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Product Testing.
Review of the Fitbit Force activity tracker.

All products I review are paid for and purchased by me. I am not compensated by the manufacturer in any way and in fact doubt the manufacturer even knows who the hell I am.

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Product: Fitbit Force activity and sleep tracker.

What does it do?: Tracks your activity throughout the day including how many steps you’ve taken, how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed, how many calories you’ve burned, how long you’ve been “very active”, and how well you sleep.

Version tested: Fitbit Force, size small – black.

Cost:$129 + tax (Canadian)

 

I’ve been interested in activity trackers for a while, but most of the ones I’d seen were either MASSIVE watches, or they were tiny little charms you hung off your clothing.  I wasn’t so interested in them that I would have considered either option.  So I forgot about them.

And started eating chips.  And bacon wraps, cookies, poppycock, dip, chips, bacon wraps, cheese and cured meats.  It was the holiday season.  No use for a fitness tracker anyway.  I could track my fitness all on my own.  Steps taken in a day?  4.  Calories burned?  Way less than calories eaten.  See?  I’m a regular computer.

Some time before Christmas I started noticing the Fitbit Force.  I’d say it was around the same time I went to the emergency room because of the sudden appearance of soft, gelatinous, tube shaped tumours on either side of my lower back.

I tried to order the Fitbit Force as a Christmas present for myself but it was sold out everywhere.

By the first week of January it was back in stock and I ordered one for myself and my tumours.

 

Fitbit Force Review 7

 

 

The Fitbit Force comes in 2 sizes.  Small and Large.  It comes in 2 colours.  Black and a Gray/Blue.  Generally speaking if you’re a woman you’ll wear the small and if you’re a man, the large.

 

When you open the box, you’ll find another box that holds 2 important components for the Fitbit Force.

Fitbit Force Review 8

 

Firbit Force Review 9

 

The tracker comes with a charging cord  and a little plug that goes into a USB port on your computer.  This little plug wirelessly takes the information from your tracker and puts it on the Fitbit software you download onto your computer.  The software lets you keep track of all of your activity information.

You can also get the app for your iPhone which is even more user friendly than the desktop version.

 

Fitbit Force Review 10

The unit itself is smaller than I thought it was going to be.  Which is good.  I didn’t want a huge clunky thing on my wrist all day long.  It looks much bigger on the Fitbit website and in other photos I’ve seen of it.

It measures 3/4″ across the face, and is 9″ from end to end.

 

Fitbit Force Review 11

 

The tracker does up with two rubber pegs that squish into holes on the other side of the wristband.

This watch only gets a rating of 3 stars out of 5 on Amazon with almost all of the low ratings and complaints about the strap.  A lot of people said they loved the tracker but gave it low ratings because they either a) lost it or b) worried about losing it.

There isn’t a real clasp to secure the band together which is a real problem.  I was willing to take the risk because I automatically assume other people are stupid and don’t know how to do up a watch.

I once met a person that thought rainbows were something magical that had no explanation … so a few people not knowing how to do up a watch wasn’t impossible.

 

Fitbit Force Review 12

 

The two rubber nubs are a very tight fit in the holes and once I clicked it on it felt very secure.  I pulled and flicked at it quite a bit and it stayed put so I was satisfied for the moment.  People are so stupi… Oh LOOK!  A rainbow!

 

Fitbit Force Review 13

The tracker feels good on but it got some getting used to.  Like  a lot of people with a smart phone, I haven’t worn a watch in a couple of years so having something on my arm other than a suckling cat was a bit of a change.

The face is the thickest part of the tracker because it has to hold the battery and the actual computer part of the gadget.  The thing that magically tells you how many steps you’ve taken and whether or not you woke up in the night!  I know.  It’s a magical watch.  More on the super-exciting world of the sleep monitor later.

Because of the thickness of the face and the fact that it’s a straight, sharpish edge, it gets ends up getting caught on my shirt sleeves when I’m either pulling on or pulling off a shirt.  This angers me.

 

Fitbit Force Review 14

The moment I put it on I was very excited to see that I had already walked 12,489 steps but quickly realized it was just a sticker and in fact I had walked no steps.

