went for the Fitbit Flex.
My main requirement was a activity tracker that would motivate me to reach goals every day. The Nike Fuelband SE was my other choice, but the feature that tipped me towards getting the Flex was its awesome vibration alert feature. The Flex monitors your steps, sleep, calories burned, active minutes and distance travelled. Other information can be entered into the mobile app or dashboard in order to be calculated. You can enter your weight every day to see a change in your BMI etc. pretty interactive app it is.
The lack of a screen gets me a little, as i would have loved to have a small screen with the time (like the Fitbit Force) and also which indicates who is calling you on your phone (that’s a pretty neat feature on the FitBit Force). The design is simple though, and mainly comfortable and light! no one wants a bulky wristwatch to weigh you down, especially since these work best when worn 24/7.
So lets take a look at the features in detail.
The fibit is setup to notify you when you reach your main goal. You can set it to “activity” (which notifies you when you reach 30 total active minutes) , “distance” (Which notifies you when you reach 10Kms of distance travelled), and “Steps” (Which notifies you when you reach 10000 steps ) for the day. The goals are displayed on the band by 5 indicative lights, that appear once you double tap the wrist. (pretty sweet motivation as the dots fill in as your progress towards goal increases). Once you reach your goal, it vibrates and alerts you by doing a little lights dance.
Pedometer and activity tracking
The Flex acts as a pedometer and counts your steps. This may not seem important, but you will be surprised how many steps you take in a day. I constantly hit 15000 steps whilst in Singapore, as walking was the main form of transport. These numbers can be viewed via the awesome app, or web interface dashboard.
Activity tracking is another feature that calculates how long you have been moving for a continuous period of time. If you are stationary it does switch off, and recount from when you start moving again. I think there is a criteria of you have to be at least active for 5-8mins in a stretch for it to count. This feature is good motivation to monitor your gym sessions, in order to check if you are slacking at gym instead of actually working out.
distance travelled is the main feature that people will find useful. If you go for a run you will want the distance travelled to be accurately monitored and the Flex does just that. It uses your height and steps in order to calculate how far you have walked. Most non-GPS based activity trackers use this method, and it proves pretty accurate. This too helps you push yourself when you see a number like a low 3.2kms, you make an excuse to walk another 2km to make it 5 and noteworthy.
This feature was amazing. Wearing the Flex to bed, you can monitor your sleep patterns (stages of REM or restless sleep) . You have to first set the Flex into sleep mode by tapping on it continuosly, and it monitors how many hours of sleep you have had and how long it took you to fall asleep.
Silent Alarms (awesome feature)
The Silent alarms feature takes the cake! basically through the Mobile app, you can set your Fitbit to wake you up from your sleep gently. This makes the wristband vibrate and slowly pull you out of Deep sleep. Which apparently reduces that horrible morning feeling of under sleeping and makes you feel a lot better. I have used this feature since i got it and find it really helpful. Also in Singapore when visiting my Fiancé, it also helped me wake up without waking anyone else up with those blaring tones that wake up the whole neighbourhood. I find this feature totally worth getting the flex for. You can set alarms during the day too to remind you of stuff that needs to be done.
Mobile App – realtime updates to motivate you to work more
The FitBit App syncs with your flex using Bluetooth 4.0 (this means there is no pairing required. The information is instantaneously displayed on a dashboard type view, and you can see your past few days activities while monitoring your progress. I find this feature very interesting as it shows you comparatively how active you have been today vs the previous few days. That almost gets you directly saying “C’mon you lazy bum, time to do something”. I have found myself looking at my app and realising I need to do a run or something to get my numbers up.
Not only is this a motivating factor, but it also helps you see which days you are more active. Help you analyse which days you can rather take a walk than drive etc.
The app contains all the important information, and settings which include :
- setting your weight and height
- Logging your calories eaten (you can select meals etc)
- monitoring your most active times and days
- setting your silent alarms (this is cool)
The app basically works as your access point to the wristband, this is your main control / remote over the Flex and it does everything you would want it to.
lets take a look at the pros and cons
- Realtime activity monitoring so you can see how much you have done, and how much more you need to do.
- Unobtrusive design, minimal screens, just the 5 indicative lights that surprisingly do a lot of explaining
- a wide array of colours if you want to express yourself (also you can buy additional bands to fit the tracker into
- Silent alarms and vibrating alerts that wake you up feeling well rested
- simple goal based system that makes your targets and progress clear
- 5 days battery life
- The clasp can tend to come out during sleep
- It is water resistant, but gets annoying when water gets in
- No time / screen for indicating time or other information
- Does not warn you when battery is low
- Does not monitor floors climbed or elevation
it is a pretty neat piece of hardware that comes in handy when you are trying to motivate yourself to stay fit. If it had a screen and was able to display notifications from my phone, It would be the dream device. But overall the silent alarms is a brilliant feature, that helps you wake up in the mornings (lord knows I need that). The design overall helps because it is a 24/7 wearable device. all this for the price of AUD$ 120, is probably the best deal you can get on wearable activity trackers out there at the moment.
UPDATE : Based on a few comments : I figured this might help,
Places you can buy a fit bit Flex from :
Harvey Norman AUD$126 (with free 3 extra bands)
Dick Smith AUD$ 128
JBHifi AUD$ 126
Apple AUD$ 129.95 (exclusive Pink model only at apple)
Do you have a wearable or activity tracker? or have you been using a FitBit product? if you have any comments please feel free to reply below and let me know. If you also have hints and tricks with regard to the fitBit flex leave a comment.