Gadget Review: Fitbit Ultra
Recently, I got a new gadget through work, so that I can be a tester for a data gathering platform: the Fitbit Ultra. I am excited about this, because I have been feeling like I don’t get enough exercise lately, and tracking what I do is a sure way for me to get more activity in. I love gadgets! AND, you can go to their website and see charts and other data! I love data!
- Easy to use. I clip the device to my bra, because it is very stable there, and other than that, I don’t have to do anything with it all day.
- Lots of data. Of course, I do look at it all day, because you can get a lot of data just on the device itself. With the push of a few buttons, I can see how many steps I’ve taken so far in the day, how far I have gone, how many calories I have burned (approximately), how many flights of stairs I’ve climbed (or hills with at least 10 feet in height gain), a flower that gives an indication of my overall activity level, and the time.
- Great website. On the website, I can see even more data: how much time I have been sedentary, lightly active, fairly active or very active, how many times I woke up during the night and how much actual sleep I got, badges that I have earned and my rank compared to other fitbit users.
- Food logs. Although I don’t believe in dieting, I do believe in the importance of eating healthy food. Logging what I eat makes me more aware when I am eating bad stuff and when I am not eating enough good stuff. I don’t really pay attention to the calorie totals–I look at them, but if I am hungry, I eat something, whether I have calories left according to the food goal or not.
- Motivation to move. Just looking at the stats on my daily exercise makes me want to move more. Exercise is so important to health, whether it leads to weight loss or not. Whenever I use a good pedometer (this is not the first one I have had, but it is the best, thanks to the additional information beyond step counts), I am surprised to find both how easy and how hard it is to get to 10,000 steps in one day. If you take the long way whenever you go somewhere and get in a 30 minute walk or two, it isn’t that hard to reach the goal, but on the other hand, if you aren’t paying attention and you have a desk job, it is easy to miss it, too.
- Emphasis on weight loss. Much of the community support centers around weight loss. This isn’t surprising, given our cultural emphasis on dieting, but I don’t like it. I certainly won’t mind if I lose a bit of weight thanks to this device, but that isn’t my goal–my goal is to be healthy. Too much emphasis on weight loss often leads to less than healthy choices, in my experience.
- Food logs can be difficult to use. There is no way to add a recipe and have the nutrition calculated for the whole recipe. It is sometimes hard to know which food to choose when you search on a particular food. You can add an item with nutrition information, and there is good information on restaurant meals, but for someone who does a lot of home cooking, it can be time-consuming and tedious to log. This really isn’t a huge deal for me since I don’t care if I am exact on the calories, but if you are, it is a bit difficult.
- You can only sync through the base. I have the base hooked up to my home PC, so the website is out of date all day long while I am at work. Come to think of it, though, that may be a benefit–I can’t spend as much time osbsessively checking my stats when I should be working. I can still keep track of all data points that are available on the fitbit itself, so it continues to motivate me to move throughout the day. In theory, you can get a second base for charging and syncing for your work computer, but I cannot find a way to purchase one separately.
There is a lot of integration with other networks and devices available. You can hook your account up to Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and Foursquare for more social interaction. I enjoy finding friends that are using the site for some friendly competition and support. You can also connect your fitbit account to Microsoft HealthVault, which will allow you to export and store historical data free of charge. There is an iPhone app to help you log food and water on the go. You can get additional detail and analysis by purchasing a Premium membership at $49.99/year. It isn’t necessary, because you can get a lot of information without it, but you can get more detailed reports and easily export your data into Excel with the membership.
Overall, I love my fitbit. I exercise more, and I feel like I am eating more healthily. Mostly, though, the exercise is awesome. I feel like I am getting more toned, and I just feel better when I move more. This isn’t a terribly cheap device at $99.95, but I feel that the value I am getting is worth the price. Also, according to the forums on the site, several people have gotten free replacements when their unit was not working correctly, so that is an awesome benefit. I am glad I have this gadget–like I said above, gadgets are awesome! If they come with charts and data, so much the better! This is highly recommended.