Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker

Bluetooth Enabled Pedometer

Fitbit Zip - 10000 Steps
Fitbit Zip. Wendy Bumgardner

Fitbit activity trackers include the tiny Zip, which you wear on your waistband or in your pocket rather than on your wrist. This small pedometer uses an advanced 3-axis accelerometer to track your steps and estimate your distance and calories burned. You can view your stats on the Zip and it also can upload your data via Bluetooth to a cell phone or tablet app (iOS or Android), or to a USB dongle on a PC or Mac computer.

You can track your diet, water intake, weight, and other activities via the app or on your personal data page on the Fitbit app and website. You can connect with friends who have Fitbit and challenge each other.

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Setting up the Fitbit Zip

The Zip is small, only 1.4 inches x 1.1 inches x 0.38 inch and weighing less than a third of an ounce. It slips into a soft silicone/metal clip holder that you can use to wear it on your waistband or on a neckline or bra. It is a 3-axis accelerometer, so you could also just carry it in a pocket.

  • The Zip is silent -- no annoying clicking like old-school pedometers.
  • Zip runs on a replaceable CR2025 battery for three to four months -- no need to recharge it every few days as with the original Fitbit devices.
  • You can view steps, distance, and calories on the Zip itself, so you never have to wait till you transmit your data.
  • To set it up to transmit wirelessly to a PC or Mac, plug in the USB dongle and download the Fitbit Connect software.
  • To use the Bluetooth wireless connection, download the free app for iOS, Android, or Windows phones. You can set it up completely with a mobile app rather than needing to set it up with a computer.
  • Set up a free personal account on to track your data. Premium accounts are also available for personal coaching. I was not pleased that I had to choose which Fitbit to use with my existing account. In order to use both the Zip and the Flex, for example, you have to set up two accounts, each with a different email address.

    Now, just wear your Zip. But not when swimming, it isn't waterproof.

    Steps - Calories - Distance Tracking with Fitbit Zip

    What you get with the Zip:

    • Steps: The pedometer mechanism accurately tracks steps, resetting each day at midnight. You can see the total daily step count on the Zip and app. The web site shows details for every five minutes of the day.
    • Distance: This is estimated from your height and gender, but you can enter a stride length on your profile to use instead. How to measure your stride length
    • Calories Burned: The display is the number of calories burned so far each day, since midnight. This uses your basal metabolic rate and your activity. If you log non-pedometer activities using the Fitbit app or web site, those calories will be added to the total when you sync.
    • Time of Day: Who needs a watch? But no alarms or stopwatch functions.
    • Fitbit Smiley: A face shows different expressions depending on how active you are, plus they promise "surprises."

    To see the different data, just tap the screen.

    Visibility: the numbers display large enough for my aging eyes to see without reading glasses, although it doesn't have a backlight for nighttime use. The little icons that denote steps, distance and calories are hard for me to make out without reading glasses, but I can usually guess which is which.

    And maybe I don't want to see that Smiley is sticking out his tongue at me because I've been sitting too long.

    What you don't get with the Fitbit Zip:

    There is no stopwatch function to track individual workouts. There is no sleep quality monitoring, and there is no tracking of stair climbing (other than the steps it produces). You also can't review past days on the Zip itself, you have to go to the app or web site to see data from previous days.

    Tracking Diet and More with the Fitbit App

    • You can use the Fitbit app or web site to track what you eat and balance calories in vs. calories out.
    • You can track your weight by inputting it into the app or using their WiFi-connected Aria scale.
    • Fitbit plays well with other online fitness and health tracking databases. You can choose to export your Fitbit data to Microsoft HealthVault, Endomondo, SparkPeople, Nike+ and more.
    • You earn badges for milestones such as daily steps, lifetime steps and distance, etc.


    • You can connect with other Fitbit users and choose to share data and challenge each other.
    • You can choose to send your daily or weekly data out via Facebook or Twitter, and get a weekly summary via email.

    Bottom Line on the Fitbit Zip

    I love the mobility of the Zip. As I travel with an iPhone and iPad, it is a big plus to have a computerized pedometer that uses Bluetooth and doesn't need a USB port or to be recharged every few days.

    But if you want a pedometer that tracks stairs and sleep in addition to steps, you should instead pop for the Fitbit One or Fitbit Charge.

    The Zip is expensive for a simple pedometer but is a very good price for one that uploads data to an app or computer and doesn't require an ongoing subscription fee. Once I dedicated my wrist to the Apple Watch, I had to continue to wear the Fitbit Zip on my waistband as I couldn't stop the motivating competitions with my Fitbit friends.

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