Fitbit Zip colorsMy current dilemma is deciding between a wristband or clip-on pedometer. My last post featured a review of the Fitbit Flex, a wristband pedometer. So I now chose to review the highly-rated, clip-on model, the Fitbit Zip. Hopefully this review will help you decide which one you might prefer as well.

The Fitbit Zip has a lot of the same features as the Fitbit Flex, such as the computer and mobile device connectivity. What distinguishes it from the Flex in a nutshell is that the Zip does not track sleep activity, does not have a silent alarm function, but does has an LCD display with a clock. So this is sure to please all those not liking the lack of a display on the Flex. Fitbit also added a humorous touch to the display.

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Table of Contents
Click ahead!
1. Tap Don’t Press 2. 5 Tracking Modes 3. Step Accuracy
4. Connecting Online 5. Logging Data 6. Dimensions & Weight
7. Ways to Wear 8. Battery Info 9. Accessories
10. Pros 11. Cons 12. Consumer Reviews 13. Price

“Whack it, Thump it, Tap it!”

I’m actually quoting the Fitbit website that all you need to do to access the data on your display is to “whack it, thump it or tap it” as there are no buttons to press. But note that you are meant to do the whacking, thumping or tapping with your finger and not against a hard surface or you’ll end up with a broken Zip! After 20 seconds of inactivity, the display will go to sleep and turn back on when movement begins again.

With each tap the Zip changes its display to any one of the following 5:

  • Steps taken
  • Distance traveled
  • Calories burned
  • Current activity level
  • Clock

The 5 Tracking Modes and Why #5 is Hilarious!

The Fitbit Zip is constantly tracking (even when the display is asleep):

  1. Steps: Your current daily steps taken, walking or running
  2. Distance: Your current daily distance traveled
  3. Calories burned: Your current daily calories burned
  4. Fitbit Smiley : ) emoticon: Your current activity level
  5. Fitbit Unhappy : P emoticon: If you’ve been lazy then prepare to see this unhappy emoticon. I’m just being polite calling it unhappy because it’s really sticking out its tongue at you. Cheeky little devil, I must say LOL. Good to know Fitbit has a sense of humor!Fitbit-Zip-emoticons

The Accuracy Verdict

The Fitbit Zip like the Fitbit Flex uses a MEMS tri-axis accelerometer which basically means it is able to measure your movements in any position, vertically, horizontally, etc. that the tracker is worn.

If you wear the Zip as recommended by Fitbit, the accuracy rate for counting steps should be 95 to 97% according to the Fitbit website. Customer reviews indicate overall satisfaction with its step tracking accuracy.

Adding your personal stride length will also help increase the step tracking accuracy. Go to your Fitbit dashboard and click on Settings at the top right to access the stride length option.

Fitbit Activity mobileFor other activities such as cycling, yoga, zumba, stair climbing, swimming and workouts on stationary exercise equipment like treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bicycles, the Zip may register actual steps but the accuracy may be lacking.

However, the accuracy may improve depending where you wear the tracker. Many customers have reported good accuracy tracking by wearing the Zip in their sock or tied to their shoelaces while working out on a treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike or stair climbing. This is a real plus for all those who live in winter climates that make it hard to step outdoors when conditions are treacherous and bitingly cold and otherwise prevent them from pursuing their activity goals.

Surprisingly, one user was able to get accurate sleep activity tracking by wearing the Zip on the waistband of his/her pajama bottom. The dashboard showed her movements during the night, recording her steps to the bathroom and none while she slept.

Your best option, however, would be to manually enter the time of your activity or workout on the dashboard or mobile device app and the Zip will calculate the number of calories burned based on your activity level and the height, weight, age and gender among other information you entered in your initial personal profile setup. More activities completed and entered will also boost your activity level and the Fitbit Smiley emoticon will look on you approvingly. Ha!

Computer & Mobile Device Easy Connection

All the requirements and setup information for computer (Macs and PCs) and mobile device (iOS and Android) connectivity to the Fitbit Zip are the same as the Fitbit Flex which I covered in my previous post in full detail. You can read it here:

Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband Review.

To sum up, there are a few first easy steps you must take before you can begin to log in all your data.

Computer:
Download and install the free Fitbit Connect software on your computer.
Create an account with a username and password and log in.
Follow directions to link your Zip to your Fitbit.com account.
While still logged into your account, plug your USB wireless sync dongle into your computer, make sure your Zip is within 20 feet of your computer.

