Fitbit Zip Wireless Review
Cons: Replaceable battery, no stair climbing, no sleep tracking
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Fitbit Zip Wireless is an elegant combination of tiny, accurate electronics and a well-thought-out data management interface.
Overall, the FitBit Zip scores better than any of the non-app-enabled devices but poorer than all the app-equipped products.
All Fitbit devices include an excellent smartphone app and fitbit.com Dashboard for personal computer access. However, most folks will use the device with their smartphones. Once you establish a connection, you just need to open the appropriate program with the Zip Wireless nearby. (And since it should live in your pocket, this is easy to accomplish.) Data is pulled from the device and displayed in a clean and easy-to-interpret fashion.
Like all the devices in our test, the Zip Wireless counts your steps. Additionally, like most, it converts the step count into distance. All the data organized by the Zip Wireless is stored in the cloud and is accessible from both the phone app and the Fitbit website.
Depth of Data
The Fitbit Zip has a basic data platform. It tracks steps, distance, and the app can be configured to take your user-entered diet and mood information to correlate with your activity level.
Just as with all the products in our test, the step-counting function is both effective and clear, but is not incredibly accurate. (We talk about this more in the Accuracy section below.) On the Fitbit app that comes with the Zip Wireless the user can enter all his or her food and water consumption, as well as menstruation history for period and fertility tracking. Caloric and hydration data can then be cross-referenced with activity data and period tracking for the ladies.
Compared to other budget products, like the Top Pick-winning CSX Simple Walking 3D, the Fitbit Zip collects far more data. The Simple Walking 3D only calculates daily step count, while the Zip Wireless manages distance, sleep, and user-entered information through the smartphone app.
This simple device proved quite reliable. The Fitbit Zip, in our objective testing, scored just below the middle of the pack in accuracy. The step count and distance error averaged 4.8 percent off from actual. Absolute accuracy is easy to measure but not that important. All users will make moves that occasionally throw off the step count of even the most accurate sensor. Given that fitness trackers, for the most part, are used to compare and motivate an individual's activity from one day to the next - absolute accuracy won't be extremely vital for most users. In this context, a few percentage points of error isn't a big deal. It all comes out in the wash if the error is uniform over the long term. If the device is always missing two steps out of every hundred, for instance, the comparisons from one day to the next are still perfectly relevant.
Ease of Use
For an experienced computer and smartphone user, the Zip is easy to set up. In two rounds of testing by two different testers - setup took less than four minutes. However, initial setup requires installing the battery, which proved somewhat difficult. The device is small and made of slippery plastic. Our test team had a difficult time opening the battery hatch the very first time. Subsequent battery cover removals and installations have been much easier. Once set up, the on-device data is handy, and the app provides clear and succinct user guidance.
The actual instrumentation of this tracker is contained in a tiny pod about the size of the end of your thumb. This pod, or bit, holds the accelerometer, battery, screen, and a Bluetooth transmitter. The bit is encased in a tight silicone and metal pocket clip that secures the electronics. We used the FitBit Zip clipped to a waistband, clipped inside a pocket, and loose in a pocket. In every configuration, it was small and unobtrusive. The screen the Zip Wireless makes it slightly larger than some of the other devices tested - but proved quite useful. Indeed, this device is the only app-enabled device with a screen in our testing repertoire.
We recommend the Fitbit Zip for anyone interested in tracking day-to-day activity and organizing that activity information, with the aid of both a screen and a smartphone app. The Fitbit Zip's user-friendly app collects and sorts info into handy bites.
The Fitbit is among the less expensive products we tested, making it a good deal for a useful fitness tracker.
Every product we tested is functional and can be recommended, and the Fitbit Zip is no exception. This device is an impressive pedometer and activity tracker.
— Jediah Porter and Mary Witlacil
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