Review: Fitbit Flex Fitness Tracker

By Pat Pilcher

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Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Chance are that you're familiar with pedometers that record the number of steps you take in a day, they're a great fitness motivator but with one minor drawback - at the end of the day they present a bunch of numbers which are next to meaningless.
Enter stage left, The Fitbit Flex - a wrist-worn fitness tracker gizmo that is worn in a nifty silicon wrist band and can wirelessly sync with a PC, Mac or smartphone to keep you motivated via goals and up to the minute progress reports.

Soon to launch in New Zealand, punters can pre-order their flex via the Fitbit website. Consisting of a small water resistant tracker module and a silicon wrist strap plus a USB charger (wrist straps are available in small and large sizes and in a range of different colours).

The strap has a small transparent gap that displays five tiny white LED lights - each of which represents 20 per cent of your daily exercise goal. Although the LEDs are not on continuously, they can be woken up by giving the Fitbit flex a few taps.

The Flex is also water resistant which means it can handle a shower or briefly being submerged.

You'd also be forgiven for thinking that wearing a wrist strap would be intrusive but after a several days I can attest to almost forgetting I had the Flex wrapped around my wrist.
Inside the strap is a pencil eraser-sized electronic tracker that records your movement so you can keep track of the number of steps taken, the distance walked/ran, and calories burned. Additionally the Fitbit will also monitor sleep patterns.

The Fitbit flex automatically syncs over Bluetooth, allowing you to see your exercise data in real-time on some Android devices or an iPhone. Using the supplied wireless dongle I was also able to install the Fitbit app on my PC and sync data wirelessly to it too.

The Fitbit app (for android and IOS, OS/X and Windows) was well designed, sporting a clean and uncluttered interface that is also able to be customised. Although Fitbit measures movement automatically, food and drink consumption still need to be manually updated, but the Fitbit app has a pretty comprehensive database of food and drink.

Another nifty feature was the Fitbit Flex's ability to monitor and report on your sleep patterns. As smart as the Fitbit flex is, you'll still need to tell it when you've gone to bed and when you've woken up. This is done by tapping it five times; although remembering to do this in the morning caught me out several times. Battery life is five days and it only took just over an hour to fully charge the Fitbit flex using the supplied USB charger.

Verdict
There's a whole lot to like about the Fitbit Flex. Being able to quickly tap and glance at my wrist to see how many steps I'd taken was pretty neat. Fitness fans and joggers may however not want to lug their smartphone around while out running.

I also liked the fact that the Fitbit Flex was sufficiently unobtrusive that I frequently forgot I was wearing it. That the Fitbit Flex is waterproof was also a good thing as I frequently wore it in the shower, not realising until it had been given a thorough soaking.
The five LED display was unfortunately a little limiting, especially compared to other fitness trackers such the Nike Fuelband , whose display is able to tell the time and provide more intuitive information than is possible with 5 LEDs.

At the end of the day however I'm pretty impressed with the Fitbit Flex, there's nothing quite like getting an email in the evening telling you that you've nailed your daily fitness goals.

The Fitbit Flex officially launches in June.

Tech Specs
RRP TBA
Bluetooth 4.0 Syncing
Supported smartphones
iPhone 4S and higher
iPad, 3rd generation and higher
iPod touch, 5th generation
Windows
Mac OS/X
Samsung Galaxy S III , Note II
Battery life 5-7 days
Battery Type Lithium-polymer

- NZ Herald

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