May the Force be with Me: A FitBit Review

Last month, I set a personal goal to be more active. I have a desk job and don’t get out and about nearly as much as I would like or as I should (especially for this time of year). I’d seen various reviews online about these new-fangled devices that are essentially super-techy pedometers, and I admit they caught my attention. After a great deal of research and YouTube comparison videos, I finally decided on the FitBit Force. I’ve had the Force just over a month now and I definitely feel like I made the right decision. I love this little thing so much I just had to share with you guys!

FitBit, health, pedometer

FitBit Force 10K

Pros:

Size/weight: The Force is about the same size as a slim woman’s watch, or slightly wider than those breast cancer/WWJD bracelets everyone used to wear. It’s lighter than my watch and usually I forget it’s even on!

Dashboard: The dashboard is the interactive stats page that allows you to set goals, customize features, and track progress. I’ve found that both the webpage and the Android app are both incredibly user friendly. There are also community groups you can join if you’re so inclined. (You can friend me here!)

Watch and alarm: Speaking of watches, the Force, unlike the Flex and some other brands, has a watch feature. You simply hit the button on the side and the time pops up! You’re able to adjust the appearance of the time (to show seconds, etc) in your dashboard. So if you don’t want to wear a normal watch with the band, this is the perfect solution.

The Force also has a silent alarm which vibrates in the morning to wake you up. It’s not a harsh vibration, but it’s enough to wake me from a normal sleep. I can’t say how well it would work if I was super tired or if I’d taken a sleep aid, etc., but it’s a nice alternative to the usual buzzing alarm! On the down side, I haven’t quite figured out the snooze yet…

Tracking capabilities: The force tracks a number of things, including:

  • Steps taken
  • Stairs climbed
  • Distance traveled
  • Calories burned
  • Active minutes
  • Sleep

Each of these (other than sleep) can be viewed on the display itself. You just hit the button on the side and scroll through each one. It’s great for seeing your progress while you’re on the go. You can select which ones you see on your band in the dashboard features.

You can also use your dashboard or your phone to set your own goals for each of these categories (except sleep – that one is just a tracker). The default goals are a bit steep for the average cubicle worker as it starts out at 10,000 steps a day, which was a bit intimidating. I left the Force at the default settings for the first couple of days just to get an idea of how much I was moving, then chose reasonable goals based on that info. As the weeks have gone by, I’ve increased the goals in each category to challenge myself. So I’m working towards that 10,000 steps a day goal and I get daily motivation from accomplishing the goals in between (smile)!

If I didn’t already know how OCD/hell bent on efficiency I was before, this little bracelet has sure shown me my true colors. The first week or so I found it incredibly hard to be “less efficient” in order to get more steps in. I like carrying too much up the stairs rather than making multiple trips. Likewise I prefer to carry things around in bunches so that they can be placed properly as I go rather than walking back and forth. I’m not saying it’s not as bad now, but I did give in and start going to the park after work to get my time in. Nature and goal accomplishment – double win!!

Sleep tracker/Quality of sleep: I wanted to point out this feature separately. The Force tracks your sleep from the time you hold the button to initiate sleep until you wake up and hold the button again to stop it. Based on your movement during the night, it can then tell you how many minutes you were restless or how many minutes you were awake. This has been rather eye-opening for me personally. I wondered why I was so tired in the mornings and now I know! I suspect it’s the kitties that bump me around at night causing the restlessness. It’s been nice to be able to adjust my sleep accordingly so I’m sure to get a sufficient amount.

Battery life: The battery on the Force seems to last for approximately a week, perhaps a bit more. I check my stats throughout the day and record my sleep pretty much every night and haven’t had any problems with the battery. Your dashboard will alert you to your battery status so you know when to recharge.

Syncing/other apps interaction: Possibly one of the best features – and the reason I chose the Force (in addition to the display) – is the syncing capabilities. The band comes with a USB plug that you leave in your computer. Once the software is installed, the Force will automatically sync with your computer periodically as long as it’s within range. The Force also syncs via bluetooth with my Android phone. I noticed that quite a few of the other options only sync with iPhones, so this was a big bonus for me.

The Force also works really well with other fitness apps, especially those like MyFitnessPal (my personal favorite). I have my accounts linked and the FitBit automatically updates my exercise in the MyFitnessPal app. It’s nice to not have to do this manually and to see what a difference my new mobility makes (smile) in my day!

Cons:

Color Selection: The downside of the FitBit Force is that your style selection is fairly limited at the moment. While the Flex (the previous version) has changeable bands, the Force is pretty much limited to the color you order. At the moment your available choices are limited to blue and black. I currently have the blue and find that it blends well enough. Most people have just assumed that the band was a watch – works for me!

Clasp: The clasp is efficient once it’s on, but it’s a bit difficult to secure it. Perhaps this will get easier with time, but it’s a bit annoying when you do have to take it off.

Charging: You do have to remove the Force and plug it in via USB to charge it. It only takes approximately 20-30 minutes to fully charge, but you miss credit for any steps you take while you’re waiting. Plus, you have to deal with taking it off/putting it back on.

Accuracy: I’m not expecting perfection here, but I have noticed the Force isn’t 100% accurate. The largest issue I’ve found with accuracy is the stairs climbed. It measures “stairs” by altitude increase while walking, which means that if you’re hiking hills you can rack up “stairs” pretty quickly. But if you’re going up real stairs, it may or may not count them depending on how many/how steep they are. Kinda lame. As for steps taken, distance, etc., it does seem pretty accurate.

Exercises not tracked: Unfortunately the Force can’t track certain stationary activities – like spinning, rowing, or yoga. Those activities can be entered manually in the dashboard, but you’ll have to keep up with your time and intensity. Similarly, if you use a stairmaster the Force tracks your steps but not your floors or “stairs.”

Water resistant: Note the word resistant here – not water proof. I’ve read some reviews where people have worn the band in the shower or pool, but I’ve yet to try it. I’d hate to take any chances and have something go wrong! This is primarily annoying in that it means I have to take it off/put it back on every morning (see clasp rant).

So there you go! Overall, I would definitely recommend the Force to anyone looking for a great tracking device and/or motivation to get moving. I think it’s really opened my eyes to just how sedentary I’d become. The weight loss, etc. I consider just a bonus (but a super awesome one!)! (Smile)

Any questions? Do you have a tracker??

*Disclaimer: This is my own review. I haven’t been asked to write this or compensated in any way. I just love this thing that much!!

2 thoughts on “May the Force be with Me: A FitBit Review

  1. Pingback: One more chance: A FitBit Update | PonderTheIrrelevant

  2. No, I don’t have, but having read this, I’m beginning to think ‘perhaps I should’. We’ll see in the Spring — it sounds really good, and I think it would be a really good idea for me. I don’t move around at all.

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