As soon as you get your watch you simply go to www.fitbit.com/setup.  You’re instructed to download the software for whichever Fitbit product it is you’re setting up.

In this case it was The Force, the latest in the Fitbit activity tracker collection.

 

Firbit Force Review 1

 

 

Once you’ve downloaded the software you install it on your computer.

Fitbit Force Review 2

 

The software then automatically walks you through the steps to connecting your Fitbit Force to your software.

Fitbit Force 4

 

It only takes a few minutes and is very straightforward.

Fitbit Force Review 3

 

Then all you have to do is wear your fitness tracker like you would a watch.  It does have a watch by the way.

The Fitbit Force is fully programmable in terms of what you would like it to track and what you would like the watch to show you.  If you want to know how many steps you’ve taken, but don’t care about how many stairs you’ve climbed, you can eliminate the stair climbing portion of the display through the software.  The benefit to this would be you don’t have as many things to scroll through on your tracker.

You read your tracker by pressing a very small button on the side of the face.  Doing so scrolls you through the time, steps taken,  distance travelled, calories burned, stairs climbed, and minutes spent “very active” (running, walking very quickly, that sort of thing). There are also options for whether you’d like your measurements in imperial or metric. Being a Canadian eh, once I finally figured out how to switch to kilometres I switched to that.

All the data is wirelessly sent to your computer (or iPhone if you so choose) so you can review it.

The interface is fairly easy to use and does give you all the stats you need at a glance. Again, I found the iPhone app easier to use than the computer version of the software.

 

 

Fitbit Force 5

When I first put the tracker on I was checking how many steps I’d taken and calories I’d burned every 30 seconds or so.  It was just so fun!  I really did need to lose 5 pounds of bacon wraps off my back so I programmed that into the software.

You can tell it what you weigh, what you WANT to weigh and it calculates how many calories you need to eat per day to get you to that weight.  You can set it to get you there quickly, or get you there slowly.  It adjusts the calories automatically depending on how you want to do it.

The MAJOR PROBLEM is the fact that you have to enter all of the foods you ate throughout the day yourself in the software.  All you really have to do is type in “apple” and a list of apples, and things made with apples comes up. You select what you ate and it automatically adds the calories and totals them.

80% of the time I’m too lazy to record the foods I ate.  I understand the irony.

Fitbit Force 6

You can also use the software to add in other activities you did during the day to burn calories. Everything from painting your new kitchen (!!!) to digging a hole to swimming a mile. It’s very easy. Much easier than logging everything you shoved in your mouth in the day. You just type in the activity and how long you did it for and Fitbit automatically tells you how many calories you burned doing that activity.

 

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ADDITIONAL FUN!

Do you ever wake up and think UCH! I was up all night. Well the Fitbit Force will track your sleep. At least that’s what they say it does. And it does do something similar to that.  It senses your movements to determine whether you’re asleep, restless or awake.

Before going to sleep if you press and hold the button on the side of the face the Fitbit Force will track all of your movements in the night. It will tell you how long it took you to fall asleep, how many times you woke up in the night, and how many times you were restless. As soon as you wake up you press the button again and it stops recording.

The software then lets you know everything including the exact times you were awake, how long it took you to fall asleep and how long you appeared to be awake for. It then subtracts that time from how long you were in bed to let you know how many hours of sleep you actually got.

As if that weren’t enough, you can also set an alarm on the tracker to gently wake you up by vibrating on your wrist. I LOVE this feature. I hate the sound of an alarm clock and sometimes music just doesn’t wake me up. I’m the ultimate slumberer once I actually get to bed.

Note: The Fitbit Force is water resistant but NOT waterproof.

UPCOMING FEATURES!

As of February 2014 you’ll be able to download a new version of the Fitbit Force software that enables caller ID on the tracker. You link it to your iPhone and you can see who’s calling you on  your iPhone.  If this feature goes over well with users then Fitbit will add, text messages and emails.

 

id-display-fitbit-force

THE RESULTS

I have to apologize for such a long review but I wanted to cover all the questions I had prior to buying it.

I wasn’t sure I was going to really use the Fitbit Force, but because it’s on my arm all day and all night it isn’t even a choice. I’m not sure if it would actually help anyone lose weight but it does make you way more aware of how much or how little you’ve moved in a given day.

