Fitbit ending support for PC music file transfers

faceless woman using devices for health monitoring
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

If you’re the owner of a Fitbit Versa, Versa 2, or Ionic, you’ll soon no longer be able to transfer music from your computer to your Fitbit device. In a support page spotted by 9to5Google, Fitbit says it’s discontinuing its Fitbit Connect app on October 13th, leaving you with only two ways to download music to your device: a paid subscription to either Pandora or Deezer… More here.

Has Fitbit ever supported the transferring of music to any of their devices in a way that made even trying to do it worthwhile? This is an area in which Apple is killing Fitbit, Garmin and the rest. Absolutely killing them.

Lose the stand ring…

“That can be a little bit of unnecessary noise,” he says. If you’re in the middle of a project or focused, the buzz to stand up can make you lose focus and even create a little anxiousness to close that ring. And according to Dr. Weinrauch, taking a few steps just for the sake of doing it isn’t going to give that many benefits. What does, however, offer big benefits is making a commitment to daily movement. So, instead of a quick lap around the room then back to the desk, he recommends making sure you’re carving out time to exercise for at least 30 or 45 minutes… More here.

Yep, the stand ring needs to go or at the very least be tweaked so that it is not so annoying. It can easily drive people away from the entire idea of a fitness watch.

The Movano Ring

Your ring measures heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep, respiration, temperature, blood oxygen, steps and calories. It can tell you why you slept the way you did, and that your resting heart rate’s higher after a few glasses of wine. It will let you know if your body temperature goes up (so find your partner if you’re trying to conceive!)… More here.

Another product coming soon and I do believe that products like this will catch on one day. The design here is intriguing, it really is.

1.7m Fitbit Ionics recalled (don’t wear them from now)

The fitness-tracking device maker Fitbit is recalling 1.7m of its Ionic smartwatches after reports of the battery overheating and burning some users.

The company, which was acquired by Google in 2021, had sold about 1m of the model in the US and nearly 700,000 internationally.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall, warning that the watch’s lithium-ion battery can overheat, causing a “burn hazard”.

The watch was recalled after Fitbit received 174 reports of its battery overheating, including cases of 118 people being burned. Many users wear the devices in bed to monitor them while sleeping… More here.

Wondering why it needed 118 people to get burned before the recall was announced? To be fair I suspect not so many people will be wearing the Ionic today because the design aged very quickly, but it was an OK watch at the time.

Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 review

You can buy the Smart Band 6 for £33.99 at this time on Amazon, but the price does vary somewhat. It can drop below £30 or nudge up a little, but wither way we are talking about a budget tracker here.

For that money you get the following (my summings up are in the brackets)-

1.56″ AMOLED track full screen (decent screen indoors and passable outdoors)
30 professional sports modes (unlikely these do much more than track heart rate etc)
130+ Full Screen Exclusive Watch Faces (most are terrible)
SpO₂ tracking (compares well with the Apple Watch and other trackers I have used)
24-Hour Heart Rate Monitoring (appears to be close to the likes of Apple and Fitbit)
Professional sleep monitoring (sleep monitoring would be more accurate)
14 Days Battery Life (this is a true assessment)
5 ATM water resistance (no experience so far of that)
Remote photo taking and music control (works very well)

That is a lot of features for the low price and in such a small and light (100 gram) package, but if you are thinking that the quality of most that you see above will be poor you would be wrong.

I have been using it for the past week and tried to push it as hard as I could, apart from a couple of days where I was sick, and overall it has proved to be a more than capable tracker.

It is supremely comfortable and strangely not noticeable when worn in bed unlike the Garmin Vivoactive 4 which despite being smaller can actually be annoying enough to wake me up. When you look at the Smart Band there is a sense that it is very high and far too wide to make sense on your dominating hand, but it does seem to just sit there and feel close to invisible. I would, however, say that if you have a wrist below 7″ in diameter you may struggle.

The strap is very soft and able to be sized easily, and the extra benefit of such a low-priced tracker is that the third party straps are also very cheap, for example 23 straps for £12.

So, it wears well and is comfortable which is the least you need from a pure fitness tracker. The initial experience, however, is mixed because the sign-in process is a real fiddle. While having some concerns about Xiaomi in terms of security and being careful what information to allow access to, I eventually managed to sign in and set up the Mi Fit app.

And the app has proven to be another surprise. It is very clean and offers the information you need without fuss and without too much coaching which can often be annoying in some competing offerings. You get a selection of faces that you can install, most of which appear to me made for 6 year-old children, and there are some genuinely useful offerings included. The fact that the new Band 6 uses the entire footprint of the display helps a lot and it ends up feeling like a fitness band that offers more visual information in a ‘smartwatch’ way than the likes of Fitbit.

I tested it with an Apple Watch on one wrist and the Band 6 on the others and the differences in steps were approximately 3% more each time which is quite impressive. Interestingly, against the Garmin Vivoactive it was 2% less so it appears to be somewhere in the middle, which I guess is where you want to be.

The SpO₂ tracking is impressive if quite slow to undertake and I would mark it as adequate. Adequate and impressive should not be in the same sentence, but consumer SpO₂ trackers are never more than adequate and the price helps to lift it up to impressive.

I have not gone deep and checked every stat and measurement, but I have used my experience with multiple Apple Watches and a huge number of trackers from Garmin, Fitbit and the rest, and I am left confused. I am confused because a lot of what I believed about trackers has been walked over by this product and in a big way.

Consumer fitness trackers are not designed to offer medical grade measurements or fitness tracking that can be assessed by serious athletes, but they can help you to get fitter and to lose weight over a longer period. And when I think about Fitbit (all Fitbit devices) and Garmin (just the fitness trackers) I genuinely believe the Band 6 to be superior in most of the important areas.

