Fitbit Pressure evaluate: a wrist-worn pedometer with smartwatch aspirations
Whenever you’re Fitbit, a health gadget maker on the prime of its recreation, there’s all the time the troublesome query of what comes subsequent. The reply, a minimum of for this firm, was to take its profitable Flex band, and push it into smartwatch territory (if solely barely). The Drive retains the identical primary design and have set, however provides a number of new thrives, like a correct display and an altimeter. In doing so, it additionally nudged the worth as much as $one hundred thirty. On paper, it feels like a recipe for fulfillment. However when you’ve ever purchased a excessive-finish gadget, solely to have the expertise ruined by a single shortcoming (say a tiny, non-detachable battery), you realize that what works on paper does not essentially work in actual life. So, the query is not whether or not Fitbit can succeed (we all know it might); it is whether or not it inadvertently screwed up its new health tracker. The reply is a bit difficult.
- Easy, understated design
- Info-dense OLED show
- Wi-fi syncing over Bluetooth four.zero
- Beautiful battery life
- Cumbersome app design
- Meals database nonetheless missing
The Pressure takes what made the Flex health tracker profitable and provides a particularly helpful OLED show. Sadly, the weight loss plan and sleep monitoring options are each nonetheless in want of enchancment.
The Drive appears a heck of lots just like the Flex. In truth, from a distance, you would be onerous-pressed to inform the 2 aside — no less than with out the shows lit up. The obvious distinction is that the Pressure has an OLED display, not only a collection of LED dots that glow to point your progress towards a step aim. It is hardly excessive-res, nevertheless it does not have to be. It is giant and pixel-dense sufficient to show easy icons and numbers; plus it is simply readable in direct daylight.
In any other case, the variations are fairly delicate. The darkish display overlaying the show not wraps across the sides; as an alternative there is a silver-grey plastic strip that works its method from one finish of the show to the opposite. On the left fringe of this band is a button that cycles via the show gadgets and beneath is the proprietary three-contact charging port. Up shut, you will additionally discover that the Pressure is sort of a bit wider than the Flex — roughly 25 %, to be exact. At three-quarters of an inch throughout, it is nonetheless small in comparison with even a normal wristwatch, however having worn the Flex for therefore lengthy, I instantly observed (and was barely bothered by) the distinction.
The display is hardly excessive-res, nevertheless it does not must be.
The band itself is identical pretty matte plastic, obtainable in black and slate blue, with the identical barely irritating clasp. It takes some effort to shut the primary few occasions you don the Drive. In contrast to the Flex, you’ll be able to’t take away the precise tracker and stick it in a special-coloured band; it is inbuilt. When you lose a number of the trendy flexibility, it is each bit as water resistant — as weeks of showering and dish washing have confirmed. And, regardless of the added bulk, it by no means obtained in the best way whereas typing or acquired snagged in a sweater.
Beneath the hood, you will discover a entire host of electronics, together with an accelerometer for counting steps and an altimeter for monitoring flights of stairs. Plus there’s NFC, a vibrating motor for silent alarms, Bluetooth four.zero for wi-fi syncing and a lithium-ion battery rated to last as long as 10 days. In our time with the gadget, we might say that estimate is barely conservative: We have been capable of go eleven days between expenses… twice. And when it does come time to plug the Drive in, you’ll be able to cost it to one hundred pc in lower than two hours by way of your pc’s USB port.
This time round, fortunately, Fitbit ditched the wonky accelerometer-based mostly management scheme. Urgent the button wakes up the wearable and shows the time. Press it once more and it begins to cycle by way of your steps, complete distance walked, energy burned, flights of stairs climbed, “very lively minutes” and your alarms. One wrinkle this provides, nevertheless, is that whereas it is simpler to start out and cease sleep-monitoring mode, it is a lot much less handy. Fairly than a collection of faucets, you employ the companion app to inform the Drive whenever you fall asleep and if you get up. Not solely is it troublesome to recollect to do that each night time and morning, nevertheless it additionally means you’ll be able to solely monitor your sleep with a very choose set of Android units or an iPhone newer than the 4s.
