Tuesday, 15 November 2016

My Seven Fitbits (A review)


Having read Training Mummy's post about her experience with the Fitbit Surge, it has prompted me to share my experience with my seven Fitbits.  Yes, you read that right. Seven. 

Back in January 2015 I had some Christmas money and decided to treat myself to a Fitbit.  I thought it might encourage me to move about more and to track exactly what I was doing when trying to lose weight. Its all very well thinking that you are on your feet a lot but its surprising to see what you are actually doing when its there in front of you.





The Fitbit is paired to a mobile phone or tablet and the information is viewed via their app. 

What it does:


Tracks steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, hourly activity and stationery time.  

View time and daily stats on the display
Sync call notifications to display with your mobile device.
Syncs wirelessly
Monitors your sleep patterns
Silent vibrating alarm. 

So, on the 6th January 2015 I purchased a Fitbit Charge (Fitbit no 1) from Currys and was initially happy with everything until later in the month when the charger wouldn't hold in the back of the tracker. It should just gently click in and hold in place but it would keep popping out and the only way to charge it was to wedge it in place. Unfortunately I managed to lose my receipt and when I got in touch with Currys they didn't respond to my email queries asking for help but when I got in touch with Fitbit they were more than happy to help. I confirmed the date of purchase, when the account was set up and even offered to send a copy of my bank statement over to show the purchase but it wasn't necessary.  So far, so good. More than good, excellent customer service as they could have just sent me back to Currys.  A new Fitbit was sent out to me in February 2015 (Fitbit no 2).

It was worn every day and was regularly cleaned as advised.  Fast forward to August 2015 and the strap broke. The strap on the Fitbit Charge completely encases the display unit and cannot be removed.  As you can see from the picture, the strap had peeled away from the display unit.  The photo was emailed to Fitbit and without any quibbles,  a replacement (Fitbit no 3) was sent out to me.  And here begins the silliness.  



In February of this year, the exact same issue happened with the strap. I emailed Fitbit to advise them and they again sent out a replacement (Fitbit no 4).  The replacement arrived and I had to again get in contact as the battery was faulty and again, a replacement was sent out, Fitbit no 5. Yes, the fifth one.  

Fitbit, review

And again, all was good until July when the strap broke yet again, in exactly the same way. This time when I contacted customer services, they offered to send me a Fitbit Alta, which is an upgrade from the Charge. This is Fitbit no 6.  

The Alta appears to be an improvement on the Charge as the unit is detachable from the strap, meaning the problems with the strap coming away from it have disappeared.  But don't think it has been plain sailing!  In early September I had to contact them because the Alta would no longer sync with my devices. It began in August with my phone but because I was able to sync with the iPad, I didn't think a lot of it but then it would no longer sync to the iPad.  I removed the app on both devices and tried to reinstall and re-sync but it said that updates to the device were needed. I contacted them and followed their instructions to no avail, following which, guess what? Yes, they sent me another Alta (Fitbit no 7).

Fitbit, Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Alta, review

And now, we are in November and I have had to send yet another email because the charger has snapped. The only way I can currently charge my Alta is by positioning the broken part of the charger with the rest of it and either taping it to the Alta to hold it in place or securing it with a hair bobble tied around it.

Using the Devices 
Looking at the actual devices, somewhat briefly, both the Charge and Alta are very simple to set up with easy to follow instructions, which is always a relief!

Through the app, the devices can by synced during the day to see how you are progressing. Its also possible to add friends and set up challenges. I do the Workweek Hustle, Weekend Warrior and Daily Showdown with my Mum and a family friend. It can be quite motivating to see who is infront!  

The settings can be adjusted through the app and its also possible to set different goals for activity, nutritional and body goals (eg. daily water, goal weight and body fat), exercise and sleep.  I have mine set to 10,000 steps, 5 miles and 30 active minutes daily.  When I first began using the Fitbit my average steps were 6,000.  Now I average anywhere between 10,000 and 14,000. With the Alta, its possible to activate regular reminders to get your moving, which is a great tool for when I am working in the office. 

One of the things I do love about the app is the badges for hitting different milestones. I think they're fun and its good to see what you've achieved, for example the day we moved house I hit 31,938 steps and got the 'Trail Shoe' (30,000 steps).

Logging into my account via the website allows me to see more information.  For example, in the time I've had my Fitbits I've walked 6,948,704 steps or, if you prefer, 2,958.44 miles. I have no idea if this is good or bad but I like being able to see it!  

Overall Thoughts

Now before I say anything else, I should say this first, The customer service from Fitbit has been (mostly) excellent with swift action where needed, but that action shouldn't be needed. In all, there have been almost 40 emails passing back and forth between us with the different issues.  

If I had known what I now know about the Charge, I absolutely wouldn't have purchased it. Following my experience, I believe that the design is flawed. Despite cleaning it regularly as per Fitbit's instructions, the strap has broken in the same place each time, first the plastic begins to move away from the back of the device, it then begins to ripple around the unit on the front before peeling away at the sides. When I searched online, it appears to be a common fault. I wasn't particularly keen on the charger either, it literally just pops into the back with nothing to hold it in place and I found it was easily dislodged.  

The Alta appears to be a far better design with its removable straps and I am confident that the strap should hold in place. However, if it doesn't and begins to peel on the strap as with the charge, the design means I can just get a replacement strap rather than change the whole device.


Fitbit, Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Alta, review

As I say, if I had known what I now know about the Charge, I wouldn't have purchased it but I would have purchased the Alta as it is a better design.  I know that there have been many an article about how fitness trackers aren't very accurate but I honestly think that anything that encourages someone to move about more can only be a good thing.  

At the time of writing, Fitbit have said that they are sending me a new charger out but after all of the above, if the Alta has a further issue with it I'm in two minds as to how I'll proceed, whether I'll be in contact with them again or admit defeat and move on.  I would really like to try any fitness tracker but don't know which one to go for and obviously don't want to be having a similar problem.  Do you have a different fitness tracker? Any recommendations gratefully received. 

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1 comment

  1. I really wish Fitbit went back to basics and researched their design for one or two devices rather than having so many that are such poor quality. They have such a good product that they ruin with substandard manufactures. When they first started they could get away with this as there was no real competition but now there are so many choices out there that worry they will end up becoming lost in the market. The post I shared was only about that one watch, I have had a number of others and all I have had to get replaced or refunded. Such a shame.

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