Which is really what it’s meant to do. It’s meant to monitor your activity.

You can set goals for yourself like how many steps you want to take in a day.  Statistically anything less than 5,000 steps a day means you live a sedentary lifestyle. Moving 10,000 steps a day is good. So even if you look at the tracker on that most basic level, step counting, it’s worth it. It does add incentive for you to go for a walk, park further away or take the stairs because you can so immediately see the results on the tracker. There’s no guess work.

And that kind of immediate visual reinforcement is a strong motivator. Not as strong as seeing yourself in a bathing suit under the fluorescent lighting of a department store … but not as startling either.

Finally, remember the whole watch falling off thing from the Amazon reviews? My watch fell off. I got it caught on the edge of my stove grate and pulled really hard. The watch came completely undone. It was a little bit fluke and a little bit design flaw. Plus I was distracted by a magical rainbow.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

3.5-cleavers

 

If you want your own, you can buy the Fitbit Force here for a cost of $129.


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43 Responses to Product Testing.
Review of the Fitbit Force activity tracker.

  1. Marti says:

    And how are your tumors doing? Sorry, I’m typing this in the USA so my computer won’t allow me to spell tumors goofy, the way Canadians do, but I did want to ask and express concern about those tumors on your lower back. Bigger, smaller, rounder, flattening out? Flopping around when you turn a corner? What?

  2. Ella says:

    I short-circuited my Nike Fuel Band during May last year, when I was spring cleaning and getting the garden in. Just too much activity. True story. Your Fit Bit needs to be forewarned about your kitchen reno! ;)

  3. Katie says:

    I had the Fuel band last school year through a program at the school I interned at, but had to return it at the end of the program. I bought the Fitbit Flex in the late Spring, and LOVED the sleep tracker! I liked the activity tracker, too, but didn’t like that it didn’t have a watch.
    However, after two months of wearing it, I suddenly started getting a HORRIBLE rash under the whole band of the Fitbit Flex…super itchy and terribly uncomfortable. I cleaned the entire band and device, put it back on after a week–and it continued to get worse. I switched wrists and then had the rash on BOTH wrists! I even waited a month and tried again. Sad, sad panda.
    I wound up cleaning and selling the little bastard on craigslist.

  4. Cathy Reeves says:

    Couple of the nurses I work with wear the one that looks like a pedometer. They clip it to their bra and they can track how many steps they take. The wristband type would definitely get tossed out in the laundry and I would have to take it off every time I scrub so that wouldn’t work.
    Problem is, I nearly fell over in the Target store when I saw the $60 price tag; that’s six months of my gym membership.!!! I’m nothing if not cheap.
    Dear Santa……

  5. Alisha says:

    Great review Karen. I’ve been considering getting something similar but am really hesitant to spend the money on something unfamiliar. I have been trying to ride my bike more as Vancouver is very bike friendly. I like the idea of something small and relatively inconspicuous. Thanks for this!

  6. Janet says:

    I bought myself one for Christmas too and I’m obsessed! Particularly with the sleep tracking. Which is why I’m berating myself for still being awake at 12:43 am when last night, I was asleep by 11:30 and had a very restful sleep, according to my friend the fitbit. This little device sure makes me more accountable. No lying to myself about how active (or inactive) I was anymore.

  7. Jamie Lynn says:

    I *love* my fitbit! I have the “One” that you can clip on anywhere (or wear in a pocket – but I clip it on my bra!) I’ve only had it for 3 days but it’s my favorite new toy and certainly gives me motivation to get off my ass!!

  8. Debbie says:

    Once again you must be a mind reader. I just started looking into these. You have given me the information and most if not all of my questions. Thank you.

  9. Anna says:

    I have had the FitBit Ultra for almost two years and am still in love with it. I attach it to my bra with a ponytail holder and my favorite part about it is that in yoga class, it lights up with motivational quotes every time we do down-dog, so I can see it down my shirt cheering me on. It’s like my own silent personal trainer hiding out in my cleavage.

    Also, I now kick one of my cats out of my bedroom at night, because I realized from the sleep-tracker that on nights that she’s in the room I wake up literally 20-30 times, and on nights she’s not in there I wake up 0-2 times. She’s an asshole.

