Fitbit Charge HR review
Just a quick background story. I have been disparately waiting for the Fitbit Flex ever since they announced it. I did not think twice about pre-ordering it, as soon as the pre-orders page went live, I jumped right in and added 2, one for myself and one for my wife. I was really excited to try this new gadget, it has everything the Jawbone UP has plus wireless sync, which was my biggest issue about the Jawbone UP! You have the take the UP off every time you want to sync it. I had the Jawbone UP, used it for about a month, then syncing it became such a hassle to the point where I just stopped syncing it everyday, then I found myself not even using it anymore because I did not want to keep wearing it and taking it off to sync it just to see if I am on track with my daily goal or not. So when they announced the Fitbit Flex, I was really excited to have something like the UP plus wireless sync.
My wife and I are both in good shape, we both wanted the Flex just to keep us active and motivated, we both wanted to basically lose few pounds and monitor our calories to get a better understanding about our diet.
Pre-ordering process nightmares
Once Fitbit announced the Flex and started accepting pre-orders, many people, myself included, jumped right in and pre-ordered it, people trust Fitbit products since they have had a good success with their other activity monitors. Fitbit kept delaying the release date of the Flex without any announcement of why or when it will be out, no one knew when the device was coming out! Posts of angry people demanding answers on Fitbit’s facebook page were simply getting deleted almost right away. Then all of the sudden, and without any notice from Fitbit about when the product will be released, Flex started selling at BestBuy! But wait a minute! We all pre-ordered the device, shouldn’t we (the ones who pre-ordered it) get it first? what is the point of pre-ordering then? Why jump the ship and pre-order a product if it will start selling at retailers before you get your pre-order?
I went to BestBuy and got two, Black and Slate. then went home and contacted Fitbit to cancel my pre-orders, Fitbit were nice about it and cancelled my pre-orders. Right until now, Fitbit Flex still says coming soon on their website, but it is already selling at BestBuy, if you have a pre-order, just cancel it and go get it from BestBuy. Or maybe just cancel your pre-order and not even get it before finish reading this review.
Un-packaging and first impressions
Once I got home, very excited, I opened the box, Flex has a nice simple packaging box, almost like the Jawbone Up, if you are familiar with the UP packaging, you would not find the Flex packaging new to you. Nothing fancy to write about here, the device is displayed in the middle, with an extra small size band, USB charger, Bluetooth USB receiver, and a small user manual.
I inspected the device, which is very small sitting inside the large rubber band, to make sure nothing is broken, no visual manufacturer defects or breaks. Everything was good, the quality is good, it is as good of quality as other Fitbit products. As for the rubber band, nothing to go crazy about, just a simple, not really that fancy rubber band, the corners are all almost cut clean, Not Apple products clean, but acceptable.
I plugged it in the USB charger as instructed by the manual, downloaded the Fitbit app to my PC and started the setup, it was very simple specially because I already had a Fitbit account, so I just logged in to the app and followed the step by step instructional. Everything went smooth and the Flex was setup in under 2 minutes. Let it fully charge for about 2-3 hours then it was finally ready to be used.
Showering and first night with the Flex
By the time my Flex finished charging and I started wearing it, it was the end of that day, I wore it and jumped in the shower, since it is ok to take it with you in the shower, I wanted to test it. everything was ok, it stayed working, yay! But wait a minute, are those water drops inside the screen of the rubber band? Hmm, it is not really inside the device, but between the device and the rubber band, which has the little see through screen, water has managed to get in there and stay in there, the only way is to take the band off, take the fitbit device of the band, clean the screen from the inside then put everything back on! Convenient? maybe to some, but not for me! That was not strike one, but basically a very small let down. After that I went to sleep. Putting the device in sleep mode was not as easy as the UP, you actually have to do it from the phone app, there is no other way to put it to sleep without the app, and it is not simple too, they have managed to hide it under settings. You have to launch the app, wait for the device to finish connecting and syncing to your phone, go to settings, then sleep, then but the device to sleep. To me, that was another small let down. You mean to tell me, every time I want to put the device to sleep mode, I have to do all of this? and then again to wake it up?
