Reviews

May The Fitbit Force Be With You

January 11, 2014

This is the latest wrist-worn activity tracker released by Fitbit in around October 2013. Riding on the success of the Fitbit One and the practicality of the Fitbit Flex, think of the Force as a marriage between the two. Fitbit Flex with a screen or Fitbit One that can be worn 24/7. 

Fitbit Force, black, with OLED screen.

Fitbit Force, black, with OLED screen.

Proprietary charging cable

Proprietary charging cable

Juicing up the Force

Juicing up the Force

ACCURACY

Putting the Fitbit Force through a series of tests i figured would closely simulate activities of daily living.  I would walk, jog and run on the treadmill for 5 minutes at each speed; most people i know of would engage in either of these activities in a day. Actual steps were recorded with a pace counter. An additional test for step accuracy was devised for wrist trackers where I would carried a laptop on my non-dominant hand and walked for 5 minutes at 5km/hr.

Step Count

Speed Fitbit Force Counter
5km/hr 544 610
9km/hr 876 882
12km/hr 924 928
5km/hr with laptop 607 612

Step count seems accurate enough except for the walk aspect. Repeat tests confirmed similar outcome. Where the Fitbit One and Zip did exceedingly well at all speeds, the Force seemed to have faltered, albeit slightly, at the 5km/hr walk department. 

HOW’S IT LOOK?

The band is of elastomer make so it feels flexible. Nothing too fancy here. The tracker has only one protrusion on the side which is the main access to all the functions. The “face” is an OLED screen that displays your tracked stats sharply. The band is pretty thin, if i really wanted to, i could do my work with this band. It doesn’t scream activity tracker so you should not have to worry about LEDs going off at inappropriate periods at work.

The clasp took all the strength on my two fingers to clip tightly. At one point of time, it did occur to be that i have to go through this every time i charge the Force. Thankfully, the band seemed to have softened somewhat. 

Fitbit Force back view

Fitbit Force back view

The multiple slots ensure you find a good fit

The multiple slots ensure you find a good fit

Wrist worn, front and back view.

Wrist worn, front and back view.

A little extra...Can you see the words "Fitbit"?

A little extra…Can you see the words “Fitbit”?

ACCESSIBILITY OF DATA

All tracked stats are accessible from the Fitbit online platform, select iOS devices, select Android devices and select Windows Phone devices. Just a few days back, 

You can refer to my Fitbit One review where i talked about the nuts and bolts of the app, and the web platform. The item tracked is comprehensive.

Various functions clockwise from top left.

Various functions clockwise from top left. Step count, distance travelled, Very active minutes, calories burnt and stairs climbed.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Essentially, Fitbit Force is near identical to a Fitbit One worn on the wrist. When Force was announced, one of the new features is the displaying of caller ID on the OLED screen. That feature is supposed to be released in February 2014. Will it be notifications, vibrations, messages and so on? We’re keeping our fingers crossed. Sadly, the recall of the Fitbit Force also meant the premature canning of this function. Perhaps in the new Fitbit fitness trackers to be released.

Sleep tracking is still activated by a long press of the side button. Stopping of sleep tracking is done the same way. The button is not very pronounced so there were days when i thought i depressed the button to stop sleep tracking only to have the tracking go on. 

There’s vibration alert, a feature that i personally feel should be a default function in all fitness trackers.

The Fitbit Force is also a watch. Yep, you can effectively do away with a watch. It’s water-resistant, rain, splash, sweat proof. No swimming though. Battery life is advertised as 7-10 days

The band wide and flat. Not as flat as i would like but it’s probably the only band i’ve worn that will allow me to type on a laptop. 

Similar to all Fitbit trackers, the Force also comes with a wireless Bluetooth dongle you can plug into your computers for syncing, just in case you’re not the mobile device type.

Fitbit Force also tells time.

Jawbone UP24 and Fitbit Force for size comparison

Jawbone UP24 and Fitbit Force for size comparison

IN A NUTSHELL

Pros:

  • Accurate for step counting.
  • Pretty good looking
  • Watch function
  • Wireless syncing via Bluetooth 4.0
  • Detailed app interface and features.
  • Vibrating alarm
  • Good battery life-7 days.
  • Water resistant; Splash and sweat proof.
  • Very easy to remove and put on.
  • Weekly summary report.
  • Allows syncing to computer; no need for mobile devices

Cons:

  • Flat band allows some typing to be done on a laptop
  • Proprietary charging cable.

Listed price: No Longer on sale at Fitbit

Colours: Slate, Black.

I’m never really a wrist tracker kind of guy. For me to don one, it has to be really really applicable to my line of work. The Fitbit Force has taken the winning formula that was in Fitbit One and improved it. There’s support for iOS, Android and Windows devices.

Any company can throw a gazillion features into a tracking device, without a decent platform and app, it’s all going to fall flat. There’s only so many functions you can squeeze into a fitness tracker before it overwhelms the consumer. And personally i’d give Fitbit credit for having the guts to stick to the tried and tested, and constantly improving their products. If you’re looking for a wrist worn activity tracker the Fitbit Force is a credible candidate for consideration.

 

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