Eric Stewart: Running Off At The Mouth

A Day (Or Two) With The Fitbit One

by Eric Stewart on Nov.04, 2013, under Life, Technology

I will admit to being of two minds when it comes to the idea of an activity tracker: yes, it’s great that the device might just convince you to do a little more exercise than you would do without one, but how good is that exercise going to do you, really?  If all you’re doing is “more steps”, then I would debate with you that, while going for a walk might do you some good, doing something slightly more high impact (running, riding a bike, elliptical machine) might do you a little better.  Relying on the device to give you the encouragement to move “a little more” than you usually do might be giving one a false sense of accomplishment.

Not that I’m one to talk.  I sit on my ass for much of the day.

Which is probably why my loving wife suggested I get a Fitbit One.  She had gone through the process of researching an activity tracker for her own use, and obtained a Jawbone Up.  She knew, however, that having something on my wrist that didn’t at least tell me the time wasn’t going to go over well with me.  So, while in the process of obtaining my Pebble, I also picked up the One.

It’s a tiny little device.  I can pop it into the little extra pocket that’s in the right pocket of my jeans and forget about it; I have yet to use the belt clip that came with the One to carry it.  It has a display, so it even will show me information if I pull it out and hit the button.  Whereas my wife has to plug her Up into her iPhone’s headphone jack to transfer data from the Up to the phone, the One connects to my iPhone via Bluetooth.  If I want to track what I eat and drink, those options are available through the app.  Both devices count steps taken, but the One can count stairs differently than walked steps.  Pushing a shopping cart, it’s possible that the Jawbone Up won’t recognize that you’re moving, but the Fitbit One isn’t strictly wrist based and can track your steps without relying on the movement of your arm.  Both devices also track how well you sleep, and even be programmed with a wake-up time when it will vibrate to wake you up.

There are issues, though.

Both devices can easily be faked out by the right movements.  Go up two or three steps at different times throughout your day and next thing you know the Fitbit One says you’ve gone up seven floors.  When syncing data from the One to the iPhone, sometimes it takes a bit longer than it should for the phone to locate the One and pull the data.  To track sleep, both items need to be worn while you sleep, and that may not go over well with some folks; I haven’t come up with a good way to wear the Fitbit One and the Pebble at the same time.  For me, I found the needlessly wide Fitbit One Velcro secured arm band kind of ridiculous, as it’s designed for a perfectly cylindrical wrist, and mine is not.

The Fibit app is perfectly usable, but peeking at my wife’s Jawbone Up app … it seems a little more polished and snazzy.  The Jawbone Up has a nice inactivity timer where it will buzz if you sit still too long – the Fitbit One does not.

Worth the purchase?  Well, for someone who is already active, it might be nice to have some interesting data to look at about your activities.  And, in the mindset that “every little bit helps”, for the not so active, if it gets you moving a bit more or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, it couldn’t hurt.  At around $100, the One seems reasonable to me, but I also realized that you’re not really paying for the device when you spend the money; you’re paying for the company in question to provide you an app and store your data on their servers.


  • 20131105 0750 – It’s possible to “record an activity” (which unfortunately is done much the same way as you would tell the Fitbit One that you’re going to sleep – by holding the button down on the One) and is completely different (apparently) from “logging an activity” (which is apparently a manual process).  Thing is, I haven’t found any place in the iPhone app to view recorded activities, and they even seem to be buried on the web interface under “Log” – “Activities” (scroll down).  Again, I’ll say that the Jawbone Up iPhone app just seems so much more polished and comprehensive.


:, , ,

Hi! Did you get all the way down here and not find an answer to your question? The two preferred options for contacting me are:
  • Twitter: Just start your Twitter message with @BotFodder and I'll respond to it when I see it.
  • Reply to the post: Register (if you haven't already) on the site, submit your question as a comment to the blog post, and I'll reply as a comment.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.