I first noticed the fitbit when randomly browsing the Microsoft Store. (I'm not sure why I was browsing it, let's just assume this is normal. ) I found the idea intriguing so I went to their website to follow up on the details. It appears the fitbit was created by a small startup in San Francisco with the idea of making a small (perhaps unobtrusive) way for people to measure personal health data such as number of steps walked, calories burned and quality of sleep (aka a pedometer on steroids). The fitbit tracker device itself is about the size of a thumb drive.
I've wandered to myself what my sleeping patterns look like (especially those days I wake up tired) and how many calories I burn in a day. Yet I’ve never been a fan of attaching giant devices (the Bodybugg) to my arm nor am I a fan of the pedometer watches – most of which are expensive and/or very bad looking. The fitbit solves both of these problems.
The fitbit gives users information on their sleeping patterns based on the motion of their arms during the night. You attach the fitbit to your arm using the supplied strap and it monitors at what times you move and for how long. If you know when you fell asleep you can log that information online and then see how many times you tossed and turned during the restful night. Unfortunately if you don't remember when you fell asleep or forget to record it daily the sleeping pattern data probably won't do you much good. I stopped using the arm strap after a few weeks because the strap is small and started to cut off my circulation in my hand. (I wonder if that creates a conflict? I wake up because the fitbit is cutting off my circulation.)
The fitbit can be attached to your body in an unobtrusive way by clipping onto your belt or being put into your pocket. When positioned on or near your hip (central body location) it tracks your movements throughout the day in the form of steps. Users are unaware of the formula being used although one can assume by using your height and your body movement it "estimates" how many steps you take. Perhaps then by estimating how many steps you've made it can then calculate how many calories you've burned.
The most important tracking device isn't the fitbit device itself it's through their free online system where you can update / add additional exercises for a more realistic picture of your day. Probably the best thing about this device is the fact it wireless transmits the data to a base station that attaches to your computer and then uploads the data to the fitbit website - so you don't have to. If you look at the screen shots in the Product Manual of the website and it looks simple yet effective. (And a little web 2.0-y.) It’s also a website with a free subscription unlike some other tracking devices I’ve seen.
Another impressive techy thing is that your Google Health will sync with your fitbit.com website data. I don’t know about you but I signed up for both Google Health and Microsoft Health Vault years ago but have never really used them. Those services don't really offer me much utility since I don’t have prescription drugs.
A month back log is kind of crazy, luckily 24 Hour Fitness sells them. I just wish they’d offer a return policy!
Updated on 10/26/2011:
I've updated the title of this post to reflect this review was based on the 1st generation model (I jokingly refer to as the classic model). The newest generation appears to be called the Fitbit Ultra.
Anyone else use a fitibt? If so let us know what you think in the comments section!