Fitbit One adds Bluetooth sync and silent alarm; the one life tracker to buy (review)

Fitbit One adds Bluetooth sync and silent alarm; the one life tracker to buy (review)

Summary: Life trackers are very useful for motivating you just enough to improve your life and by doing so on a daily basis you will see improvements. The Fitbit One comes in at price lower than the competition while capturing all the data you could want from such a device.


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  • USB charging cable, Bluetooth 4 dongle, and clip

    Initial setup and walk around the hardware

    I took everything out of the package and then figured I would charge and sync up the Fitbit One. I set the One into the USB charging cord, it fits into a rubber opening with the two metal contact points on the back lining up with contacts inside the rubber opening. I plugged the cord into my MacBook Pro and went to the Fitbit setup site. I kept refreshing the page to try to make the connection between my Fitbit account and the One without success and even restarted my MBP to try to get the connection through the USB cable. I then read the startup wizard instructions again and realized that you have to plug in the small Bluetooth 4.0 dongle to sync to your computer. I thought this was simply a dongle for people without Bluetooth and left it in the package. After plugging this in, I was able to complete the setup wizard. So remember, the USB cable with opening is for CHARGING ONLY and does nothing to sync the Fitbit One.

    The Fitbit One follows the same design principle as the Ultra with a single button and a small display that shows you various pieces of information. You can toggle what appears on the display through the web browser Device Settings area of your account. The following is available for display on the small screen:

    • Flower (grows and shrinks based on your recent activity)
    • Distance
    • Calories burned
    • Floors climbed
    • Clock
    • Greeting (customized with a name you enter)
    • Chatter (Random messages that appear throughout the day)

    Steps are always present as one of the views of the Fitbit One. Silent alarms also appear on the display, but are setup in the Dashboard settings or on the iPhone. You also select whether you are right-handed or left-handed. After you selected what you want to see displayed and have the Fitbit One charged then you are ready to place it in a pocket or clip it somewhere and let it capture data.

    What kind of data is captured?

    The Fitbit One records data for steps taken, floors climbed, calories burned, hours slept, quality of sleep, and distance traveled. It can store up to seven days of data between syncing so make sure to sync and get your data up on the server at least once a week. This is the same data as the Jawbone UP, except the floors climbed measured by the altimeter is unique. I actually like this measure and find that it directly motivates me to take the stairs rather than the elevator more often than I normally would.

    Walk through the Fitbit iOS application

    There are official Fitbit applications for both iOS and Android at the moment, but the Android one does not yet sync directly to the Fitbit One and simply syncs and presents data stored on the server. You can enter things manually, such as meals eaten and water that you drink though. The iOS app is the premier app for the Fitbit One though and I absolutely love that the Fitbit One sits in my pocket and syncs to my iPhone 5 without me doing anything on the Fitbit itself. The Nike+ Fuelband syncs via Bluetooth to the iPhone too, but requires button pressing and it only captures minimal data.

    You can sync and manage your Fitbit One all from within the iPhone application. The main display is called the Dashboard and shows you steps taken, floors climbed, calories burned, your weight, sleep data, food data, and water consumed. You can easily reorder the items on your Dashboard or remove them from view if you don't care to view them. The other tabs along the bottom can all be customized to your liking. I personally have the Dashboard, Food, Water, and Activity tabs adjacent to the More tab. I drink LOTS of water and like how quick and easy it is to enter water data into the Fitbit application. Food is pretty easy and so far the database seems pretty extensive. The great thing about the Fitbit too is that it is open so you can use a number of specialized meal tracking apps that sync to the Fitbit. I am happy with the Fitbit app itself so far and am going to try to use just this application for my food tracking.

    You can swipe across the data in your Dashboard and change the goal levels or share your progress via Twitter. I like to run three times a week and to more accurately track these types of intensive activities you can specifically log them in the activity tab. Again, there are 3rd party apps you can integrate your Fitbit One with as well. You can also view your Fitbit battery life, but this is hidden down in the More>Devices section. Another fun aspect to the Fitbit is connecting with friends and comparing your progress. I manually control when the Fitbit syncs (when I launch the app), but you can also setup background sync to periodically sync when the app is running in the background.

    Daily usage and experiences

    One of the new features that alone helps me justify the cost of the Fitbit One is the silent alarm support. The Jawbone UP was the first device I tried with a vibration alarm, but on the UP it wakes you within a 20 minute period to attempt to wake you when your sleep is light. In practice, it keeps waking me up much earlier than I want to get up and when I am already getting up at 4:10 am I feel I need as much sleep as possible. With the Fitbit One, you manually set an alarm time and the Fitbit vibrates actively at that time until you press the button.

    The other major new feature is the Bluetooth sync directly between the iPhone and Fitbit One. I prefer not having to use a computer to sync up my fitness trackers and these latest devices meet that desire. I do prefer how Fitbit lets me login to see and manage my data and the device via a web browser too and am glad it is not just a mobile experience. With the small Bluetooth 4.0 dongle in my computer, my Fitbit One stays synced when I am home with my Fitbit.

    The Fitbit One is very small and I have been using it without the clip. For daily use I place it in my small jeans pocket and then when going on runs I place it in pocket in my workout gear. I feared I would lose it and I have forgotten it three or four times when I switch clothes, but then remembered it a short time later. Just like my UP, I keep forgetting to enable the sleep mode and lose out on tracking the data. I wish it could automatically recognize when I am in a horizontal position and switch to sleep mode.

    I am still trying to figure out if I prefer the UP band or Fitbit One form factor, but I am leaning towards the Fitbit One since I put it in my pocket and forget about it. I like the ability to check the display for status, but even better is the seamless sync with my iPhone that makes the UP headset jack sync seems clumsy at best. The fact that the Fitbit One now has a silent alarm feature means it addresses one of the missing pieces from the Fitbit Ultra. I also love the web browser access, support for 3rd party apps, and quality of the Fitbit One.

    Pricing and availability

    The Fitbit One is available now in black and burgundy for $99.95. I bought it from the Fitbit website, but you can also find it at retail locations. Compared to the UP band and Nike+ Fuelband, the Fitbit One is priced quite a bit less while providing support for the most data and openness for 3rd party applications. IMHO, it really is the ONE life tracker to buy.

    Related ZDNet coverage

  • Wrist strap

  • Fitbit One in the wrist strap holder

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iPhone, Reviews

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  • I bought the FitBit Ultra

    And other than syncing with my iPhone it does everything I want/need it to do. Not to say the FitBit One isn't a cool device and more advanced - I just don't see me getting one unless or until something happens with my FitBit Ultra.
  • Thanks for the great pics!

    I just bought the Fitbit One after sending my Fitbit Ultra through the washing machine. I didn't realize how much smaller the new one is and I am even more excited to get it n two days.
  • Raquel

    I adore my Fitbit One. Since I have it goes with me everywhere
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  • Bluetooth and Fitbit One

    Bluetooth continues in search mode draining my phone battery