iFit Active Band Review: Track your Activity, Sleep, Nutrition and More
Recently, the good folks at iFit, sent us an iFit Active band to take for a test drive. This wearable device, which retails between $49 – $59, claims to be, “designed to help you stay active, eat healthier, and sleep better”. Put down the dessert, the iFit Active band tracks it all!
According to the product description online, it says,
The Active wristband is a sporty, comfortable fitness tracker dedicated to helping you achieve an active and healthy lifestyle. It works around the clock every single day to track your calories, activity, and sleep, providing you with only the most current and accurate information at any given time.
After getting a replacement band (when the first one had some technical difficulties, even after the IT guys at work looked at it), I wore it for 3 weeks. I downloaded the app that wirelessly syncs with my phone and put it too good use. I also passed it along to fellow Minneapolis Running writer, Jennifer Fitzharris-Funk.
Here’s a breakdown of how we think the iFit Active Band performed in six areas: design, battery life, step tracking, sleep tracking, food tracking and our overall impressions.
iFit Active Band Design
Lisa: I found the iFit Active to be pretty comfortable to wear. By comparison, it’s about half the size of a Garmin 220. I wore it on my wrist, but I did take it off for some special occasions such as a first date. Though the band is made of a rubber material that feels lightweight and comfortable, it isn’t the most attractive looking piece of jewelry. For those fashionistas, the iFit can be clipped to your clothes.
The device has an LED screen where you can see all your data, and two small buttons on the top and bottom of the device which neither affected the comfort.
Jennifer: Like Lisa, I found the design and fit to be comfortable to wear throughout the day and night. It was a slim enough profile that it was able to be easily hidden underneath the sleeve of my clothing while at work. Although I will say that wearing fitness tracking devices seems to be very common at work these days, so I didn’t even need to worry about hiding it!
Lisa: I was impressed with the battery life. It lasts about five days on a full charge. However, charging the device was oddly designed. It requires you to tie the device to the electrical contacts with a special strap.
Jennifer: My first charge lasted nearly a week and a half. I was primarily using it to track steps and sleep, so it was usual minimal battery life. Once I started to use the device to track my running activities, I was able to get at least 4 days on a single charge.
Steps and Movement Tracking
Lisa: The iFit Active tracks the number of steps you take in a day, and vibrates when you achieve your daily target. My goal was to walk 10,000 steps a day which is a default option. The device taught me that I really needed to make a conscious effort to take walks during lunch and after work or else I would only average 40% of my goal.
Jennifer: I recently purchased a Garmin 920xt as my new overall training watch (which also tracks steps). As an unscientific experiment, I wore both devices simultaneously to compare accuracy in step tracking. Both devices measured close to the same number of steps (within 100 steps).
In addition, I liked the ability to set the device to notify me every hour to get up and get moving – something that’s helpful when working in a cube all day!
Lisa: The device records how much sleep you get each night, and aims to track the quality of your sleep by measuring the amount that was spent in “deep” and “light” sleep. You can also set your alarm via the app, the watch will vibrate 15 minutes—depending on your level of sleep. I wake up naturally most days, so the watch didn’t help me much. However, the days that I needed an alarm, I liked waking up to a vibrating then to a loud beeping noise.
Jennifer: My experience using the sleep function was mixed. Again, I conducted a little experiment and used the iFit, my Garmin and Sleep Cycle (an app on my phone) for a few nights. While all three tracked general sleep patterns, the iFit seems to be very sensitive to movement. I have two large dogs that sleep on the bed with me. Unless I’m an undiagnosed sleep-walker, the device was picking up the movement of my dogs. Not entirely a deal breaker, but if you’re looking for a more robust and accurate sleep tracker, the iFit may not be for you.
Lisa: With the iFit you can manually log the food you ate through the app. It calculates your caloric intake. This was probably my least favorite part of the iFit. I have used free calorie counter apps in the past, and they were better quality. The app also allows you to scan the bar-code on food products to input nutritional information. I thought the images in the app of food were awful, and the number of products you can select was limited.
Jennifer: To track your workouts, unless you have an iFit Active compatible treadmill/elliptical (a ProForm or NordicTrack), you’ll need to use your phone to start and track a workout. The app leverages your phone’s GPS functionality and tracks very basic metrics like time, distance, pace and estimated calories burned.
While I usually take my phone with me on any bike ride, I prefer to run completely device free. Having my phone with me on my run was a bit inconvenient and I didn’t know where to put it while I was running. For those of you who already run with your phone (for music or other apps) you’ll find it a great way to capture basic workout data.
Lisa: Overall, I thought the device had many great qualities. The iFit Active Band allowed me to set specific goals and alerted me when my goals were achieved. It motivated me to move more. However, the iFit had some downfalls such as poor picture quality through the app, not being waterproof, or having a heart rate monitor. I would recommend the device to basic users, but for the price of the device an athlete could find a more sophisticated tracker.
Jennifer: The iFit Active is great for anyone looking for a slim profile step tracker. It’s a great tool to encourage you to get up and move. While I didn’t use it to track nutrition, I did use it to track workouts. For me, the data was much too basic to serve as my primary workout tracker. However, if you’re only interested in tracking time and distance and you don’t mind running with your phone – it could be a great option for you to run with!
What fitness device do you use and why? Share in the comments below.