Fitbit’s most affordable device yet, the $59.95 Zip, offers wireless syncing over Bluetooth with PCs and iPhones, something previous Fitbit gadgets could never do. It’s water resistant as well, a feature found in many competing exercise products. Previous Fitbit users may miss the skills the Zip can’t tackle, namely sleep tracking and recording stairs climbed. Other fancier gadgets, such as the, and Fitbit’s own Fitbit One and the upcoming , trump the Zip in terms of features, but are double the price. In a nutshell, the Fitbit Zip is a simple and less pricey way to get onboard the Fitbit training wagon.
Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker, Magenta
Turn your everyday life into a fun path to fitness. Much more than a pedometer, zip tracks your steps, distance, and calories burned then automatically syncs the data to your Fitbit account. Whether ...Made by: Fitbit,
Encased in its silicone sleeve, the Fitbit Zip is larger than both the original Tracker and Ultra devices. It also isn’t a wristband-style like the popularor . Even so, the Zip is still extremely portable, weighing a mere 8 grams (0.28-ounce), and it measures just 1.1 inches tall by 1.4 inches wide. At 0.38-inch thick, the pebble-shaped Zip also slips into tight pockets without much stress.
In fact, I was able to place the device into my jeans when it was still inside its silicone-and-metal clip. Of course, Fitbit says that while the Zip will function just fine resting free in pants pockets, it envisions that most people will fasten the device securely to belt loops or even clip it to their pocket linings.
Take care how you place the Zip on your person, however, since if it’s not secured tightly it can become dislodged. This is especially true if it comes in contact often with heavy messenger bags or other large clothing items.
It seems that today’s designers and marketers can’t resist painting their product in various candy colors, and the Zip is no exception. The device itself comes in five hues: blue, magenta, white, charcoal, and lime. Fitbit also bundles a color-coordinated clip for each Zip flavor.
Aside from the stamp-size LCD screen and Fitbit logo on front, the device’s smooth, curved surface is unadorned. Around back is a compartment housing the Zip’s 3-volt lithium-ion battery, which Fitbit claims will last for four to six months. One big drawback to the monochrome LCD is that it lacks a backlight, making it all but useless in the dark.
The main purpose of the Fitbit Zip is identical to that of its predecessor: to log your activity level in terms of steps taken. It then uses this base figure to calculate total distance traveled and calories burned. The device also displays the current time plus a playful smiley icon if it detects you’re moving around enough. If the Zip feels you’re getting lazy, however, its smiley will rudely stick out its virtual tongue. Since there are no physical buttons on the Zip, you must tap it to cycle through its various screens.
One of the most useful new features included on the Fitbit Zip is its ability to sync wirelessly via Bluetooth connection. That’s a big improvement over the company’s previous devices, namely the Fitbit Ultra, which required an unwieldy USB base station, connected by a long cord to a PC, to transfer activity data up to the cloud. Of course, the old base stations talked to the Ultra wirelessly too, but the new arrangement is more portable.
In fact, the Fitbit Zip, Fitbit One, and upcoming Fitbit Flex products use a compact USB adapter that’s more at home linked to laptops than desktop machines. Additionally, the Zip supports sharing data (also over Bluetooth) with iPhones via the Fitbit iOS app. This means you’ll be able to have your stats updated in real time as long as your handset has a network connection. Android users are supported through a companion Android app, but Bluetooth syncing between phone and tracker is available only for Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 handsets.
Fitbit has also recently enhanced its companion smartphone app, both on Android and iOS, bringing a more graphical feel to the interface. Indeed, while the home screen will display information such as current steps taken, calories burned, weight, and so on, rotating the handset into landscape orientation opens an interactive graph view.
Here, I was able to quickly see a colorful bar graph showing steps made or calories spent, whether on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. Also nice — or not so nice, depending — is that you can do the same trick to see your weight over the same intervals. All graphs are fully interactive, too, letting you pinch to zoom in or out, and swipe both horizontally and vertically to gain a larger or smaller viewing area.
For you calorie counters out there, you’ll be glad to know that Fitbit’s app connects to a large database of foods to track what you consume. You can also create custom foods on the fly and associate them with your account for quick access. Once logged, you can compare calories burned (based on daily activity and personal height, weight, and age info) against meals eaten.
Of course the real judgement comes when you step onto the bathroom scale, and FitBit has a gadget for that too. Called the, the devices measures your weight, BMI, and percentage of body fat, and pushes that data to your Fitbit account in the cloud. The service even nudges you to drinking water each day, with a default recommended amount of 48 ounces.
If you need further encouragement, Fitbit offers a premium service that costs $49.99 per year. Included in the subscription are advanced tools such as a trainer feature to push you toward achieving your weight loss and activity goals through custom 12-week plans. It also generates personal performance reports and ranks you against other Fitbit users.
There are some abilities the Fitbit Zip lacks. Specifically these are tracking the length and quality of your sleep, the steps you climb, along with a motor for haptic feedback.
Setting up the Fitbit Zip is a snap; just download the necessary software to either a Windows PC or aMac, then insert the tiny USB adapter in a free port when prompted. The software will then ask you to tap the Zip, ensuring that it’s up and running, and search for the nearby device to link up. Once connected, you log in to your Fitbit account or create a new one, and you’re all set. A few times the software had trouble detecting the Zip, but connecting the adapter to a different USB port solved the issue.
In my experience, I’ve found past Fitbit products to be a little overzealous, or shall I say, too generous in tallying my daily step count. Fitbit explained that its new creations, the Zip, One, and Flex devices, use updated firmware with more-accurate activity measurement. Despite this new step-tracking algorithm, I still felt that the Zip was giving me more credit than was due.
For instance, on one 20-minute test walk of about 13.5 Manhattan city blocks, the Zip clocked 2,534 steps. The Jawbone Up on the other hand logged 1,464 steps during the same exact trip, and during the same interval. Yes, I had both gadgets strapped on simultaneously. That said, in earlier walks the Zip logged a slightly lower step count when I used it side-by-side with its predecessor, the Ultra.
While I personally prefer wrist-style fitness trackers since they’re easier to wear around the clock and don’t dislodge easily, I have to say I’m impressed with the Fitbit Zip’s functionality and ease of use. For a low $59.95, the Zip offers much of the abilities of its pricier competitors. That said, if you can spare it, spending an extra $40 for the Fitbit One or upcomingmakes more sense to me. Both will provide all the same slick Bluetooth syncing features plus sleep tracking and a rechargeable battery. The same goes for the $129.99 which can tackle all those tasks save wireless syncing. Also, both the Fitbit One, Jawbone Up, and Fitbit Flex boast haptic feedback for interesting applications such as a vibrating alarm to rouse you out of bed silently.
The Fitbit Zip tracks steps, calories, and syncs with PCs and smartphones. It’s affordable, water resistant, and links to Fitbit’s powerful fitness analysis tools in the cloud.
Can’t measure sleep; lacks a rechargeable battery; Android compatibility limited to Samsung Galaxy phones; easier to misplace than wristband models.
2.4 x 2.4 x 3.5 inches ; 1.76 ounces
2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
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This basic version of the Fitbit fitness tracker won't tell you how well you've slept, and can't track your performance on a Stairmaster. But if you just need a device that will track your steps and calories burned, and can sync wirelessly with Fitbit's website and smartphone apps, the Zip is a good choice at a great price. If you want something more advanced, consider the gdgt Must-have Fitbit Ultra -- or wait for the Fitbit One, due out next month.