I received my FitBit Ultra in the mail a few weeks ago, and have been wearing it every day since. It cost me $100.
The FitBit Ultra is a small device that you attach pretty much anywhere on your body (wear as a necklace, wear it on a belt, keep it in a pocket) so it can measure movement with its sensitive 3-axis accelerometer and its built-in altimeter. It has a real-time clock on board too, so it associates your movement with actual time, and can calculate things like steps, sleep, altitude gain or lost, among others.
Because it’s basically a stand-alone data gatherer, it requires occasional access to an application running on your computer (PC or Mac), as well as docking in it’s USB docking station to recharge every few days. It updates data gathered on the device itself wirelessly whenever you’re within about 15′ of your computer.
The device itself is quite small (about 2.1″ x .75″ x .6″) and has a cool little display that can show you steps taken today, the time of day, floors climbed, calories burned (calculated by taking weight/height and comparing it to motion), and overall activity level.
My Experience So Far
I initially bought this device to see how well it measured my sleep, and if it was anywhere near as accurate as my Zeo. To be honest, I only used it for one night after I saw the graphic it presented to me the next day. The way the FitBit uses the device is to attach it to your wrist (strap included with the FitBit) so it can monitor your movement during the night … movement translates into sleep stage – in a very basic kind of way.
FitBit thought I was asleep for the hour I was in bed reading, from 10pm -to 11pm. I know I was awake several times that night (maybe 15 times), but didn’t move much. Compare this to the Zeo (see the review section at the top of the page), and you’ll see why I didn’t go any further. I know through extensive sleep measurement that I rarely get over 7 hours of sleep a night – and FitBit thought I had over 8.5.
For the rest of it, though, I think it’s pretty cool. Just always having that reminder there about how much you’ve moved today is motivating in itself. I find myself checking 3-4 times a day to see how many “Steps” and “Stairs” I’ve done. I guess I’m using it as a glorified, hi-tech, pedometer at this point. Kind of expensive for that, but as I said, I was hoping to use it for sleep too.
If you want to get fancy, you can even log your meals, BP, Glucose, Heart Rate and different activities that FitBit has a hard time tracking (like biking or swimming). You log these manually through the personalized website, so you’d have to be pretty enthusiastic (or anal) to keep an accurate count.
My recommendation would be that anyone who moves traditionally (walking, running, hiking, climbing stairs) and would like to track it automatically, pick up this device. It’s more expensive than a pedometer, but it’s infinitely more cool. And you might actually use it because it’s so cool.
If you are primarily a biker or a swimmer (or a raquet sports player, or ??) check out the FitBit site to see how other people have adapted the device for that activity before you shell out your money. I found that it does log cycling if I place the sensor in a thigh pocket while riding my bike. I just haven’t figured out how to translate what it measured into cadence/distance/effort.
If you want to track sleep, save your money. Spend that same $100 on a Zeo Mobile.
My two cents….