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Fitbit Flex is a smart, fully featured activity monitor
The rumor mill might still be grinding out news concerning Apple’s long-anticipated ‘iWatch,’ but Fitbit has been offering a smart, wearable health and fitness device – called “Flex” – since May 2013. However, should iPhone owners take a chance on Fitbit’s product now or hold off to see what Cupertino brings to the table? Let’s find out.
Fitbit’s Flex is a small activity monitor that fits inside a rubber wristband, and it’s designed to be worn in this way for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can track both its user’s daily movement as well as how its owner is sleeping at night. Usefully, Flex syncs its data over to an iPhone handset wirelessly using Bluetooth 4.0, and a dedicated iOS app which allows users to monitor their data over the course of the day.
In the application, Flex owners can check on their daily steps, distance traveled, ‘active minutes,’ and the number of calories burned; they can also see how long they were able to sleep for during the previous night, and the times at which they awoke. Fitbit’s iOS application plots information graphically, and this allows users to compare their present day’s (or previous night’s) data against past activity. ￼
On the hardware side, Flex is accurate when it comes to measuring steps and distance – and compared to the iPhone 5s’ motion-tracking M7 coprocessor, it did a far better job in our testing. If you’re a musician, a manual labourer, or work a profession that requires your hands to be moving throughout the day, this could interfere with Flex’s readings. We found typing doesn’t pose a problem, but playing the piano and hammering a nail into a wall both counted as misread steps, and so prospective users should beware. ￼
At the front of Flex are five LEDs, and these provide at-a-glance information on how far users are towards achieving their daily goal of steps, distance, or calories burned. The default target is a fair 10,000 daily steps, and over the course of the day a tap on Flex will activate its LEDs, which will then flash depending on how near (or far) users are from reaching their 10,000-step target. If you hit your target, Flex will vibrate and the LEDs will dance from left to right, alerting users that they’ve reached their daily goal. ￼
Usefully, this vibration mechanism is also utilized by Fitbit’s ‘silent alarm’ feature. In the app, users can configure a series of wake-up calls, and in the morning Flex will quietly buzz at your wrist, providing a less intrusive means of waking its owner up. Of course, you’ll need to be wearing your Flex at night in order to take advantage of the feature, but with a battery life of five to seven days, recharges which take a mere one to two hours, and a fully waterproof plastic casing, Flex really is designed to be worn as much as possible and in any conditions. Overall, it’s a product we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.
A perfect fit – Fitbit Flex is a smart, stylish activity tracker that iPhone owners should definitely consider taking for a spin
Price: $99.95/£79.99The Fitbit Flex is available from a number of retailers, including Amazon