Replace: There’s a a lot much less cumbersome option to begin monitoring your sleep: merely press and maintain the button on the left hand aspect to place the Pressure in cease watch mode. Whenever you get up, merely lengthy press the button once more.Software program
Because the Flex got here out, Fitbit has up to date its apps with a recent (if considerably delicate) coat of paint and in addition added a couple of new options. Each the iOS and Android variations rock a a lot flatter aesthetic, with colourful icons indicating the totally different metrics it tracks. It makes the UI simpler to navigate at a fast look. Sadly, whereas the clear design is simpler to navigate, most of the choices are nonetheless buried behind a number of layers of menus. For instance, telling the app to start out monitoring your sleep is at the least a 3-faucet affair: From the sprint you must choose the sleep-monitoring choice; then it’s a must to inform it that you simply need to log your sleep; then you must inform it to start out monitoring now. And, whereas the sleep monitoring appears marginally improved over the Flex, the function was inconvenient sufficient that I ended doing it after the primary week.
The calorie-counting function is equally cumbersome. Whereas anecdotal proof suggests the database of meals gadgets has improved barely (I nonetheless managed to stump it with quite a few gadgets), including meals is time consuming. You’ll be able to’t add meals in batches and there is no barcode scanner for shortly pulling up dietary information for packaged or ready meals. And that dietary knowledge is restricted to energy solely, so you will do not know what proportion of your food regimen is protein, fats or carbohydrates.
Train monitoring is not any extra environment friendly, however it does not demand the identical degree of consideration or enter, so it feels much less burdensome. Even probably the most diehard fitness center rat tends to take a day or two off from train, and also you’re more likely to repeat the identical train a number of occasions every week than you’re to eat the identical dinner. These options proceed to be the weak spot within the Fitbit ecosystem. Monitoring this extra knowledge is good, however inconvenient sufficient that you’re going to in all probability simply ignore these fields. And, truthfully, when you low cost them and give attention to merely monitoring your steps, your expertise with the Drive will probably be that rather more nice.
One function we sadly have been unable to check out is notifications by way of iOS 7. Within the close to future, a software program replace will make it potential to view caller ID information in your Pressure when related to an iPhone operating the newest model of Apple’s cellular working system. Nevertheless, Fitbit has but to offer a definitive launch date. And, with solely name notifications being supported, the function is of questionable utility. In any case, who truly makes use of their telephones to make calls anymore?The competitors
It might be exhausting to consider, however when the Flex got here out simply six months in the past, it was getting into a a lot much less-saturated market. And, because the Flex continues to be on the market, together with the One and Zip, Fitbit is competing towards itself. Among the many firm’s personal choices, the Pressure is the clear winner. It combines all of the options of the One with the handy, wrist-worn type issue of the Flex. However there’s nonetheless loads of stiff competitors from the surface. Withings’ Pulse, for example, boasts a lot of the similar options, sans all the time-on Bluetooth, in a belt-clip design for $one hundred. Nike’s new FuelBand SE prices $20 greater than the Flex, and favors “Gasoline factors” over an precise step rely, however does have a particularly strong social aspect that Fitbit cannot fairly match. Then there’s the Up. Jawbone’s wearable has its followers because of its Yves Béhar design pedigree, however with so many fewer options than the Drive on the similar worth level, it is a robust promote.Wrap-up
The Drive is, in some ways, a perfect mashup of its earlier Flex and One health trackers. It is a souped-up, function-wealthy, wrist-mounted pedometer. And if you take a look at it from that angle, it is an unmitigated success. It precisely counts your steps and does so whereas largely staying out of the best way. In contrast to the Up or a full-fledged smartwatch, the Drive by no means will get caught on garments or turns into an annoyance whereas typing. It is rattling-close to indestructible, battery life is beautiful and the show places a powerful quantity of knowledge at your fingertips. However, it nonetheless suffers from most of the similar shortcomings as its predecessor. And, with elevated competitors from Nike’s new FuelBand SE and the Withings Pulse, Fitbit cannot afford to disregard its weaknesses.
In case you can study to stay with out the issues that the Pressure does not excel at and deal with it purely as a particularly fancy step counter, then you would probably study to like it. There’s a main caveat, nevertheless. At $one hundred, the Flex was a simple promote and clearly provided one of the best bang on your buck. At $one hundred thirty, you possibly can’t make the identical argument for the Drive. The display is definitely a pleasant to have function, however with out worth on its aspect, Fitbit’s victory is much less clear-minimize.
Replace: On February 20, 2014, Fitbit introduced a voluntary recall of all Fitbit Pressure models as a consequence of reported instances of contact dermatitis brought on by the gadget. As Fitbit has halted gross sales and is providing a full refund for models already bought, we will not advocate this product. We’ve withdrawn our Engadget Rating till the issues are resolved.