The Fitbit Flex Is The Best Fitbit Yet

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The Fitbit Flex is a Fitbit you wear on your wrist. And it’s awesome.

Without naming names, I’ve owned and extensively used just about every quantitative self gadget on the market. Most of them are just one step away from being a gimmick. The Fitbits have always been my favorite. But I’ve lost more than I’m willing to admit. The various Fitbits are just so tiny they slip out of my pocket or succumb to a silent death by washing machine.

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The Fitbit Flex solves this by strapping the unit to a comfortable wristband of diminutive proportions — think a Livestrong bracelet with a slightly larger hump on top of your wrist.

Features

  • Pedometer
  • Sleep tracker
  • Vibrating alarm
  • Android and iOS companion apps
  • $99 MSRP

Pros

  • Very comfortable to wear
  • Great feature set
  • Impossible to lose

Cons

  • Shows wear and tear

I wore the Fitbit Flex around Disrupt NY last week. It grabbed a lot of attention. Everyone was curious what it was — a surprising event since I thought it was rather unnoticeable.

“What’s that,” they would ask. “The new Fitbit,” I would explain prompting the other party to promptly reply without follow-up questions that they liked it and were going to actually buy one.

Disrupt NY was a fitting venue to test the Flex. The original Fitbit launched at our conference in 2008 and was a runner-up, eclipsed by Yammer.

The Fitbit Flex addresses the main issue with quantitative self gadgets: They’re large and overloaded with features. The Fitbit Flex offloads all the additional features to a smartphone.

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The Flex itself only sports 5 tiny LED dots which indicate percentage of the goal distance walked that day. They activate when you tap the top of the device. If two dots are displayed, it means the wearer has achieved 2/5 of their daily goal. Want more info? Pull out your Bluetooth 4.0 device and load the Fitbit app. The Fitbit flex will promptly sync using Bluetooth 4.0 and display all sorts of additional information.

Fitbit has long used smartphone apps. This allows their devices to be tiny. The Flex uses the same app as the rest of the company’s lineup. It shows historical data for distance walked and sleep patterns along with letting the user easily track water and food consumption. The app completely controls the Fitbit. There is also a web interface with even more info and the Flex ships with a tiny USB syncing dongle for owners without a Bluetooth 4.0 or NFC smartphone.

Fitbit claims the Flex’s battery lasts five to seven days. I only had to charge it once within my week and a half of testing.

The Fitbit Flex is not without flaws. While it has the fundamentals down, there are still several areas that Fitbit should address.

The band shows wear rather quickly. I’ve used the Flex for just over a week and the rubber band is looking rough around the edges. The black is no longer black. I suspect the wear and tear wouldn’t be so noticeable on the slate version. Additional bands are available.

Thankfully the rubber strap is just a holder. The actually Fitbit slips inside the band. Pop it out to charge by USB.

The Flex doesn’t log sleep very well, either. Despite wearing the unit to bed every night over the last week, it only logged my sleep for two nights. I suspect it was user error, but I know there wasn’t much of a “set-it-and-forget-it” aspect to the process. But the beauty of a Fitbit is that the wearer isn’t supposed to have to do anything. It’s just supposed to work. The sleep logging feature just doesn’t work all the time.

Nevertheless these issues are tiny compared to the quality of the Flex.

Fitbit has a winner with the Flex. It’s comfortable to wear, works very well and, at only $100, priced competitively. The Flex is the best Fitbit yet. Highly recommended.

Fitbit Flex ($99.95) is available starting today on Fitbit.com and at major U.S. retailers including Amazon.