FitBit One: Tracking on the Hip for a Unique Experience

Summary:  A small clip-on, wireless movement tracker designed to track steps walked or ran and sleep cycles to bring greater visibility of daily activity levels. This type of tracker is most appropriate for individuals who prefer to wirelessly track sleep, food intake, and any exercise which uses the legs to help them achieve higher fitness goals.

Considerations: Attaching the device:  people who do not wear pants with pockets or tucked in shirts may find this device difficult to wear without potentially irritating direct skin contact. Multiple parts to lose:  with four small parts, the FitBit One may not be appropriate for forgetful persons.

Requirements (any one of the following):

  • PC (Windows XP, Vista, 7, or 8) OR Mac (OS X 10.5 or higher)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 SmartPhone (e.g. iPhone 4s / 5 / 5s, iPad 3 / Mini, iPod Touch 5th gen, Samsung Galaxy S III or 4, Samsung Note 10.1 / Note II / Note III)
  • Bluetooth Smart Ready Device

Approximate Retail Price:  $99.95

Purchase Link (Amazon):  PENDING

Unboxing Experience and First Impressions

The FitBit One is smartly packaged with the device, small manual, wireless plug for a USB port on your computer, charging dongle, and wrist strap for night time use. It is easy to get into the package. The FitBit One has the largest number of small accessories to lose, this is a minor but important inconvenience for those users who tend to forgetful and or misplace smaller items.

The FitBit device is a small, plastic rectangular lozenge shaped device with a small screen on one side and a small button, used for initial setup and entering and exiting sleep mode, next to the screen. Setting up the FitBit One was a simple and straightforward process. I downloaded and installed the latest version of the FitBit software from the FitBit website.  I removed the device and accessories from the packaging and placed the USB dongle in a port on my monitor’s hub. After that, I started the FitBit software and then went through the process of setting up the FitBit account and device.

Once my account was set up, I was able to merely press the button on the FitBit device itself to automatically set up synchronization. Setup of the FitBit app on the iPhone was just as simple. The app is extremely feature rich and gives users the ability to monitor sleep, food eaten, activities performed, weight measurements, water drank, and the core step tracking functionality. The FitBit app also includes social features to allow for tracking of progress and activities among friends.


In Daily Life

When using the FitBit One upon waking up in the morning, the first thing that I would do would be to press and hold the button on the device to switch the device from sleep mode to regular daytime mode. I would then remove the FitBit One from its wrist strap, placing it into the included rubber clip. At this point, from time to time, I would start a manual synchronization with the iPhone app so that I could see how well I slept the previous night.

As the FitBit One requires attachment to clothing in order to be effective, I was unable to use it until after I was dressed for the day. After my morning shower, I would get dressed and then attach the device to the front pocket of my pants. The rubber material which made up the clip was grippy enough that the FitBit One seldom came unattached; usually when retrieving an item from my pocket such as my wallet or keys.

I would wear the device attached to my pocket throughout the entire day, where it would proceed to record my walking movements. From time to time I would view my daily progress on the small, but bright screen. I was able to view my steps taken, distance moved, estimated calories burned, and vertical floors climbed. After work was completed, I would change into my gym clothes and proceed to exercise. On the days that I focused on cardio exercise, the FitBit One accurately tracked my activities on the stair climber, treadmill, and elliptical machine. While it was not designed to be used with exercise bikes and other seated exercises, because of its unique method of attaching to the body, the FitBit One is capable of doing so. Thus, the FitBit One is capable of tracking activities that wrist-based fitness trackers are incapable of monitoring.

For example, while wearing the Nike Fuelband and Jawbone Up attached to my left wrist, and the FitBit One attached to my pocket, I was able to get an accurate reading of steps taken while mowing my lawn from the FitBit One, but not from the other two devices. The logical explanation is that any device attached to a wrist is not going to be accurate at recording activities where the wrist does not move, such as pushing a lawnmower.

Anytime throughout the day that I passed by my computer, the FitBit One would automatically synchronize my activities from the device to my computer. In addition, I could manually initiate a synchronization by opening the FitBit app on my iPhone. I was also able to associate my FitBit account with another popular calorie and fitness tracking app called, MyFitnessPal, ensuring that the activity captured by my device would automatically appear in the MyFitnessPal statistics for each day.

At bedtime, once done with my activities for the day, I would remove the FitBit One from its rubber clip and place it into the Velcro wrist strap for the night. The wrist strap was bulky but held the device securely. I would then press and hold the button on theFitBit One until a timer started which indicated that the device was now in sleep tracking mode.


Integration – What Does it Work With?

As the main purpose of the FitBit One is to increase overall fitness and activity in its users, the device works with a number of other apps and services, including its own FitBit Application.

The FitBit App

The app manufactured by FitBit is available for iOS and Android. The app is available for all iOS devices manufactured in the past 4 years, while the Android app is available for most android devices manufactured in the past two years with support for Bluetooth LE (e.g. Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5).

As the FitBit One app is not available on Windows Phone, BlackBerry, or Symbian, users of these mobile devices must use their computer, either Mac OS X or Windows, to synchronize information from the FitBit One and thus track progress and activity levels.

The app allows for manual entry of food consumed, water intake, sleep start and stop times, walking, running, and hiking routes, weight, and non-walking-based exercises such as strength training and swimming. All information about steps taken, distance traveled, and floors climbed is only obtainable from communicating with the device itself and may not be manually entered into the app.

