For many outside of the true fitness fanatics, items other than a pair of trainers, shorts or a t-shirt (and maybe some music) may seem an unnecessary luxury serving only to distract from the job at hand, or even confuse.
However, two weeks of testing the Fitbit watch will force a dramatic re-think on these Spartan principles.
Other than its comparatively modest price tag, there are four key principles behind a successful piece of wearable technology; features, practicality, software and design.
To sum up the Fitbit’s brilliance in one sentence; it has all the benefits of a fitness band, and at the same cost as the rest of the market, but with the added bonus of activity tracker functionality.
While the internal accelerometer tracks steps and activity with deadly accuracy, Fitbit users can expect a whole host of extra useful data from the periods of time between each activity.
For example, the watch is able to work out when you’ve gone to sleep (including how deep or light your sleep is), meaning a more accurate analysis on your long term state of fitness.
As you would hope from any wearable technology the unit is durable and hard-wearing.
During the simmering UAE summer months, runners, cyclists and swimmers alike all exercise at night and the handy back light ensures that information remains highly visible. Similarly, when exercising in direct sunlight or driving rain, the high-contrast display makes for easy viewing.
The watch is charged through a universal charging cable and synchronises easily with the app via Bluetooth, all the while remaining an incredibly slim and light device (39.35mm x 39.35mm x 11.24mm).
The socket is water-resistant to 50m without its cover, which is sure to set the UAE’s growing band of triathletes’ tongues wagging.
Technology can be intimidating at times but the Fitbit is user-friendly and easy to pick up. The all-important data is displayed logically and has space to breathe, rather than attempting to cram it all onto a single screen.
Syncing via the Fitbit iPhone app is fast, so it’s worth making this a daily task to keep up-to-date with your steps and sleep.
You can easily navigate through the app to a specific training session, then drop into a deeper level of detail comparing pace, heart rate, distance and calories burned.
There’s also a range of smart coaching options which breakdown your session achievements, or lack of them. This analysis adds value without confusing users with rafts of complex data.
More serious runners and those who enter regular competitions may find the level of analysis a little on the basic side, but for new runners or people buying their first fitness watch the Fitbit stands head and shoulders above its competition in terms of value for money in this department.
One of the key factors behind the unit’s success is that it is very stylish and comfortable – a rare feat for fitness watches.
It’s a fresh design which masks its technological advances, while providing a screen big enough to clearly see what is happening while out and about.
The dot-matrix style is not the most interesting interface in the world to look at but it does the job adequately and ensures that the battery isn’t drained too quickly (it lasts approximately four days and charging from 0-100% lasts two hours).
The back of the case is stainless steel, and the micro-USB connection ensures that the charging port is not cumbersome or an aesthetic eye-sore.
It also provides an array of vibrant colours, the staple black, white, pink and gray offerings should ensure that most runners find a good match.
Part fitness band, part GPS watch, Fitbit have created a surprisingly functional device, providing a high level of analysis for the equivalent price of a top-range fitness band.
This value for money, coupled with its versatility across a range of sports, means that the needs of all fitness enthusiasts from beginner to semi-professional level are well catered for.
Far from being a distraction, smashing personal best times has become routine and running without the watch now just feels wrong.
Retail price: AED800
We rate it: 9 out of 10: Good-looking, comfortable and useful, this watch has redefined value for money.
Where to Buy: Fitbit store
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