Fitbit Nation

Editor’s Note: This is a post I did in January but did not completely finish as I wanted to include a video review. I will add one later.

A Fitbit Review, sort of…

A few years ago I stumbled upon the Fitbit. (My first mention of the idea) I bought myself a Fitbit Ultra (after three tries). And after I finally got one that worked (by the way, Fitbit has awesome customer service). The Ultra didn’t sync up to anyone’s phone or anything like that. I had to connect the charging base to my computer and if I walked close enough it did sync up. Pretty cool at the time. I accidently washed the device a couple of times and one time I lost it on a walking trail near work. Now I didn’t know where I lost it and I thought it gone forever but I told my work buddies about it and one day, two weeks after I lost it, one of my friends found it. It had been out in the elements through several rainy days and after I charged it up, it was working again. Amazing for something that is not advertised as waterproof or water resistant for that matter.

My wife liked the idea (she didn’t at first) of the Fitbit. She actually did the Bodybugg like they used to hype on the Biggest Loser show. But it failed quick and the monthly fee was ouch. The Biggest Loser even went on to some other tracker. So when that one died I got her a Fitbit One which was the upgrade from the Ultra. It would sync with your phone via Bluetooth and it worked as good as mine did though the charger was just a USB dongle that went into the side of your computer that was easily lost if you didn’t leave it plugged in. I wound up buying one replacement of the charger. Over time I won a Nike Fuelband and gave it to my oldest daughter. It died quickly and Nike even abandoned it. Still waiting on the $20 check for leaving us in the cold, Nike. Just saying.

Some gift giving occasion we got our oldest son a Fitbit One. And so over time my wife, my oldest son, and I were all on the Fitbit side and it was showing our daily steps. Most of the time Ryan out stepped us both. He just walks everywhere he goes. If he had taken it when he studied abroad, he probably would have broken some Fitbit record for steps recorded.

Donna’s Fitbit went through the wash and dryer several times and continues to work. But with the smartwatches out there and ways to monitor your heart rate, we all began to covet new devices. I was debating on a Moto 360 watch. I wasn’t a fan of the flat tire screen. I wanted a watch that also did the fitness stuff. Of course every Android phone making company came out with their versions of smartwatches and reviews both bad and almost postive arrived nearly daily. Battery life being the big thing that killed most for me. And I was leaning toward a Fitbit but I wanted to wait until their smartwatch came out to decide. When it did come out, the reviews were horrible. Horrible battery life. I thought about the Fitbit Charge when it came out but horror stories about the band on it made it sound less fun that I wanted. But time passed…

And suddenly I was looking at the Moto 360 as the second gen had come out and well, I didn’t want to spend that much so I thought about getting the first generation of the Moto 360. It keeps dropping in price and except for battery life it has really good reviews. Christmas 2015 came and I debated about it. And Donna debated about what she wanted and it seemed in the end we decided not to get anything like a fitness band. Then it came time to figure out what to get my kids for Christmas. Ryan is into fitness and I know he lost his Fitbit so I decided to get him a Charge HR. And when Christmas Day arrived, I found out my wife had gotten me a Charge HR as well. I felt bad. I hadn’t gotten her one. I thought we were waiting to see where this finally landed as it is still a moving target. Then a few days later just after New Year’s my wife got a Fitbit Surge.

So I have been wearing my Fitbit Charge HR since December 25. I had to do an initial charge but that wasn’t much. So I charged it. It took just over an hour to get a full charge. You will want to download the Fitbit app. If you don’t have an account, you will want to create one.  When I went in I deleted my old Ultra device and added new device, Charge HR. It told me I needed to turn Bluetooth on. While Bluetooth uses very little battery, I don’t have a lot of Bluetooth devices that I connect to my phone so I turned it on in settings. Once it finds the device, the device will display a code that you type into the app. Now they are “ONE”, married.

So at first I wore the band tight, not blood cut off tight, but on my wrist secure. A couple of programming notes: When you buy your band, be sure to get the right size. My wrists are Large and not Extra Large, so the Extra Large band I have I am on the last setting when I am exercising and in the next to the last setting the rest of the time. It is hard to exchange Christmas presents so I kept the Extra Large and it is working fine. Also a huge plus with the band on the Fitbit is that it has a nice watch like clasp and a band to hold the loose end that actually has a notch on it to hold the loose part in place. In other words, you may put it down somewhere and forget it but wearing it on your wrist, you will probably not lose it.

So Day 1, while I didn’t go out and run a marathon, it kept up with my steps. Granted with it on my arm, I am not 100% sure the ratio of arm swings to steps is exactly. They suggest wearing it on your non-dominant arm, which for me is my left arm, which is the arm I normally wear a watch on anyway. It is nice to have it mostly show me the time every time I lift my arm toward my face. Sometimes it doesn’t but 95% of the time it does. So if you just use it as a timepiece, it is good for that. And it syncs time with your watch, so if you change time zones, it changes time zones with you. Pretty nifty feature.

Then night 1 I left it on my wrist and went to bed. I have not determined the definition of what it calls sleep yet. Laying in bed still watching TV may count as sleeping but so far it does seem to figure out some how I am trying to sleep as opposed to watching TV. It may be related to resting heart rate. I am sure I could Google the science of how that works. But I do toss and turn through the night and sometimes I wake up. It is funny to me to see the green LED firefly that is my Charge HR in the middle of the night. Even if you wear your Fitbit snug on your wrist, you will see the green flashing occasionally. It doesn’t keep me awake as if I move my arm somewhere else, I don’t see it. By default it says 8 hours is optimal amount of sleep. You can set this for more or less if you disagree. I partially do as just over 7 seems to be the magic number where my body wakes up anyway, so let’s hope that is the optimal amount.

[clickToTweet tweet=”With 2 Fitbits I would see two green LED fireflies in the middle of the night from time to time.” quote=”After my wife got her Fitbit Surge, suddenly occasionally I would see two green LED fireflies in the middle of the night from time to time.”]

I prefer a treadmill to walking outdoors it seems or maybe I don’t. I started going back to the gym this week and suddenly I was driven a bit to get my 10,000 steps goal. If I hadn’t made my goal by the time I got home, I walked around the neighborhood until I did. So it has worked to motivate me at least so far. But let everyone, it is month one of a New Year and we all are seeking to better ourselves at least until February comes around.

And you can add Friends on to your dashboard, so if they are competitive, they can see what you have done and try to beat you. I am not competitive from a life of not being an athlete, so I just see how I did in third place, behind my oldest son and my wife.


One of the features I like is it vibrates when you get a call and you can see who is calling you. I don’t get a lot of calls but it is convenient so I have the correct attitude based on who is calling. It does not like the Surge show you text messages. The Surge does that and it also allows you to control your music. Basically pick next track or a playlist or the next song.

For the Charge HR it shows the following if you have it enabled:

Charge HR Display Options

By double tapping on the device, it goes through each of these settings and they display for a short time, long enough to see them, but not long enough to easily grab your phone from your pocket and take a picture of it (Actual wrist pictured below).

Fitbit Charge HR Time Display


Christian | Father | Tech Evangelist | Author | Public Speaker | Future TEDx speaker |WordPress Aficionado * I am the author of "WordPress: Setup to Website". I love all things tech and gadgets and I probably have an opinion about it which some people seek out. Follow @aroyrichardson