In addition to activity, food, and sleep tracking, the app also contains social features such as creating links with your friends as well as goal setting which can have the effect of pushing the user to attain his or her own personal goals through encouraging reminders.

Other Apps and Services

The service provided by FitBit integrates with several other solutions, including, but not limited to, the following services and apps: Lose It!, MyFitnessPal, Microsoft HealthVault, and Balance Rewards.

For a more complete listing of current partner apps and services, please go to the FitBit web site.


Major Features

The major capabilities of the FitBit One are focused on a wide range of fitness and health tracking capabilities including:

  • Steps Taken
  • Calories Burned
  • Floors Climbed
  • Distance Traveled
  • Sleep Quality and Duration
  • Social Connections with Friends*
  • Goal Setting, Reminders, and Encouragement*
  • Additional Tracking (e.g. weightlifting)*
  • Food caloric and nutritional intake*

* NOTE: These features are access through the FitBit app or website, NOT the device itself.

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Credit:  FitBit


Important Considerations

Where to Attach It?

The unique physical design of the FitBit One makes it more suitable for those persons who wear clothing tucked in to their lower garments or pants with belt loops and/or pockets. The reason being that the advice may be most comfortably attached to a pocket, belt loop, or waistband of a lower garment; none of these locations requires direct skin contact with the device.

As men usually wear pants or jeans with pockets and belt loops, the FitBit One usually works well for male users. Women who wear pants with pockets, or who wear their shirts tucked in to their pants, would also find the device comfortable to wear. Those persons who do not wear pants with pockets and whose shirts are not routinely tucked into their lower garments may find wearing the device uncomfortable due to the possibility of the silicone rubber clip rubbing directly against their skin as they move. Please note, while FitBit itself shows options for a woman to attach the device to their bra, as the device is designed to be worn constantly throughout the day, a woman attempting this may find such a device placement to be irritating and possibility unsightly.

Keeping Track of the Parts

The FitBit One comes with four independent parts:  the device itself, the Velcro wrist strap for nighttime sleep monitoring, the charging dongle to connect to the proprietary charging port on the device, and the silicone rubber clip which allows the device to be attached to clothing.  Each one of these parts is important to ensure that the FitBit One continues to function to its full capability.  For example, the loss of the charging dongle would result in the device becoming eventually unusable, while a loss of the silicone rubber clip would prevent the FitBit One from being attached to clothing and thus defeating its purpose.  Most other fitness trackers do not ship with as many independent parts.  As such, the FitBit One may not be the most appropriate device for a forgetful person.

Potential Sleep Comfort Issues

The Velcro wristband which the FitBit One requires in order to provide sleep monitoring capability is wider than most; slightly over 2 inches in width.  At this size, the wristband could potentially rub against the hand of the user during sleep, when the user’s wrists are prone to bending.  Given this, individuals who are light sleepers may find that this device is not conducive to a good night’s sleep.  That said, the strap is made out of a very pliable and soft, almost fuzzy feeling, material, which should reduce the possibility for discomfort.

Battery Longevity (Updated as of 2/15/2016)

After using the FitBit one for almost three years, the battery has gotten to the point where if it is left to discharge completely, it will no longer be able to take a charge.  For example, after leaving the FitBit One to discharge over a one month period, the device no longer accepts a charge – at least not over a 12 hour overnight charging attempt.  As such, for devices where continued use over several years is desired, along with the ability to withstand long terms of non-use, another fitness device should be considered.


Pros

  • Accuracy:  the FitBit One, due to its unique, default placement on the hip is more accurate at recording more types of activities than writst-based trackers.
  • Unobtrusive:  when worn attached to the inside of a pocket, the FitBit One is barely noticeable.
  • Battery Life:  the FitBit One has substantial battery life, lasting over 7 days between charges during my real-world test during a six month period.

Cons

  • Attachment Method:  due to its requirement that it be attached to clothing, the FitBit One is most suited for those individuals who do wear pants with pockets or shirts tucked into their lower garments.  As such, many women who wear pocket-less pants or blouses over skirts may find wearing this device uncomfortable.
  • Wide Nighttime Wrist Strap:  the Velcro wristband used at night to keep the FitBit One attached to the user’s body, although made out of a soft and very pliable material, might be uncomfortable to the user.
  • Multiple Parts to Lose:  shipping with four needed and separate parts, the FitBit One is potentially problematic for forgetful persons.

Target Market – Who are they trying to sell this to?

The FitBit One is designed to be a Health and fitness activity assistant, pushing the user to attain his or her fitness goals and increase their overall level of health. As such, the device, and associated apps and services, contain many features and capabilities to enable that vision. From sleep tracking, to social connections, to fitness goal setting and encouragement, the FitBit One shows its focus for the reforming couch potato and moderately active individuals who enjoy simple, effective tools to help increase their overall health and well-being.

This device is not marketed towards highly active individuals or professional athletes.

Sweet Spot

The FitBit One is best suited for a person with the following characteristics:

  • A moderately active or inactive individual Needs to track walking activities that keep the arms from moving (e.g. mowing the lawn)
  • Routinely wears lower garments with pockets, or who tucks their shirt in to their lower garments
  • Wants to be motivated to attain higher fitness levels by connecting to friends
  • Needs or wants encouragement through goal setting and reminders
  • Uses a Windows / Mac computer and/or an iOS or Android device
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