Fitbit Force Review


I’ve been using a Fitbit for a few years now. My previous device was the the original clip-on Fitbit. I liked it because I could drop it in my pocket and keep track of my steps everyday. I’m geeky enough to know that stat tracking will actually increase the likelihood of me parking extra far from my destination and walking the stairs instead of riding the elevator. 


A few months ago, my Fitbit went missing. I actually know exactly where I lost it but that is a long, sad story. Instead, I’m going to tell you about my new Fitbit Force. The FitBit Force is Fitbit’s newest device. Instead of going in your pocket or on your belt, this one straps on your wrist with an unassuming rubber/plastic band. I’d always avoided wrist based step trackers in the past because I spend a lot of time at the day job in dress clothing and they never seemed to quite fit in. This new Fitbit however, works just fine. I’ve been wearing it to work for a few months and nobody has asked me about it or paid particular attention to it. I think this is a combination of the subtle design and the fact more people are wearing fitness trackers these days.

There isn’t much to the Fitbit Force it has a rubber strap and no discernible body like a traditional watch. The device is always tracking your activities but does not light up its tiny OLED screen until you push its only button (located on its left side). The Fitbit Force then gives you the time. Subsequent button pushes provide your total steps, total distance walked, calories burned, stairs climbed, and number of high activity minutes. If you set an alarm, that shows up too.

The Force gets about a week on a charge and recharges with a USB cable attached to a proprietary connection on the back of the device. I plug it in once in awhile while sitting at my desk and it a few hours to charge. 


There are some definite advantages to having my Fitbit on my wrist. For one thing, I don’t have to move it between clothes. It is always just … on. With the prior device I would occasionally leave it in yesterday’s pants and lose a day of stat tracking. That’s never happened since I bought the Force. I even keep it on while I sleep since it also does a pretty good job of tracking sleep. 

Another advantage is that it doubles as a watch. You can change the watch faces, sort of. There is no actual watch face. It is just a line of text. You can, however, change how it displays that text slightly. Because it is on my wrist it also acts as a silent alarm clock, buzzing away at the designated time.
My biggest concern is the clasp. Most watches have an interlocking clasp that requires a failure of the watch strap material before the watch falls off your wrist. The clasp on this gadget isn’t nearly so secure. Instead it works with a series of semi-rectangular holes on one piece and a plastic bit on the other piece that presses through the holes and is supposed to hold it together with friction. I call it the “plastic bit” because it doesn’t feel nearly secure enough to justify the word “buckle”. At first it was actually quite difficult getting the plastic bit through through the rubber bit to strap the Fitbit on. Over time, however, this has become increasingly easier. That is the part that scares me. The easier it gets to press the plastic bit through the rubber bit, the easier it would seem for the plastic bit to come loose from the rubber bit and my $130 fitness tracker falls off without me realizing it. So far it is holding up but something tells me that if I gave this to Dr. Drang for a few days, he could predict with scientific accuracy when the rubber will no longer hold the plastic bit. It did come off once when I was putting my hand my jacket pocket and the fabric slid between the rubber and the plastic bit. The force of my hand going in the pocket then popped the clip loose from the strap. The Fitbit then slid off my wrist into my pocket. That’s not good. If you get one of these, hang onto the receipt. You may need to have a conversation with Fitbit about bad clasp design and a replacement one day.

Despite my concerns about the clasp, this new Fitbit is a definite improvement over my prior device. Now having a wrist based stat tracker, I don’t see myself going back to a clip-on model. It is more convenient and useful on my wrist.