Fitbit's most affordable device yet, the $59.95 Zip, offers wireless syncing over Bluetooth with PCs and iPhones, something previous Fitbit gadgets could never do. It's water resistant as well, a feature found in many competing exercise products. Previous Fitbit users may miss the skills the Zip can't tackle, namely sleep tracking and recording stairs climbed. Other fancier gadgets, such as the Jawbone Up, and Fitbit's own Fitbit One and the upcoming Fitbit Flex, trump the Zip in terms of features, but are double the price. In a nutshell, the Fitbit Zip is a simple and less pricey way to get onboard the Fitbit training wagon.
Encased in its silicone sleeve, the Fitbit Zip is larger than both the original Tracker and Ultra devices. It also isn't a wristband-style like the popular Nike Fuelband or Jawbone Up. Even so, the Zip is still extremely portable, weighing a mere 8 grams (0.28-ounce), and it measures just 1.1 inches tall by 1.4 inches wide. At 0.38-inch thick, the pebble-shaped Zip also slips into tight pockets without much stress.
In fact, I was able to place the device into my jeans when it was still inside its silicone-and-metal clip. Of course, Fitbit says that while the Zip will function just fine resting free in pants pockets, it envisions that most people will fasten the device securely to belt loops or even clip it to their pocket linings.
Take care how you place the Zip on your person, however, since if it's not secured tightly it can become dislodged. This is especially true if it comes in contact often with heavy messenger bags or other large clothing items.
It seems that today's designers and marketers can't resist painting their product in various candy colors, and the Zip is no exception. The device itself comes in five hues: blue, magenta, white, charcoal, and lime. Fitbit also bundles a color-coordinated clip for each Zip flavor.
Aside from the stamp-size LCD screen and Fitbit logo on front, the device's smooth, curved surface is unadorned. Around back is a compartment housing the Zip's 3-volt lithium-ion battery, which Fitbit claims will last for four to six months. One big drawback to the monochrome LCD is that it lacks a backlight, making it all but useless in the dark.
The main purpose of the Fitbit Zip is identical to that of its predecessor: to log your activity level in terms of steps taken. It then uses this base figure to calculate total distance traveled and calories burned. The device also displays the current time plus a playful smiley icon if it detects you're moving around enough. If the Zip feels you're getting lazy, however, its smiley will rudely stick out its virtual tongue. Since there are no physical buttons on the Zip, you must tap it to cycle through its various screens.
One of the most useful new features included on the Fitbit Zip is its ability to sync wirelessly via Bluetooth connection. That's a big improvement over the company's previous devices, namely the Fitbit Ultra, which required an unwieldy USB base station, connected by a long cord to a PC, to transfer activity data up to the cloud. Of course, the old base stations talked to the Ultra wirelessly too, but the new arrangement is more portable.
In fact, the Fitbit Zip, Fitbit One, and upcoming Fitbit Flex products use a compact USB adapter that's more at home linked to laptops than desktop machines. Additionally, the Zip supports sharing data (also over Bluetooth) with iPhones via the Fitbit iOS app. This means you'll be able to have your stats updated in real time as long as your handset has a network connection. Android users are supported through a companion Android app, but Bluetooth syncing between phone and tracker is available only for Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 handsets.
Fitbit has also recently enhanced its companion smartphone app, both on Android and iOS, bringing a more graphical feel to the interface. Indeed, while the home screen will display information such as current steps taken, calories burned, weight, and so on, rotating the handset into landscape orientation opens an interactive graph view.