Sunday, April 27, 2014

Battle of the fitness trackers

Motivation on your wrist..

I came to know about fitness trackers via tech domains such as CNET and ZDNet. 
The first wrist-worn fitness band that caught my attention was the Nike Fuel Band. I read about it on the Outside magazine.
It tracks your daily activity and such and the info can be uploaded onto a training page. Well, that's Nike and its very expensive.
Now, above it all, there's a product called Fitbit that became famous with their model Flex wrist-worn fitness tracker.

Fitbit Flex

How does it work? 

The Fitbit Flex is actually a sensor pod which is fitted onto a wrist band. You wear it and it measures your steps as you walk. The little pod is also built with a wireless connectivity feature where all the activity data recorded can uploaded onto its user interface dashboard on Here, your steps are recorded and goals are set to achieve your daily goal. The Fitbit flex can be programmed and also paired with a WiFi enable weighing scale. This means that you can customize a weight loss programme through what you eat and how active you are. It also tracks your sleep which made it really interesting. When set on sleep mode, the fitness tracker actually records your movement during sleep, how many times you get up and actual sleeping hours.

Fitness trackers available in the market... 

Fitbit Flex

This is perhaps one of the best fitness trackers available.
It's simple, no-frills, lightweight and impressive in terms of performance.
Straight out of the box, you will find the Flex, a wireless dongle, charger and a spare band (Large sized).
Setting it up is rather easy, just create an account on 
The Near Field Communication (NFC) allows the Flex to communicate with most NFC-enabled Android and IOS smartphones.
It's waterproof, so, you can wear it anytime.
The cool part is when you achieve your goal, an array of LED lights will flash from left to right and a miniature motor in the Flex pod will vibrate.
The Flex has a battery life of a week and has to be charged via pod dock with your USB slot. 
But, the Achilles heel on the flex is the fact that it's band breaks down easily and the part that sucks is the fact that you cannot purchase replacement bands locally. 
Its priced between RM375 - RM450 depending on whether you source it from Ebay or from on-line shopping sites such as

Jawbone UP

Jawbone UP

This is a favourite among runners, cyclists and swimmers.
It packs a premium price of RM500 a pop and is sized to fit. This means you have to get the correct size to fit your wrist.
Used with an IOS smartphone, you can plug it onto your phone and upload all your fitness activity data.
The only downside on the Jawbone is that it too tends to breakdown from wear and tear.

Garmin's fitness tracker: the Vivofit
Garmin Vivofit

The world's leading GPS manufacturer Garmin came up with their own version of a fitness band called Vivofit.
This is sensor pod with a display window carried on a wrist strap.
It's also a fitness tracker that does not depend on charging as two button cells that powers it would last for a year.
Set-up is pretty simple with the Garmin Express software (PC) and all your activities will be uploaded onto The site has been revamped to accommodate the Vivofit including other GPS-enabled sports tracker such as the Garmin Forerunner.
The Vivofit is priced at RM499 and comes in five different colour.
Compared to the Fitbit Flex, the Vivofit lacked the NFC capabilities and its app is only compatible with newer Android phones (OS 4.4 and above).
The lack of a vibration motor also puts the Vivofit one step below Fitbit's Flex fitness tracker. Hopefully, this would be a standard feature if Garmin ever comes up with an improved version of the fitness band...

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