April 23, 2014

Rashes and Recalls: Fitbit Force Bites The Dust (Plus Brief Fitbit One Review)


Fitbit Force
By Crabby McSlacker

Remember my Fitbit Force Review back in January?  I was pretty darn happy with it, except for the crappy fastener that wouldn't fasten.  I didn't much concern myself with reports of skin problems, because I personally didn't have one. Fitbit uses the same sort of materials everyone else does, so I figured it wasn't a big deal.

In fact, I'd become neurotically dependent on the information the Fitbit delivered.  It really is motivating to track step counts and miles for the day, and aim for a nice big number. Especially if you are, like me, a recreational snacker who sucks at portion control.

(Note: I'm not trying to encourage my arguably eating-disordered approach to weight management--but be assured, I am too lazy to be one of those folks like the woman at my gym who gets on MY elliptical and stays there all morning long. But for my own weight maintenance, I do favor a "more is better" approach to daily activity in addition to HIIT and strength training etc.)

But anyway, since a number of people were starting to complain of rashes, Fitbit did the responsible thing and stepped up and offered a Force Recall with a Full Refund for anyone who bought one.

And so with comically coincidental timing, I came down with a rash mere hours after Fitbit announced the recall.  Suggestible much?  Sheesh!

But they don't seem to have a Next Generation Force out there yet to replace it with. And it belatedly occurred to me that a full refund for the amount I paid for my review sample would amount to exactly $0.00. 

So I was faced with the dilemma: what do next?  Do I replace my Force and if so, with what?


Step 1:  Denial

Figuring that a dermatological reaction that instantaneous had to be psychosomatic, I continued to wear the thing for a few more weeks and hoped my mind would tell my wrist to cut out the crap and heal up since there was no newer shinier replacement it was gonna get by acting out.

But the rash didn't go away.  I switched wrists, because I'm not a total moron, but I realized the happy days when the Force was With Me were probably numbered.

Step 2:  Whine and Wheedle!

Anyone who actually purchased the Force could skip this step, but I emailed the kind Fitbit Rep who'd given me the original Force, and she offered me my choice of replacement models.

Step: Choose a Replacement:

This is the tough part, because the Force was the high end fitbit and it's in my nature to want Newest and Shiniest! 

But I came across a helpful PC Advisor post offering Fitbit model comparison info, and am stealing their chart (which they probably cribbed from Fitbit to begin with) because the official Fitbit site has removed all reference to the Force.  And yeah, pounds and not dollars, but whatever:


Note: because I already did a big ol' review before, this chart is sort of a stand-in for all the technical info that I'm too bored to repeat.

So I decided against the Flex, because it seemed a step backwards.  For example, I noticed the Flex does not display the time!  If I'm gonna be wearing a fitness doohickey that takes up valuable wrist-acreage, then it better at least tell me what the hell time of day it is.

Plus it looked like the Flex wristband was similar enough in design to the Force that it might share the same annoying tendency to come unclasped every few minutes.

The Fitbit One, however, had all the features I cared about, and is cheaper than the Force was if you're buying it yourself.

Fitbit One Review

And as it turns out, I'm happier with the One than I was with the Force!

The thingy is really small:


It also comes with a clip, which is probably smart to use to keep it from falling out if you have loose pockets or spend much time upside down, but the clip bulks it up a bit:



Personally, I like it better all sleek and naked.  (Wait... I mean the One all sleek and naked, not me! Otherwise storage issues might indeed become problematic).

I prefer being able to slip something in my pocket to having to wear something on my wrist.


Not only is it more comfortable, but it's nice to take a break from broadcasting my crazypants fitness tracking propensities to the entire world 24/7.  Though of course the Force did provide bonding opportunities with other crazypants wristband tracker people when I'd run into them.

One small downside I've noticed? The display light is not as bright as the force and can be a bit harder to read outside on a sunny day. But I can still read it and I'm not known for my x-ray vision. Also, I think the battery needs recharging a bit more often, maybe every five days? I've lost the info but it's somewhere in that range.

