So when I reviewed the FitBit just a few short months ago, I raved about just how impressive it really was.  Now flash forward a little, and they’ve gone and released the FitBit Ultra – an advanced model of what I already had in my possession.  Generally the thought is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but the people at FitBit thought to ignore that.  So is this new version worth it?  Did they add enough to justify upgrading if you already have the last generation?  Or are the new additions just superfluous little things meant to make this appeal to more people?

At first glance, the untrained eye would think that all they did was slap a new paint job on the FitBit.  Now available in a light blue or a plum (Instead of the old green), the new colors are definitely eye catching.  While I still am holding out hope that the next iteration of the FitBit will be available in a bright yellow, it’s nice to at least have a little bit of variety in color choices.  Color isn’t the only difference in the Ultra though, and all one has to do is pick it up for that to be apparent.

It’s a truly odd thing to get a pat on the back from an inanimate object, and yet that’s exactly what you can do with the new FitBit Ultra.  I don’t really know who this feature was designed for specifically, but it’s made me laugh on more than one occasion.  For example, when I was playing Dark Souls for review, I was pretty much sedentary (as one normally is while playing some games), yet I still had my FitBit on because that’s part of my morning routine.  At any rate, it sat there on the waist of my jeans inactive until I stood up to use the restroom.

It was at that moment that the front flashed with blue lettering saying “Go for it!”.  Now, I’m sure I don’t need to describe the humor I felt here, but I was definitely laughing.  I wasn’t sure how the FitBit had developed it’s apparent psychic powers, but it’s at least good for parties.  Look, in all seriousness I’m being a bit hard on this feature, but in my opinion it could have just as easily have been left out without affecting the integrity of the FitBit itself.  Maybe I’m not the target audience for that thing though, since I have a family that gives encouragement.

Fortunately, there is a really useful new feature in the FitBit Ultra, and that’s the addition of an altimeter.  Anyone that spends time daily in a building with multiple floors (like working in an office building, or living in an apartment building) will find this feature really useful.  How it works is it measures your altitude changes, and converts that to a “flights of stairs” distance number.  While I’d love to hear from someone that takes one of these on a plane, in your average everyday life it’s really pretty neat.  Even if you’re not climbing stairs, it still gives you a flight of stairs distance for height changes (say you’re hiking up a hill).  Is it perfect?  Well, no – but it works good enough to keep most people that will use it happy.

Another good feature that I’m not sure how it was overlooked in the last generation FitBit is the inclusion of a clock and stop watch.  It’s nice to not have to set the stop watch on my iPhone whenever I go out for a run, and just use the FitBit now – it’s amazing how much lighter you feel without the addition of a phone (no matter how small it may be).  Just having one less device makes it worth the price to me.

As for the rest of the FitBit Ultra’s features, they’re pretty much just the same as they were in the first iteration.  The Ultra is still a top notch pedometer, and still has some of the best free software out there.  Sure you can earn badges now for doing different things (a la Foursquare, or like Achievements on the Xbox 360), but the bulk of everything remains the same.  You can easily track your sleep, track your steps, manage your diet, and compare everything to other people if you so choose.

Now that I have a first gen and an Ultra in the house, me and my significant other constantly compete with each other to see who can get the most steps in a week.  While I’m sure I saw her slip her’s onto one of the kids last week, it’s been a close battle – and it’s inspired dialogue that we hadn’t had before.  To me, that’s one of the unspecified benefits of the FitBit; get two or more in one household, and it will inspire friendly competition and discourse.

Editor’s Score:

Rating: ★★★★½

Excellent

The Bottom Line: If you don’t have a FitBit already, this is the perfect time to jump on board – if you already have one though, you may not want to upgrade unless your daily life includes a lot of steps.

Pros:

  • The new version of the FitBit is still one of the best pedometers on the market
  • The online management software is still free for pretty much everything a normal person would need
  • The addition of an altimeter is a really good feature

Cons:

  • Still not waterproof – hopefully the next version will have that for us swimmers
  • The messages are corny, and really not needed

You can get the FitBit Ultra from the FitBit site for $99.95










Staff