I was recently given the opportunity to test the Fitbug Orb. The accelerometer inside keeps track of all your movements and then data can be sent wirelessly to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Right off the bat I liked the many ways you can wear the device: in a watch-like band, clipped on, on a landyard, in your pocket. Well… in theory I liked that. I found the watchband felt kind of bulky and unattractive; I had to cinch it into the smallest settings for it to stay on my wrist, but the strap also caught on things fairly easily and came undone. I had several moments where other people had to flag me down to return the device to me after it fell off. The clip just felt weird no matter where I tried clipping it. Keeping the orb in my pocket didn’t seem to net me very accurate information.
But there was a lot about accuracy that I questioned. I ran a 5K wearing it and the data said that I covered just 2 miles. I wasn’t using it as a replacement for my GPS watch by any means, but it seems like it should estimate a little closer to reality! (I was pushing a stroller while wearing it on my wrist, so perhaps that throws the numbers off?)
Setting up the device was simple enough once I got into the site. You have to do the initial setup via a website, that’s also where you’ll find full instructions on how to use the device. I set it up in the morning and wore it all day but when it came time for bed I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do to put it in sleep mode. Was it push the button 2 or 3 times? Was the light supposed to flash or stay on steadily? And while I did figure out how to put it in sleep mode, it seemed that I managed to turn sleep mode off during the night sometimes. I usually wore it in the wristband at night because I found having it clipped to my pajama waistband at night kind of uncomfortable. But the nights that it stayed in sleep mode all night seemed to be fairly accurate.
The app has some quirks–for example if you go to the sleep tab it lands on a screen for the current day. Well, you usually don’t have sleep data for the current day. If you set it in sleep mode, go to bed and check it in the morning… the sleep data you just accumulated is recorded for the previous day. So it seems to weird to always land on the page that gives you a big fat zero.
You can also view a history of your data on the app, which can be useful to keep you motivated so you see how you moved more or less on any given days/weeks.
All of your data is in your app, but it also is delivered to the Fitbug website. The website figures out what it thinks your movement targets should be and sends you an email each week to remind you how you did and what your new targets are (if they’ve changed) for the week. I found the website user interface kind of muddied, it just felt like there was too much going on at once. There is also a whole nutrition component to the website so you could track your food intake.
It is powered by a lithium battery that will need to be replaced every 6 months or so. No rechargeable batteries here.
At $49.95 this is one of the most affordable quantitative health devices on the market, but I also felt frustrated by it several times… perhaps due to the fact that I have used other devices that are more sleek, both in appearance and function.