Fitbit Ultra: A six-month followup review
Back in October, I posted a review of the Fitbit Ultra. It's a tiny fitness tracker that clips to a belt or sleeve and transmits your daily steps and calorie burn to a recharging and sync dock that's attached to your Mac or PC. In late October, Fitbit released their iPhone app so I followed up with information about how the app and tracker work together. At the time, I also promised to follow up on my original review to tell you how things are working with the Fitbit, so I thought I'd give you an update after six months with this device.
The good news is that I'm still wearing the Fitbit Ultra every day. It's my constant companion, always clipped to a belt loop. I don't check my current step count, calories burned or flights of stairs climbed as obsessively as I did when I first got the device, but I still find the fitness information it provides to be important to my well-being.
During the time I've used the Fitbit Ultra, I've been able to get a good idea of the average baseline number of steps I take per day. Now that the weather is getting nice, I plan to up my count to the desired 10,000 steps per day, so I have a good idea of how far and long I need to walk.
One complaint I heard from many early Fitbit Ultra users was that they didn't feel that the device accurately measured how far they walked. I resolved that problem early on by measuring how many steps the Fitbit counted on a known distance, and then using the online Fitbit website to calibrate my stride. The numbers are now fairly accurate when I compare them to Runkeeper on my iPhone.
When using the Fitbit app, I don't enter my food calorie counts. I find that to be time-consuming and just plain boring, so I forget to do it. Don't worry, Fitbit fans -- I never entered my "points" when I was using the WeightWatchers iPhone app either.
Another feature I've stopped using is the sleep tracker. It doesn't really track how well you sleep; instead, it's measuring how much you toss and turn. I tend to lay very still in bed even when I'm awake, so the Fitbit dashboard shows a high sleep efficiency number even when I've had a relatively sleepless night. It is a great way to see what time you get up to go to the bathroom, though.
The device has held up well to the abuse I've put it through; in fact, it still looks as good as the day I first put it on my belt. One technical issue I've had on occasion is that the device sometimes seems to lose wireless contact with the charging/sync dock so that I may go a few days without my fitness info being passed along to the iPhone app or the online website. The usual fix is to reboot my Mac, so it must be a USB or driver issue.
Fitbit includes a social aspect that I almost wish I hadn't gotten into, since ex-TUAW blogger Scott McNulty is absolutely trouncing me in terms of steps walked. I can see where that comparison could become a good impetus to exercise. Watch out, Scott!
I will absolutely continue to wear my Fitbit Ultra tracker, and I can't wait to start giving it a real workout this summer.
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