Fitbit pedometer rocks…except when you lose it

Since surgery in late August, I have been doing a lot of walking and hiking. Liking gadgets, I often wondered how far, Fitbithow many steps and calories etc. Yes, I am an info junkie.

Since October 20, I have been using the Fitbit Ultra clip-on pedometer, which was a gift from my daughter. I would average more than 10,000 steps a day and even exceeded 20,000 on one occasion. By early December, it said I had logged more than 250 miles although about 20% of the, I estimate, was just walking around the house.

I loved this little device except that it has one MAJOR flaw. It’s small and comes off – it was a matter of time before it vanished and I lost it on Christmas Eve. I had already lost it twice before, but providentially, it reappeared.

My model, the Fitbit Ultra, is no longer available, replaced by more functional Fitbit One. It’s a bit pricey at $100, but I had a lot of fun with mine.

The Fitbit tracker counts and displays steps, calories burned and distance. Then it wirelessly or through a small USB base station transmits the data back to an Internet portal where a bunch of health metrics can be monitored and managed. It even monitors sleep patterns, using the tracker on a wrist sleeve. Weight is a big deal so you can monitor calories via the foods you eat although that was TMI for me.

Since losing the tracker, I have tried iPhone 5 freebies Runtastic and one from Arawella Corp. When I searched “pedometer” in the App Store, a whopping 259 apps came back! Fitbit also has an iPhone app, but needs the tracker to work.

Runtastic seemed accurate and also tracked MPH. Arawella was inaccurate, saying I had done 13,000 steps and 10 miles when in reality, it was more like two miles and 3,000 steps. Runtastic is supposedly doing its own hardware and there’s been talk that it would work on Fitbit. We live in an everything works on everything world!

There’s several drawbacks to the iPhone app only approach. They absolutely slay the already anemic iPhone 5 battery, which under the best of circumstances lasts barely 24 hours between charges. I could not get 12 hours from a charge when Runtastic was active. Also, I like the 24-hour cycle on Fitbit whereas Runtastic was on a start/stop basis. Both Runtastic and the Arawella freebie have premium versions for a few bucks, but for me, they were not worth the upgrade.

I have contacted Fitbit to see if loser me can catch a break on a replacement (update, Jan. 1: The Fitbit folks are giving me a Fitbit One for half price….seems fair to me). Little things get lost especially in active environments so it was just a question of time. A more secure clip maybe?

I also might try a pedometer in a watch. That way, I can view easily view my progress instead of having to unclip the Fitbit tracker. That said, I liked the Fitbit and miss it a lot.

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