Fitbit Flex and The Pebble Watch

Last year I received a Fitbit Flex as a holiday gift. It’s simple enough to use, the battery life is ok, and it’s reasonably accurate in counting steps – which is what it’s supposed to do. What I found from using is that the counting function wasn’t hugely useful to me. I try to do x amount of walking per day and as long as I follow my routine, the variance in steps isn’t enough to worry about. If I just want to benchmark a new route, it’s easy enough to do with my phone and GPS. It’s useful to have something to remind me if I fall off my pattern, probably  more so that having it tell me I did extra for the day (because that day would also not fit the usual pattern, I’d get that). It’s light and waterproof, both are good. The band broke after about 7 months, that’s frustrating, and seems to be a common issue. Worth $100? Perhaps a year ago, but the market continues to evolve and I think for $100 it has to do more, or it has to cost less. I’m also probably less interested in quantifying than some, the more you crave data, the more interesting a device like this is. The Fitbit came with one other feature though. A vibrating alarm. It has been years (years!) since I wore a watch, I gave it up when it seemed like my phone did everything the watch did. I was surprised to find myself looking at the Fitbit expecting to see the time! I really liked the alarm feature. Crazy to spend $100 on a non-watch to appreciate the alarm isn’t it?

When the Pebble was announced, I didn’t pay much attention. Unless it could replace my phone (or be a second mini-phone for times I didn’t carry the real one), it seemed like an answer to a problem I didn’t have. The experience with the Fitbit had me questioning that some, so I decided to try one. I found a return on sale at Best Buy for $70, done! Battery life is better than the Fitbit and easily a good part of a week on a charge. The charging system is good, USB to magnetic attachment. It’s waterproof. The band is ok and if I continue I’ll probably look for one that I a little more comfortable. It counts steps (which I still don’t care to much about). The UI is ok, the app store seems reasonable and still evolving. I’d say aside from having a watch, the features I use most right now are getting text/phone call notifications. The phone is on vibrate a lot and I’d often miss a text from home, it’s hard to miss when the watch vibrates and I can glance over to see if I need to do anything, or read it later. I haven’t found a killer app yet, but I see that there might be one. The Moto 360 has a much nicer display, at the expense of battery life. What matters most, battery life, apps, display? Right now it’s batter life for me, but maybe that will change if the right feature comes along. I don’t envy those trying to figure out and make money in this market.