I woke up the next day and wanted to see my sleep analysis, It was not much, no details or any information other than marking “Restless” 10 times at different spots during the night! That’s it! nothing crazy or fancy like the UP sleep analysis. Also, another note about the sleep silent alarm. It is not a smart alarm, again, like the UP, but just a regular alarm! What I mean by smart alarm is, with the UP, you can tell it to wake you up at maximum 6am for example. It will automatically select the best time to wake you up between 5:30 and 6 during your light sleep, so you can wake up refreshed. The Flex does not have that, it just have a simple silent alarm, 5:45 means exactly 5:45. Some people may prefer the regular alarm, me personally, being spoiled with the UP smart alarm. I prefer that instead.
At this point, I am already a little annoyed, but not the point where I am going to return it, just small little things here and they that could have been done a lot better.
First/last day with the Flex
I am a Systems Engineer, I spend most of my time on the computer, sitting down typing on my keyboard and getting lost in the E-world. I wanted something to remind me to get up and take a walk. Be a little more active and not spend hours and hours just staring at my computer screen. Keep in mind that this feature does exist with the Jawbone UP! So I naturally went into settings thinking this setting exists somewhere and I just needed to set it up! NO? come to find out, that this does not exist at all. A simple reminder does not exist to remind you to get up and walk if you have been in-active for a certain amount of time. Ok, another little let down, but still not a reason to return it.
Now comes the real test! I wanted to see how accurate the band is. I marked down the steps I took so far before starting the test. I sat down, started using my PC for about 5 minutes, typing on my keyboard. Then I launched the app to sync and see my stats, impressive! it did not register my keyboard use and hand movements as steps! So far so good, I was happy about that, but this was only a 5 minute test and can not judge by that! I tried the same thing again, but this time 20 minutes. Launched the app, sync, hmm, this time it managed to register 17 extra steps! Not good. On top of all that, I was trying to use the keyboard as lightly as possible to not tick the device and make it think I am walking. But still, I had hope and still wanted to test the device some more. After some more small testings, some more keyboard testings. Sometimes it manages to be very accurate and sometimes it completely loses it.
So for the final test. I decided to just wear it for the rest of my computer session at work, not walking at all, which was about almost 3 hours before I get off work to go home. I wrote down the number of steps I had in before starting the test. Used my computer regularly, like I always do. Three hours later, I launched the app to find out the truth about this device, synced, WHAT? OMG, 1700 steps registered from the last time I synced it! I did not get up at all, how did it register 1700 extra steps?
I quickly went online to search around if somebody else is having the same problem, I saw one post that was on Fitbit’s facebook page that basically stated it is inaccurate, the post was later deleted, I called my wife to see how her’s is holding up, she was not testing it the way I am, but she said she thought it was inaccurate, and that hers counted steps when she was also sitting down! Right then and there, I packed mine up back in the box, When my wife got home, We packed hers, went to BestBuy and returned both!
Aside from all the little annoyances that I had with the device, I could not deal with the fact that I spent $100+ on each device that gives me inaccurate stats. I am very disappointed about the fact that I waited for so long for this, only to find out that it really does not work the way I imagined it to. I honestly do not recommend it to anyone, simply because it is inaccurate, and not by 10+/- steps, but by huge numbers, what is the point of setting a goal, when you can simply reach it by only sitting down using your computer?
PS. I know I have mentioned Jawbone UP many times, but that little device is also not perfect! It is probably more accurate than the Flex, but the fact that you have to take it off and then put it back on every time you need to sync it, is a little annoying. Also, Jawbone need to make it a little more slim for people like me that use the keyboard all the time. With the Jawbone, the device was touching the keyboard or the desk all the time causing discomfort.