Mobile devices:
Download and install the free Fitbit App (Apple iTunes for iOS and Google Play for Androids) on your mobile device.
Enable Bluetooth 4.0 on your mobile device and Fitbit App.
Open the Fitbit App, log into your Fitbit.com account.
Link your Zip to your device by using the Fitbit App (not through Bluetooth).
Syncing will occur automatically through Bluetooth every time you open your Ftibit App.
Fitbit online connect
NOTE:

  • You can pair only one Fitbit tracker to one account. So if you have multiple Fitbit trackers in your household, you need to create a new account with a different email address for each one.
  • You can still view your progress stats using the Fitbit App should your smartphone or tablet not be compatible with Bluetooth 4.0.
  • You must be logged into your Fitbit.com account to be able to sync your data.
  • You can choose to sync data using either your USB dongle on your computer or the Fitbit App on your mobile device.

Fitbit does an excellent job on their website and manual with easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions on how to connect and sync your Fitbit tracker to your computer and mobile devices like smartphones or tablets.

While being able to easily track your progress online or from your mobile app is really great, what I love most is the social aspect. You can connect with friends and family and even strangers and share and compare your performances. You can even set up challenges and competitions. Fitbit even has a Facebook group you can join. Who needs an exercise buddy when you can reach out to a whole bunch of buddies for motivation?

Logging It All In

So now you are ready to go online to your Fitbit.com account. You must log in from your computer or mobile device to view and enter all your recent fitness data using the online dashboard or the Fitbit App.

Fitbit dashboard
You need to manually log in the start time and duration of activity workouts (like cycling, swimming, tennis or yoga) where step counting may not be accurate. Logging data manually also comes in handy if you forget to clip on your Zip; just enter the distance you walked or ran.

Although the Fitbit Zip does not track your heart rate, you can manually log your resting, normal, and exertion heart rate, blood pressure and blood glucose measurements.

The ability to log in your food intake makes it an excellent tool for customizing your weight loss plan. It calculates the amount of calories you should eat each day to reach your goal weight and then depending on your activity level for the day, it adjusts the amount. So if you’ve had a really active day, you are allowed to eat more to make up for the calories you’ve burned! How’s that for motivation all wrapped up in a pretty bow!

At midnight of the time zone you selected in your profile, the Zip conveniently resets automatically to zero. The data registered so far on your tracker will not be deleted. Next time you sync your Zip. the data will be transferred to your online dashboard and mobile app.

Fitbit Zip syncThe Fitbit Zip will register and keep up-to-the-minute data of your daily steps, calories burned, and distance traveled for up to 7 days without syncing and your daily activity summary for up to 30 days. Even though it is not necessary to sync every day (although it is recommended) you definitely must sync within 30 days to be able to access and view all your data on your online dashboard.

All your stats are stored on your online Fitbit.com account and not on your computer and Fitbit takes the extra step of also backing it up safely on their servers.

You will also receive an email once a week with a summary of all your stats. I especially love this because I work on a computer all day long and the last thing I want to do in the evening back at home is to log into my computer again. A weekly summary suits me just fine. If you are working with a personal trainer or a doctor on a fitness or health plan, these weekly stats can be conveniently forwarded to them so they can keep an eye on your progress.

Dimensions & Weight

The Fitbit Zip is available in 4 colors on Amazon: charcoal, blue, lime and magenta but Fitbit.com also has the color white as a standard color.

Small and light the Fitbit Zip measures:

  • 1.4 inches (35.5 mm) in height,
  • 1.1 inches (28mm) in width,
  • 0.38 inch (9.65 mm) in depth,

and weighs 0.282 oz. (0.018 lb, 8 grams).

Small, Discreet and Colorful

Fitbit-Zip-coupleThe Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker can be worn in a shirt or pants pocket, on a belt or waistband, or on a bra. Users have suggested wearing it with the display facing in to prevent it knocking against something and thus making it more secure. Play around with the different ways of wearing it until you find which one is the most comfortable to you.

Its small size makes it very discreet so beware not to forget to remove it from your clothing before doing the laundry. Surprisingly, users have reported the Zip coming out unscathed even after going through a washer/dryer beating. I’m not willing to take that risk, not intentionally anyway.

Customers have reported that the silicone clip seems to be very durable and reliable and less likely to fall off or come unclipped. If you have a latex allergy, Fitbit claims the clip to be safe and will not cause itching, chafing or a rash.

It’s good to know that it is sweat, rain, and splash proof (especially the sweat part!) but Fitbit warns not to wear it to go swimming as it is not waterproof.

