GOOD STUFF BAD STUFF – FITBIT CHARGE 3 REVIEW
GOOD STUFF BAD STUFF
Fitbit Charge 3
I’ve been in shape once, you know? Back then you didn’t even have to tell me to exercise, that was just part of my life. Soccer, boxing, weight lifting; I did that shit for fun. But when you get older and have other responsibilities to deal with, you get too tired for physically straining activities outside of work and chores. So your “fun” switches from “hiking up a mountain” to “eating a mountain of ice cream”. My mom doesn’t cook for me anymore either, so that shit is on me now. If I can’t find time for that, fast food is the only way to go.
So here I am. Fat and tired. I can’t blame the dryer for all my pants getting tighter, so something has to be done; not because I want to stay healthy, hell no, I want to get in shape strictly to be more attractive. You can tell me “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” as much as you want. But I want to be the one on the high horse delivering that line rather than have to listen to it followed by a firm rejection.
So, what do you do when you can’t get your ass to move on your own? You let a machine yell at you, of course.
Look, let’s be honest here, you don’t have to buy a Fitbit brand item to get yourself moving again. But if I wasn’t too lazy to research other options, I wouldn’t need a Fitbit. Instead, I asked this fine blogger if I could just link to her blogpost on cheaper alternatives to the Fitbit. You can read that if you want a coherent comparison of the other products out there. But I know what a Fitbit is, so I got that one. Also, I didn’t just get the cheapest version, I wanted somewhat of an interface. While I didn’t require it to be a smartwatch-esque supercomputer, I needed more than just three LED lights vaguely resembling a pulse or something. So I found the “Charge 3” somewhere in between. A new enough version to impress the kids at the skate park, and yet not too crazy of a financial commitment that I’d need to quit my daily life in order to make proper use of it. Yes, buying an expensive toy like that was part of the motivation process. I don’t like wasting money, and that shit was over 200 bucks. You bet your butt I’ll use it.
With the Charge 3, like probably all other Fitbits, you get to download an app on your phone that functions as the headquarters for all your data. Everything your Fitbit counts will be synced to the app. Steps, exercises, heartrates, sleep cycles, weight updates, calorie intakes, and a lot more stuff both related and unrelated to your fitness. I mean, shit, I can even check the weather! When the fuck did I ever do that before? I didn’t, and I still don’t, but it’s there, people. It’s there.
But enough introduction, you know what this shit is about, so let’s dive in. What’s the good stuff? What’s the bad stuff? Fuck, I don’t know, you think I read this shit? Let’s find out:
I don’t have a lot of different fancy electronics besides my iPhone. So clearly, the first thing I was worried about when I got this was its battery life. I was impressed to find that it lasted for at least a week, where it hit around the 17 % mark, which made me too nervous to go a full day without charging it. Luckily, this beast charges super fast, too. Like, damn, they really don’t want you to waste any time sitting around without being strapped. But that’s cool, because the Fitbit isn’t a bully when it comes to motivation. It’s very uplifting when you feel it vibrate to remind you that you’re well on track to your 10k daily step goal. It never yells “move, you lazy bum” and instead cheers you on with a friendly “oh shit, you did stuff today, congrats”. Dude, that’s pretty awesome. No one else celebrates my tiny accomplishments, so it’s great to have a little beepity-boop tell me I’m crushing it.
I used to track my calories with another fitness app, which was all manual. This one was very demotivating to me because it wouldn’t count any activity that wasn’t hard cardio as “burning calories”, so I ended up either overeating or staying hungry and mad. The Fitbit, however, seems to be more accurate since it measures my heart-rate and with it my potential calorie burn level, rather than a manual entry into an app. I don’t quite believe that the heart-rate sensor in a 200$ toy is the most accurate measurement mankind ever produced, but even if it’s off by a few smidges, it is very consistent and that what counts in terms of being a reliable tracker. So yeah, maybe I didn’t burn 2000 calories that day and only 1920; since I’m not training for the Olympics, I’m fine with a possible discrepancy like that, as long as it takes everything I do all day into account. And it knows when I’ve been lazy, as you can see from a few examples of my weekly progress:
Besides the exercises, you can also customize your clock face. This isn’t a big detail, but to me it was, since I wanted one where the seconds tick off. I’m allowed to close my store precisely at closing time because of licencing laws, and the Fitbit helps me accurately lock the door in peoples’ faces. Before that I had to use my phone and that made me look like a jerk who’d rather send a hilarious tweet than serve a customer. Speaking of clocks, the Fitbit also has alarms you can set up for any time. Since I was curious about the sleep cycle tracking, I wanted to test out how well its alarm could wake me up. Boy, do I love it. I used to wake up to my phone blaring a loud noise. Jumping out of bed sure gets me up, but I’m getting too close to the common age for heart attacks to keep this shit up. The Fitbit’s alarm is a gentle, rhythmic vibration. Yes, of course you’d wake up if your wrist jittered. But where the phone alarm was like a drill sergeant screaming obscenities into my ear, the Fitbit vibration was a gentle tug on my arm.
