John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Fitbit Flex review

This is the third of the fitbit devices I’ve played with. First was the One then I played with the Charge HR. I liked the One but when it fell off and I lost it I was not motivated to have another one. Figured it also would get lost. The Charge HR was an interesting device but it didn’t meet my value equation and wasn’t comfortable. So I decided to try this one. Now according to a
Wikipedia article the Flex was released May 2013, and the One Sept 2012. So the flex came after the One.

Let’s start with physicals
It’s a pretty simple innocuous black band. There’s little to no display on the device which is fine, the displays on the other devices were pretty useless anyway. The Flex comes with two bands, a small and a large. My wrist ends up on the high end of small or low end of large. So I chose the large. The band itself is easily cleaned and the electronics can be removed from the band. The electronics are waterproof. Not sure why you would want to wear this showering or swimming but apparently you can. Rather than use a standard watch band like tightening mechanism they chose to reinvent the wheel. One would hope when reinventing the wheel that it would be a step better?

There is a metal part with two protruding nibs that locks the two parts of the rubber band together. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do up and does not give you that warm fuzzy feel once done up.
There is no lanyard or safety that might save you if this came undone. Couple that with the fact the software does not alert you if the device falls off and you have a ticking time bomb just like on the Fitbit One. As an interesting aside, while writing this review and playing with this device I found a Fitbit Flex (no not mine this time) on the floor. So if you think it can’t happen, think again. So in this case the reinventing of the wheel is a step backwards. At least on the Charge HR they went back to a normal watch band like clasp.

The edge of the Flex is square and raised off the wrist. I found it caught on my shirt sleeve a fair bit. Sometimes irritating me.

The app for Fitbit is the same irrelevant of which device you have, it just removes the features your device does not have. Now coming after the One, you would think the Flex would do everything the One did and more. In fact I thought exactly that. I was wrong. It seems Fitbit dropped the ability to measure floors climbed. Bizarre. It does count steps, calories (with my usual rant about basal calories, see either of my previous Fitbit reviews for details), distance walked etc. I was using the floors climbed (as inaccurate as it was) to encourage me to do a few extra floors of stairs a day. Oh well that thought is gone.

There are a series of 5 LEDs on the display. Each stands for 20% of whatever the goal you set in the app or web portal. Now who is going to read or care about this is beyond me. There are no buttons on this device, so what it picks up on is when the device is being tapped. So you can tap it anywhere. Start tapping and keep tapping and eventually it will acknowledge your existence and show you the percent of your goal, keep tapping and eventually you can put it into manual sleep mode to start (or stop) tracking your sleep. As with other Fitbits the sleep data is basic at best. How many hours and how active were you. Nothing earth shattering, or all that helpful either. And don’t forget to end your sleep or your data is messed up. It does not do auto sleep like the Charge HR does.

Battery life
With background sync off I got 8 days of battery life. This truly s a set it and forget it device. And if you don’t bother tracking your sleep it is completely a set it and forget it.

Now what drew my attention to the Fitbits is that the pedometer on my Note 3 was unstable (kept crashing, resolved only through a reboot), and was inaccurate because I would leave my Note sitting when I got up. Couple that with the fact that my Samsung Gear Live’s pedometer was also inaccurate. Since then a recent update to Android wear has resolved the inaccurate pedometer on my Samsung Gear Live meaning my need for a Fitbit is now zero. And frankly I’ve exhausted all there is to play with. Now should you buy one? Well the Flex is a terrific device. Works well, just does it’s thing, has great battery life and is backed by a terrific portal. All in all Fitbit has done a great job with the Flex. Of the three Fitbits, I’d say this is the one to get.

February 28, 2015 - Posted by | Activity Trackers, Android

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