  10. christa says:

    That was so motivating…I got up right after I read it and got a another cookie dough brownie that I made yesterday in preparation for the next round of snow! About 6 steps, plus I had to get out a knife to cut another row! Device sounds great but too costly!

  11. Tigersmom says:

    If those things are tumors, I must be riddled with cancer.

  12. Zoe says:

    Thanks for the reminder to find my fit bit (not the force one) and stick it back on my wrist – I do like mine and have been known to pace up and down my hallway at night just to get to 10,000 steps that day!

    On a side note – you’d think with a name like the “force” that it would be able to use the “force” to remove tumours !

  13. Sandy says:

    Thank you for this review, Karen. I have been wanting a tracker but did not know which one to purchase. You did all the work for me and helped me make the decision.

  14. Ruth says:

    My question is (since you ordered it for yourself and your tumours, and all that jazz)… what effect has it had on the tumours? Do we get to hear THEIR side of the story?

    My ‘exchange rate calculator’ chipped when you quoted the price, and all I saw was gibberish…. ah well.

  15. erin says:

    Fitbit’s customer service is top-notch. I had a One (the little clip-on) and lost it. Fitbit replaced it for free. (Two weeks later, I found it…after I ran it over with the lawn mower. I’ve since upgraded to the Flex (their first wristband model).

    My mother-in-law put her One through the washing machine. Stopped working. Fitbit replaced it for free.

    And just last week, my husband’s Flex stopped working – wouldn’t record steps, would only sync when it was connected to the charger. And yup, you guessed it, he received his free replacement in Saturday’s mail.

  16. Shel says:

    Thanks for the great real life review. I looked into this product awhile ago…but ended up replacing my “waterproof” heart rate monitor that crapped out after doing a couple of laps in a pool with another HRM (which I don’t wear in the pool). But now I’m intrigued again since my new job means that I can’t get to the gym as often to do my usual work-outs…and my HRM stays in the drawer. Wearing this everyday might be what I need to keep me motivated doing the little everyday things when I get frustrated that I can’t get to the gym. Thanks Karen!

  17. Jenniferm says:

    I really appreciate this review! I was looking for these kind of details. I especially wondered if this was going to be huge on my arm, so that was really helpful.

  18. I actually tried the FitBit out not too long ago and after a week or so of thinking how awesome it is and how I’m totally going to get skinny…I lost interest. Yup, shoved in a drawer. I do like the MyFitnessPal app for the iphone, but I can’t figure out how to override my brain’s lack of entering food in when I’m about to go over my daily calorie limit. Crap.

  19. Lisa says:

    Does it record your steps accurately? If you take 50 steps, does it show 50? I read some reviews that the wrist monitors in general aren’t very accurate.

  20. LoriD says:

    I got my Force for Christmas (I had never even heard of FitBit). I love it. My husband has a FitBit too (the FitBit One, which has the same features, but is a clip-on pocket version). At first we would have to run around the house a bit before we went to bed to make sure we got our 10,000 steps (and message of praise from FitBit), but now we’re easily hitting the mark by just moving more all day. I’ve become a FitBit Evangelist. The strap thing did worry me at first, but now it is no problem at all – I think it just needs to be worked in a bit.

  21. Karen says:

    I have had the Fitbit Force for about 6 weeks. I have caught the band on some clothing and it has popped off my wrist. Luckily, I realized it was loose before I lost it. I really like the weekly feedback thru email and of course, the buzz when I’ve walked my 10,000 steps. I read all of the comments posted but didn’t see the one problem that I have encountered: it is interrupting my Kindle signals. My Kindle is going to the setup page after every usage and acts like it is downloading a new title when I haven’t ordered a new title at all. Long story short, I bought a Pagewhite Kindle thinking mine was getting old but had some unusual happenings with it also. Has anybody else noted an interference with their electronics?

  22. Bols says:

    I have never worn a watch, I cannot stand it on my wrist. I don’t think I ever wore a watch for longer than a week, then I just got tired of it.
    I can see the problem with the band – first of all, all these plastick-y rubber-y bands make my skin sweat underneath and if your wrists are larger, you may have only one nub left to secure it with so that would make me concerned.

