We got our hands on the new Fitbit Zip, the cute and chic fitness tracker that aims to make staying fit more fun. It automatically tracks the number of steps you take, the total distance you’ve walked, and the number of calories you’ve burned. If you have one of the newer iPhones, iPods, or iPads with low-power Bluetooth (Android devices coming soon as well), you can sync the Zip directly with your device, which in turn syncs to FitBit’s powerful online dashboard.
With products from Fitbit, as well as Nike and BodyBugg, and with the growing popularity of GPS- and accelerometer-equipped smartphones, the smart fitness industry is quickly growing more competitive. We spent a week with the Zip to see if it stands out from the rest. Read on to see our thoughts!
For starters, the Fitbit Zip is TINY. Even the interesting battery door tool provided is somewhat humorously similar in size to the Zip. It’s really not much larger than an iPod Shuffle, which is good in that it won’t add a lot of extra bulk while you’re exercising, but could make it easy to lose.
Fortunately, the included silicone clip adds a little more substance and a better grip to the minuscule Zip tracker itself. We wonder, however, why the Zip tracker didn’t have an integrated clip to begin with; we didn’t see much practical use for the tracker when separated from the silicone clip, aside from making it easier to change out the coin battery. It’s pretty to look at though!
Continuing on with setting up the Zip, you’ll have the option of syncing the Zip with your Mac or Windows PC using the included wireless receiver, or with one of the mobile devices we listed above. We quickly found that, at least for the setup process, it seems that you have to choose one or the other. We had a little bit of trouble connecting at first to our Mac, so we went instead to our iPhone 5 with the Fitbit app installed. For some reason, we couldn’t get our Zip to pair with our iPhone 5 until we disconnected the wireless receiver from the USB port on our Mac. Whether it ended up being a fluke or an actual conflict between the wireless receiver and the iPhone’s Bluetooth, it’s probably recommended that you disconnect the wireless receiver if you’re going to set up the Zip with a mobile device, and temporarily turn off Bluetooth on your phone if you’re going to sync with a Mac or Windows PC. Eventually we got it working so that the Zip could sync with either our computer or iPhone without any further problems.
On that note, you’ll need to sign up for a free account with Fitbit, which you can do when you set up the Zip tracker. You’ll also put in your vital statistics such as age, height, and weight, which will give you much more accurate statistics and allow you to set fitness goals.
In terms of tracking your activity, there really isn’t much to it. The Zip’s monochrome LCD turns off when the tracker hasn’t been moved in a while, but greets you with a happy face or some other picture when you pick it up and it detects motion. From there, the Zip automatically tracks your steps, distance, calories and current time, and will display each of these separately. You’ll notice that the Zip has no buttons; cycling through the different screens is done with a light tap of the finger on the screen. It’s a simple and unique way to display your progress, but we found the screen to be less responsive than we hoped. It certainly gets the job done, but we found that it sometimes took 2-3 taps in order to change the display. We found that index fingers seemed to work better than thumbs too. It’s also worth noting that the screen does not have any illumination. While this certainly isn’t a deal breaker, an illuminated display could be useful during those brisk evening strolls. It would also make the Zip a much better competitor with the more expensive Nike+ Fuelband, Motorola MOTOACTV, or even the iPod Nano.
Syncing the Zip turned out to be quick and easy. On both the computer and the iPhone, the Zip can be set to automatically sync in the background. Your stats are updated on either the Fitbit app or the Fitbit dashboard, and on both you can set goals, log your food, and track your weight (especially easy if you own a Fitbit Aria). The dashboard, which we talked a little more about in our review of the Aria, is a little more fully featured than the iOS app, and includes integration with a number of 3rd party health and wellness tracking programs. We also really liked the mobility aspect of being able to sync the Zip directly with our iPhone wherever we are. However, we’re hoping that Fitbit will soon update their app to take advantage of the larger display on our shiny, new iPhone 5!
If you’re thinking about getting yourself a smart fitness tracker, consider the Fitbit Zip. At only $60, it’s a small device at a low price. But size isn’t everything; the Zip is packed with features that make it a robust fitness tool. The online dashboard and iOS app allow the Zip to be so much more than simply an electronic pedometer. It’s also a huge plus that it features low-energy Bluetooth for wireless syncing to mobile devices. Here at Medgadget we’ve written about numerous medical devices that will be incorporating the new Bluetooth technology, and we’re pleased that Fitbit has chosen to embrace this next-generation standard in its latest line of smart trackers.
Product Page: Fitbit Zip
Flashback: Fitbit Unveils Two New Products