Fitbit Flex, Jawbone UP, Nike+ FuelBand – Conclusion

At this point we’ve gotten to know these devices pretty well. Primarily, they all fit neatly into the category of “activity monitors”, which used to be called pedometers. Obviously, by tracking sleep, serving as an alarm, reminding the user to get up and move, as well as simply telling the time, these products have gone beyond the simple pedometers that might be found in a cereal box. Let’s narrow down some key distinctions:

Fitbit Flex

FitbitFlexHt50

Fitbit has sold a lot of these products and likely reasons why start with the price – with an MSRP of $99.95 it’s the least expensive product in the lineup. Furthermore, Fitbit has established itself as a brand in this space while the others are much newer to the party. The real surprise is the lack of phone support – as a company Fitbit seems to be targeting employers and other large (health insurance) organizations, in addition to the retail market. Omitting phone support seems odd – many corporate benefits managers might be uncomfortable with its absence. Nonetheless, the Flex provides a very competitive feature set (particularly online and in-app) at the lowest price.

Pros:

  • Automatic uploads via Bluetooth.
  • Integration with Fitbit Aria scale, rich app & Web site experience.
  • Extensive personalization via Web site.
  • Easy to use food logging.

Cons:

  • Proprietary charger poses a risk – if you lose it, you’re out of luck.
  • No phone support.
  • User interface comprises flashing lights and buzzes – only.
  • No personal data download.

Jawbone UP

JawboneUpHt50

The UP seems like a product with potential – it certainly fills the bill as an activity tracker and MotionX is more than happy to make its case for the quality of the underlying algorithms. Add features like wireless syncing and an improved on-device display and Jawbone would have a clearcut winner on its hands. As it is, the raw scores show the UP as this review’s winner, although by only a half point. Jawbone’s first entry into this market is a fine device – it makes the second version something to look forward to.

Pros:

  • Personal data download to a spreadsheet.
  • Idle alert.
  • Extensive personalization via Web site.
  • Easy to use food logging.
  • Device calibration.

Cons:

  • Proprietary charger poses a risk – if you lose it, you’re out of luck.
  • User interface comprises flashing lights, runes and hieroglyphs, and buzzes – only.
  • No wireless sync – must be plugged into the audio port of an iOS or Android device.

Nike+ FuelBand

NikeFuelBandHt50

The FuelBand has the most established brand and the perfect support scores are probably one of the results. This device is very simple and the wristwatch feature alone is reason to wear it. Beyond that, the FuelBand falls behind its competitors due to its limited functions, lack of food logging, and the exclusion of numerous smart phone apps emerging to integrate and manage data from devices like the ones in this review. Nike’s got an entry in the market but it will have to do better – much better, once you factor in the premium price.

Pros:

  • The only product with a display – and it’s a wristwatch too.
  • Solid customer support.
  • USB charging – just plug it into your computer.

Cons:

  • With an MSRP of $149.00 it’s the most expensive product here and it offers the fewest features.
  • No food logging.
  • Nike Fuel – ignore Fuel – focus on steps and calories instead.

Next Steps:

The personas defined here may help in selecting the device that’s right for you. In most cases these devices will probably serve Get Movers and Habitual/Casual consumers the best. “Health Managers”, who might be concerned with a specific condition like diabetes, might need a more tailored, FDA-approved product. Likewise, the “Athlete in Training” will need more data for starters, such as heart rate, recovery time, speed, or GPS tracking. Products supporting all of these personas are out there and growing in number – they’ll appear on these pages soon.

Get moving!

Appendix: All Data.

Quick links to buy at Amazon