UPDATE- 02/21/2014: FitBit has now officially recalled the FitBit Force and will refund anyone who returns their device. I’m torn because I love mine and have had no problems, but I’m definitely interested to see what they come out with as a replacement!
I knew I wanted a wristband-style device that would calculate calories burned. Those were the two things that I required- a wristband, and the ability to keep track of how many calories I was burning, so that I could compare that with my caloric intake and shoot for a deficit of 500-1000 calories a day. I did exhaustive research on all the different brands that are out there, and I finally settled on the FitBit Force. I’m so glad I did! Here is my FitBit Force review.
So I’ve had my FitBit Force for about three weeks now, and I’ve worn it almost non-stop. It is not water-resistant (one of its few drawbacks), so I take it off when I shower. Here are some of the things I like about the FitBit Force:
1. It has a display
I was close to choosing the FitBit Flex, but I ultimately decided that it was worth paying $30 more to have the display on the band. The Flex has a display of 5 lights that light up as you get closer to your daily goal, but that’s it. Otherwise you’d have to access the mobile app or internet site to see all of your data and your exact numbers.
The FitBit Force has a bright display that shows you the time (I also figured if I was going to wear something on my wrist, it should tell me the time!), calories burned, steps taken, distance, floors, active minutes, and (if you have one set) your next alarm time. You can customize which of those are shown on your display as you toggle through (there’s just one button on the side of the wristband), so I have mine set to show the time, calories burned, steps taken, and my next alarm time.
2. Wireless syncing, a great app, and goal setting
The FitBit Force syncs with the app on your mobile device or your computer whenever it’s close, so your data is updated seamlessly across all platforms. The app makes it easy to customize your display, check in on any of your data, and set alarms.
It also allows you to choose which calculation to use as your main goal. For example, I chose to set my main goal as 2500 calories burned per day, and my wristband vibrates and shows celebratory graphics when I reach my goal!
3. It’s accurate
When I was reading reviews of various devices, many reviewers mentioned that the FitBit devices were at the top for accuracy. I have also found this to be true. I can watch the pedometer as I run or walk and as I switch between the two, and it keeps up with me.
As far as calories burned, after I inputted my age, height, and weight, it estimated that I burn approximately one calorie per minute, without making any effort, and that seems about right. If I check in with the app on my phone, it will show how many calories I’ve burned per each 15 minute period. If I’m sleeping or sitting at my computer, it stays at 15, but I can see when I’m burning more, such as the period of time in the morning when I’m getting the kids ready for school, or if I’m doing housework. If I go running, then my calorie burn goes way up!
4. It’s motivating
I almost talked myself out of buying one of these activity trackers because there is no secret trick they have to help you lose weight! They are purely feeding you information, and I thought I might get bored of that after a day or two. On the contrary, I know that if I go running, I will hit my daily goal of calories burned, and it’s super rewarding when my wristband buzzes and shows me little fireworks.
I didn’t think I would care too much about the pedometer aspect, but I actually found myself checking in on my daily steps and trying to reach 10k per day. It is a great indicator of how active I’ve been, and it definitely inspires me to move more.
5. You can input your food
I’m excited for the day when these devices are able to track your caloric intake without you having to do anything! But for now, the FitBit Force has a built-in database of food which is pretty inclusive. I recommend entering in the things you eat frequently with the custom food option, so it’s easy to log those foods again.
6. It tracks your sleep and wakes you up
When you go to bed at night, just hold the button on the wristband until it vibrates briefly, and then it will be in sleep mode. Do the same in the morning to exit sleep mode, and you’ll get a report on your app of your sleep patterns. That wasn’t a huge draw for me but the silent vibrating alarm was. Very cool, and won’t wake up your bed partner!
I had just decided on the FitBit Force when news broke out that some people had suffered skin reactions to the device. But when I read that some people had no problems, I took the plunge. I’ve been wearing mine for about three straight weeks with no adverse effects.
I researched a lot of different activity trackers, many of whom came close to beating out the FitBit Force for my business. Here are the competitors, along with some of the features that made me consider them. Among those I researched were: FitBit Flex, BodyMedia Fit Core/Link, iHealth, Jawbone Up, Misfit Shine, and Garmin.
Pros: comes in lots of colors (Force only comes in two), tracker is removable so you can switch bands (if the Force band wears out you’ll need a new Force), water-resistant
Cons: no display, reviews say the “tapping” feature (to change modes and show indicator lights) is faulty
BodyMedia Fit Core/Link
Pros: similar functions to Force, accurate
Cons: large and some say uncomfortable, no alarm, no display, app requires paid subscription
Pros: claims to do everything the Force does at a fraction of the price
Cons: reviewers say it is not accurate and very large and clunky
Pros: same functions as the Force, looks like jewelry
Cons: no display, only newest version has wireless syncing
Pros: very unique design- can be worn as a wristband, necklace, or clip-on pendant, looks like jewelry, waterproof, tracks swimming
Cons: no silent alarm, no food tracking
Pros: can be used with a heart rate monitor, tracks distance accurately with GPS technology
Cons: busy interface, some versions are more expensive
My decision came down to the FitBit Force and the not-yet-released Garmin VivoFit.
The VivoFit is Garmin’s foray into activity trackers, and it looks like it will be a hit. I loved the colors it comes in more than the Force, especially the purple and teal, and it can be used with a heart rate monitor. However, the display is not able to be seen in the dark, which would be a drawback for me, since I often run at night and like to check my progress.
An additional plus for the Force is that FitBit plans to release a software update that will cause the Force to vibrate and alert the user when they get a call on their cell phone. I could definitely see that being a useful feature for me, since I wear the Force all day, and sometimes I’m not near my phone.
To conclude, I would recommend the FitBit Force to anyone who is considering buying an activity tracker and cares about accuracy, having a display, and the vibrating alarm feature. Those features, combined with everything else the Force has to offer, makes it a hit for me!