Fitness Tracker Showdown: FitBit vs Nike+ FuelBand vs BodyMediaFIT

Convenience

  • BodyMedia: A+ in the winter, B+ any time you can’t wear sleeves
  • FuelBand: A-, because the USB-adapter would be way too easy to forget
  • FitBit: B+, for the same reason

During the winter, the armband would probably be pretty convenient, because you could put it on an forget about it. The same is true with the FuelBand. The FitBit, though, is a little harder to remember–I accidentally left it clipped to a bra that I didn’t bring with me over a long weekend, which was disappointing.

All three are easy to charge, too–and all three are testaments to the creativity of product developers. FitBit sits on a little stand, which is cool, while the FuelBand uses a USB adapter that plugs into the bracelet itself. That feature has wowed more than a few design nerds I know.

The BodyMedia wins the easiest charging, though; it uses the same micro USB that my phone uses, which means I don’t have to carry a separate charger like I do for the others. That feature alone makes it best for travel–assuming you’re traveling somewhere that you’ll be wearing a sweater or jacket. And while they all have long-lasting batteries, BodyMedia also re-charges the fastest, hands-down.

body media fitness tracker

Here's the BodyMedia online interface--nice, right?

Affordability

  • BodyMedia: B-
  • FuelBand: B+
  • FitBit: A+

If you’re judging affordability on price alone, the FuelBand (which is about $150) is the most expensive. The BodyMedia armband that I used is about $120, while the Bluetooth enabled one is comparable to the FuelBand. The FitBit is the least expensive–it’s just $99.

But here’s the rub: The BodyMedia also requires, after three free months, a monthly fee to use its online interface. It’s just $7 per month, but over time, that makes it much more costly than the others. But if you don’t mind shelling out the price of two lattes (to put it in the public radio parlance) each month, the very-useful interface and “personal training” might be worth it.

Overall grade

All three of these trackers are great in their own way. The FitBit is tiny, easy-to-use, super-friendly, and very customizable. The FuelBand is perfect for serious athletes who like intense workouts, clear metrics, and aren’t that concerned about weight loss. The BodyMedia is good for data geeks who like the idea of an actual set of sensors monitoring their body, and for those who want to get serious about weight loss.

But, when factoring in affordability, appearance, and usability, I’d have to grade them as such:

  • BodyMedia: B…though with a better method of use (i.e., not that armband), it could easily be bumped up to an A, due to convenience of charging.
  • FuelBand: A-, but only because it didn’t also offer anything dietary.
  • FitBit: A, because it’s the friendliest, least expensive, and (assuming you don’t forget it), easiest to wear.

In the end, the FitBit was still my favorite–but I don’t think it’s because of my previous bias. I was more than prepared for one of the other trackers to totally win me over, but neither was quite as complete-feeling as the FitBit. Though I’m pretty sure if BodyMedia could get the wearability issue ironed out (and make it a little more affordable), they’ve be an easy contender.

And really, even if you choose a super-basic pedometer, any kind of fitness tracker is going to help you get motivated and move more. Which, if your goal is to get healthy and be more active, any one of these fun toys can help you get there–because you’re already starting with the right attitude.

Images: Mine, or from the respective websites

Share This Post:
    • KRose

      What a fantastic, thorough article. Believe it or not you won me over to BodyMedia, despite the clunky gear. I think these would all also make great Christmas gifts.

    • Julie

      I’ve been waiting to hear what you thought. Great review! But, I still don’t know which one I want. Pluses and minuses in every direction. Thanks for doing the work!

    • Savannah

      Loved the review, but it was missing one major component: how accurate were the result? Did each device give the same numbers for calories burned? Were they all equally able to track non-running activities? Were the sleep figures accurate on the two devices that track sleep?

      All the wearability stuff is great, but doesn’t mean anything if the data is wrong. Can you do another article comparing the data? Thanks!

    • Meghan

      I LOVE my fitbit. I have had it for about 7 months now and mine has never stopped working. It even took a swan dive into the toilet one AM and I was clipping it off my PJ’s. And the fitbit does track your sleep patterns if you wear it to bed :) I routinely sleep between 96-99% :)

    • Samantha Harrison

      Hi Hanna,

      Thanks for taking the time to review BodyMedia FIT! We are glad you found it to be the most accurate of the devices you tested. We do pride ourselves on the wealth of information it provides to our users so that they can make the healthiest choices. Thank you also for your suggestion about the arm strap. The band does ensure that we collect the most accurate information directly from your body, and it is nice to hear from fashion conscious users!

      Keep us updated on your progress!

      - Samantha (BodyMedia)

    • onthgo

      The fitbit will also track an individual activity, so you can find out how many steps, calories, flights, etc you did during a gym workout, run, etc. It also tracks sleep the same way, just press and hold the button til the timer starts, hit stop when the activity is over. It will tell you how long it took you to fall asleep, how many times you woke up, how long you slept and your sleep efficiency. I love my FITBIT!

    • http://drinkinsider.blogspot.com/ @DrinkPro

      I know I’m a year and a half late, but, this was a great read and very informative. I appreciate your attention to details and simple explanations that any consumer should be enjoy while reading reviews. It just so has it that my company included this as one of the three choices of gifts they offer each year and it is also the one I chose. You just made my pick seem a whole lot better. Thanks.