The Fitbug Orb is a relatively inexpensive activity tracker that not only helps you track your steps and aerobic activity, but it can also track your sleep and comes with a digital coach named KiK who gives you a little kick when you you need some inspiration to get moving. Let’s see if the Fitbug Orb is the right gadget to help get you off the couch.
Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.
The first important thing you need to know about the Fitbug Orb is that you’ll need one of the following devices to use with it: iOS – iPhone 4s/5 or later, iPad 3rd gen or later, iPad touch 5th gen or later, Android: Samsung Galaxy S4, S4 mini or Note 8.0. If you don’t have any of those devices, don’t panic. You can still use the Orb. You’ll just need to purchase a USB dongle ($14.99) that will allow you to sync the Orb’s data to your PC or Mac.
Since the Orb isn’t compatible with my Samsung Galaxy S3 or my Nexus 7 tablet, I did all my testing with a first gen iPad mini.
The Orb is quarter sized round plastic device that is powered by one CR2032 coin cell battery that lasts up to 6 months. This activity tracker features a 3-axis accelerometer that accurately measure your steps and movements. Using one of the included holders, you can wear it clipped to your waist band or pocket like you see above or on your wrist using the included wristband. There is no need to calibrate the tracker, just clip it on and start walking.
The tracker setup is done on your computer through your web browser. But if you want to see your activity data, you’ll need one of the mobile devices listed above and/or the USB dongle for your PC/Mac.
The iOS app isn’t the prettiest app I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t really feel like it has been written for a touch device because the text and controls are too small. That said, it’s easy enough to view your activity and sleep data. There are two today screens that show your total steps with a breakdown of your aerobatic steps and distance.
The history screens allow you to see the past 2 weeks of activity data, with certain colors defining the days where goals were met.
The Fitbug Orb also tracks your sleep, which is a feature you tend to only see on more expensive activity trackers. It will show the total hours you slept and the times when your sleep was interrupted.
You can track your sleep by pressing the button on the Orb three times before you go to bed. The LED will flash to let you know that the sleep mode has been activated. To turn off sleep mode, you hold down the button until the light flashes again or walk fifty steps.
The mobile app is fine for a quick look at your progress throughout the day, but you’ll need to login to your web based Fitbug account in order to set your goals, enter foods and access other tools.
If your goal is to lose weight, you can enter your current weight, desired weight and also track the foods you eat throughout the day so that your burned calories can be determined. I started out at 139 and entered my goal at 130. During the couple of weeks that I’ve been testing the tracker, I have lost 2 pounds. I find it a little annoying that the goal page doesn’t have a smily face. Instead it looks like a “you’re a slacker” face, which isn’t very encouraging if you ask me.
It’s also unclear to me how the daily step targets are set. It seems that 3000 steps has been chosen for me, with 1200 of those steps needing to be aerobic. I find no where on the web app or mobile app where I can adjust that number. 3000 steps is less than 1/3rd of the steps I typically consider as my daily goal (10,000).
Most activity trackers have some type of status display on the tracker itself so you can see how well you’re doing as the day progresses. The Fitbug doesn’t offer this. You’ll need to sync your data with your mobile device or computer in order to see your accumulated activity. The Orb does have three different modes though. On-demand, Beacon and Stream. With On-demand, you press the button on the Orb to manually sync the data to your device or computer. Press the button twice to switch to Stream mode. In this mode, your steps will update on the mobile app as you walk. And lastly, Beacon mode allows you to set syncing to regular intervals such as every 15, 30, 45 minutes.
The Fitbug also features KiK, the digital coach. This is basically just an automated emailer that sends messages to you for motivation to get up and move. These emails can be turned off if they start to annoy you ;o)
The lack of better Android support and the need for a separate USB dongle for your computer makes this tracker less desirable for some people, but the biggest problem that I see with the Orb is that it lacks any type of on-device status display. You don’t know how close you are to your daily target until you sync your data to your iPhone or your computer. I like instant gratification, so my tracker has to have some easy method to see my progress. The Fitbug Orb fails that requirement for me.
The Fitbug Orb is an inexpensive activity tracker that offers step, aerobic and sleep tracking in a small easy to use device that isn’t too hard on your wallet. If you have a newer iOS device and don’t mind the lack of a status display, this tracker is one option that can help you track your activity and reach your fitness goals.