The Fitbit Ultra is a pretty deceptive piece of technology. For a lot of the time you are wearing it, you completely forget it is there. But it is there. Constantly monitoring your movements. And at the end of the day/week/month it will give you an accurate depiction of your level of activity (or lack there of) which will hopefully inspire you to do more.
This is not a device for elite athletes. You can’t wear it while playing a contact sport. It is not water proof and it does not have GPS built in. It will, however, tell you how many steps you’ve taken each day, how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed, how many calories you’ve burned, how far you’ve walked, how well you sleep and ─ if you’re disciplined enough ─ you can even track what you eat.
But the big question is, will it make you more active and in the process help you lose weight? Let’s find out.
Fitbit is a company that has enjoyed a lot of success in the United States in recent years and it has now brought its products to the UK. The Fitbit Ultra is a small activity tracker that wirelessly syncs your data and automatically uploads it to your online profile, allowing you to track how active (or otherwise) you’ve been over an extended period of time.
The unit itself is a rather attractive black and blue clip which can be attached to your belt, bra or even just kept in your pocket while you carry out your daily life. Finished in soft touch plastic, weighing just 12g and measuring 53 x 17 x 16mm, it is as discreet as you are likely to get. Indeed most of the time we’ve been wearing it (on our belt if you must know), we’ve barely realised it's there.
The build quality and design of the Fitbit Ultra do mean it is small and sleek enough to go unnoticed while on your person, but this also means it is more likely to get lost or thrown in with the laundry. And with no way of remotely finding it, this could be a costly exercise.
On one side of the clip is a small LED screen and a button to activate it. The screen displays your daily information, with button clicks cycling through your steps taken, distance travelled, calories burnt, floors climbed and recent progress – in relation to your recent history.
As well as giving you the hard data of your daily activity, the Fitbit Ultra will also give you little greetings (“Hi David”) or motivational messages ("Burn It") or just some truly odd sayings (“Eggnog” and “Step Geek”). A nice touch, which makes it a little less daunting for people unused to using such devices.
Inside, the Fitbit Ultra uses a combination of 3D motion sensor, accelerometer and altimeter to calculate your various achievements. The altimeter measures elevation so if you find yourself running or walking up a hill, this will be added to your daily “flights climbed stat.”
Inside the box you will find the USB-powered dock, a plastic holder for a bit more protection while wearing the Fitbit Ultra and a soft, felt wristband to use while in bed to track your sleep patterns.
Setting up the Fitbit Ultra was a bit of an issue for us at first. The problem, it seems, was that we were using an older version of Mac OS X that the downloaded software just wouldn’t jive with. However a quick email to the support department later, we got sent another version of the desktop software, which worked perfectly.
The set-up process is fairly routine. Enter all your relevant personal data (including height and weight of course) and you’re off and running. One thing to note, however, is that there is no instructions with the unit regarding downloading the software – neither in or on the box – which could cause some issue for the non-technical people this product is aimed at.