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Review of the Fitbit Flex fitness tracker

technologyEdward KiledjianComment

Fitbit is one of the early pioneers in mass market self measurement devices. to stay current and hip, they released the Fitbit Flex bracelet style tracker and I went hands on.

In the bracelet style health monitors, the 3 main players are Jawbone UP, Nike Fuelband and the Fitbit Flex. The Fitbit Flex is cheaper than its competitors but seems to offer more value for the money.

Fitbit_Flex_1.png

The design

The design a a clean bracelet style tracker that is easy to wear but that loses the instant feedback the other Fitbit devices offer with their screens. for this simple reason, some consumers may prefer the Fitbit one instead (which is a great device in its own right).

Fitbit_Flex_3.png

The Flex has handful of blinking lights that show how close you are to achieving your self-set target.

It is a comfortable plastic design that is easy to wear all day every day. It comes in sizes small and large and should fit most consumers fairly well. 

Some call it stylish others call all similar trackers ugly so you'll have to decide this one. I think its discreet and nice.

You have a choice of 5 stylish colors including black, slate, teal, tangerine and navy.

The device

The fitbit flex is designed for all day tracking including movement during the day and sleep at night. 

Paired with the IOS or Android app, it gains the ability to track other activities (besides steps) and calories from food intake. all useful when trying to leave a healthier lifestyle.

Fitbit_Flex_2.png

Similar to the one it offers a vibration based alarm (so as not to wake up your partner in the morning). The flex adds a new metric which represents the number of active minutes in a day.

You get a couple of days of use out of each charge.

The kit

The kit comes with the bracelet itself, a USB charger and a USB dongle for your computer (for wireless synchronization of data back to the Fitbit cloud).

It also comes with Bluetooth so you can sync the data on the run via your smartphone.

Start-up 

Start-up is a breeze. You download the small PC and/or smartphone app, create a Ftibit account or log in to an existing one, provide some information (such as age, sex,height, weight, etc)

Verdict

Fitbit is a trusted tracker who is financially solid (which means they will be around). The Flex is a stylish, easy to use and wear device that will gamify fitness and maybe help you lose a couple of pounds.

The Fitbit One is still my preferred fitness tracker but the Flex is a nice option for people looking for a bracelet style model (the One is a clip on).

 

Nike Fuelband app not coming to Android

technologyEdward KiledjianComment

We are seeing an explosion of "self monitoring and measurement" gizmos. The Nike Fuelband was one such product that won the hearts and minds of many. Those on IOS have been enjoying the Fuelband IOS app for some time. It allows Nike Fuelband users to monitor progress, see achievements and share their performance with others.

Nike has now confirmed that it will NOT be releasing an Android app anytime soon:

My primary everyday smartphone is still an iPhone so this doesn't directly inconvenience me but it is interesting when a company decides to cut off the most popular smartphone OS. Why would a company like Nike, with deep pockets, not support a platform used by thousands of its customers? We may never know the reasoning behind it but I have already head some customers are switching to competing devices in protest.

You can get the Fitbit Android app here.

 

Withings Smart Activity Tracker

HealthEdward KiledjianComment
About 6 months ago, Fitbit released the Aria WIFI scale scale which competed directly with Withings. It seems Withings isn't about to play dead and has announced the Smart Activity Tracker as a direct assault to the Fitbit Ultra. 
This is a crowded field and this newcomer will have to compete with the liked of the Nike Fuelbank, Lark Life, Misfit Shine. An interesting new feature the Smart Activity Tracker brings to the table is monitoring of your pulse. The device has a tiny sensor on the back that you push your finger against and within seconds, it will detect and record your heart rate. It will of course monitor your daily activity, calorie consumption (via smartphone app) and measure sleep quality.
The device will upload data via Bluetooth 4 to your smartphone which means it is portable but the new bluetooth standard also is more energy efficient which means it can run for up to 14 days between recharges.
We'll have to wait and see the full software/hardware package before judging its competitiveness but competition is always great for the consumer. At the very least, it will drive innovation and hopefully push prices down.

Fitbit, Nike Fuelband and Lark Life competitor - enter shine

technologyEdward KiledjianComment

We have all heard about the Jawbone UP 2, Nike FuelBand, Larklife, Fitbit One, Striiv and Amiigo but make some room for the newest entrant in the world of fitness gamification, Misfit Wearables.

The new Shine is a $99 competitor (at the right price range) that offers some unique characteristics: 

  • It's really small
  • It's the first all metal device
  • It synchronizes with your smartphone sans bluetooth or cable!  YUP, feel free to re-read that sentence again
  • It is waterproof 

It works like the others as in it tracks "walking related" motion (think running or walking), cycling, yoga and swimming . For non walking/running type activities, it uses a conversion model to convert the activity level into a step equivalent.

Light, made out of solid aircraft grade aluminium yet somehow has a mini light based display system. It has a user replaceable battery that lasts 6 months and comes with a magnet accessory meaning it can be worn almost anywhere. 

As you can imagine, the company is fairly secretive about the internals but the team behind the midfit had the first FDA approved IOS glucose meter so obviously the team understands health. Until they provide additional details, it's tough to judge the real usability of the product but it is worth keeping an eye out. The expected ship date (for the first batch) is March 2013.

As of this writing, I am anxiously waiting to see the LarkLife hit store shelves so I can test it out and review it for you here. 

 

 

When will Lark Life be available in stores?

technologyEdward KiledjianComment

If you haven't read my article about Lark Life, go read it now. Based on the literature, I think I may like this more than the Fitbit Ultra/One or the Nike Fuelband.

I havent seen or played with the device yet but many of you have asked me for a street date (aka when it will be available for sale). I have spoken to their PR agent and unfortunatly they aren't providing a firm date so we'll just have to wait.

As soon as it is available, I will use it and report back to you my readers ;-)

Stay tuned...