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Fitbit Force Review

Fitbit Force Android

If CES 2014 was any indication, 2014 is going to be the year of wearable technology. The story of the Fitbit Force extends a little bit earlier than that, but now Fitbit finds itself in the middle of an overly saturated fitness band/wearable technology market. Fitbit might not have the sexy brand of Nike or the respected Android history of Motorola, but the Force is looking to distinguish itself. The question is, with so many other options out there, is the Fitbit Force worth your money? Let’s find out.

The Good

Fitbit Tracking

One of the best parts about the Fitbit Force is the portion that doesn’t even cost money to use. Once you sign up for a Fitbit account on their website, you have access to a wide array of fitness tracking equipment right from the start. You can track food taken, activities done and loads of other health stats right away, for no cost. And there are a lot of stats that can be tracked: weight, blood pressure, heart rate and even blood glucose level can be logged. Of course all of these stats are kept track of automatically and more easily with the Force added onto your account, but the fact that Fitbit offers all of these free services through their website just for signing up is absolutely great.

Design

While the top part of the band is a little thick for my tastes, the rest of the Fitbit is one good looking device. The soft and flexible plastic that the Force is made of will immediately remind you of any fitness gear that you have seen before. It is comfortable to wear for long periods of time, though. Some users have reported issues with rashes breaking out on the underside of the wrist where the metal piece that keeps the watchbands together touches the skin, but I haven’t had this problem. I’m fairly sure that those cases are undiagnosed allergies to something in the Fitbit, nothing that will kill anyone.

Fitbit Force Android

Bluetooth Performance (Sort of)

One of the main selling points of the Force over something like the Nike Fuelband is the ability to work with Android devices. Once your phone has Bluetooth 4.0 activated, Fitbit’s fitness band can communicate your daily goals to your phone in real time. Long time Android users remember how devastating for a battery it used to be to leave Bluetooth on in the background, but I decided to try it with the Fitbit and I was mostly very pleased. My Moto X and Force did very well with having Bluetooth on at all times during the day, for the most part. Battery drain on the Moto X was almost unchanged and the Force went for long periods without having to be recharged. There was however, a few times where it seemed that the Force and Moto X stopped communicating for some reason or the other. When that happened the Force’s battery would be drained within a few hours, and the device would need to be soft-reset before it could be connected to my phone again. I have only had that problem a few times in the month or so that I have had my device, and it seems like something that could easily be patched in a software update.

Goal Tracking and Motivation

One of the best parts of having a fitness tracker like the Force is doing it with friends. Unfortunately for the Fitbit, Nike has scooped up a lot of the fitness people into their network. However, since I have owned the Force, I have found it fairly easy to make friends through the Fitbit website to put myself up against. Granted I don’t know these people face to face, but having a list of people who are also working at those goals makes it better. If Fitbit gains a larger foothold in the wearables market, expect to see their network of users grow.

The Not-so-Good

Sleep Tracking

Fitbit tracks a lot of your health statistics, including how you are sleeping. Keeping the Force on your wrist while you sleep allows it to track the times that you were restless and awake during your sleep and uploads it to their site for you to study. It seemed a little tedious to me to have to try and remember when I fell asleep the night before and then to remember to upload it that morning. I really do like the sleep tracking feature, it was tough for me to put it in the “not-so-good” category, but it could use a little bit of work.

Edit:  Readers chimed in to let me know that a long press on the Force’s button activates a sleep mode, but this same button is also used to track active minutes during workouts. I’ll have to test this shortcut to sleep mode from here on out, but still confused as to why these two features are on the same long press. Either way, if this works, it certainly could make tracking sleep much easier. Will update the review shortly.

Food Tracking

This is probably the worst implemented feature that Fitbit offers through their services. Fitbit gives you the tools to log food that you eat each day to help keep your health up, but it is very cumbersome to do so. Fitbit’s database of food and the calories associated with each food is way too expansive. Finding the right size of Coca Cola that you drank for lunch is a lot harder than you would expect. After a while of trying to keep up with this after every meal, I have come to stop using it all together.

