Saturday, October 19, 2013

Review: Fitbit Zip

I'd been thinking of getting a pedometer just to see how active, or should I say, inactive I am on work days when I am usually desk bound. For this purpose, I recently got a Fitbit Zip

The Zip is the "entry-level" Fitbit. It's basically a glorified pedometer in that it's only able to track your steps (it can't distinguish between flat surfaces and stairs), the distance you cover, the calories you burn and your "active" minutes (i.e. the times when you are doing cardio workouts and high intensity activities like jogging and running). The higher-end Fitbit models track stairs and even your sleep.

To navigate around the Zip, you just tap your fingers on the screen and it will change to show the following: time-number of steps-distance-calories burned.

As shown below, the package comes with the following:

1. The Zip itself;
2. A clip/case/pouch (which you can clip on to various pieces of clothing);
3. A 3V coin battery;
4. A battery door tool (basically, a contraption which you can use to open the battery compartment of the Zip so you can put in, remove or change the battery); and
5. A wireless sync dongle (to connect the Zip to your computer, whether PC or Mac).

To get started, I had to set up the Fitbit Connect software which you can download here.

Then, I was asked to input my personal information and connect the wireless sync dongle to a USB port in my computer so it can "pair" with my Zip.

Voila, I was now ready to go. I could already wirelessly sync the data from my Zip to my computer. To view the information collected by the Zip, however, I had to log on to The Fitbit Connect's only purposes are set up and sync the Zip.

When you log on to Fitbit, you will see the Dashboard, which contains the same information from the Zip but presented in a very nice visual format: number of steps, distance covered, calories burned. In addition, you can see the information not only for the day, but for the past days. You are also encouraged to input your weight and the food you eat.

Fitbit also has  iOS and Android apps which will enable the Zip to sync data to phones via bluetooth. Note, however, that support for Android devices is limited. Right now, it's basically just Samsung phones/tablets and only the Galaxy S3, S4, Note II and Note 10.1. For example, I have a Nexus 7 and I was able to install the Fitbit app there. However, I can't sync the Zip with the Nexus 7. What happens is that if I sync to my iPhone 4S or my desktop, the information uploaded by the Zip finds its way to the Nexus 7.

Personally, I love having the Zip. It has made me realize that in some days, I barely move from my desk. It thus serves to remind me to step out, walk around a bit to clear my head (and increase my steps) so I'm not too far off from my daily goal. Also, I like the fact that Fitbit sends a weekly e-mail summarizing my achievements (or inactivity) for the week. It gives badges when you first take 5,000 steps or 10,000 steps to encourage you further. It also has a social feature which allows you to "invite" friends in the hope that you can prod or egg each other on.

I would like to point out some cons, however:

1. There's a chance that the Zip will slip out of the clip. When wearing jeans or slacks, I suggest to put the Zip inside your pocket or clip it to the pockets with the Zip facing inside, like this:

2. The screen of the Zip is not too responsive to tapping. Sometimes, it takes 2-3 taps before the screen changes to show the next info.

3. There is no authorized distributor in the Philippines which means, if something goes wrong with your Zip, you can basically kiss it goodbye. In fact, the Philippines is not yet one of the countries you can pick on the drop-down menu when you set up your personal information. C'mon Fitbit, is it so hard to just include all countries in the menu?

P.S.  While I got my Fitbit outside the country,  I've seen a few sellers over at Sulit selling some of the models. 

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