Fitness

Fitbit Reviews: One, Flex and Aria

Fitbit Product Review

The app syncs to your device with Bluetooth.

The app syncs to your device with Bluetooth.

I’m a data-geeky sort of person, so when I heard about all of the things that Fitbit could track — steps, sleep, floors climbed, active minutes, hydration, calories — I was more than a little excited. No, I don’t really need all of that information, but I do love gamification of my day. Also, it was kind of shocking and horrifying to realize just how little I moved around, what with living and working in my single-level home. I could easily go whole days where I took fewer than 2,000 steps with zero elevation gain if I didn’t make a real effort.

I had a gift card from Christmas and I decided to put it to use on a Fitbit One.

All Fitbit products use the same data interface: an app on your phone, or a web-based dashboard. Both are excellent and give you tons of parameters for examining your data.

Fitbit One

The Fitbit One is an excellent product.

Pros:

  • Accurate step count.
  • Accurate elevation gain.
  • Reasonably accurate tracking of sleep patterns just by pressing the button to activate the sleep timer.

Cons:

  • Sleep tracking requires slipping the One out of its clip and into a weird velcro wristband thing for the night. I forgot to do this about 2/3 of the time.
  • A significant number of my pants and skirts are pocketless, leaving me to clip the One onto my waistband. After the second time the One went airborne in the bathroom, I opted to clip it to my bra instead.
  • The bra clip method can be a bit uncomfortable. Once I thought I had surreptitiously adjusted its position during a meeting, but inadvertently woke it up. The colleague I was meeting with gave me the strangest look and said, “I’m really sorry, this is totally awkward… but do you know your bra is flashing?” Nice.

While there was nothing truly wrong with the Fitbit One, I decided that I really, truly wanted a Fitbit Flex. The flex is a wristband style, water-resistant, and doesn’t require a switch to the velcro band at night.

It didn't appear very durable right out of the box, but seems better now.

It didn’t appear very durable right out of the box, but seems better now.

Fitbit Flex

The Fitbit Flex is an ok product. Here are some of the experiences I’ve had.

Pros:

  • Always on, always tracking.
  • Fairly streamlined wristband.

Cons:

  • (For some) No visual display. This isn’t an issue for me, though, since mine was clipped to my bra and I never saw it anyway.
  • Damage to the wristband either out of the box or during the first 12 hours, with no known impact. The plastic has since relaxed and returned to its regular shape, but that took days to happen, and during that period I was very unhappy.
  • I didn’t realize that the Flex doesn’t count stairs like the One did. That’s disappointing.
  • The sleep timer is a royal pain to activate. The instructions say “To enter sleep mode, tap your Flex rapidly for one to two seconds.” I can tap this thing like a maniac and it never enters sleep mode, so I rarely end up tracking my sleep. However…
  • Sleep mode activates effortlessly when I:
    • Ride my bike over bumpy roads
    • Bang a spoon on the side of a pot
    • Clap my hands at my son’s baseball game

I’m secretly contemplating stealing my Fitbit One back from my husband and making him take the Flex off my hands.

But no matter, I still wanted More Data. So I ordered a Fitbit Aria scale.

Fitbit Aria

I should start by noting that I never, ever weigh myself. If you ask me what I weigh, I have to pull up my electronic medical record from my doctor. But I figured that if a little bit of data was good, more data was better. And if the Fitbit Aria could sync my data to one place, so much the better.

I ordered the Aria from Amazon and followed the simple steps for setup. Turns out that it wasn’t so simple after all. First of all, after 45 minutes of trial and error, I realized that my Aria had been bought and returned, because it was already pre-set to another wifi network. Once I figured that out, I followed the steps to undo that network and began the setup process again, only to repeatedly make it to Step 4 — Verifying information with Fitbit — when it would crash.

Setup didn't complete. Try again. And again.

Setup didn’t complete. Try again. And again.

No worries, I thought. There’s a web-based setup that seemed even more straightforward. I followed the easy steps and… error.

At this point, I contacted Support via email and Twitter. Of course, I didn’t hear back until later.

I repeated the process ad nauseum, assuming user error, until I was thisclose to throwing the thing against the wall. When suddenly! Miracle of miracles! My Aria has set itself up successfully!

(Mind you, I didn’t do a single thing different that time that I hadn’t done the dozen times before.)

But hey! I was in business now. So I woke the scale.

STEP ON

STEP OFF

THINKING

ERR

Err? Err? No, can’t be. We’ve come so far! I’ll try again.

STEP ON

STEP OFF

THINKING

ERR

Yep, I’m going to throw it against the wall.

By now, Twitter-based support had responded with, in essence, “RTFM.” I had already R’d the FM. It’s not complicated. It just wasn’t working. I tried to explain. Twitter-based support suggested that I send an email to the other Support group.

When I got an email reply, they were pleased to see that my Aria was already set up and that I didn’t need their help anymore. But wait! I said. It’s not actually working!

This resulted in an immediate diagnosis of “needs replacement.”

Let’s see: return to Amazon for an exchange, wait for the new one to come and hope it works? Nope, I’ll just order a regular old scale for less than half the price and input my data manually, thank you very much.

Overall

What would I buy again?

Fitbit One: yes, absolutely

Fitbit Flex: maybe

Fitbit Aria: no

As is probably evident, I was not compensated for this review, nor asked to review the products in a favorable light. No products were provided to me by the manufacturer. I plunked down my cold, hard cash for all of them.

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4 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    Thank you for your post. I have been trying to decide if I should get a One or Flex. My husband says Flex, but I have been leaning to the One

  2. Alisa says:

    Sarah, the One is a much better product. I’m going to write a follow-up post when I’m finished with this round of conversations with Customer Service, but I really feel like the Flex is still in beta. It’s just not a completely baked product when compared with the functionality of the One.

  3. Marcel says:

    I spent two hours researching the Flex but after reading your excellent review I will go for the One and a normal scale (BTW the scale I found is way cheaper and has more functions then the Aria).

    One strange thing I found about the Fitbit line of products (except the Fitbit One) was that the reviewers usually gave them excellent ratings but the customers wrote really bad reviews. If you look at the Flex on Cnet the reviewer gave it almost 4 stars and the customers 2 stars.

    Thank you again.

  4. Alisa says:

    I’ve since gotten a new Force tracker and it’s as good as the One, but in the wristband format. Sorry that I haven’t had time to review it yet.

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