The latest activity tracker from iFit hopes to be your everything tracker. In addition to tracking your daily activities likes steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and sleep, the iFit Active can also measure your diet and exercise. Unlike other trackers on the market, the Active can wirelessly sync with treadmills from ProForm, FreeMotion and NordicTrack to accurately measure your workouts at home or at the gym.
The iFit Active is compatible with the iPhone 4S and above, iPod touch fifth-gen and above, and Android 4.3 devices and higher. It's available in black in one size for $129 in the US and £99 in the UK. Additional colors and replacement bands in coral, blue and white are available in the US for $19 each.
The Active is priced towards the higher-end of the activity tracker market, which means we expect a lot from it. Can it stack up to the competition? Read on to find out.
The design of the Active is similar to the Fitbit Flex. A small pod must be inserted into a rubber band that is then placed around your wrist. Inside of the package there is also a clip so you can wear the Active on your waist. The company also claims that you can simply place the pod in your pocket for discrete tracking, although I found it isn't nearly as accurate when compared to on your wrist and waist.
One thing I really like is the way the wristband is designed. Two small prongs push through the rubber band to keep it in place. Unlike the other activity trackers, however, which can easily fall off when putting on a long sleeve shirt, the Active uses a secondary security slider to keep the device on your wrist.
On the device itself, there are two small buttons: one on the top and the other on the bottom. A single press on the top button will display the time, a second tap will show the battery life and Bluetooth status, and a long press will allow you to quickly log calories
Each single press on the bottom button will scroll through the different tracking categories: calories burned, net calories, steps and distance. A long press will give you the option to enable sleep mode, while a special "workout" mode can be enabled by tapping the top button after the long press on the bottom button. Pressing both buttons at the same time will toggle Bluetooth on and off.
A major flaw with the Active is its durability. After only a few days of normal use, small scratches began to appear on the screen. The scratches intensified as I continued to use the device. A product manager for iFit noted that early shipments of the device had "some issues with the glass." The company is changing to a new plastic for production moving forward, however those units won't be available for "a couple more months."
It's also unfortunate that the Active isn't waterproof. The device is water resistant, or as I like to say "splash proof." If you are out in the rain, washing your hands, or doing the dishes, you will be fine. It's recommended that you don't shower with the device or fully submerge it in water.
The Active's lithium-ion battery is recharged via a USB cable with a proprietary dock connector. The device doesn't clip into the dock, though, instead you must use a second trap to keep it in place. I would routinely leave it plugged in to only discover that the connectors dislodged from the dock and the device never fully charged. The method used by iFit is overly complicated for something that should be so simple.
As I mentioned, the Active can track your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and sleep. You can view all of the Active's data on its small LED screen, although it's nearly impossible to read in direct sunlight. Something unique to the band is that it can also track the calories you take in and your net calories. Holding the top button on the device allows you to quickly enter calories in intervals of 50, although it's more accurate to use the company's Android or iOS app.
Speaking of the app, it's where you will find detailed information about your daily activities. In it, you can set individual goals for steps, distance, calories burned, calories consumed, net calories and sleep time. The band will then vibrate once you have achieved your daily goal. Another features I always like are inactivity alerts. The Active can be set to vibrate and notify you with a "Move" alert after being idle for a long period of time.
I was happy that iFit included a silent alarm feature, but it's not as good as I had hoped. If you aren't familiar how the feature works, it's quite simple. You can set an alarm on the device and it will wake you up with a gentle vibration. It's better than being jolted awake with an alarm or a ringtone from your phone, and it won't disturb your partner.
I'm not a deep sleeper by any means, but I was unable to wake up from the vibration of the silent alarm. I tested this when I was awake and found that the device will only vibrate twice before leaving sleep mode. It would have been more effective if I had to manually turn it off.
The Active can also be set to automatically enter sleep mode at a set time each time. The automatic feature is flawed, though. The band will enter sleep mode once that time hits no matter what you are doing. I had mine go into sleep mode in the middle of a workout at the gym. It should be like other trackers that use the sensors in the device to actually detect whether you are sleeping or not.
