Fitbit Flex The little tracker that couldn’t

Fitbit Flex

Toys, the unnecessary but fun gadgets we get are certainly the icing on the cake. I recently gave up one of my toys, a Fitbit Force and replaced it with the Fitbit Flex that came with my wife’s Lumia 830. This is a move I have come to regret.

I am not a fitness aficionado by any stretch of the concept, but about a year an a half ago, I purchased a pair of Fitbit Force fitness trackers for myself and my wife. I enjoyed the step and sleep tracking, but quickly came to realize that I have no reason to track and quantify these activities. What I did come to rely on is the silent alarms on the Force. A small vibration motor is activated instead of an audible alarm. This allowed me to wake up without disturbing my wife (and later my son). It was truly an invaluable resource.

Shortly after purchasing the Forces, I was made aware of a voluntary recall of the devices by Fitbit for issues with skin irritation. While I did experience mild irritation early on while wearing the Force, I corrected this by simply washing the Fitbit with mild soap to release any residue from the assembly process. I didn’t have much of an issue afterwards, but noticing how little use the Forces were getting, we decided to take advantage of the recall and get our money back. With the knowledge that I would soon be replacing my wife’s aging Lumia 820 with a Lumia 830 which had a promotion including a Fitbit Flex in the package I was not worried about being without my silent alarms for long.

fitbit_flexThe Fitbit Flex seemed very much like a small version of the Force, with the single line LCD replaced with a row of LEDs indicating progress toward a goal. It did not display time, steps, floors, or anything beyond a general representation of progress. Additionally the flex was without a button to step through displays or silence the alarm, since there was nothing to step through on the screen. This is where the biggest issue comes into play. Instead of being able to end an alarm with a quick button press, the Flex requires the user to tap the device. The results of tapping the Flex are unpredictable, sometimes it would end the alarm, other times it wouldn’t, the only thing one could be sure of is looking like an idiot incessantly tapping their wrist for no apparent reason.

If looking silly trying to operate the Fitbit Flex weren’t already enough, it adds to the headache with the poorly designed wrist band. The band is attached on to the wrist with a pair of pegs that push through holes in the band. Without a standard watch style clasp that securely interlocks, the Flex is easily knocked off of the wrist if the band accidentally catches on anything. Additionally, the spacing of holes on the band never provided a comfortable fit, it would always be a bit too loose or too tight.

Finally, my Flex failed with less than 4 months of use. The vibration motor sounds like it has come loose in the device. Causing a rather loud rattle when a ‘silent’ alarm is triggered. Unfortunately the vibrations are greatly reduced in this state and the noise it causes isn’t enough to wake me up, so effectively the only redeeming feature of the device for me is rendered useless.

I am presently working with Fitbit support to replace the Flex, with the hopes that some sort of upgrade process might be possible (preferably to a Fitbit Charge HR). In a perfect world, I would likely abandon Fitbit all together and would get a Pebble Time or MS Band- but a perfect world it is not, both the Pebble Time and MS Band are too expensive for my budget and the Pebble has no Windows Phone support. For now, I am back to using audible alarms on my phone to wake up.

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