I've been walking around with a Fitbit Zip in my pocket for the last week, most of the time forgetting it's there. Then remembering, looking, and realising how lazy I've been. Is this activity-monitoring gadget the kind of thing that can get you into shape, or is it just more junk in your jeans?

 

What Is It?

It's a tiny fitness monitor that counts your steps via an accelerometer, then estimates your distance traveled and calories burned.

 

Who's it For?

People who want to be more aware of how active they are/aren't. People who like stats and need a little motivation.

 

Design

Adorable. It's about the size of a stack of four 10ps, but with smooth and rounded edges. You won't notice it in your pocket (or your sports bra, so I'm told). A silicone covered clip keeps it securely attached to whatever. The screen is not illuminated.

 

Using It

Take it out of your pocket and scroll through a step-counter, the distance you've traveled, estimated calories burned, and the time of day. Sync it with your computer or phone, then view your stats, add meals, log activities, and compete with friends via the Fitbit website or app.

 

The Best Part

The design. It feels like a smooth pebble you plucked from a river. In your pocket, it's light, smooth, and incredibly unobtrusive.

 

Tragic Flaw

The apps are terrible, particularly the Android app. It pulls in some data from the cloud, and then completely misses other stuff. Adding meals is fine, but adding activities is broken. Biking/cycling is not there. Needs a lot of work.

 

This Is Weird...

The face of the device changes depending on how active you've been that day.

 

Test Notes

 

  • Because it's not something you wear directly on your body, like wrist-bound the Nike Fuelband, you won't have it on all the time. How many calories did you burn while showering or having sex? You won't know.
  • Syncing works extremely well. It does it automatically when you're within a metre or so of you computer.
  • It's splash-proof. Survived a rather torrential downpour. But you can't go swimming with it.
  • The Zip turned out to be more accurate than we suspected it would be. We used a GPS app on our phone to test the distance against the Fitbit's estimate. The GPS registered 0.41 miles, and the Fitbit got 0.37. Four hundredths of a mile isn't bad.
  • We also checked the accuracy of its step counter. I counted 700 walking steps. The Zip counted 733. It's possible that my counting was a bit off, too, but even if it wasn't, that's pretty good.
  • The Zip should last for up to 6 months on a single watch-sized battery, which is very easy to replace yourself. Nice to not have to worry about recharging.
  • The screen is pretty easy to read by daylight, but it's not illuminated—in dark situations, forget it.
  • Would badges and competing with your friends really motivate you? That's for you to say.
  • Right now it can sync with a computer via a Bluetooth dongle, but it can only sync with phones that support low-power transfers via Bluetooth 4.0. Currently it only works with the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5, and the most recent iPad. Future Android devices that support that protocol will be included.
  • It comes in five colours: black, white, blue, green, and pink.

 

Should You Buy It?

You should probably buy it for someone else. It'd make a nice present for your mom or dad, and at £50, the price is right. That said, it's hard to make a case for this thing over Fitbit's own newly-announced Fitbit One, which has an altimeter, tracks your sleep patters, and is visible at night. For £30 more you get a lot of additional functionality. The Zip just doesn't really do much by comparison. That said, if you're just curious about this for the novelty of it, the low sticker price makes it a decent bargain.

 

Fitbit Zip Specs

• Radio: Bluetooth 4.0
• Size: 1.4 x 1.1 x 0.38 inches
• Weight: 8g
• Screen: black and white, non-illuminated
• Splash-proof: Yes
• Battery: 3V coin battery, CR 2025
• Price: £50
• Giz Rank: 3.0 stars