Fitbit One Activity Tracker Review

Wireless Activity Monitor and Sleep Tracker

Fitbit One
Fitbit One. Wendy Bumgardner ©

If you like to wear a waistband pedometer, the Fitbit One is a great choice from the Fitbit family of activity trackers. It has Bluetooth to sync to smartphones as well as wireless transmission to a Mac or PC via a USB dongle for those who prefer (or don't have a smartphone). This is also seen in the Fitbit Zip, which also is worn on the waistband but has fewer features than the One.

What you get with Fitbit is an excellent tri-axis accelerometer pedometer that records steps, distance, calories, active minutes, and flights of stairs.

You can also track your sleep quality, and you can set silent alarms for it to vibrate and awaken or alert you.

The Basics of Fitbit One

You can wear and use Fitbit One as a pedometer and view your steps, distance, stairs climbed, and calories burned throughout the day on the device display. It also has a flower indicator that shows how active you have been the past few hours -- it grows as you move more.

Fitbit has a rechargeable battery that should last five to seven days. You recharge it by plugging it into a USB dongle (included) attached to a computer or an electrical plug adapter (not included - I use the one for my iPhone).

Wearing the Fitbit One

The Fitbit One comes with a silicone sleeve that has a belt clip. This is a big improvement over the original and Ultra designs. Both I and my friend Nona had our original Fitbits simple break into pieces after 18 months of wear. This won't happen with the One, as you can just replace the sleeve.

You can wear the Fitbit One on your waistband, carry it in a pocket, clip it to your bra or neckline, or wear it as a pendant. The mechanism is accurate without worrying about position.

To track sleep quality, you slip the Fitbit out of its sleeve and into a wristband to wear at night. It works fine for me just clipped to my underwear, although I suppose I would risk turning it off while rolling over or sleeping on my stomach.

Two Ways to Upload Your Data

As with the original Fitbit and the Ultra, you can use a USB dongle attached to a Mac or PC, with the Fitbit Connect software installed, and it will automatically upload your data whenever you are within 20 feet of that computer.

The Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip use Bluetooth 4/Bluetooth Smart to upload data to an app on compatible devices. These include the iPhone 4s and above, iPad 3, iPod Touch and "coming soon" an app for select Android phones. I find this new feature to be very valuable as I am more and more mobile and unleashed from my desktop or laptop computer.

Uploading your data happens automatically. Unlike most other Bluetooth devices, you don't have to press a button or tell it to sync.

Fitbit Dashboard Features

You don't have to pay any ongoing subscription to track your data on the Fitbit Dashboard or the Fitbit App. You can view daily, weekly, monthly and yearly totals and graphs for steps, distance, floors climbed, calories burned, active time, sleep quality, weight and other health trackers.

You can log activities that your Fitbit doesn't track, such as bicycling.

You can see how you spent your day in percentages of sedentary time, lightly active, fairly active and very active time. My brisk walks (17 minutes per mile or faster) got counted as very active.

Badges and Social

You earn badges for your daily and lifetime milestones for number of steps, miles, and floors climbed. One thing they lack is an integration to post your badges to Facebook or Twitter. You can accept other Fitbit users as Friends and see their weekly totals and cheer them and to engage in challenges.

Food Diary and Diet Plan

You can use the Fitbit Dashboard and the app as a food diary, logging foods from their database or your own custom foods. They have a Food Plan feature and a calories in/calories out gauge to help you track your diet. The calorie number you see on your Fitbit includes your basal metabolic rate, the calories you burn even at rest. It is meant to be used as part of a total daily calorie balance rather than showing only exercise calories burned.

Sleep Tracking and Silent Alarms

To track your sleep quality, you start the stopwatch function on the Fitbit One and then turn it off when you get up. You see a graph of your sleep time and awakening times during the night. You get the total time in bed, time to fall asleep, times awakened, and actual sleep time. It doesn't track deep sleep vs. light sleep as some other trackers do, such as theĀ Jawbone Up.

You can set up to eight vibrating silent alarms, and manage them from the app or the Dashboard.
Compare: Sleep-Tracking Activity Monitors


For a fee, you can get in-depth reports and access to a trainer.

Playing with Other Apps

Fitbit shares data with an expanding list of other apps. These include Microsoft HealthVault, Endomondo, MapMyRun, and MyFitnessPal.

What It Doesn't Do

  • Fitbit does not track specific workouts. You can enter them manually on the web site or app to get the calorie count.
  • It doesn't track your speed.
  • The stopwatch is only used to track sleep. You can use it as a stopwatch, but then you'll need to edit that "sleep interval" on your dashboard.
  • It doesn't integrate with a heart rate monitor
  • It's not waterproof, you shouldn't wear it swimming or immerse it in a bath.
  • It doesn't integrate with the maps or GPS function of your mobile device.

Bottom Line on the Fitbit One

I recommend Fitbit One for those of us who want to lose weight, as it has good integration of the food diary and tracking your calories in/calories out throughout the day, especially using your iPhone.

If you don't care about the sleep tracking or stairs climbed, then the Fitbit Zip is also a good choice. They both upload to the same Fitbit Dashboard and app, although you can only use one tracker at a time.

If you prefer a wristband pedometer, you may want the Fitbit Flex. It tracks sleep and steps but doesn't track stairs.

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