My experience (so far) with the Fitbit health gadget

January 11, 2013

Patrick Spain

This holiday season I bought for my wife and myself matching Fitbit Zips. They cost $59 each or $99 for two at most major electronics outlets. We bought ours on Amazon.

This is the low end of a series of devices that the eponymously named company puts out. It keeps track of your steps, calories burned, and (with a lot of work) your intake of calories. More advanced versions keep track of sleep and with a connection to a wireless scale (called the Aria, priced at $129.95).

My hope in buying two was that by challenging each other to do more exercise my wife and I would, well, both do more exercise. My wife declined to participate, so I am a solo user of Fitbit Zip.

What I like:

  • It's easy to set up "“ just a little synching between the device and a program they provide for your computer.
  • My first day I got a badge for taking 5,000 steps. Who knew you had to walk so much to help prepare Christmas dinner?
  • It's cute.
  • It gives me credit every night for 500 to 600 calories burned just sleeping. So I wake up with calories burned already.
  • It gives me a pretty good week-over-week picture of how active I am. I was previously less aware of that than I am now with the Zip.

What I don't like:

  • Inputting calories consumed is totally tedious. I have no suggestion for how to do this more efficiently. I just think you have to be obsessive compulsive to keep up with every morsel of food. So I don't.
  • Apparently I had to buy one of the higher end versions to get credit for all the stairs I climb in our house every day.
  • It has popped off my belt twice. Once I did not notice and had to retrace my steps to the health club where I lost it. They knew exactly what it was, though they had no way to find out it was mine (suggestion to Fitbit folks: make that possible).

As I mentioned in my prior blog on this subject, the real opportunity here might be for companies to use these devices to measure and encourage healthy activity. Our company provides a discount on health insurance to employees who don't smoke and exercise moderately. We are small and all know one another, so we don't use any enforcement mechanisms other than asking people to tell us. Larger companies might use Zips to encourage competition, etc. Though, it's a bit creepy to think of your employer keeping track of every step, so I doubt this will take off.

My conclusion is that Fitbit's Zip and all these other personal health devices from Lark, Nike, etc., are pretty cool and appeal to those living at the forefront of technology adoption.

Originally published Jan 11, 2013 10:00:01 AM.