Sunday, October 14, 2012

Review of FitBit Ultra -- My Experience

This post is not about food.  I've been using an activity tracker (fancy pedometer) for over a year.  It all started when I was at a Wellness seminar at the Four Seasons Denver.  I started talking to the guy next to me.  (I'm an introvert but I talk a lot.)  He's a wellness expert and as part of his job, he tests wellness products.  We started talking about pedometers so I asked him what was his favorite pedometer.  We were using Omrons at work.  He showed me his FitBit Ultra in blue.  I was with a few coworkers and we all got excited.  When we got back to the office, we convinced our boss to buy FitBits for everyone.

So that's how it started.  I ordered about 50 FitBits (five at a time on the 24 Hour Fitness website using my member discount and coupons).  This triggered the 24 Hour Fitness fraud department.  I called them and assured them that they were valid orders.  I was one of the first ones in the office to test it out before we distributed it to the staff. 

Set-up was a little finicky so I wrote up a Q&A and tip sheet for everyone.  I was already starting my pre-wedding diet before I started using the FitBit but it was a handy tool to motivate me.  I found that often I was hovering below 10,000 steps per day.  I would then get in the car and drive to a store in the middle of the night and start walking around.  When I returned home without buying anything, J* would ask where I was at.  I would tell him I was at the store to get more steps.

It was tough to get over 10,000 steps most work days. The day of our company picnic I was over 17,000 steps and I was still continuing to walk.  I think I ended up with over 20,000 steps that day.  During a trip to Vegas, we did a lot of walking and there were days where we were at 40,000 steps. I wish I could consistently reach 10,000 steps per day.

By dieting and using the FitBit, I lost over 20 pounds.  Keep in mind, I'm just over 5 feet tall.  Then one day after returning from a trip to California, I recall taking my FitBit off and putting it on a table.  I couldn't find it the next day.  I looked around but couldn't find it. A while later when J* was doing laundry, he found my FitBit in the dryer.  My FitBit had gone through the washing machine and dryer.  I suspect our cat Tasha, who has a habit of knocking things off tables, knocked it into the hamper that was near the table at the time.  I tried letting it dry, putting it in rice, and resetting it and nothing worked.  I googled "fitbit washing machine" and found that I am not the only person who has done this because FitBit has troubleshooting instructions on washing a FitBit.  I followed the instructions and nothing worked.  The troubleshooting page said to contact support using the provided link for additional help so I contacted them. 

I received an email from support within a day.  (Support is not instantaneous but someone does respond.) "Emily" gave me additional instructions on troubleshooting and still nothing worked.  All I got was the flashing "FITBIT 4.14" on the screen.  Emily then told me she was sending me a replacement.  I couldn't believe it!  I thought that perhaps they would offer me a replacement at a reduced cost (like my little sister usually gets from the Apple store) but they were sending me a free replacement. 

The replacement came rather quickly.  Emily also sent me instructions on syncing a new FitBit to an existing account.  I couldn't get the darn thing to sync at all.  I tried resetting using the paperclip, rebooting the computer, trying a different USB port, uninstalling the software and reinstalling, standing on my head while holding my breath, and pleading with the darn thing before I decided to give up and try syncing to my Mac at home.  I went through the same steps but this time instead of uninstalling and reinstalling, I was installing, uninstalling, and reinstalling the software.  Finally the screen on the FitBit just died.  I thought perhaps, I used up the juice while trying to get it set-up so I left it on the base overnight to let it charge before I tried again.  It never charged, the screen never came back up and I was never able to get it to sync.

I contacted support to see to see if they could point me in the right direction.  I remember it being a pain to get my first one to sync but it eventually worked. Support got back to me and apparently I had a defective FitBit.  They were sending out a new one but wanted me to send a picture of the FitBit.  Below is the picture I took.  FitBit Left was the original FitBit that was washed.  It keeps flashing "FITBIT 4.14" when on the base.  FitBit Right was the replacement FitBit that died within 12 hours.

The second replacement took a while to get to me.  I waited anxiously.  By this time I've been without my FitBit for a few weeks now.  I received notification that the my FitBit shipped on 10/4 but I kept checking and nothing.  Finally on 10/10, it showed that it was actually shipped.  I received it on 10/13.  When I finally received my second replacement, I was able to get it to sync right away on my Mac.  It worked the very first time but I noticed that the screen on this one was blurry and there's a rectangular illuminated frame around the letters.  You can see below the lines above and below the clock.  It looks like it wasn't assembled correctly.  For now it works (although it's not crystal clear like my old FitBit) but remember that I have 50 other coworkers with FitBits (plus several of my coworkers purchased units for their partners and spouses under my 24 Hour Fitness membership) and I've had reports from a few people that their displays have since died.  Hopefully mine does no die. 

Another thing I've noticed about me wearing the FitBit is that I've developed a rash near where I wear it.  (One of the locations recommended by FitBit is on your bra and that's where I find it's most secure.  Many of my male coworkers wear it on their pants (either on their waist or in their pockets) and it has fallen off without them noticing since it's so small and lightweight.)  After several months of dealing with this rash, I went to see my doctor and he quickly diagnosed it a yeast overgrowth and prescribed a cream.  The cream worked and the rash would go away for a little while and return.  Since I have not been wearing my FitBit, I haven't had a rash.  (I disinfect my FitBit every few weeks.)

I hear that FitBit has introduced two new trackers.  The Zip is a cheaper version missing the sleep tracker and the One, which is a replacement for the Ultra tracker.  Honestly, I only used the sleep tracker the first few weeks.  I was tired of it telling me that I wake up over 30 times per night.  The Zip looks like it's a little larger than the Ultra so it might not be so easily lost.  It also operates on a battery so maybe people won't have issues with their battery dying over time.  The One looks really sleek but I'm not in love with the burgundy color.  I'm liking the new wireless bluetooth dongle but it looks like the charger is separate unlike the Ultra.  It's also sweat-proof!!  Not sure if the new One is worth trading up for.  I can't say I'm always one of the first adopters of new technology.  I'm still using IPhone 4S and did not run out to get the new 5 when it came out.  Heck! I haven't even upgraded the OS on it yet.  J* asked if I had since he was updated the OS on his IPhone and on his IPad.  When I had the 3G, I never updated the OS and wondered why I could not participate in group texts with my friends.


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