Just a few weeks after Fitbit released its tiny and affordably-priced Fitbit Zip tracker, it followed up with a more powerful, but just-as-chic successor to its flagship Fitbit Ultra tracker. The new Fitbit One has been completely redesigned, but maintains all of the features of the Ultra, including monitoring your sleep and gently waking you up with its silent vibrating alarm.
We spent the past week taking the Fitbit One through its paces to see what’s been improved since the release of the Ultra, and, more importantly, if it’s the one (pun intended) to choose as your fitness tracker of choice this holiday season.
When the Fitbit Ultra was released, we thought the design was unique, but somewhat puzzling. The Ultra itself was shaped like a clip, but didn’t actually clip onto anything unless you slid in into an included plastic holster clip. The Fitbit One has been redesigned, looking much more like a USB flash drive. The bottom half of its plastic enclosure has an attractive metallic finish to it (in either burgundy or black), and its top half is a glossy black that masks the OLED display that lights up when the single button on the tracker is pushed, or the One is moved after being idle for a period of time. Gone is the cheap-feeling plastic holster clip that was included with the Ultra; the One includes a sturdy matching silicone and metal clip to hold it. Overall, we think the design changes definitely make the One more attractive looking than the Ultra. Our only complaint is that the included USB charger is not reversible and the One will only fit into it in one orientation. We should also mention that the One comes with a wireless dongle for those users who will be syncing it to their computer, and a wristband for utilizing the sleep and alarm features.
When setting up the One, you’ll have the option of syncing it with your Mac or Windows PC using the included wireless receiver, or with a Bluetooth-enabled iOS device, such as an iPhone. Since we already had the Fitbit app on our iPhone 5 from our review of the FItbit Zip, we decided to pair up our One with the iPhone first. Aside from the initial suspense of waiting for the device to pair with our phone (the first connection almost always takes longer than usual), there weren’t any hiccups in pairing the One with our iPhone, or our computer for that matter. One feature we didn’t pay attention to in our review of the Zip is the various things you can do wirelessly from your iPhone. Fitbit truly wants you to minimize the need to physically tether the device, so, aside from charging the One, the iOS app allows you to periodically sync it in the background, check the battery level, and even upgrade the One’s firmware using Bluetooth.
If you’re new to Fitbit, you’ll need to sign up for a free account, which you can do when you set up the One tracker. You’ll also put in your vital statistics such as age, height, and weight, which will give you much more accurate data and allow you to set fitness goals.
You’ll know from the moment you pick up the One that it’s ready to track your fitness, as the OLED screen greets you when you pick it upn. From there, the One automatically tracks your steps, distance, floors climbed, calories burned and current time, and will display each of these separately by pressing the button. The OLED display is helpful if you’re one of those late-night runners, and, unlike our Nike+ Fuelband, isn’t so bright that it’ll ruin your night vision!
If you’re a late-night sleeper instead of a late-night runner, the One has a couple features for you. First, it tracks the quality of your sleep. You simply place the One in the included wristband, press and hold the One’s button until a stopwatch starts up, and fall asleep. The One’s motion sensors detect whenever you move in your sleep, correlating your unconscious movements with sleep quality. We tried out the sleep monitoring features a couple times and found the information interesting, although not entirely useful.
The One also contains a vibrating motor that goes off during an alarm. You set the alarm using the iOS app or your computer, and then wear the One to sleep. We kind of like the silent alarm feature; the lack of noise and the gentle vibration didn’t make us feel like we were suddenly and rudely jolted awake. Of course, you will have to remember to wear the One to sleep whenever you want to use the alarm or sleep tracking features.
As with all Fitbit products, when synced, 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 growing number of 3rd party health and wellness tracking programs. And yes, since our review of the Fitbit Zip, the iOS app has been updated to make use the the iPhone 5’s display!
Smart fitness trackers are one of the year’s most popular trends in digital health, and the Fitbit One makes a bold case for why it should find itself inside stockings this holiday. At $99, it’s less expensive than the Nike+ Fuelband, which we consider to be its closest competitor in terms of tracking and displaying your fitness activity on the device itself. It’s identically priced to the Jawbone UP, which, unlike the Nike+ Fuelband, features sleep tracking and silent alarms, however the UP doesn’t sync wireless and doesn’t display any statistics on the device itself. Both the Nike+ Fuelband and the Jawbone UP are rubber wristbands, which, depending on your fashion preferences, might be stylish or passé compared to the smaller One.
Finally, we were hoping that Fitbit’s flagship tracker would have been updated with some actual new tracking features. While it may look more attractive, the One, as all the other smart fitness trackers currently out, really just counts your steps.
- Wireless syncing to an iOS device or a computer
- Sleep tracking features and a great silent alarm
- Robust suite of 3rd-party tools through Fitbit dashboard
- Small size may be easy to misplace
- No new tracking features
Product Page: Fitbit One
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