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My fitbit has been flipped

January 11, 2012
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We love all types of gadgets in our household. We don’t discriminate. As long as it’s got some wires inside or out and pretends to solve a task which at some moment we felt was important enough and no longer manually worthwhile, we will buy it. Sadly many of these “pieces of genius” end up in our garage as memorabilia to show our grandchildren one day (or until we get around to dragging them to PC-Recycle) and only a few survive the usefulness test posed by the Lawrence clan to remain present in the house. An example of a good gadget I recently acquired is my Garmin 305 GPS device. I use it religiously on my long runs and it has traveled with me all over the world. An example of a poor purchase is the bodybugg. At first I was super excited about it– finally there was a solution (or so it seemed) to end calorie estimation and once and for all find out exactly how many calories I burn each day. I am a total sucker for items featured on TV and since bodybugg is used on my favorite show the Biggest Loser I had to have it. I was very quickly disappointed with my purchase:

  • It leaves marks on my arm when I wear it for too long (more than 12 hours), and it makes annoying beeping sounds to indicate disconnect/reconnect sequence. Folks at work were giving me more than usual weird stares whenever I’d adjust the bodybugg location on my arm. 
  • The software applications for it sucks. For starters, the webapp requires full Java installation, which took Eric and I about 15 minutes to figure out since it doesn’t actually tell you that. The app scores low on usability and reliability as it tends to crash a lot and is not intuitive to navigate.
  • The biggest downside was that there is no way to get the data from the device without the app unless you buy a display watch for an extra $70. But the sucky app is not even free! You need a monthly subscription (more money into their BodyMedia hands) to keep your account active. Once your subscription expires and you don’t renew it, the device is unusable, so its square black body’s  been buried in the grave of useless inventions.

The search for a perfect fitness device continued until a few days ago. I’ve returned back to www.loseit.com to track my calories for the Biggest Loser Challenge and I noticed loseit showing an option to link a fitbit to my account. I was intrigued to learn more about fitbit. A few of my co-workers purchased it last year and it appeared to me that it was just a fancy pedometer with a flower to indicate how active you’ve been. Boy, was I wrong!

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This thing is so much more than a pedometer (keep in mind that my bar was significantly lowered after the bodybugg broke my little heart).

  1. First it’s smaller than any pedometer I’ve seen, so you can clip it on to your bra or belt loophole. The clip is secure enough that I don’t have to worry about it falling off when I bend down or go to the bathroom (I’ve fished my phone enough times out of toilets already. I don’t need another reason to stick my hand in there).
  2. The installation was very easy. You install a driver from the website which basically is a service that runs in the background to seamlessly upload your data. The device comes with a base station so whenever you are near it and your computer is on, the data will automatically get uploaded to the web server. (Don’t forget to turn on Auto-proxy detection if you are using on a work network).
  3. On one hand I am loving the wireless upload so I don’t have to keep reaching into my bra every few hours while sitting at my desk (enough folks think I am already weird as it is). On the other hand, you need to remember to dock your device every 3-4 days so it can actually charge. I wish the device supported standard USB cables, so I can easily charge it at home or at work without the need to carry the docking station back and forth.
  4. So what does it actually track? After you configure your profile (account info, sex, age, weight, height), it tracks your steps, distance travelled, and stairs climbed. Based on your movement, it calculates the calories burned. They use some fancy algorithm making the numbers more accurate than your regular $10 pedometer. 
  5. There is a free online service to access your data and cool charts.
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    You can also see the information directly on the device by clicking the little button at the top.

  6. The best part is the sleep tracker. Once you get into bed you can hold the top button to begin the stop watch. When you wake up, press the button again to stop the counter. Afterwards, you will get freaky cool sleep analysis report that will show exactly how many times you woke up during the night. Note, I have not once gotten out of bed whenever there is a red active marker, but I did wake up and looked at the clock.
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  7. Similar to loseit, fitbit has a built-in social network where you can share your results with other fitbitters. I particularly like the integration with loseit. I can track my calories in loseit since I already have all my favorite recipes and foods entered there, and the food automatically syncs to my fitbit account. Similarly, my activity gets adjusted based on fitbit results. For example, on Friday I actually hit 10,000 steps, so I got 153 extra calories in loseit since I spent more calories than the allocated default. I don’t wear it during exercise, although that would be a good stress test. Can it keep up on my runs?
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To sum up, fitbit is cool, cute, accurate and very personable (can’t believe it’s not made by Apple Winking smile). It even displays motivational messages on its screen throughout the day with just the right brightness so that “Go, Jane, Go!” does not project through my sweater for everyone to see.

If you are in the market for a new pedometer, I strongly recommend you splurge (fitbit cost $99) and get your fitbit on!

[Jane Asks]: Any cool fitness gadgets you’ve tried lately?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Courtney permalink
    January 13, 2012 8:49 pm

    I LOVE my furniture. Im super jealous of your sleep. Im lucky to wake up >20 times you night or get above 85% efficiency. We are going to be in Vegas sun/mon and the grand canyon tues afternoon. What day are will you be there?

    • January 14, 2012 4:49 am

      We’ll be leaving the Grand Canyon on Tuesday morning, so we’ll just miss each other. Maybe we’ll run into a each at a gas station or something on the road while going in opposite directions 🙂

  2. Courtney permalink
    January 23, 2012 5:23 pm

    didn’t happen 😦 i hope you guys had a good trip….and now that i’m on a real computer and not my phone i realized stupid autocorrect corrected fit bit to furnature….i wish i could say i LOVE my furnature but i meant fit bit 😉

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