If there’s one issue that seems to crop up often with Fitbit’s eponymous line of fitness trackers, it’s that they can be a little tough to keep track of — our own Matt Burns ended up washing his, a tragedy that’s apparently befallen many a Fitbit fan.
That’s where Fitbit’s new $99 Flex wristband comes into play — it takes most of the same activity tracking tendencies as the earlier models and crammed them into a new (but familiar) form factor. This time around, users can strap the Flex to their wrists in hopes that it won’t end up sitting at the bottom of their washing machines.
Of course, that’s not to say that Fitbit is pivoting away from the clip-on style that worked so well for them in the past, as representatives were quick to note that the Flex is meant to supplement Fitbit’s existing line of gizmos. What that ultimately means here is that in some ways, the Flex seems like a marked step backward from some of its predecessors. It lacks the ability to track flights of stairs climbed that made its debut with the Fitbit One, and it seems to have taken a page out of Jawbone’s playbook when it comes to interacting with the device. There are no physical controls to be found here — everything, from tweaking your fitness goals or tracking sleep quality has to be handled from the Fitbit website or the accompanying mobile app (support for Bluetooth 4.0 helps with that).
After sticking to a single, largely unchanged form factor since the early days, it’s hardly a surprise to see Fitbit explore other design options. Jawbone’s UP and the Nike Fuelband have picked up quite a bit of traction since their respective launches (though the UP’s path was considerably rockier), and Fitbit had the right idea in taking adapting their wares to a popular form factor. Alas, you won’t be able to see how well the Flex fares just yet — pre-orders begin today, but the first batch of units won’t officially hit the streets until sometime this Spring.