But otherwise, the tragic Force Recall had a happy ending, at least for one greedy fitness blogger who loved, lost, and then learned to love again!

Any other crazy activity tracker people out there?  If you're not, are you tempted to join the madness or are you steering well away?

33 comments:

  1. Funny - I was talking to a friend this morning about the FitBit Force. She's had no rash issues at all and just LOVES it. The best part is that she said she's logged over 11000 steps every day since she got it. One evening she was less than 11k when she started to go to bed, so she got up and walked around until she hit the 11k mark! THAT is dedication.

    Me? I tried to buy one, but they were all sold out. So I've again delayed exercise with a lame-ass excuse of not having a doo-hickey to track everything. Ok, ok...I do wear a pedometer - it's helping me to improve. I'll be up to 10k steps in 2525.

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  2. Yay! I love my Fitbit Ultra (the generation before the One). Since I often don't have pockets, I wear it on my bra strap, and no one has yet commented so either it's pretty inconspicuous or I'm around very polite people. Does make it hard to check my step count in public though.

    And I love love love having my Fitbit data automatically sent around to my apps! Just wish even more would take them.

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    1. I used to stash my Blackberry in my bra. I noticed folks looking at my boobs alla time and thought that THEY though I had nice ones. Turns out their eyes were drawn to the blinking red light on the phone!

      I don't put my phone in my bra anymore.

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    2. How lucky am I to write a boring exercise gadget review and get such hilarious comments? You guys are awesome!

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  3. I'm glad you got everything sorted, Crabby. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing I'd bother with, but it is interesting to read about it.

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  4. I've got the Zip (got it as a gift) and I think about maybe eventually upgrading to the One. I'm not as wild about wrist-borne activity monitors, which is HILARIOUS because otherwise I don't much care about style. But anyway, sometimes I miss some of the features that the zip doesn't have.

    I also have a WW activity monitor (made by Philips) and then when I exercise I also wear a heart rate monitor, and when Bia finally ships me my GPS watch will have that too (though by the time I get it, they may have rolled out HRM support so I will only need to wear one watch).

    I am gadget woman, hear me BEEP!

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    1. Yay gadget woman! And yeah, if more of these things would combine functions and play well together with all the different apps, wouldn't that be nice?

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  5. You know what I would like? I have to look at Microsoft Outlook at least 6 or 7 times a day. I want to be able to put big gold stars on the days I do something extra in my exercise routine. Maybe halos for days I eat right.
    I have apps on my phone that track what I eat and my exercise but the reward prize on any of them is puny or they don't even have one.
    Something like the Fitbit I will lose or forget about and it won't track much of the kinds of exercise I get anyways.

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    1. Gold stars and halos, great idea--online calendars should have an "old school" option! And yeah, those reward systems always suck. I tried one and it was nothing but discounts on shit I'd never buy in the first place.

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  6. I had an Ultra that I loved and lost. Then I got the One and couldn't get it out of the recharger. They kindly sent me a new one and it's just fine but I still find it sometimes impossible to extract it from the recharger, at which point I ask my nimble-fingered husband to get it out. Aside from that, though, I love it. And yes, I too have been known to walk up and down my little hallway in order to hit my 10K step minimum. I reassure myself by thinking that I could have much worse addictions.

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    1. NewMe, too frustrating about the sticky recharger! And I think the pre-bedtime hallway pacing is a pretty common side effect of these things, there should be warnings!

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  7. I still just have the Polar HRM and going strong for about 10 years now. I have wanted to try some of the fancier models out there but fancy usually costs more so I haven't ventured beyond the Polar.

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    1. Fancy does usually costs more, which is why my gadget-loving self has never invested in any of these data-slurping devices. I love keeping personal statistics, but I'd nearly always rather buy books.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  8. Ah, was thinking about getting one! Have bookmarked to read it fully later in my lunch break! Thanks!

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  9. Awesome! Very useful post....flex or force was my initial thoughts, this gives me something to think about!

