Anyone who has read my previous posts on Fitbit knows that I fell in love with my Fitbit Flex almost at first sight. It was an unhealthy infatuation.

I am going to take a gander and say that Flex is probably the best tracker Fitbit has put in the market to date, including the new Charge, ChargeHR and Surge. I am basing this on personal experience as well as reviews I have read.

My Flex was thin enough that it could go unnoticed; and, since it came out of the band, I could always hide it elsewhere. The band was a simple silicone band with a tiny plastic ‘screen.’ It was accurate on steps and distance, once I inputted my stride length. It gave me all the information I needed to push a bit further every day. It also helped me realize when I had overdone it, and help me avoid doing it again. Simply: The Flex is a great tracker. However, it is not a great wearable.

Let’s face it: as activity trackers go, the Fitbit Flex is perfect for everyday business casual. You can even dress it up, if you are a woman. Of course, it gets extra points for being small and easily placed out of sight for more formal occasions. 

I ‘loved’ my Flex, until after 4 months I got a bad rash that would not go away despite replacing the band. Nothing would help the problem: not disinfecting it with 70% isopropyl alcohol, not drying it constantly, not wearing it looser, nothing. The last couple of months, I wore it in a pocket or inside my bra, and used the band only when actively exercising. Those few hours a week seemed to be enough to keep the rash from going away. But, that is not why I sent it back to Fitbit. No, I was willing to abide the rash and keep buying new bands every 2 months. 

Ultimately, after 7 months, it died. Yes! It died. 

After only 7 months, it would say that it was fully charged, but it would not sync and then the next day the “full charge” would be completely exhausted. This happened in a matter of a week. 

Going through Fitbit Customer Service was no picnic either. It certainly was better than enduring Misfit’s lack of response after 5 days of contact. They also issued a refund quite quickly upon receipt of my unit (though the check stated I lived in Ontario, Canada). 

It is possible that I received a defective unit. No worries. I waited until the ChargeHR came out, and placed my order. What a disappointment!

Remember my description of the Flex band? Simple silicone band with tiny “screen.” The Flex band is so simple one would think it would look cheap. It certainly showed its wear fast, but it never looked cheap – just non-descript. The ChargeHR, however, looked cheap – a great feat given it’s $149.99 price tag. It’s basically a slightly wider band than the recalled Fitbit Force. However, the ‘screen’ – not as tiny – is too shiny, and the pattern makes it look tacky, instead of rugged. Then add the buckle and we have an overpriced tracker that looks like a $10 watch from Walmart, no offense to said watches (they can be quite practical). 

I went through the setup process for the ChargeHR, put it on and regretted having waited for a month just to be disappointed. It purports to be Fitbit Flex’s rich cousin, but it’s in fact a poor impostor. The Heart Rate Sensor sticks out from the back and fits uncomfortably. It must be worn at least one finger-width from the wrist bone, in the forearm. And, it is anything but inconspicuous. 

Once it was set up, it crowded the app with extra functions. It would not actually give an heart rate reading. The app said it would have to make some calculation while I slept before the heart rate readings would show (what?). It’s great that they added stair climbing and automatic sleep detection (like Misfit Shine/Flash have, at a much lower price tag). It’s awful that they included bluetooth pairing for notifications. Is this an activity tracker or a social media device? When I am exercising, it is ‘me time.’ I certainly do not want anyone intruding. What I love the most about my gym is that there is no cell reception pass the lobby. 

The worse part: the ChargeHR is NOT waterproof, not even showerproof. Now, the Flex could go swimming, as per the Fitbit site, but the Charge and ChargeHR cannot even go in the shower? That is what my brother calls ‘an epic fail.’ I expected something better than the product I already loved (despite all its shortcomings and there were plenty), but instead I received a sophomoric representative of what was theoretically a great product. The ChargeHR was great in theory, but Fitbit did not pull it off in execution.

Having seen the Fitbit ChargeHR in action, I say, save the extra $30 and buy a Charge instead of a ChargeHR. There is nothing wrong with wearing a chest strap, and I am sure it will be far more accurate. 

That’s it for my relationship with Fitbit and its trackers, at least for now, though I do not foresee a turn around at this point. Maybe they would see some improvement if their product was made in Korea instead of China; I noticed smoother bands in other products originated there. 

Regardless, I have not forsaken Fitbit altogether. I plan to keep my Aria scale, despite all the shortcomings of its own.

Happy tracking!