Fitbit Review, and How it Didn't Change My Lifestyle


A few months ago, my friend (let's call her Cindy) bought me a Fitbit Ultra. The Fitbit is supposed to track my daily number of steps, distance walked, floors climbed and calories burned. One of the big selling points is that it can track how you sleep, telling you how many times you woke up during the night, how long you slept and how long it took before you fell asleep. This is all done within a small, light and overall reasonably looking package. It also provides goals such as number of steps to walk and number of floors to climb. There's been some "gamification" so that you will earn badges and share with friends.

The Fitbit looks OK

TLDR: For all of the components I actually used (step tracking and floors climbed), the Fitbit did a pretty good job.

The rest of this post is mostly me complaining about parts of the Fitbit and trying to analyze my activity.

Sleep Tracking isn't all that useful

One of the cool things about this product was that I would finally be able to measure my terrible sleeping habits. However, there were some major limitations. First of all, you have to hold the button on the Fitbit when you start trying to go to sleep and another when you are awake in the morning. Another problem is that the Fitbit is uncomfortable to wear while sleeping. Included in the package is a wristband attachment, which works pretty well, but is awkward to sleep with. Perhaps the biggest problem is that if you stay still, the Fitbit will consider you to be sleeping. Overall, the data it provides is marginally useful, but not worth the inconvenience in my opinion.

Installation and Dashboard Makes Me a Sad Panda

I'm using a Macbook, so I'm used to all the different stupid ways to install programs. I plug in the USB base, which doubles as a charger and install some app that allows me to connect my Fitbit to the station, so that all this data can be transmitted. It also shows me all of my statistics. Oh wait, no it doesn't, all it does is the setup for connecting my device.

The annoyingly useless program

If this program was really necessary to hook up the device, I would have liked to see all of my statistics in this program too. Instead, I must go through the online dashboard. The dashboard looks alright, but is a little slow. There's a lot of unnecessary items on the dashboard, such as friends and groups panels. I also wish the dashboard was more customizable, allowing me to see the steps walked and floors climbed graphs right away.

About those lifestyle changes...

In order to fully buy into the Fitbit program, food, sleep, weight and activity all have to be tracked. I have not tried tracking my food consumption and weight, but in general it feels like too much of a hassle. Sleep tracking also proved to be too inconvenient, but I have been carrying around the Fitbit everyday. However, sometimes I will forget it for a bit in the morning or night, so I should have slightly more activity.

As you can see, there's no pattern to how much I walk per day. The web dashboard allows me to see how many steps I walked per 5 minute interval, but unfortunately I wasn't able to find any way to export it. On the first graph above, the red line is the recommended number of steps per day, at 10000. I'm stuck at a daily average of about 7400. The worst part about seeing all of this data is that it looks to be trending downward, so I guess Fitbit had the opposite effect. I also appear to walk more on Thursdays and Fridays, which almost makes sense if I take my classes into consideration.

What Review is complete without a rating?

The Fitbit was supposed to motivate me into walking more and taking more stairs, but I don't think this has any effect on me. It ends up being a neat toy for tracking your walking habits, but nothing more.

3/5 stars