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Tong ZhangModerator
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Fitbit Flex Review
      01/20/15 08:28 PM

Fitbit offers many fitness wearable devices for different levels of fitness tracking and training. The Fitbit Flex is a small device with Bluetooth built-in and it fits in a slim wristband. The Flex can track your activities during the day including steps, runs, workouts, and your sleep status during the night including sleep time and quality. The fitness device comes with free Fitbit.com membership and a mobile app that works on iOS and Android devices. The app and the website offer comprehensive and up to date information about your fitness activity, food and water intake and much more. Based on the data the Flex tracks, the app and the website can help you set and maintain your fitness goals, plan your meals and more.



Design

The Fitbit Flex is currently the slimmest wristband in the Fitbit fitness wearable line. The Flex includes the Fitbit tracker, two black wristbands in large and small sizes, a wireless sync dongle for computers and a USB charging cable. The small water resistant wristband can fit wrists between 5.5" and 6.9" and the large one can fit 6.3" to 8.2" wrists. If black isn't your color, Fitbit offers the wristband in ten colors. Unlike the Huawei TalkBand B1, Microsoft Band or the Gear Fit, the Flex has no display. It offers five LED lights, each representing a level of your activities towards your goal. There's a touch control surface below the LED lights where you can tap to check your progress, connect the Flex to your phone wirelessly or put the Flex into nighttime sleep mode.

Size comparison with the Huawei TalkBand B1 (on the left):



Features

The Fitbit Flex tracker tracks the steps you've take during the day and the number of hours you spend sleeping. It also offers vibrating alert to remind you to get up and walk if you sit for too long and to wake you up in the morning if you set an alarm. With the steps recorded automatically by the tracker and the exercises you entered manually, the Fitbit app can calculate how many calories you've burned based on your BMR roughly with the information of your height, weight, age and gender. The Fitbit app works on iOS, Android, PC, Mac and online, and it offers you real time data as it syncs with the Fitbit Flex tracker wirelessly. You can see certain information on the Dashboard in the mobile app including the steps you've taken, calories you've burned, the time you spent active, your sleep status and calories intake. The information on the mobile app is only the tip of the iceberg. The Dashboard on Fitbit's website offers much more extensive information and features such as planning your meals, setting limits to your calorie intake, designing activities for weight loss and gain and much, much more. All that comes free with the Fitbit Flex. If you need a virtual trainer with your activity assessment, personalized fitness plans and more, Fitbit website offers paid services that cover these as well.



One of the most useful features the Flex offers in conjunction with the Fitbit app is for joggers, hikers and walkers. The app uses your phone's GPS to track the routes of your run, hike and walk with detailed stats like distance, splits and place and time. It not only records your workout but also can provide voice cues and music controls that come in very handy. Keep in mind though that the Fitbit Flex doesn't have a pulse monitor and the sensors inside only track your wrist movement, so if you're doing certain exercises, such as erging on a rowing machine, the Fitbit might have some trouble tracking accurate information. The same goes for sleeping. It monitors your movement while you're asleep and tracks how many times you turn over or get up, so if you lie awake motionlessly, the Fitbit will likely record it as your sleeping time. When a device has no display we often feel deprived of a convenient UI and we must use secret codes instead to make it do what we want it to do. It is the case with the Fitbit Flex when it comes to recording your sleep. Certain models in the Fitfit collection such as the Charge HR and the Force will recognize your sleep state automatically. With the Flex you have to tell it that you're tuning in by tapping on it rapidly until it vibrates and two outer LED dots flash and then dim. Now the Flex will record your sleep. You'll need to repeat the process in the morning to take the Flex out of sleep recording cycle.



The Wonderful World of Fitness - 3rd Party Integration

If you're thinking about getting a Fitbit but you're already on your own fitness and diet regime with the help of tools such as Endomondo or Weight Watchers, fear not. The Fitfit Flex works with many 3rd party fitness tools and diet plans with a single login and can push data to the integrated app or pull data from it. The Fitbit app can compliment the food and calorie apps by providing the additional activity records in real time. For example, you can link your MyFitnessPal account to your Fitbit account and get your step count into MyFitnessPal and get your calorie intake from MyFitnessPal. Other linked accounts the Fitbit supports include Runkeeper, Weight Watchers, MapMyRun, Lose It!, Sparkpeople and Endomondo among others. You can even link your Fitbit account to wireless smart scales such as the Withings. Of course like many other fitness products today, the Fitbit lets you share your progress and achievements with others via Twitter, Facebook and even Blinkfeed.



Battery Life

The Fitbit Flex has a built-in rechargeable Lithium Polymer battery and comes with a small USB charging cable. The Flex has good battery life. With frequent low energy Bluetooth syncing to your phone, the Flex can last anywhere from 3 to 5 days. The mobile app on your iOS and Android phone will show you the battery level on the Dashboard. The LED lights indicate charging status and when the Flex is fully charged, all five lights will light up.



Conclusion

The Fitbit Flex is for the masses thanks to its slim form that's easy to hide and its lightweight. The Flex tracks your daily activity level and sleep status reasonably accurately, and the app offers GPS tracking for your hikes, runs and walks. The Flex lacks a heart rate monitor and display that higher end Fitbit devices offer, but for most people who need reminders to live a more active and healthier life, the Fitbit Flex along with the app and website can certainly do that for you.

Editor's Ratings (1-5): 3.5
What's Hot: Slim and lightweight, tracks steps and sleep reasonably accurately, the wristband comes in many colors
What's Not: No display, no heart rate monitor.
Price: $99.95
Web site: Fitbit

Reviewed by: Tong Zhang







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