Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Product Review: FitBit Flex Activity/Sleep Monitor

Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation from FitBit. This item was purchased for me by my husband. All opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago, I received my much anticipated FitBit Flex personal activity and sleep monitor. I had been a user of the FitBit One activity and sleep monitor but had managed to either damage or receive a DOA item on replacement. The Flex is a new model put out by FitBit in a wristband form and for the first time as a water resistant item. What follow are my personal opinions about this product, both likes and dislikes.  This item was purchased for me by my husband and I have received no compensation for the writing of this review.

I began my review upon receipt of the Flex with an unboxing post which can be found here. This portion of the review will cover, specifically, the operation of the unit.

1. Wearability

The Flex is in the wristband format with a rather difficult closure system.The closure involves a two part snap mechanism that can be difficult to lock in, but with practice it does become a little easier. One way to make it a little more simple is to place the wristband on your wrist and put if face down on a table or flat surface and pinch/press the band and snaps with your thumb and forefinger until you hear a click. This seems to work for me most times.

Other than the snap mechanism trickiness, the Flex comes with a large band in slate and a small band in black. You won’t win any fashion awards for this item, but these colors do maintain a neutraility that works with just about anything you might wear. Optionally you can purchase 3 other colors of bands (orange, teal, navy) as a set or separately on the FitBit website.

The wristband is fairly unobtrusive and the only display is a simple row of 5 LED lights which light up when the band is tapped near the display. Each light represents 20% of the daily activity goal and this way you can track how you’re doing.

2. Function

As stated above, there is only one visual reporting mechanism, that of the activity meter. You are unable to tell how many steps that you have taken, floors climbed and battery life without logging onto the website online or via the app for iPhone or Android.

The unit is touted as “water resistant,” to which I must whole heartedly agree. I’ve worn my Flex in the shower multiple times without any problems. I’ve even worn it through a Spartan Beast race involving water and mud and it came out working like a champ. I don’t recommend wearing it during a mud/obstacle race, but I was willing to take the chance and it’s nice to know that the likelihood of it surviving such sheer torture of being water and mud ladened is very reassuring.

I do have to mention that a couple of days after the Spartan race, I finally popped the unit out to clean the dried mud off it and the LED lights suddenly stopped working. Turns out that it needed a charge, but this is where a battery life indicator (other than when it is actually low...1 or 2 lights should flash continuously) would have come in handy. I was about ready to freak out before I plugged it in to charge and saw the first LED light come on.

3. Usability

Everything that is followed (activity level, sleep pattern, steps taken, levels climbed, calories burned, etc) are followed on the dashboard at At the bottom of each item is a sub-menu that will further explain the results for that item.

The use of the wristband itself if pretty straight forward. Simply tap several times next to the display window on the band and the lights with illuminate to show how much activity you've done so far. Remember, each light represents 20% of the activity level goal. To set/end to sleep monitor tap several times in quick succession by the display window until the band vibrates. This is the tactile signal that it has been set to sleep mode or taken out of sleep mode. Forget to set the Flex to sleep? No worries, just go into the dashboard and manually enter the hours that you went to bed and got out of bed and the Flex will analyze the info from that time period for you.

1. Difficult to snap the wristband closed at times.
2. No display indicating steps taken.
3. False readings of activity due to arm movement (reads arm movement while driving as activity).
4. Water resistant rather than waterproof (maybe FitBit will develop a waterproof wristband in the    

Overall, I love this thing. Biggest thing for me is to remember to take it off before swimming (how I killed my FitBit One). I'd really recommend this item to anyone even with the minor cons associated with it.

Do you have a FitBit Flex? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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