  23. Brenda says:

    Ahhhh…I have been checking this out for a couple months now…flex or force, force or flex? The prices on Amazon for the Force were too much for me to just buy it. BUT…………if you go to the Fitbit Store (www.fitbit.com) the Force is only $129.95 + FREE SHIPPING!! My kind of deal. Thank you!! I just bought a Force.

  24. I have the smaller FitBit Flex and love it. I’ve never had an issue with it popping off, but I feel you pain with it getting caught on sweater sleeves.

  25. kate-v says:

    Oh, regarding those little gelatinous tube shaped tumors: does that blabber mouth device fit-bit keep track of your age-related puffy ‘tumors? what i call saggy-skin which appears no matter how fit you are ? does it warn you that at a certain age you can count on a puffy gelatinous pot shaped tumor somewhere between the navel and crotch? does it calculate the flabby tumors that creep around the top of the hips? or those pesky tumors that form at the tops of the knee? Hopefully you have/had benign tumors, but you may just have “middle-age” tumors which precede the inevitable “old-age” tumors. Just sayin’…

  26. Barbie says:

    This sounds like something I need! Let us know if it helps you to lose your tumors ok Karen?

  27. traci says:

    The fitbit does sound pretty great, but you can get a lot of the functionality from a few other options. My Fitness Pal is a free website and app (for android and iphone) that lets you input and track your food and exercise. It has a massive and ever-expanding database, is easy to use, and is a nonprofit meant to bring simple fitness tools to the masses. It has the same feature of where you put in what you weigh and what you want to weigh and it automatically adjusts how many calories you can eat to lose or gain weight. It only lets you lose a healthy amount though (no more than 2 lbs/week), which is good. When you do more activities it gives you more calories to eat, so you can use it as a food only tool or food and exercise tool. I’ve used it and it really works and the best part is that it changes your behavior so you don’t just gain everything you lost as soon as you stop using it. I agree that the instant feedback of step tracking is super-motivating. You can get an inexpensive pedometer for that, if that works for you. Anyway, thought I’d share a couple no or low cost options to go alongside your fitbit. Thanks for such a thorough review, I’ve wondered about it myself! Staying healthy and fit is hard, we need all the tools we can get!

    • Karen says:

      I actually use Runkeeper for that sort of thing. I love it for running. I’ve used a pedometer before and they are a great cheap option for people. I just didn’t find it all that motivating. I need a lot of motivation to move in the winter, lol. ~ karen

  28. gabrielle says:

    I’m just not galvanized by intricate gadgets that tell me what I did in the last 24 hrs. I would be much more enthusiastic about a gadget that gives me suggestions on what I might possibly be able to accomplish with some extra effort in the near future, like “feed the homeless at 10 am Thursday!” Just more of a carrot than a stick person, I guess!

  29. Gale says:

    Our local news station mentioned that people with nickel metal allergies may have a dermatitis reaction because of the fitbit. If you develop a skin rash or burning sensation contact the company. They are trying to solve the nickel problem.

  30. As I mentioned in a previous comment I’m the “nitwit” with the Fitbit Zip. Still love it but am less inclined to log everything I eat although I am still conscious of my intake more than I was before I was logging it. Same as with the amount I move. I do park farther away and make efforts to move much more although I do not check in as often either. Glad you gave it a good rating ;-)

  31. Laura Bee says:

    Suckling cat….hahaha. I miss my old sucker. I would love to know how much I walk. On average, I think I must be around the 10,000 mark. Some days I know I am way over. That’s all I’d use it for I think.
    I started a core class & a barre class four weeks ago. I almost love my thighs. I certainly am impressed with them. The rolls *ahem* tumors/bagels/ dumplings/last of the Christmas chocolate hiding my abs are going to take a little longer. I can’t wait to get on my bicycle in a few months.

  32. Feral Turtle says:

    I think I will look into one of these for the hubs chubs! It may inspire him when he’s home for the long haul!

  33. Taylor says:

    I found you on AT’s Homies and I already love your blog and writing style. I cracked up when I read that comment about rainbows.

    Since I’m also trying to work off a few extra pounds, I may actually buy one of these. ;)

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