FitBit Ultra [UK] Unboxing and Lightning Review

My FitBit finally came today! So like any good nerd, here’s a quick unboxing photoset:

So how is it to use? Couldn’t be more straightforward – I just dropped it into my pocket after setup! It really couldn’t be simpler; you move around and it tracks it. When you stop, and are within range of the dock, it syncs your data to the FitBit dashboard.

The great thing is it has a positive mental effect: you know you’re tracking your activity, so you’re naturally inclined to make yourself more active; you get badges/awards for reaching certain milestones – 10 flights of stairs, 5000 steps, etc. I did find myself thinking of more ways I could ‘level up’ as it were. I was probably helped by the fact I was working from home, which gave me more freedom to (for example) go for a walk at lunchtime, and take a few more breaks where I could just walk around the house, but in theory I might be able to manage similar behaviour at the office.

One part of the logging app (web or iPhone) which sucks is the food logging – essentially a food diary/calorie counter so you can offset your activity with what you’re consuming. The food database was pretty pathetic, and entirely US-oriented, and new foods can only be added through the website. There is hope though. The FitBit website lists integration with MyFitnessPal as “coming soon“. This is good, as the MyFitnessPal iPhone app is the best food diary app I’ve tried. Hopefully “coming soon” really is soon, because I’d like to track my intake, but the FitBit tracker is useless IMO.

I haven’t had a chance to test out the sleep tracking functionality yet, but will report back when I have.

In summary: the FitBit is amazingly simple to use, and likely to have a positive effect on my goals. The food logging sucks, but third-party integration promises to take care of that. Rating: 4 out of 5.


  1. Thanks for the review Chris. I’ve just ordered a fitbit through Amazon and can’t wait for it to arrive. I’m planning on using it to track a new 2012 goal (better sleep behaviours) and it’ll also complement some ongoing health goals and my use of myfitnesspal (when that feature is added).

    Keep well,

    1. Thanks for the comment 🙂

      I used the sleep tracking feature last night. It’s basic, and the wristband takes a little getting used to, but it does work in a basic sense. Essentially you start a stopwatch on the FitBit, and it logs how many times you move over a certain amount (to qualify as ‘awake’), and you stop the stopwatch in the morning. I didn’t find it terribly accurate in my case, but I suspect that’s due to how I lay in bed, which makes the sensor think I’m asleep when I’m not. You can see a screenshot of last night’s sleep log here: I have couple of issues with it: 1) it took me about 30 minutes to fall asleep, not 5; 2) My sleep efficiency was not 98% – I had a terrible night’s sleep! 3) It didn’t pick up me waking at 11:45pm, or 2am – again, I suspect it’s due to how I lay.

      I guess it’s accurate enough for basic logging of sleep, but until all the reported quality issues this was something I was looking at getting the Jawbone Up band for, in part because of the silent alarm which wakes you at an ‘optimum’ time. There are other alternatives (Zeo Sleep Manager springs to mind), but they’re a bit more expensive, and not as versatile as the FitBit/Jawbone.

      Good luck with your goals!

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