Having trialled the MovBand, and compared the Fitbit Flex and Polar Loop all in the last year or so, I seem to have become a bit of an exercise/fitness tracker connoisseur, and most days you can usually find me wearing one. So when Fitbug got in contact about reviewing their Fitbug Orb, I was very intrigued to see how it would match up to the other exercise and fitness trackers I’ve tried.
Fitness trackers range in price from the MovBand probably being right at the lower end at £27.99 (though bear in mind it only measures steps and ‘movs’ and currently has no app facility) right up to £100+ for the more advanced trackers. The Fitbug Orb pitches itself in the middle of that market, with an RRP of £49.95.
To take a step backwards for a minute, you may wonder why someone would want to use an exercise or fitness tracker. I think the main thing here is motivation. Tracking your steps and movements each day is a great way to understand more about your routine, how active you really are, and where you could look for more opportunities to get moving. Seeing your daily steps, time spent active, miles walked and calories burned can be extremely motivating. Many activity trackers (including the Orb) allow you to add your food choices throughout the day using an app or a website (in the Orb’s case it’s its website) or even link it to MyFitnessPal so you can see how you’re offsetting activity with your nutritional choices.
The Orb was easy to set up and get started with. You register your Orb on its web portal and then link it to the Fitbug app using bluetooth. You can also purchase a bluetooth dongle to directly input into the web portal (this doesn’t come in the box).
Fit/wearing the Orb
The Orb can be worn around your wrist like a watch, or alternatively you can use the clip to clip it on to your clothes, or there’s a lanyard in the box too – so you have a lot of different options for how to wear it, which is definitely appealing. I have pretty small wrists and I actually had to wear the Orb on its tightest setting meaning that the rest of the strap was tucked underneath – if I was keeping the Orb I’d probably trim the strap but mine was a press sample so thought I’d better not! The Orb itself slips inside the watch strap – on one occasion it slipped out so you have to be careful with how you insert it to avoid losing it. The strap came undone on one occasion too, so I made sure I kept tabs on it and ensured it was all clicked into place at all times.
Day to day tracking
I’ve been using the Orb for just under a week now. During that time I’ve used the app constantly to keep track of my steps and miles and minutes of activity. I’ve found it accurate and the app setup is clean and easy to use. I haven’t used the nutrition option as a) calorie counting is not really important to me and b) I don’t have frequent enough internet access to be able to routinely use the web portal, but I’d imagine this would be a useful feature if you wanted to focus on tracking both your food intake and your exercise. You can click the button on the Orb to push your stats to the app, which worked really well for me – I had issues with both the Fitbit Flex and Polar Loop apps not syncing properly but the syncing function works really well on this.
This is a quick snap of the web portal. I haven’t been given enough review time for my targets to be set up yet but once I’d used it for the full week I assume this would all show how close I was to my allocated targets.
The Fitbug Orb will also track your sleep – you click the button three times before you go to sleep and it charts your time asleep and the quality of your sleep. This is a function on the Fitbit Flex too that can be useful to track your sleep over time and see how that contributes to how active you are. It can be really insightful to see just how often you wake up and how much you move around!
Fitbug emails and newsletter
One function that is unique to the Orb (or at least that I’ve seen) is the emails you receive from them on a daily basis. For the first week, the Orb tracks your activity and nutrition, and then acts almost like a personal trainer, creating daily step targets that you can use to hit your 30 minutes of daily exercise target. You can also add non-step based activities online, like yoga or weights, to ensure that your full activities are recorded (as, like most fitness trackers, it uses an acceleromoter that finds it difficult to track these). You also get emailed a ‘Bugzine’ newsletter which has all kinds of health and fitness tips, even recipes and wellbeing advice.
Overall, I’d say that the Orb is definitely worth its price-tag and would be a useful tool for keeping motivated if you wanted to track fitness and nutrition and were looking to spend £50 or less. One huge advantage of the Orb over other fitness trackers is the fact that it uses a watch battery, rather than having to charge over USB which the other fitness trackers I’ve tried all do. It can be so frustrating having to unclip it and charge these, especially when you forget and are going out for the day, so a watch battery is a huge plus for me.
The personal trainer emails and personalised tracking is another big advantage (provided you don’t mind daily emails!) and something that is a real seller for the Fitbug as its targets are all bespoke to you and your health questionnaire (you complete this when you first register your Orb).
The flexibility to wear the Orb in different ways is also a big plus – I have heard that the steps tracking is more accurate when you wear it in your pocket than on your wrist which is one consideration – it also helps if you are fashion conscious and don’t fancy the wrist strap option!
The only thing that other trackers like the Polar Loop and Fitbit Flex have on the Orb is that there’s no indication on the Orb display of how you’re doing (both the Flex and the Loop have display bars that indicate whether you’ve met your goal). But the app works well and if you always have your phone to hand then this shouldn’t put you off.
I’d also be slightly concerned that the Orb might slip out of the strap, or that the strap might come off – more wearing would show whether this is a real issue, but fingers crossed just checking it’s clipped in properly should eliminate this.
Have you tried the Fitbug Orb? Have you used any other activity or fitness trackers?
You can buy the Fitbug Orb on their website for £49.95.
( I was provided with a press sample for review – all opinions are my own )