LAS VEGAS–Personal fitness company Fitbit has just jumped further into the wearable tech market. The company unveiled its $99.95 Fitbit Flex device, an activity tracker designed to be worn all day and monitor movement, sleep, and calories burned.
The Flex is similar to other competing products in the growing personal fitness category such as the Nike FuelBand, and Jawbone Up. Built to be worn all day long, the appropriately named Flex is a soft bracelet encased in a rubbery skin. The idea is that it’s malleable enough to stay firmly wrapped around your wrist but be comfortable enough to wear around the clock.
LED lights on the Flex will also, says Fitbit, glow when you’ve approached 20 percent of your preset fitness goals — for example taking 10,000 daily steps. Fitbit also plans to offer the Flex in an assortment of five colors to match various styles and tastes.
At its core, the Fitbit Flex is a personal fitness tracker. If you’re familiar with Fitbit’s other products such as the Fitbit One, Fitbit Zip, and older Fitbit Ultra, most of the Flex’s skills won’t cause you to raise an eyebrow. For instance the gadget uses an internal accelerometer to record steps, distance traveled, and estimated calories burned through exercise. The Flex also keeps tabs on your overall activity level and will record the duration and quality of your sleep.
Also in keeping with Fitbit’s current trackers, the Flex uses a wireless Bluetooth connection to sync with PCs and smartphones. The company proudly points out that the Flex is the first fitness band to sync using the latest Bluetooth 4.0 standard. The Jawbone Up relies on a physical headphone jack to do this while the Nike FuelBand leans on a proprietary solution (though based on Bluetooth) for phone communication.
What’s more, the Fitbit Flex will eventually support Bluetooth syncing of fitness data to Android devices once an update becomes available, hopefully by late January or early February.
As someone who has taken the many fitness gadgets for a spin, the new Fitbit Flex sounds like a very compelling gadget. I personally am a proponent of band-style designs and find the Jawbone Up to be the most comfortable device of its sort I’ve ever used. It remains to be seen if the Flex can offer the same level of comfort or even durability and water resistance.
Of course the Flex seems to address the main weaknesses of the Up, namely lack of wireless syncing and Android support. The Flex isn’t a watch, though, and can’t even display the time like the Nike FuelBand. I suppose we’ll have to wait until the Fitbit Flex ships this spring. Check back soon for a full review.