A few years ago a company called FitBit decided to take old school pedometers to the next level by connecting them to web services to make exercise social. Several different devices have followed, and this year it has all culminated in the release of their best product yet, the FitBit Force.
The original FitBit was about the size of a pack of gum, and clipped onto your pocket, or with an optional holder your belt to track the steps you take and the number of calories burned by measuring the periods of higher activity in conjunction with motion. That device required a base station which connected via USB to your computer, sending your data to their web portal whenever you were in range of the antenna, allowing for a "gamification" of your workouts. You could link up via social networks with other friends using the device, and compare your activity with theirs. While the portal remains largely unchanged over the years, the device has evolved from a large clip-on device that needed nightly charging and it's own base station to the Force, which connects via your smart phone's bluetooth connection, and is worn like a bracelet.
Last year they released the Flex, which was a bracelet with just five lights showing you your progress towards your step goal for the day. The flex which began shipping this week now has the OLED display from the FitBit One in the Flex's easy to wear form factor, and I think they have finally nailed the design here.
I have had mine for a few days, and have worn it constantly with no irritation, often times even forgetting it is there unless my jacket tugs at it. At night I hold down the button on the side to tell it I am going to bed, and it tracks how well I sleep, the number of times I wake up, and several other metrics.
Through the iOS app I can log food intake, water intake, and track my step totals. I can also input types of exercises done to further help it determine the number of calories burned for the day, giving me a good snapshot of how I am doing along the way.
If you are in need of, or simply want this type of tracker, FitBit has been in this space the longest and really has their product down. I have used every version they have released, and this is by far their best offering yet.
While I stated in my review that I had worn the device for several days without any iritation, two days later my wife experienced a severe iritation on her wrist under the tracker. Sever skin redness and swelling, including broken skin developed, and took several days to heal. I have not as of yet recieved a response from FitBit.
Aparently my wife was not the only one to experience issues with the FitBit Force. An article posted yesterday on the Huffington Post's website has pictures and quotes from several people who had similar experiences. FitBit is now offering refunds and exchanges for other trackers to those affected, but don't seem to know what is causing the issue in some individuals. You can read the full article from Huffington Post here.