Fitbit Force Android

Lack of Notifications

This is something that I really hope that Fitbit works on adding to their Android support down the road. The Force for iOS can give you small notifications from your phone on the LCD screen. This is an iOS exclusive at the moment and there haven’t been any rumors as of yet that it will be heading to Android. The screen is too small to read any kind of words from an email or text message on, but if I could get a Gmail or text message icon notification when I receive one on my phone, I would be a happy man.

Gallery

Fitbit Force AndroidFitbit Force AndroidFitbit Force AndroidFitbit Force AndroidFitbit Force Android

The Verdict

I have really enjoyed the Fitbit Force since I picked one up. After finally seeing that Nike has no intention on working with Android I was a little disappointed that there was not something similar out there that worked for Android. The Force does a lot of what the Fuelband does. It has its upsides, like the overall health tracking, but also downsides, like the lack of people using it. If you are looking to get the best fitness tracker that works with Android right now, the Force is for you. With a few updates here and there, the Force could end up being the best fitness tracker, period.

The Fitbit Force retails for $129.95.

  • kd

    Use myfitnesspal to track food. I can sync it with your Fitbit

  • MrXiro

    I can’t find these things anywhere!

  • george

    I just bought a Fitbit Force and it has data already recorded in it. Is there a way to reset everything to 0? Thanks in advance. :)

  • Dawn James

    Before I experienced the dreaded fitbit rash, I used the “Lose It” app to track food and sync’d it to the fitbit app. Since the rash, I have exchanged the Force for the Flex. I loved the Force (had tried the Jawbone UP, but found to too chunky) and miss features like the altimeter and watch, but I definitely do NOT miss the rash.

  • http://www.droid-life.com/ Frank 2.0

    Hope it is better than the Fitbit One. It tracks activity sitting in the box on my desk. Second one I have owned and it’s going back.

    • Charles Walker

      I think the Force is overvalued over the One. I prefer the One because I enjoy not even knowing it’s on me. It is also supposedly more accurate than the wrist band for step tracking.

  • Teddy Chen

    I’ve been using it since released. To start the sleep timer, just hold down the button on the side until the band vibrates, and do it again when you wake up. Active minutes are tracked automatically, there is no need to hold down a button for that.

  • Hoffman

    That is a lot of money for the limited use in my opinion. For that price, one could purchase a Pebble Watch, download any of several fitness tracker apps that download info onto the watch and still get your E-mail, SMS, phone call notifications, control your music, etc.

  • Rafy286

    Excellent review. I agree with everything stated here in the review. The biggest shortcoming is the Food tracking and what I did was create a Myfitnesspal account and synced it with FitBit. MyFitnesspal Food database is immense with a lot of choices plus the app has a bar code scanner for most foods. Fitbit has helped me loose weight.

    Droid-Life group is nice. I can’t believe some of you are doing 20000+ a day. I’ve done that much but just at work I’ve averaged about 10k a day.

  • MaciQuatl

    what about a review of Polar Loop?

  • cjohnson481

    If you are using DashClock Widget, the FitBit DashClock Extension is pretty nice for checking your stats without having to go into the app. – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=by.sideproject.dashclock.fitbit

    Also, if you have a Pebble, you can get Augmented SmartWatch Pro to display your FitBit stats every so often. – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.alk.k9

  • 213ninja

    I love DL, but please read the manual before you review it, or, preface the entire thing by saying it’s just a first impression or something like that. I agree the food DB is lackluster, but i use the MyFitnessPal integration, which is awesome (and not discussed in the review). I’m also not sure how the lack of phone notifications can be counted against a device that is touted as a fitness tracker, not a smartwatch. I realize idevices have it, but it seems like a nice to have, and definitely not a core feature. also, no mention of stairs climbed tracking? i’d much rather track real movements than a made up number like the fuelband points, and if comparing devices, i feel like those things need to be mentioned.

    I’ve owned the Flex and the Force. Between the 2 i’ve only had BT take a dump 3 or 4 times over the course of a year. None of those times required me to reset the FB device tho, i believe it was the phone’s BT sketching out. That’s just my experience, i’m sure there are units that may have issues in the wild though…

    • Greyhame

      Agreed. This review was completely lacking. It stated the Force can track heart rate, then didn’t explain how. Is this a feature using the device only? How is it implemented? Subpar review.

