fitbitreviewAs some of you may have heard in the news, Fitbit has issued a recall on its Force fitness trackers due to rashing around the band area. This could lead people to believe one of two things about the manufacturer. The first mindset could believe that better testing should have been done before the product was sent to market thus writing the company and product off completely. The second mindset would be to applaud them for immediately taking action and offering full refunds to those individuals affected by the rashing. Regardless of how one might view the events, the bottom line is Fitbit are one of the originators in the fitness tracker industry and have achieved significant name recognition in a very short time.

So you might be asking why review a product that has been discontinued and had a voluntary recall placed on it. The answer is simple “Because it is a great product that actually works”. The Fitbit Flex is a similar band but without the display and it is unaffected by the recall. In addition Fitbit have already stated they have a new band in development. This device will use similar features and technology thus making the information here relevant if you are looking for information to help with a buying decision.

So what is the Fitbit Force? It’s a fitness tracker in the form of a bracelet with a display on the front. It can monitor steps taken, distance covered, calories burned, stairs climbed, and minutes of activity. It can also monitor your sleep patterns and be used as a silent alarm that pulses to wake you. By using the app and their website you can set goals and input your meals. In short, it can do a lot.


The Fitbit Force is small and lightweight and once you have it on for a few minutes you can forget that it’s even there. The band is made of a flexible, durable elastomer material similar to what is used in sports watches and measures about three quarters of an inch across. Build quality is good and doesn’t give the impression that it will break down over time.

One of the things I initially didn’t like about it was the clasp. It was very tricky and difficult to deal with but as the device was taken on and off  multiple times the setting seemed to stretch and become more agreeable.

The display is a simple OLED that is bright enough to show the required icons and numbers even in sunlight. Nothing too special but that’s OK, it gets the job done effectively.

There is a button on the left side of the device that allows the user to quickly scroll through the settings on the display. On the underside is a charging port that unfortunately uses a proprietary connection.

While the device is listed as being water resistant, the manufacturer only suggests exposure to things like rain, sweat, and occasional splashes.


Even though the band is quite compact the manufacturer have loaded it up with hardware. Inside you’ll find an Altimeter for monitoring flights of stairs, an Accelerometer for steps taken and a vibrating motor for silent alarms. NFC has been included so if your phone is also NFC equipped you can simply touch your phone to the device and it will automatically open up the Fitbit app.

Bluetooth 4.0 is also a key feature. If your phone has Bluetooth 4.0 and BLE(Bluetooth Low Energy) you can use it to sync at any time. The Fitbit site has a list of phones that are compatible but the list was quite small as it’s really just the big name phones. A lithium ion battery powers the Force and I was able to get about 10 days from a single charge. Not bad at all. When it did finally need  recharging it was a simple connection with the provided cable and about 30 minutes later it was done.


I found both the app and website fairly easy to navigate and use. I’ve heard it mentioned that some people find the menu’s overly layered resulting in it being too long of a process to even bother with. I disagree. Once you get use to where everything is, the process becomes painless.

Another complaint is the somewhat limited food database. I agree it could be much better but a key thing many people miss is the Force can be used in conjunction with “My Fitness Pal”. For those of you not familiar with “My Fitness Pal”, it is free to use and can be accessed online from your PC or by the mobile app. I’ve used it for years and in my opinion, it is by far the best fitness program around. Unlike the built in Fitbit food database it is far from lacking and almost anything you can think of can be found.

While the Force does a good job pumping out numbers and stats, its true value lies in it’s motivation tools. You can track your progress to the goals you’ve set and when you achieve them the device will vibrate and bring up colorful emoticons to congratulate you the next time you log in. It may seem like a trivial thing but it really does keep you honest. If congrats and recognition from the device aren’t enough of a motivation then you can link your account to friends or family so they can see what you’ve been up to.

The one thing I really didn’t like about the setup is that the device is only capable of tracking movement not heart rate. This only gives you a vague estimate of your caloric burn. Things like weight training don’t get noticed so you’re only option is to enter it as an estimate in the app or on the site.

Final thoughts

In my opinion the Fitbit Force does everything it advertises and does them well. I’m a very active individual and thought “I don’t need a device to help motivate me” but after using it for several days I could see the potential of this type of device. You simply set your goals and the tracker keeps you honest. The device is fashionable, extremely durable, and offers amazing battery life. I love the fact that it can work with My Fitness Pal and the sleep tracking feature, truly is amazing. It can tell you how many times you woke up and how long you were actually asleep. I have no doubt Fitbit are working to make the next model even better and I would love to see a heart rate monitor integrated. I think that is the only function missing to make it the perfect product.

As of the beginning of 2014 there are a few competitors on the market like the Nike Fuelband and the Jawbone UP, but the Fitbit simply offers more at the right price. In the coming months there are a wide variety of companies that will be entering this arena. Samsung have announced their Gear Fit and Huawei recently announced their Talkband B1 that has a detachable bluetooth headset.

I expect the fitness tracker category to become very competitive in 2014 which is always a good thing. It will give consumers more to chose from, making sure they get what suites their needs best and it will make sure the products keep getting better. Regardless what products are released I fully expect to see the Fitbit name among the best of them. KoutrasReviewsTechWearablebottom line,fitness tracker,short time,similar features,three quartersAs some of you may have heard in the news, Fitbit has issued a recall on its Force fitness trackers due to rashing around the band area. This could lead people to believe one of two things about the manufacturer. The first mindset could believe that better testing should...