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Fitbit Zip – A Pedometer for Beginners and Pros

Over a year after updating its last pedometer, Fitbit presented two new products – the Zip and the One. The Zip is conceived as the beginners’ model with a more narrow scope of functions and yet it offers a decisive advantage – the device runs with a battery for half a year and does not require recharging. Aside from that, the Zip behaves similar to the previous model Fitbit Ultra, only that it doesn’t count floors and cannot be used to measure sleep patterns. As an additional function, Fitbit integrated data transfer to smartphones via the new Bluetooth 4.0 standard, which allows a more energy-efficient data synchronization currently on iphone 4S, 5 and a few Samsung smartphones.

Fitbit Zip

The Fitbit Zip is a real Lifestyle Gadget

The Zip has an oval shape and comes in various colors. The design and the material have a classy appearance, which creates the impression of a real lifestyle gadget. In other aspects, the little sensor also make a sophisticated impression – depending on your personal likings, you can place the device in your pocket or attach it to your waistband, bra or necklace with the protective rubber cover that comes with it. By tapping on the casing, the Zip’s screen is activated and the display of the current step-count or time is opened. Further information can be obtained with the iphone app, where your current number of steps, amount of burned calories and personal activity can be compared with your friends. The app can also be used to record your nourishment in order to gain an overview of your calorie intake. The online profile offers even more detailed information, where aside from your step-count you can also review an activity index and an activity profile over the course of the day. On top of it all, this online profile also offers the ability to record various health values such as blood-pressure and blood-sugar levels in order to compile your own health file as needed.

Fitbit Zip white

The Fitbit Zip is a well-composed new development

Fitbit’s new tracker boasts a compact design, convenient data transfer with Bluetooth 4.0 and practical handling without having to recharge the device. The app and the online platform allow the extensive analysis and individual complementation of activity data. This spectrum of functions, the great design and the price of $ 59,90 earn the Zip a clear recommendation for beginning and advanced users alike. However, those who would like to be able to record their sleeping patterns as well should have a look at Fitbit One, on which I will also provide a short account soon.

Fitbit Ultra – A Step Towards a Healthier Lifestyle

Fitbit Ultra, the latest update of the original Fitbit, is a step counter, which allows monitoring your overall daily activity. The current version also comes with a new stairclimb detection and has additional features such as a clock and a stopwatch. The small wearable sensor can be clipped onto your clothing or placed in your handbag. It comes with a computer connected base station for charging the sensor and transmitting your data wirelessly from the Fitbit device to your online profile.

Fitbit visualizes health information and motivates towards an active lifestyle

In its default settings, Fitbit suggests that you take an average of 10,000 steps each day in order to maintain a generally healthy condition. Obviously, this daily target, along with the number of stairs to climb, can be adjusted to your personal needs. Right on the website’s dashboard, you can see how well you’ve achieved your weekly score represented in the number of steps you’ve taken, stairs you’ve climbed, or calories you’ve burned. A number of other stats display ratings such as how long you are active each day, or how long and how well you slept at night. In order to better visualize your stepcount, Fitbit has implemented some game mechanics in the form of badges that are rewarded  according to the number of steps you take. These badges can be linked to foursquare, where they are displayed on 4sq’s website in the partner badges section.

Fitbit online profileIn the website’s log section, you can track other health information such as nutrition, non-stepcount related sport activities or physical parameters such as blood pressure or body weight. Your Fitbit online profile is compatible with Runkeeper’s health graph. When both services are connected, they will automatically share their data, even when obtained from third-party providers such as Withings Wifi Body Scale.

Now, with the product update, Fitbit also features an iPhone application, which helps you track your nourishment and overview your stats on the go.

Fitbit mobile appThe Fitbit can also be used as a sleep sensor. In order to do so, the device must be attached to an armband, which you wear while sleeping. By measuring your overnight movement, Fitbit detects whether you are asleep or awake, and gives you feedback on your sleep quality.

Does Fitbit help staying fit?

Fitbit does a great job at monitoring your step count. When I compared Fitbit’s count with that of the iPod nano’s pedometer, the results of both sensors were within a 5% tolerance range, which seems to be fairly accurate. Compared to the 2 days battery life of the nano, the Fitbit runs for at least a whole week, which is definitely a more user-friendly experience. The dashboard on Fitbit’s website displays a good overview of your activity stats and the log is a well-structured file for storing one’s health data. For those who want to collect their fitness data at services such as Runkeeper, Fitbit allows you to easily connect your Fitbit profile with them and import your step count to them.

Monitoring your step count and the number of floors that you’ve taken can definitely be a way to keep users engaged in improving their overall physical activity. A lot of people – including myself – feel motivated to walk instead of driving or take the stairs instead of using the elevator when rewarded with positive feedback. Especially allowing Fitbit to  automatically post your stepcount on your Facebook or Twitter account can certainly spur your pride and step up your motivation.

If you want to use Fitbit for sleep tracking as well, it can get a bit fiddly to constantly have to attach it to your armband overnight and then clip it back on to your clothing during the day. Companies such as Jawbone or MyBasis will soon come out with sensors, which can be worn 24/7 as a bracelet or watch, giving them an advantage over Fitbit’s convenience in everyday use. So far however, the Fitbit Ultra definitely remains a well-designed, user-friendly and health-engaging product that has made a great contribution to my personal wellbeing. With their just announced  Aria Wifi Scale, Fitbit has made clear that they are going to continue contributing to a healthier lifestyle even more in the future.