Monday, May 26, 2014

First impressions of the Fitbit Flex

Many years ago I bought a pedometer to help me count the number of steps that I take on a daily basis. The idea was to walk at least ten thousand steps every day to balance the modern sedentary lifestyle, caused by sitting on a chair almost all day long, both at work and at home. The pedometer was great for a while, showing how far I was from the ideal number of steps, and making me compete with myself every day to increase the number of steps I take. Because it was bulky and inconvenient to carry in my pocket, when I finally hit the goal of ten thousand steps I stopped carrying it along. And of course the number of steps declined back to where it was before the pedometer, and I did not think anything of it.

This year the flu season has not been kind to me. Between a hectic work schedule and a kid at daycare, I have been hit by some cold or flu variant every couple of weeks. My wife attributed the low immunity to a lack of physical activity, and she started looking for a way to help us become more active again. She settled on the Fitbit Flex, because of the good reviews, and the fact that the Fitbit Force was recalled since it caused a skin rash. As a bonus, we could see how many steps we were taking, and compete with each other to encourage a more active lifestyle.

Setting the Fitbit was a breeze, and the web interface is intuitive and straightforward. Through the interface we discovered more functions that the Fitbit supports. In addition to logging steps, the Fitbit supports logging sleep, calorie intake, water intake, and active minutes. And as a bonus, the dashboard allows us to compare performance with people we add from the Fitbit community.

The Fitbit is more convenient to wear than the pedometer, but definitely less convenient for someone who wears a watch since it adds another band to either hand. I wish it had a watch like the Force, but I understand why Fitbit wanted a smaller feature set on the device for a better battery life. Which is great: roughly 5 days on a recharge, and the charging takes about a couple of hours using the computer's USB port.

Overall I am satisfied with the Flex, and I have found the dashboards to be very convenient, and a good incentive to be more active. There is something to be said about the quantified self movement going on after all.