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BodyMedia FIT LINK Activity Monitor with Bluetooth Apps - Review

Bluetooth-Enabled to Pair with Phone Apps

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By

Updated November 03, 2012

BodyMedia FIT LINK Activity Monitor

BodyMedia FIT LINK Activity Monitor

Courtesy of Pricegrabber
I first reviewed the BodyMedia FIT activity monitor in 2009. It is a powerful system for monitoring your physical activity and sleep quality and tracking your diet and calorie balance. But I was dissatisfied that you were tied to your computer to upload and view your data. The LINK armband uses Bluetooth 2 to transmit the activity data to cell phone apps for the iPhone® and Android™. You can also use the apps to input your food and track your calorie balance throughout the day. As a bonus, the apps come with a real-time workout feature.

Not Computer-Independent

You still need to be able to connect to a computer USB port to upload sleep quality data and to view full details of your physical activity. If you only have a cell phone or a iPad and no USB connection/upload manager program, you won't be able to use all of the BodyMedia features. The LINK connection with the cell phone app is a nice way to have a real-time monitor of your activity, but you still need a computer for the full data uploads.

Using the Bluetooth Connection
With the cell phone app, you have the choice to maintain the Bluetooth 2 connection as always on (which will drain your battery faster) or to close it on exiting the app. I chose to close on exit to preserve my battery power throughout the day. Then when you want to see your activity, you open up the app on your cell phone, press the button on the LINK armband and it re-links with the app and updates your physical activity totals.

At times I had difficulty in getting the armband to link via Bluetooth. This was pretty frustrating and I was often going into my Settings on my iPhone 4s to reconnect the armband Bluetooth connection. This frustration is in comparison to the seamless experience I have with the Fitbit Zip and Striiv Play, which use Bluetooth 4.0.

BodyMedia FIT App Features

BodyMedia FIT App Dashboard Screenshot

BodyMedia FIT App Dashboard Screenshot

BodyMedia FIT Screenshot by Wendy Bumgardner
I was very pleased with the colorful yet concise display of data on the BodyMedia FIT app. Colored bars show your progress towards your daily goals for calories burned, calories eaten, calorie balance, moderate physical activity, vigorous physical activity, steps and sleep. When you reach your daily goal for each, you get a checkmark.

Calories Burned: This number is determined by BodyMedia's sensor algorithms. The sensor is an accelerometer that also senses skin temperature. This figure should be a pretty accurate assessment of the calories you burn, better than the guesstimate made by a pedometer.

Calories Consumed: Here, you have to do the work and use the Nutrition tab to input your food eaten. The app will sync with the MyFitnessPal.com app or web site if you prefer to use their tools, which include a barcode scanner. I used the app's food diary to enter my data and it works about as well as our free Calorie Count web site and app, although I prefer our site's diet analysis.

Calorie Balance: I appreciated this feature, as it was nice to see throughout the day whether I was burning more calories than I had yet eaten or whether I needed to get moving more to burn off what I had eaten. This is a nice simple way to see if you are on course to burn the extra 400 to 500 calories per day needed to lose a pound per week.

Moderate Activity: Health authorities recommend 30 to 60 minutes per day of moderate intensity physical activity. I set a minimum goal of 30 minutes per day. My walking workouts were tracked a moderate when I walked with friends at a pace of 20 minutes per mile.

Vigorous Activity: I was pleased to see that my brisk walk during my work breaks or when walking solo was usually counted as vigorous intensity activity.

Steps: The step count was pretty accurate, although it is being measured by the armband accelerometer.

Sleep: The sleep data is not transmitted via Bluetooth, so you will only see this figure if you have uploaded the data from the armband to a computer via the USB cable.

Workouts with the App

The app allows you to track workouts and save your workout summaries. During your workout, you can choose to play music from your playlists, or none. I often continued to listen to podcasts or audiobooks.

You need to have the Bluetooth connection linked with the armband during the workout. Throughout the workout, you can see your time, calories burned, steps, total activity and vigorous activity. Other than with the Quick Start, you will hear a bell ring once you reach your workout goal.

I liked the variety of workout tracking methods. These include:
Quick Start: this is a free-form workout, just start it and stop it.
Timed: Select from 20 minutes to 90 minutes or your own duration.
Steps: Set a step goal from 1000 steps to 6000 steps.
Calories: Want to be sure you burn off that bagel? Set a calorie goal for your workout.
Total Activity: This will include moderate and vigorous minutes.
Vigorous Activity: Select this to achieve your desired number of vigorous-intensity minutes during the workout.

You can view past workout summary data in the Workout History tab. You see only totals, you don't get a graph summary, speed, etc.

Bottom Line on the BodyMedia FIT LINK and App

BodyMedia FIT App Workout Summary Screenshot

BodyMedia FIT App Workout Summary Screenshot

BodyMedia FIT Screenshot by Wendy Bumgardner
I really enjoyed the graphics on the App and the tracking of the calorie balance and moderate vs. vigorous activity. I liked the workout feature.

If I were to select BodyMedia FIT as my main activity tracker, I would definitely prefer the LINK system to the CORE system (which doesn't have the Bluetooth connection.)

You still need a computer to get all of your data into the system and to see minute-by-minute details of your physical activity and a fuller analysis of your diet.

Personally, I don't like wearing the armband, especially as you are required to wear it 23 hours per day to get the full data collection power of the system and track your sleep quality. But I know people who love it and I can see why, as the quality of the tracking data is excellent.

I also experienced odd episodes when the armband didn't track my activity. I was very frustrated to find after an active day including a Zumba class that it tracked nothing. On another night it didn't track part of my sleep. This may be operator error, but it happened and it made me unhappy with the system. I also had difficulty getting it to link to the phone app with Bluetooth at times -- usually critical times when I really wanted to do a workout.

For these reasons, I personally prefer the Fitbit for its small size, being easy to wear, and its consistent data transmission via Bluetooth 4.0. The upcoming Fitbit ONE also tracks sleep and workouts. The original Fitbit does so but doesn't have Bluetooth.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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