By Ken Kwok
8:00 PM EDT, September 6, 2013
The Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity and Sleep Wristband is one of the latest entries in the growing field of wearable fitness tracking devices. The wristband, arriving on the heels of the Jawbone Up and the Nike Fuelband but priced lower at $99.95, is a cool little gadget that, like the others, motivates you to up your activity game.
Unlike its predecessor, the Fitbit One, the Flex is a minimalist silicone bracelet that comes in small or large, black or slate, to be worn 24/7 so you're always on the hook. The brain of the Fitbit Flex is in the tracker device, about the size of your small toe and housed in a pocket in the underbelly of the band. It is touted as waterproof, and I wore mine in the shower and while washing dishes with no problems. The wristband is comfortable and light, and after wearing it for the first few days I barely noticed it except when I checked my progress, which was about every 10 minutes.
The Fitbit Flex is that good at motivating its owners to get up and move, tracking steps taken, calories burned and quality of sleep. Two taps on the display prompt the five tiny LED lights to flash though a tinted window, showing your progress in increments according to the daily step goal you've set. Once all five lights remain lighted, you've met your goal and the Fitbit Flex rewards you with a little party on your wrist. The celebration is replete with flashing lights and the wristband pulsating the night away. Just don't get too carried away and reward yourself with a pint of Haagen-Dazs.
The Fitbit Flex would be an overpriced pedometer if it didn't sync with your devices and display your data. Unlike the Jawbone Up, which has to be plugged in each time you want to see your progress, the Fitbit Flex has Bluetooth 4.0, making wireless connectivity of your data to select iOS (iPhone, iPad) or Android-based smartphones or your desktop computer a cinch. Once the free app is downloaded and your stats and fitness goals are put in, the tracker syncs automatically whenever it is within 20 feet of your smartphone. For the truly obsessed, stats are displayed in real time, meaning you can walk and hold your device and watch your steps being counted.
I found the app easy to use and the presentation impressive, displaying calories burned, steps taken and distance traveled. Depending on your level of commitment, you can also log how much water you drink, food eaten and other activities, which can otherwise be pretty exhausting to do on a regular basis. The downside is that the app does not analyze your numbers.
For $49.99 more a year, you can upgrade to Fitbit Premium, which gives you access to Fitbit Trainer. The Trainer looks at your data and creates a personalized workout plan. If the free Fitbit app is not to your liking, you can use apps like My Fitness Pal, Lose It, Run Keeper and Endomondo, which all play nicely with the Fitbit Flex.
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