Fitbit One review: Powerful fitness tracker, weak design

I must give credit to the Basis Band, which, at least in theory, records sleep automatically. Even when strapped to my wrist, many times I failed to remember to hold down the Fitbit One's or even the Jawbone Up's buttons to activate their sleep mode after a particularly long day. The same goes for shutting down sleep mode in the morning.

The Fitbit One sports just one sole button. Sarah Tew/CNET

The real strength of the One, as with Fitbit's other devices, is its ability to connect to the company's online service. Data measured by the One tracker is pushed to servers living in the cloud. From there you can sift through your stats either via Fitbit's desktop Web site or through companion mobile apps for iOS and Android.

With all this data at my fingertips, I was able to easily see my activity over days, weeks, months, and the past year. To take fitness beyond casually logging workouts, runs, and walks, the Fitbit service lets you enter the food and drinks you consume. With info that's pulled from a large database or that's custom-created, the calories for the meals you eat are set against the calories you burn.

The mobile app shows lots of ways to view your stats over time. Brian Bennett/CNET

Believe me when I say that calorie counting is a chore, but the Fitbit app and Web site are the easiest platforms I've used to get the job done. The service saves past foods entered and creates a list of items you punch in often as well. This level of biometric data combined with the company's Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale, which records the weight of multiple household members and shoots info to the cloud, and you begin to see the value these connected gizmos bring.

Fitbit bundles the One with a USB Bluetooth adapter that you use to connect the device wirelessly to PCs and Macs. The gadget also can link to smartphones over Bluetooth as well -- it's the first tracker to do so -- but the list of supported devices is a short one. At the moment, compatible handsets include iPhones, and Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note devices. Fitbit does plan to make Bluetooth communication with the Android app available to a wider range of phones as soon as possible.

Log your meals quickly with the Fitbit app. Brian Bennett/CNET

Unlike the Fitbit Zip, which uses a watch battery, the Fitbit One is powered by a rechargeable battery. Just slip the device out of its case and plug it into its USB adapter to recharge. I never had problems with the One's longevity; the tracker typically lasted a full work week without needing a power boost.

Included is a USB Bluetooth adapter. Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion
The Fitbit One is a perfect example of an excellent product packed with a host of great features undone by a problematic design. By connecting to Fitbit's powerful analytical tools in the cloud and helping you count calories, stairs climbed, and sleep quality, the One goes way beyond one-trick pedometers.

That said, its clip cover doesn't grip as reliably as it should, which isn't merely an annoyance. It could result in a lost device, or indeed multiple devices, as in my case. If the One cost $20, that might be a forgivable offense, but at $99.95 it's a serious issue.

This is why I suggest purchasing the Fitbit One only if you can't stand wrapping a gadget around your wrist. For all others I recommend holding out for the upcoming Fitbit Flex, which sports an identical $99.95 sticker price but uses a more convenient and secure wrist band design. It also matches the One's features blow for blow, save counting stairs and a having an alphanumeric display.

Another choice is the more expensive $129.99 Jawbone Up if a more ergonomic design and a longer battery life (but no wireless syncing) are your priorities. All three current Fitbit products, the $59.95 entry-level Zip, the One, and the Flex, leverage a deep well of online data. That's hard to resist for casual users and fitness addicts alike.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy See all prices

Fitbit One - activity/sleep tracker - burgundy

Part Number: 6330296
Low Price: $67.99 See all prices