The Fitbit Charge 5 is £135 and I would argue that it is no way near as good as the Band 6 while being more than 4 times more expensive. That goes against the natural laws of consumerism and highlights that a name is not always the best indicator of quality and value. If you need a fitness tracker that does most of the basics in a consistent and genuinely useful way, I have no hesitation in recommending the Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6. It is brilliant value for money and still would be at twice the price.

Avoiding the wrist bump.

Is the Withings ScanWatch the best definition of a hybrid watch to date?

After a couple of days I think it is.

This is a very difficult area and to date every brand has failed to come up with a hybrid watch that does not deviate too much to one side or the other. Many have tried to be too watchy and ended up being unsmart and lacking on the fitness side. Others are basically smartwatches with physical hands attached and the end result is hard to use and merely a clunky nod to trying to be both.

The ScanWatch, however, feels different. It really does feel and look like a watch, and when you need to dig a little deeper you can without too much fuss and seemingly in an accurate and complete way.

I am only a couple of days in, but the thought of 30 days of battery life appeals, the simplicity of the associated app stands out instantly and first results suggest that accuracy is up there with the Apple Watch and Garmin offerings.

I will detail more in a few day’s time, but my initial impressions are that Withings has done the ScanWatch largely right in terms of form and function. It is a very impressive start.

Garmin Epix (very) In-Depth Review

Creating a ‘What’s New’ category for the Epix Gen 2 is arguably kinda tricky. After all, am I comparing it to the Gen1 brick from 7 years ago? Or am I comparing it to its realistic older sibling, the Fenix 6 series? In this case, since none of you want to see a list 918 features long of all the things Garmin has added in 7 years to all their watches (such as an optical HR sensor), I’m going with a comparison to the Fenix 6 series. As such, this portion of the review will be almost identical to that of the Fenix 7 series in terms of new features, since the two watches have almost identical software features. The only differences in software are those related specifically to power savings for the AMOLED display… More here.

If you want an in-depth review of fitness tech DC is the man you will want to read.

Why is Fitbit charging people to view their own data?

Garmin’s project lead for the Venu 2 Plus, said the company wouldn’t lock data behind a paywall. “It’s your data,” McClendon said. “We’re not charging you the ability to access your data, and that’s something we will continue to do and that we feel very strongly about.” More here.

I have been using the Fitbit Charge 5 recently, but I will not keep it purely because Fitbit charges £7.99/month after 6 months to continue viewing vast swathes of the data the device collects.

What grates is that the devices have not reduced in price and yet this subscription charge now appears. That is the worst of both worlds and I would rather use a Garmin tracker precisely for this reason. It is a big mis-step in a world where Garmin and Apple do not have such charges just to view your own data.

The Fitbit Charge 5 is good, but inconsistent

So far I must say that the Fitbit Charge 5 is a decent fitness tracker in terms of the hardware design. The screen is responsive which is unusual for Fitbit devices and also visible, in a good way, in most lighting conditions. It also sits well on the wrist meaning that it can be worn on your dominant wrist day to day and not get in the way. To add to this I would recommend a third party elastic or nylon strap to ensure true flexibility.

It is very much just a tracker with limited installed apps and very few available to install, and just a few clock faces to play with. You can only use one at a time which again means you cannot swap faces outside of the app, but as a tracker you kind of know what you should be getting. It is not a smartwatch, but Fitbit Pay works well and the interface is good enough when you consider how small a space it has to work in. For a tracker, it ticks enough boxes in my opinion.

Where it is problematic is in the consistency which knocks my faith in all trackers. On the treadmill my heart rate runs at approx 110, but on every 4th run the Fitbit stays below 70 which is definitely far from correct. I have checked the way it is attached to my wrist and also taken a quick reading on the Apple Watch so this is definitely a strange fault.

Also, in comparison to the Garmin Fenix it is a very different beast. For sleep the Garmin, and Garmin, is terrible with completely random sleep scores appearing no matter how well or bad I sleep. The Fitbit seems to be a bit more accurate, but is definitely more generous in how it judges my sleep.

For steps the Fitbit is giving approximately 10% more than the Apple Watch or Garmin which is a concern, but strangely it seems to be much cleaner and more accurate with the GPS tracks. I moved to using the iPhone for GPS in the end to preserve battery performance (the mismatch between battery % in the app and device remains) and I can see it getting 6 days on average which is OK for such a small device.

Now that I have experience Garmins, Fitbits and Apple Watches extensively over the past 5 years I am left with a concerning conclusion. I am starting to wonder if a lot of the stats we see are more algorithmic than based on direct evidence from the sensors. The differences between the various brands, and even devices from the same brand, are often too much to give confidence that they are worth wearing. Consistency is key and this can help you to get fitter so they are definitely useful, but for me I am starting to lose a little faith.

The Charge 5 is a decent product with some very odd quirks, but for now I am going to go without any smartwatch or fitness tracker for a while and will see how I get on.

Testing the Fitbit Charge 5: not the best of starts

I have been testing the Fitbit Charge 5 and after 1 day I am already struggling. My experience with Fitbit has note historically been one where I have a lot of faith in the hardware, but this is a strange start. See above and you will see the battery at 68% in the Fitbit app and this was after only 12 hours. That is disappointing for a device with a 7 day battery life claim.

Not to worry though because the Fitbit Charge itself is quoting 97% battery remaining. What is going on there? 12 hours later the app is still stating 68% with the Fitbit now at 93%- I’m confused .