      • 213ninja

        I’m not sure if you were really asking or if it was rhetorical, but their web and phone apps enable you to manually log those kinds of vitals. The band itself does not monitor them. It does track steps, floors, calories, distance, and active minutes.

        • Greyhame

          Thanks for the feedback.

  • deslotnick

    What about the actual accuracy of the step tracker? I’ve counted my steps and then with simple subtraction seen how many steps it’s registered and it’s more often than not off by +-5%. Also, mine records steps in my sleep, and I’m definitely not sleep walking because it still says I’m sleeping. It registers as awake when I actually get up to pee in the night. Target has a long return policy so I was waiting for this review before returning.

    • ddh819

      i don’t think anything on your wrist is going to be super accurate. i use the step counts as a relative marker-did i walk more than yesterday or am i slacking off etc

      • Jeff Lamoureaux

        Agreed. I used the Nike Fuelband and it wasn’t very accurate either.

  • cgalyon

    Can’t remember if Basis has been reviewed on here, but they seem to favor Android over iOS, and it does a lot of things well (like sleep tracking with detail).

  • http://www.mymuscle.com/ Maximus Muscle

    I’ve tried a few of these and like the Jawbone UP and Fitbit.

  • chanstar

    Can one of you review or have a comparison of all the current fitness bands, including the Polar Loop w/H7 Heart Rate Monitor?

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Eric Rees

      We may or may not be working on something like this *wink wink*

      • Ej McCarty

        I think there’s too many that are the same right now. You should wait until products like amiigo and reign come out so there can be some variety. Fuelband is a complete joke, that shouldn’t even be included in the review. A made-up point system that in no way translates to fitness. Just another nike rip off product. Must have gotten the idea from Cook.

  • cjohnson481

    Droid Life FitBit group, anyone?

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Eric Rees

      Someone make this happen.

      • cjohnson481

        Doing it now. I’ll post the link and you can update the article.

      • cjohnson481

        Droid Life FitBit Group – http://www.fitbit.com/group/2243JJ

        • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

          Joined! Rob P here!

    • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

      I’m down, I just got mine this week. Love it. It is hard to log some foods though, especially when I don’t know any of the nutrition facts (local mom and pop shops). Otherwise, it’s really not that difficult to log food.

      • Rafy286

        Food logging is the worst aspect of Fitbit. I created a myfitnesspal account and added it to fitbit and its much better now, since Myfitnesspal food database is immense.. My problem with Fitbit was that most of their food database are of restaurants meanwhile I mostly make homemade food.

        • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

          True, it does have a lot of restaurant foods versus at home foods. I signed up for Myfitnesspal earlier today and will give it a look.

          • michael arazan

            I too prepare my own meals, being an ex chef, I prefer making my own and am a bit ocd about it, and its easier to count the calories. A lot of free calorie counters on the internet as long as you have the totals you can let fitbit figure out how much activity you need to burn the calories.

  • Droid Ronin

    Good review. I bought the Flex a few months ago and love it — very sleek and functional. The sleep tracking works pretty well too, just tap repeatedly on the display five times and it puts it into sleep mode.

  • Bill Anderson

    It seems all of my friends have gone with Fitbit. I have 6 friends now using it. I only know of one using Nike, but he works for Nike…

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Eric Rees

      Hmm, you should try convincing that Nike guy to come over to the dark side.

  • fitzgerald52

    I bought the force, had it for 2 weeks and it started having issues. All of sudden it wouldn’t sync with my Moto X, the battery couldn’t hold a charge, and it just stopped working. I returned to Amazon but they were backordered so I couldn’t get a replacement. I really liked it but after reading about all the devices coming out of CES I may wait for those.

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Eric Rees

      Yes. That seems to happen from time to time when the Bluetooth connection gets messed up. Both devices start scanning for each other until their battery runs out. Can be fixed with a quick reboot of the Force though. Hopefully they can fix it going forward.

      • fitzgerald52

        I didn’t know this so I returned it because I thought I just had a defective one. I bought my mom one also for Christmas and she’s had no issues. She only syncs with the computer though.

