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iFit Active (black) review: An activity tracker that tries to do too much

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Typical Price: £99.00
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The Good The iFit Active has accurate tracking, strong battery life, inactivity alerts and a versatile design. You can manually log calories with the touch of a button. It can also sync wirelessly with treadmills from some of the top brands.

The Bad The tracker isn't waterproof, there is no heart-rate monitor, the screen is difficult to read in direct sunlight and it's easily scratched. You are forced to use iFit's app, rather than arguably better third-party options.

The Bottom Line Despite being accurate, having great battery life and a unique ability to wirelessly sync with some treadmills, the iFit Active is an expensive activity tracker that brings nothing new to the table.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

5.9 Overall
  • Style 7.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Ease of use 5.0

Review Sections

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.

Design

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.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

ifit-active-product-photos06.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Features

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.

ifit-active-product-photos10.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

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