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Geek Gifts 2010: Fitbit fitness tracker

Lack of exercise and poor sleep make us feel awful. The Fitbit is a wearable gadget that might help you commit to a healthy lifestyle.

Modern life is admittedly sedentary. We spend hours sitting at desks, even though our bodies want movement, crave exercise, and enjoy working our muscles. When these things don't happen on a regular basis, our bodies grow soft and flabby. We also don't sleep as well when we don't get regular exercise. There's a relatively new product that might help you commit to a healthy lifestyle.

Fitbit is a wearable gadget that tracks movement, exercise, and sleep. The tool then syncs with software that analyzes that information and, hopefully, helps the user become healthier.

Specifications and features

  • Tracks calories burned
  • Tracks steps taken
  • Tracks amount and quality of sleep
  • Tracks cardiovascular activity
  • Clothespin-type design makes it easy to wear on your clothes
  • Included belt clip allows the Fitbit to attach to thicker materials, such as leather belts
  • Included comfort wristband that you can to wear while tracking sleep
  • Automatically syncs to nearby base station so you don't have to plug in frequently; just wear it near your computer with the included USB docking station plugged in and turned on
  • Free online software at www.fitbit.com uses graphs and charts to illustrate data (the software is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and OS X 10.4.11+, 10.5+ and 10.6/32-bit kernel only)
  • 3D motion sensor
  • Weight: (approximately) 1/2 ounce
  • Height: (approximately) 2 inches
  • Width: (approximately) 3/4 inch
  • Retails for $99
  • See the Fitbit gallery on TechRepublic

What I like

  • Size and ease of use: The Fitbit is small and relatively easy to use. It is unassuming and not very noticeable when wearing it. It is lighter than an iPod Nano, making it comfortable to wear on the waist of exercise pants.
  • Plant icon: I like that the plant icon on the Fitbit actually grows taller the more active the wearer is. It's like a game - stay active all day to keep the flower growing.
  • Software's GUI: The software has a nice GUI and is easy to set up and navigate.
  • Reset/Erase functionality: The Fitbit can be reset or erased if you feel like you need a do-over, or if a family member wants to give it a try.
  • Wrist wrap: The wrist wrap for nighttime use is comfortable and unobtrusive.

What I don't like

  • Recognition software runs in the background: The Fitbit installs recognition software that wants to constantly run in the background on the computer. I really don't like things that want to run in the background on my computer. It slows down my system, creates an error-prone environment, and generally gums up the works. It's a pet peeve, but it's a major pet peeve for which I dock points.
  • No manual included: The Fitbit doesn't come with a manual, but it is available on the Fitbit site. I half hate, half love this. I don't like having to go online to find the manual, but I do like saving paper (and the planet), and since you have to go online anyway to set up the software, it's not a big deal.
  • Where the software runs: I would prefer software that runs locally on my machine and not online, since having the software online does not undo the need to run the recognition software on my machine.
  • Sleep tracking: I found the sleep tracking function to be a bit tricky to get going.
  • Information input: Inputting my dietary information was a tedious time-suck.

Geek bottom line

The Fitbit is a good gift idea for somebody who is really committed to a healthy lifestyle and who enjoys messing with type of gadgetry. I work out at a gym several times a week, and I ended up not wanting to worry about having the Fitbit on; when I did wear it, I would forget to upload my information. $99 is rather steep for a gadget that I didn't want to fiddle with most of the time I was testing it.

Geek gift score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: **
  • Geek factor: *
  • Value: ** for a regular person, **** for people who like this sort of thing
  • Overall: ****
Note: I gave the Fitbit a higher overall rating because it is well done for what it is, and I appreciate that many people might not mind messing with it.

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2010.

About

Nicole Bremer Nash is Director of Content and Social Media for HuTerra, where she uses SEO and social media to promote charitable organizations in their community-building and fundraising efforts. She enjoys volunteering, arts and crafts, and conduct...

3 comments
joeblow11
joeblow11

Don't plan to receive one by Christmas. I've been on back order for 5 months now, and they still can't tell me when it will arrive. If you order now, you will not receive it in time.

Justin James
Justin James

"The Fitbit is a good gift idea for somebody who is really committed to a healthy lifestyle..." I am truly committed to a healthy lifestyle. There is zero amount of motion in my daily life that holds a candle to a real workout, regardless if its weightlifting, cardio, playing a sport, or whatever. I wouldn't spend $99 to find out how many calories I supposedly burned (these things are so incredibly variable from person to person or even day to day). And a lot of folks stuff like this as an excuse to make bad choices anyways. I used to date a girl, she'd chug a 20 oz. Mountain Dew after every workout and wonder why she wasn't losing weight. If folks want to "get healthy", the answer is easy: eat basic, non-processed foods. Play a sport, go to the gym and lift heavy weights, jog/run, ride a bike, whatever. Thinking that merely increasing your daily motion a bit will do the trick is delusional. It's like grabbing a mop and bucket and saying, "OK, time to clean up after the hurricane!" J.Ja

BillyAlex
BillyAlex

Years later STILL waiting for API they promised so I can 'get at' my own data. Somewhat works with Google Health, but still someone else's idea of how to present data.

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