      • Jared

        I ran into this issue shortly after I got my Force. I signed up for the beta of the FitBit app and have had zero issues since. Just thought I’d share that.

  • Straylight

    My 2 cents? As much as I love the implementation of this thing I had to return it for 2 reasons:

    1) It kept falling off, the band would get caught on something and pop off. I’m not sure why they thought the wristband without a clasp would be a good idea for an electronic device. It’s $130, why is it secured like a charm bracelet from toys R us?
    2) More importantly, unlike the fitbit one, this thing isn’t waterproof. I don’t understand this decision, its a premium device above the other models, why doesn’t it share the waterproofing of the items below it? The forum mods go out of their way to mention how susceptible to water it is. (don’t shower with it, don’t submerge it, “the shower is a great time to CHARGE your fit bit amirite?”).

    If you have a choice, stick with the fitbit one, it lacks some features (including a cool LCD screen) but Its more durable.

  • lensgrabber

    Not a fan of these wrist band style trackers. I am looking forward to see what Jaybird has in the next few months with their wrist band offering, the Reign. Until then I will gladly chug along with my trusted Fitbit One.

    • Ej McCarty

      Wow you’ve gotten me excited to hear that Jaybird is making something. I’ve had their freedom sprints and now the bluebuds. Both are amazing and IMO the best bluetooth headsets you can buy. The freedom sprints still work after a year, I just wanted to upgrade so I gave them to my girlfriend. I probably used them almost everyday for a year. The bluebuds are a pretty signifcant upgrade, both size and battery life wise.

      • lensgrabber

        Yeah I have been down on bluetooth headsets for a long time but finally ordered the Bluebuds. I’m hooked now. I can finally run without the buds popping out plus they sound great (not to mention that sexy voice) That’s why I am eager to see what they do with the tracker.

        • Ej McCarty

          lol at the sexy voice. But yeah I’m definitely happy with the quality and battery life on them. It’s amazing to lift in them compared to wired earphones. Once you get a pair you’ll never go back to wired.

  • Ryan Powell

    I may have missed it if you did mention this but did you have any issues with the clasp? I’m an original Fitbit user and I’ve been wanting to jump up to the Force but I’ve heard concerns over the clasp coming lose easily. I’ve lost and damaged my original Fitbit so I’m interested to hear your experience with that.

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Eric Rees

      I actually like the clasp a lot. It’s made out of some sort of metal so it hooks into the material of the Force pretty well. You can definitely work a fingernail under there and pry it out if you try to, but unless you are trying it’s going to stay in place.

    • fitzgerald52

      I had no issues with the clasp. My mom though kept catching it on stuff so she started wearing it with the clasp out and hasn’t had issues since.

  • BroRob

    Hmmm this might be the band I was looking for. If it works with the Strava App to pull my heart rate data while cycling and hiking this would be all I need!

  • monkey082506

    I’m looking into getting this and was anxiously awaiting the review from you Eric. Thanks for this. I’ve heard it is “water resistant”. Have you worn it in the shower or do you constantly take it off and back on?

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Eric Rees

      I have actually. I heard that it was water resistant as well so I wore it in the shower once and it still going strong. I since then have chickened out and just remembered to take it off and put it on around showers.

      • monkey082506

        That’s probably the same thing I’ll end up doing. Thanks!

        • Cosmohokie

          For what its worth, I’ve had mine for a month and never take it off and I have not had a single problem

      • cherry919

        The Fitbit site lists the Flex as waterproof and the Force as water resistant. The recommend that it NOT be worn in the shower. It tracks flights of stairs by measuring changes in air pressure. If you look on the bottom of the device, above the metal area, you’ll see two slots that end in two small holes. That is where the water can get in. There are reports of people water damaging their force, so be careful.

  • cherry919

    Eric, I have the force and you can track your sleep with out manually inputting the info the next day. When you go to bed, press and hold the button on the Force, it will start a timer. When you wake up, press and hold the button again to stop the timer. It will then transfer that to the app as the time you were asleep. If you forget to turn the timer on of off … then you can go into the app and manually update the times. It works well. We also picked up the Aria wifi scale and that will input you weight and body fat % into the app automatically as well.

