Of Things Fitness-y and Bit-y, and Wearable Nerdiness

So, after a few weeks of water-related issues, I managed to lose my Fitbit Flex. Specifically, I was loading the car for the cottage run, and kept catching the strap on things I was loading into the car, popping the catch on it, and it falling off. So, I put it on the roof of the car, and said to myself “Don’t forget you put that there”.

And promptly forgot it there. @thirtyyearhouse says she thinks she saw a “black circular thingy” fly off the car once we hit highway speeds. Which would pretty much define a fitbit in its black wrist strap.

So, I done fucked that up.

What she has also suggested is replacing it.


This put me to thinking: I’ve had some issues with it recently: after some wear, it seems the straps seal around the bit itself … less well. Which means my fitbit has spent more time in a bag of rice in the last three weeks, than it has on my wrist, where it actually does something for me.

Don’t get me wrong: I like it. And, surprisingly, I like the data. I use a combination of the fitbit itself, MyFitnessPal for food tracking, and Strava for my cycling endeavours (and soon to be running endeavours… I think. I don’t want to talk about it. Ugh. Running). THey all report back to each other, and combine the data. And, despite my English degree, it turns out I like data and metrics. Hunh.

So, having something on my wrist giving me information is definitely something that’ll happen again. But, will it just be a fitbit replacement? Given the issues with water intrusion, and the straps inability to keep the bit dry, I’m not 100% sure.

The two primary competitors actually have a head-to-head review, and it puts them pretty equal… until you read the comments (Never read the comments, I know, but in this case, some glaring issues start coming to light).

Fitbit Surge

On paper, the Surge is actually a pretty easy choice: it’s an extension of what I already have… had. I like the interface, so, just keeping going? Decent.

But, once you start reading reviews, and user experiences? It’s… not good.

Turns out, they’re sporadically not waterproof (despite on paper being good to 50m). More like water resistant. There’s a lot less actual smartwatch functionality than you’d expect at the $250-$300 price-point, and the exercise stuff (the device’s “raison d’etre”) is also lacking (the GPS isn’t that accurate, and the heart-rate monitor is beyond substandard). Finally, the cycling mode is, when and if it works, lackluster at best. The screen is also a small, monochrome number. There’s nothing specifically wrong with it, but at the same time, there’s nothing great about it: it looks old and boring, and kind of is.

In other words, they want to play the game, but not pay the price. Which kinda sucks.

Fitbit’s lack of bike-interactivity is known to me: with the Flex, I use Strava on my phone, which feeds to MyFitnessPal, which is in turned imported as “exercise” by fitbits own connection the MFP. Without MFP, I wouldn’t have that interaction of cycling exercise. Also,t he near universal hate of the Surge is terrifying. People REALLY don’t like it, and it’s for functional reasons (bad GPS tracking, lack of/hit’n’miss waterproofing, HR monitor that doesn’t work properly during exercise, etc, and, even with all that, the smart stuff isn’t actually that good (text messages and email only, no social media notifications, etc). Pretty much a fail across the board.

So, I googled a few other options (basically, “fitbit Surge vs [other brand] review”) and found then Garmin Vivoactive

And this one looks good. It’s got some drawbacks: no big surprise in a developing tech. There’s no built in HR monitor (which is not a huge loss, from what I’m seeing: none of the IR based ones seem to work that well) and it can connect to an external strap-style, which seems to be preferable. The screen takes some getting used to, but is a great power saver, and works fantastically as-is in bright sun. It also seems to excel at being a smart device (such as their able to at this point).

Most importantly for me, it appears the Garmin is fantastic for cycling. I mean, it’s sitll mostly a runners world in terms of wearable tech, but the cycling stuff is really coming along, and it appears Garmin is doing it right.

There’s a couple of others that look great, but aren’t so big on the fitness stuff, which IS the whole point of the exercise. They’re excellent devices, by all accounts, but more cellphone companions, rather than fitness bands/devices.

What are they? Well, the Moto360, and LG G Watch R. While they’re not really fitness oriented, they’re both very cool devices, and very pretty.

Ugh, really undecided. It’s probably smarter just to get a regular fitbit again. But I do loooooooooooooove technology.

This will probably take a while.


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