On the plus side, battery life was quite impressive. Rated at five to seven days of normal usage, I managed to get 15 days out of the Active on my first charge, and it has continued to last equally as long since then.
Other than battery life, the most important aspect of these devices (at least in my opinion) is their ability to track your daily activities and how accurate they do so. I found the iFit Active to be relatively accurate (for distance tracking) when worn on either the wrist (left or right hand) and waist. As I mentioned earlier, however, when it is placed in your pocket the results dropped off quite a bit.
To test the accuracy of the device, I walked on a treadmill for a mile and compared the mileage from the treadmill to the mileage recorded on the Active. I performed this test three times on the wrist, three times on the waist and three times in my pocket. I made sure to use the same exact treadmill each time and walked at the same exact speed (3.5mph to be exact, about 17-minute pace). The results below are averages of the three tests.
iFit Active tracking data
|Position||Steps||Distance (mi)||Off by (mi)|
Holding down the bottom button will enable sleep mode. Once a sleep, the Active attempts to record the amount of time you are in light sleep, deep sleep or awake. This information can then be viewed the next morning on the mobile app. The device uses the accelerometer to record this data, which isn't always accurate but also in line with how other activity trackers capture sleep data.
iFit's parent company Icon Health & Fitness is also the parent company of brands such as ProForm, FreeMotion and NordicTrack. This gives the Active a very unique feature. The miles you walk and calories you burn on treadmills from these brands will automatically sync with the Active over Wi-Fi Direct and in turn with the iFit Track app on your mobile device. The treadmill integration delivers more accurate information than wearing the band alone. It's a unique feature and definitely a buying point if you actively use or own one of these compatible treadmills.
Android and iOS support
The iFit Track app is available for free in Apple's App Store and Google Play. Once you have created an account and paired your device to your phone, each time you open the app it will automatically begin syncing with your device. You can also use a downward swipe to initiate a sync while inside of the app.
The first thing you will notice is a large circle icon that shows your net calories. Below that are three lines of information: calories consumed, steps and sleep. Clicking on calories consumed lets you add food data and see nutritional information from the food you have already entered. The steps section displays information about steps taken, distance traveled, workout time, resting calorie burn, workout burn and total burn. Clicking on the sleeping tab will show when you went to bed and woke up, along with the amount of time you woke up in the middle of the night, the amount of light sleep you had and the amount of deep sleep.
Data can be viewed within the app from the past day, week and month. The app also lets you calibrate the Active, set daily goals and move alerts, access vibration settings and change pod location (whether you are wearing it on your right wrist, left wrist, waist or in your pocket).
Unlike some other activity trackers that sync with apps like MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun, iFit has chosen a closed ecosystem. You must rely on the iFit app or website for all of your needs. This would be fine, but the iFit app isn't nearly as good as third party options. Scanning the barcodes from food labels would routinely give me the wrong result, or not work at all. On one occasion the app actually confused eggs with chicken patties, and other times the nutritional information was simply inaccurate. Maybe I'm just nitpicking, but I never had these problems with other calorie trackers.
In short, iFit needs to go back to the drawing board with its mobile app.
On paper, the iFit Active does almost everything you would want from an activity tracker. It measures your steps, distance, calories, diet, workouts and sleep. It's accurate, has great battery life and is very versatile. Unfortunately the good ends there. The food database isn't as large or as accurate as the competition, the sleep tracking is poorly implemented, the silent alarm isn't powerful enough, it's not waterproof and there is no heart rate monitor. To make matters worse, the Active is priced towards the higher-end of the activity tracker market.
As it is right now, I can't recommend the iFit Active. A device that you spend over $100 on shouldn't scratch this easily, especially from normal use. Even if the problem is fixed, however, it's a tough sell, especially with devices like the Fitbit Charge and Charge HR coming to market soon. If you own or use one of the treadmills that can sync with the Active, it's a device you should consider.
Simply put, the Active is a good device on paper, but it fails to deliver in real world usage.