Since we’re on the sleeping subject, yes this thing monitors your sleep if you wear it overnight. I thought it was creepy when the strange man under my bed used to do that, but the Fitbit isn’t as obvious about it. It just monitors your heart-rate throughout the night, and when you open the phone app the next day, analyzes the meaning of it. Then it spits out this graph and tells you how long you’ve been in each sleep stage. It’s pretty cool to see your own sleep pattern over time without asking the strange man under the bed about his opinion. Like I said before, I don’t believe it’s an absolutely accurate heart monitor, but it is consistent enough in its measurement to get an idea of your progress, whether awake or asleep.
Well, fuck, what else does it do?
Are you one of those people who would love to be on the ball when it comes to messages but keep not noticing your phones’ notifications? Well, you can sync almost any app to your Fitbit. When a notification pops up on your phone, it does the same on your watch. I had some good use with that, when I let my phone charge and didn’t feel like sticking around to wait for a message. As soon as my Fitbit send me the notification, not only could I read the message, I could also decide to ignore it entirely by clearing it off my screen. I believe you can actually reply to the message through your watch with the higher-end versions, but oh well, don’t know, don’t care. If I get really annoyed by the countless girls texting me all the time about how I’m oh-so fit and they want my bit, I can turn the notifications off and on whenever I feel like it. It is actually cool, though, how it even includes emoji’s in its messages. My blogger friend Luana has a dragon emoji in her twitter handle, and receiving her messages on my Fitbit includes that.
Meanwhile my buddy’s messages, who by the way was excited to be featured, appear as bland as his name.
Enough of the fun, nonsense functions, let’s get down to fitness business. On the phone app, Fitbit features challenges and activities you can get involved in. Join groups to participate in stuff or challenge your friends to find out who’s getting more steps that day, burn more calories, or whatever other goal you want to whoop their asses in. This sounds fun, but none of my friends are as desperate for fitness motivation as I am. Just like in video games, I prefer the single player experience anyway.
I couldn’t participate in any challenges to review them, but Fitbit got the loners covered, too, so let’s check that shit out instead. Who needs friends?
I love video games and trophies (or “achievements” if you’re Xboning it) are a great little motivator to keep me going. Fitbit understands that and delivers badges to you for your accomplishments. You can earn them multiple times but it’s always a cool feeling to unlock a new badge. At some point you’ll have to work harder to get the more high-tier badges, and that shit sure is motivating to a gamer mind like mine.
Now that’s some good stuff, but you know what sucks? Bad stuff, of course. Because just like with modern video games, this Fitbit comes with paid DLC.
Uhm, excuse me? I paid over 200 bucks for this thing and you still need me to pay for your fitness instructor apps? I thought the deal was that buying this watch would get me all the apps, but apparently that’s not the case. If you want to have workouts presented by Fitbit you better pay up. Sure, some basic exercises are free, but that’s only there to make you want to pay for more. I tried it out, and it’s alright, but clearly they hide the great workouts behind another paywall, and I’m not happy about that.
What’s more, the calorie counting doesn’t work the way I would like it to. Fitbit seems to have a much smaller library of barcodes that it can scan, and shit, I think I mentioned I’m lazy so many times, I’m almost too lazy to repeat it. I don’t want to manually find out what the exact calorie info of my product that I’m about to munch down in a hurry is. This thing was supposed to make it easier. Not to mention that I can’t check my previous food intake the next day because somehow, out of every other data saved on the app, the calorie intake never stays overnight. I can’t monitor my progress if I can’t even compare it to yesterday.
Sure, I could get a good fitness app for free, and I could count my calories with yet another one, but the point of the Fitbit was to have it all in one place. I don’t want a million different workout apps that I’d have to painstakingly sync together in order to provide me with the exact information I need, when the Fitbit was supposed to do all that for me. I just want to work out, but not do the work around it.
Did I mention that this watch was expensive? Damn, that’s a lot of dollars, and if you’re not committed to using it, it is not worth your time. I could have bought a PS Vita for that money and burned calories while gaming on the go (but we know why that won’t happen). So the least I could expect out of it was to have a paid app included with it.
If you expect to lose weight by simply strapping on a Fitbit, forget about it. If I had posted a before and after picture, you’d see me as “fat” and “fat with a wristband”. There’s still a lot of work involved that you need to take care of yourself. The Fitbit is merely a motivator and tracking system. With a goal in mind, you can achieve a lot of greatness with this device, and if your friends let you, you can have fun competing with them. Taking a lazy day won’t look diminishing at all if you compare it to the rest of your weekly report and see all the days where you have accomplished your goals. It’s too easy to forget how well you’ve done three days ago when you’ve been just sitting around today, making this weekly e-mail a great motivator for yet another week with your Fitbit.
Get out there and track your moves. The only step the Fitbit can’t count, is the one you take towards changing your lifestyle into a healthy routine of smelling your wrist to check how strong the odor has become.
Yup, that’s musky.