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  10. I'm holding out until someone can just inject a microchip in me :). Then, all I'd have to do is turn my palm up to read the data output glowing just under the skin. When I wanted to turn that part off, I'd just put a band aid over it or turn my hand over. And to recharge, I would hold hands with my S.O. who happens to have been chipped with the charging unit :). How romantic (and metaphoric) is THAT?

    But, seriously... this new little One looks pretty sleek, slender and cool :) The fact that is wearable in a variety of ways gives it a nice little edge, too! Hope you have loads of fun with it!

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    Replies
    1. Love your futuristic vision Janonymous! But could you make those microchips calorie-erasing while you're at it?

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  11. Death Ride GrandmaApril 23, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    Some day. But right now, my running/walking/yoga stuff basically doesn't get tracked while my riding gets tracked to a ridiculous degree. Especially for a little old lady who is not exactly competitive. Speed, miles, feet climbed, heart rate, time, calories (really accurate ones) and watts produced. Sheesh. My... uh, I am trying to describe the g p s device and my bossy (thinks it's so smart) phone, when I run the letters together, keeps replacing them with "god" - I mean, it knows a lot, but really?

    Anyhow, the power measurement device is a pretty effective training tool, but it is expensive and I sometimes find myself thinking "TMI"!

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    1. Well DRG, any "little old lady" who's as serious an athlete as you are deserves all kinds of high tech toys to play with!

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  12. I'll admit - I'm addicted to my zip! And yes I've been known to pace while watching TV to meet my daily goal.

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  13. I LOOOOOVE MY FORCE and am sensitive to everything too.
    so far Im ok :-)

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  14. This is not for me…but I love that you got a pocket version. Rashes are not fun!

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  15. You could just put cortisone cream on the band! Okay, you handled it better!

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  16. I got a rash with the Flex. I loved it though :(

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  17. I have never had one but I have tried to win one! :) I really want that wrist thing from Verizon - can't remember the name. :)

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  18. I ignored the recall - so far I haven't had any problems and I've been wearing mine all the time (except to shower) since the first of the year.
    I love that it is around my wrist - I would lose a pocket/clip one!

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  19. I say we all just strap a mini clipboard to our wrist, complete with miniature pencil attachment for fitness tracking. There.... problem solved. So what if the clipboard is made of wood and has shards of splinter shrapnel stabbing the tendons in your wrist. It's more natural than electronics.

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  20. I started with the smallest one,Zip, almost two years ago. Zip finally bit the dust this past month and now I am a visible crazypants with the Flex. I have to say, I like all the visible info with the Zip better than the dot situation with the Flex. Also, I think that it should do something more than vibrate when I hit my daily goal. I want it to shoot confetti or play YMCA or something!! Anyhow, still loving the tracking and motivation!!!

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    1. Lee, please get yourself hired at Fitbit because the confetti-shooting, YMCA playing version has GOT to see the light of day! I would so buy that one over the boring vibration model.

      Or maybe you can design one that shoots out champagne and chocolate chip cookies, pre-measured to the precise number of calories earned? Fingers crossed!

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  21. I've had the FitBit One since before Christmas. I love it. It does all I want it to. It tracks what is important to me. I have a small group of online friends in a list to track each other's steps to see if I can beat them or they me…all in good fun! If this one breaks, I will spend the bucks to replace it. Battery lasts a week to ten days for me.

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    1. That does sound motivating Sherri! I wonder if I should try to round up some friends?

      Or hmm, I notice there's an Over 50 group over at the site, wonder if I should join? Pondering... a little competition might provide an extra nudge.

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    2. I tried some of the "stranger" groups but ended up with a few quilting buddies instead. One gal is unreachable by me. She logs in well over ten thousand steps a day. Her latest average is 17,000. She uses a treadmill. I hate/love her. lol

      I have nine 'friends' on my list. Once in a while I will taunt them or msg them with encouragement. Mostly it is just there on the dashboard, to read and hope that I am not on the bottom! lol

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  22. I was just thinking about getting one! I Have bookmarked your post to read it later.Thanks for sharing this!

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