Review: Fitbit One is a great fitness sidekick
At a Glance
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After using the Fitbit One for about a month, I've found myself eager to pull it out of my pocket to show off the tiny-yet-powerful fitness gadget to my friends. The One has affected my day-to-day activities as well: I’ve opted to walk instead of taking the bus to get more steps in, I now know that walking to and from my office is not enough daily steps to actually lose weight, and waking up in the morning is noticeably more humane with the silent alarm, which, along with the sleep tracker, sets the One apart from the other Fitbit models.
Unlike the range of bright colors available for the Fitbit Zip, choices for the One are limited to burgundy or black, each with a matching silicon clip that is quite secure. What it lacks in color options, it makes up for in function with a rechargeable lithium ion polymer battery, which lasts about five days, and a great OLED display. Easy to read even in low light, the display rotates through activity information including steps taken, floors climbed, miles traveled, and calories burned. The One does not have GPS features like those seen on the Nike+ FuelBand, but the display has a friendly Flower icon that grows or shrinks based on your recent activity level, as well as personalized greetings and encouraging messages such as ‘Let’s Go,’ and ‘Rock On!’
Scrolling through the Fitbit One using the display's single button couldn't be easier; the information and controls are also clear and easy to understand. Likewise, setting up the device to wirelessly sync with a computer was simple and intuitive—it takes about five minutes to enter all the necessary data. Options such as setting the device to be right- or left-handed and setting the silent alarm are easy to find in the menu; the dashboard information is also easy to understand (more on that later).
The display also registers information for the silent alarm and the sleep counter, which is simple to turn on after slipping the device into the comfortable wrist band at bedtime. The One tracks the number of hours you sleep and the number of times you make significant movement to give you a sleep efficiency score for the night. I question the accuracy of these measurements as the device wouldn't necessarily register if you were laying awake in bed and not moving, but the results are interesting to see, especially considering studies linking sleep and body weight. The vibration of the silent alarm has never failed to wake me up effectively, without the jarring experience of my clock radio alarm. This is a great feature for couples too, as it doesn’t disturb your bed partner.
Apps and service
Fitbit One stores your activity information for several days and uses Bluetooth Smart to wirelessly sync with PCs and Macs whenever the device is within range of the included dongle. Wireless sync to mobile is also available for iPhone 5 and select iOS devices. There is an app for Android, but it doesn't yet offer the wireless syncing feature. As an Android user, I was disappointed to miss this on-the-go syncing functionality, which becomes pretty essential when using the food tracker in the Fitbit dashboard as you won’t know how many calories you have left to consume until you sync your activity. Speaking of the food tracker—I was impressed with the database and had no issue finding most common foods or equivalents.
The Fitbit.com dashboard is packed with relevant information and the interface is cheerful and user-friendly. The charts and graphs are a useful way to get a sense of your overall activity patterns and sleep quality, and when paired with the Fitbit Aria wireless scale, you can see how your habits—and even daily water intake—could be affecting your weight and body fat (Again, I’m not 100 percent sold on the accuracy of the Aria’s body fat measurements as it's quite difficult to get a completely accurate reading without including additional factors such as hydration levels, but knowing a ballpark figure is helpful).
Even more engaging were the achievement badges and community interaction. I smiled to myself when I discovered that I had “climbed the tallest dinosaur,” or earned my 10,000 Daily Steps Badge. You can find other friends who are using Fitbit devices via Facebook and compare leaderboard standings, which provides a healthy dose of competition, and you can cheer friends along (or taunt them) via messages on the Fitbit dashboard.
The Fitbit One is practically weightless and so easy to use, it immediately became a habit to carry it with me every day and strap it on my wrist every night. Compared to the Fitbit Zip, the One offers enough added features—especially the silent alarm—to make the higher price point worthwhile. Overall, in tandem with the Fitbit dashboard, it has proven itself to be a great fitness sidekick and I'll be counting on it to help me stick with my New Year's resolutions.