GADGET REVIEW: The Fitbit Flex

After using the Fitbit Flex for a couple of days,  a couple of people are asking me whether it's a worthwhile purchase.

What is the Fitbit Flex?

It's a gadget that's taken the world by storm and aims to make you live a healthier life by tracking your daily steps. Yep, that's all it is, a pedometer. The reason why it's better than some others though is that you don't put it in your pocket (and land up washing it in the washing machine), or clip it on your belt like it's previous models. The Flex is a rubber wristband, not dissimilar to the yellow Livestrong armbands.

It's not the first to be a pedometer in a wristband, Nike and a few other brands have them too, but there's something about the simplicity of its look on your arm that makes it appealing and intriguing to others. It's not rigged like a flashing UFO on your arm,  but rather, a sleek unobtrusive band with 5 small lights that light up when you touch it. The logic of the armband is that you then wear it all the time, including in the shower and when you sleep. The battery lasts 5-6 days before needing a 3 hour recharge, so you literally put it on your wrist and leave it for a few days.

Fitbit Dashboard

The real strength of the Fitbit Flex though is in it's integration with your profile on their website.

On the site, you can track your calories and so many other variables too. The Flex comes with a little dongle that plugs into a USB into your computer. When you're within a few meters of the dongle, it wirelessly transfers the information from your Fitbit to the site. Even better is the iPhone and Android app, which continually syncs via Bluetooth (and then also uploads the data to the website).

You set yourself daily goals, for example walking 10000 steps. By tapping the Fitbit, the lights will indicate how close you are to your daily step goal. You can also tap it several times as you go to bed to put it into "sleep monitor" mode, and it will monitor how restful your sleep was. The website will then store all the historical data.

So, is it worth buying?

After 2 days I stopped logging what I was eating in the app as the novelty wore off and the site also really only has American brands of food. It's hard to input the exact calorie information of what I was eating, as I simply guessed half  the time. If you want a good calorie counter app with South African brands, "FATSECRET" is a good one in the iTunes store.

So why am I going to keep using it? Simple. There's a financial motivation... By syncing the Fitbit website with Discovery Vitality's website, I get 150 points every day that I walk/run 10000 steps! Get to 12000 steps and you get 200 points!

In the few days I've worn the Fitbit Flex I've made a point of rather walking up and down stairs instead of using the lift. My wife and I even went for an afternoon walk so I could clock up some steps. It works... it's got me moving more! And, by being more aware of my steps and thereby my health, I've even started eating better! I haven't had a chocolate digestive biscuit in 4 days!

Wearing the Fitbit Flex is a great way to improve your health and your vitality points and even reach the me to status level. They are available at iStores for R1299, but sell like hotcakes, so if you spot one on the shelf, grab it! They come in black and "slate" (awful colour). Overseas you can by additional straps that are all different colours. I haven't seen them in SA yet.

Happy walking!
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