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Eric Rees

      Yeah, I made a correction in the story. There is no indication that is used for sleep, it’s just a stopwatch symbol. Maybe a little bed icon instead? Maybe a “zzz” symbol? It conveys nothing about sleep.

      • cherry919

        It’s listed somewhere in the instructions…I didn’t figure it out by myself :-). You can also use that stop watch function to track active minutes that won’t register by itself, like cycling or yoga.

      • Ej McCarty

        Yeah that part confused me at first too, like how does it differentiate between when you start a timer for sleep and starting a timer for exercising? I’m still a little confused as to how it just knows because when I hold it for sleep, it shows up as sleep when i sync it the next day. I wish we had Jawbone UI and functions with Fitbit hardware

        • Conner

          I’m guessing it is the same function, but it knows that you’re not moving at all so it considers that sleeping. You could probably try it in the middle of the day by starting a timer for “exercising” but leaving it alone for 6+ hours and then syncing that.

  • Vikinglifeguard

    I have used the one for a while. Love the fitbit system. Hell helped me lose 45 pounds. I have always had an issue with the workout vs walking. I run marathons and have run with it on twice to try and get the distance and it only tracks like 18 miles. It has its flaws. I can’t wait for the new band that was displayed at CES (can’t recall the name) to see if it is better.

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Eric Rees

      The Razer Nabu? We are excited here for that one as well!

      • fitzgerald52

        that looked quite impressive, I like the additional integration with more notifications…

  • Larry Parsons

    I think the force is selling really well. The site has a two week wait, best buy says it’s sold out as well.

    • Ej McCarty

      I had to call about 20 different places to find one for myself. Ended up getting it at target of all places. I returned two of them though because the screen was slightly crooked. This may not have bothered some, but my OCD kicked in and I feel that when paying $130 for a piece of hardware, it should be perfect.

      • bigfire

        Hum. Bought my father one from Amazon.com.

  • 5280skier

    Just thought I would say that I currently use a FitBit One and love it. I concur that their food tracking is lackluster, but the best solution is to sync myfitnesspal to FitBit and do all your food tracking through myfitnesspal. Works flawlessly, right down to the barcode scanning to enter food.

    • g2gsr

      I agree with 5280, I do the same thing

    • John Legere

      This. Scan and boom

  • Jeremiah Taylor

    ummmm Eric… For sleep tracking you hold the button down until it vibrates when you are ready to go to sleep and then when you wake up you hold the button down till it vibrates to stop sleep tracking.. That is all you have to do

    • bigfire

      This is actually a significant improvement over the previous model. The original FitBit requires you to wear a wristwrap that breaks down quit easily, and also requires a long press to start logging. FitBit Flex is even less intuitive in usage in that you tab the bit 5-6 times quickly. FitBit Force fixes most of these annoyances with a simple single button long press that just works.

    • Karen

      Also, if you have the app on your phone, you go into the sleep item, click the + and select “Begin Sleep Now”. You will then be prompted to “wake up” when you open the app back up again.

  • Sciaid

    You don’t have to write when you went to sleep down the night before. If you just long press the button it will start the sleep timer and just do the same when you wake up. I have enjoyed my Force but I also find the food database annoying and stopped using that part of it.

    • Jeremiah Taylor

      beat me to it lol

    • g2gsr

      I was going to add that as well. I have the flex, so there is no button, but you just tap the device rapidly 5 times to put it in/out of sleep mode. I figured there was a way to do it on Force!

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Eric Rees

      Huh. There’s no indication that mode is sleep tracking. It just comes across as a stopwatch. I had absolutely 0 clue that did the sleep tracking as well.

    • Ryan

      Was going to say the exact same thing. The sleep tracking is great. Just learn how to use your device. :) The food DB is awful, and should be integrated with My Plate or something to make it useful.

      • Ej McCarty

        Just connect MFP to it. Works flawlessly

        • Ryan

          I haven’t used MFP in a while, but last time I used it I thought it was pretty horrible. Their recipe/meal stuff is just not up to snuff when compared with My Plate.

          • Ej McCarty

            I never really tried myplate. How is it different than MFP