All About the Battery

The Fitbit Zip uses a replaceable lithium 3V coin battery CR2025 which usually lasts from 4 to 6 months. The good news is that the battery is quite inexpensive to replace. Amazon sells a set of 5 for about $3.

A little battery door tool is included with your purchase. If not, you can use a coin. Just make sure after installing or replacing the battery with the numbers facing up that you lock the battery door snug and flush with back of the tracker.

Users suggest always having an extra battery on hand as there is not much notice given before the battery runs dry but not to worry, any tracked data will not be lost if it does.

If you experience a problem with very short battery life, you need to make sure you have installed the latest firmware updated version by going on your computer to the Main Menu of Fitbit Connect and clicking the Check For Device Update or using the Fitbit App for your mobile devices.

To conserve battery life, your Zip sleeps during periods of inactivity. Zip will go to sleep after approximately 20 seconds if no steps are recorded. Once your Zip is asleep, its display will remain off until movement is noted.

A battery icon will appear on your Zip display when the battery has drained to 25%. A flashing battery icon indicates that your Zip is very close to being drained. Data could be lost if your Zip is not synced before replacing the battery. You can also check your battery level by logging into your dashboard.

What You Get

Included with your purchase of the Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker:

  • Fitbit Zip Tracker
  • Matching clip made of silicone and plastic (some call this a skin)
  • USB wireless sync dongle
  • Replaceable 3v lithium CR2025 button battery
  • Battery door tool, and
  • Free Fitbit.com account
  • Free Fitbit App

On Amazon you have the choice of 4 colors (charcoal, blue, lime and magenta) with matching clips (or skins).
Fitbit.com also offers white as a standard color.

Be sure to check the price before choosing your color as certain colors are higher priced.

What’s To Like

  • Social connections prove to be a great source of motivation to become active and healthy
  • Excellent customer service
  • Great online help
  • Excellent easy-to-navigate, informative website
  • Great online community and forum
  • Light and unobtrusive to wear
  • No need to recharge battery
  • No cables to hook up
  • Satisfactory step accuracy
  • Weekly email progress report
  • Fun color selection
  • Can sync with the Fitbit Aria scale
  • Least expensive of all Fitbit activity trackers
  • Computer and mobile device setup easy
  • Simple, easy to use dashboard interface
  • Progress stats available on my computer and mobile device
  • Syncs data wirelessly
  • LCD display
  • Clip is sturdy and reliable
  • Good battery life, no charging required
  • Battery inexpensive to replace (Amazon sells a 5-pack for about $3)
  • Rain, splash and sweat proof
  • Syncs wirelessly to computer and mobile device
  • Online achievement badges
  • Fitbit users average 43 percent more steps each day
  • Has a clock on the display
  • 45-day Return Policy and 365-day Limited Warranty
  • Printed and online manual available

What’s Not To Like

  • No alarm feature
  • No sleep activity tracker
  • No altimeter for stair climbing tracking
  • Battery not rechargeable
  • Not waterproof
  • No GPS

Customer Reviews for the Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker

The Fitbit Zip is high on the Amazon bestseller list receiving a 5-stars rating from over 1400 customers and a 4-stars rating from over 300 users. Those are a lot of happy customers!

Customers reported being pleased with Zip’s step tracking accuracy and the sturdiness of the clip. Overall, I did not come across any major complaints from customers so the Zip’s high rating is rightly deserved.

What really stands out for me are the many reports of Fitbit’s excellent customer service and online help. It seems they keep track of any low rating and comment right away with a suggestion to work with their support group to help you and find a solution. To me this shows a company that cares about the quality of its products. Problem that they fixed later?

The Price is Just Right for the Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker

For a basic pedometer with computer and smartphone connectivity, the Fitbit Zip is a great deal at about $50 varying a few dollars more or less depending on the color you choose with the charcoal color being the least costly.

The Zip is the cheapest of all the Fitbit pedometers and even though the battery is replaceable and not rechargeable, it is very inexpensive with a pack of 5 selling for about $3 on Amazon.

Uncomplicated and easy to use, the Zip’s appeal reaches out to both young and old, to the tech geeks as well as the less tech knowledgeable.

Fitbit pedometers are excellent choices for people who need encouragement to take their first step to reach their fitness goals because Fitbit excels in the motivational aspect of their products due to their online performance feedback and social community interaction. Fitbit claims on their website that users average 43% more steps daily.

With the Fitbit Zip they added the funny extra emoticons to give you an extra push. Have an active day and the Fitbit Smiley will look back at you approvingly. Have a lazy day and risk the wrath of the Unhappy emoticon sticking its tongue at you!

Filed under: Reviews

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