Fitbit Zip

Fitness trackers have become wildly complicated in the past few years. From their simple start as a pedometer to the latest Garmin and Apple Watch, activity trackers have become nearly indistinguishable from smartwatches. But for runners who don’t need a multi-sports watch that can also store music, check their email, and provide them full-color GPS maps, these watches are expensive, extraneous indulgences. After all, why can’t an activity tracker just record the basics such as steps taken, calories burned, and distance traveled.

With the runner who only seeks a tracker that records only these basics and not complicate its purpose with so many options, the Fitbit Zip was created. Fitbit has become a breakout company in the activity tracker market, with their watches becoming some of the most popular fitness watches on the market. The Fitbit Zip only provides the essentials: recording steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned and that’s it. It syncs wirelessly with both Fitbit’s website and other smartphone third-party apps and is remarkably affordable. Its easy clip-on feature allows runners to wear it wherever they desire (except their wrist) and it provides real-time stats as you run. Its LCD screen displays distance, calories burned, steps, and the current time. Its interface is extremely easy to use and intuitive and can be used without having to read the instruction manual--just tap the screen to scroll through the menu until you find which metric you want.

This low-cost, user-friendly pedometer is great for both runners and for children as a way to teach them the importance and impact of physical activities on their health. Water-resistant so it can withstand some rain or accidents, the Fitbit Zip is small (only about an inch wide) so you can wear it discreetly all day without noticing its presence. It comes in four different colors (blue, pink, green, and black) and is one of the most user-friendly and accurate pedometers on the market. Made by Fitbit, whose reputation as a company that makes high-quality activity trackers, the Zip is a great entry-level pedometer that is super-affordable and accurate.

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Where to Buy
Where to Buy
Pros & Cons
  • Accurately records distance, steps taken, and calories burned

  • Small (one inch) so it can be worn all day

  • Easy-to-use interface

  • Long lasting battery
  • Incredibly affordable

    • Very basic
    • Uses only single-use batteries
    • Key Features
      The Fitbit Zip is an economic fitness watch that is best utilized for walkers and runners. Although it is not particularly dynamic, the Zip is an accurate pedometer that fitness enthusiasts will appreciate.
      Basic Features
      The Zip is as minimalist as an activity tracker comes, recording steps taken, distance, and calories burned. In addition, it displays the current time. While this may seem a little too minimalist for runners seeking a sports watch or will provide them with complex metrics, runners will enjoy its small, lightweight, and straightforward nature.
      Advanced Features
      For such a simple device, the Zip can actually sync wirelessly to the Fitbit and other third-party apps on the runner’s smartphone, uploading the metrics its records. It also comes with a wireless dongle for runners who prefer to upload their data through their desktop. In addition, the Zip’s memory stores up to a week’s worth of detailed data and 23 days of daily overviews.
      Even though the Zip is the model of a minimalist fitness tracker, it is still highly accurate in the metrics it records. As one reviewer has noted, it was only two steps off for every 5000 they took, while other comparable pedometers were usually 100 steps off over the same amount of steps. It also records with exactness the number of minutes the runner was active. For distance, it was a mile off for every five miles, which isn’t so accurate, but half of the comparable pedometers had an error rate over the same distance by the same amount. Meanwhile, it was only 100 calories off the actual calories burned over a day, which is nominal. So besides being easy to use and economic, it’s also a very accurate fitness tracker.
      The Fitbit Zip connects via Bluetooth to smartphones so runners can have their data uploaded to either the Fitbit app or third-party fitness apps. It also comes with a wireless dongle that runners can plug into their computers to transfer the recorded metrics to their desktop.
      The Fitbit Zip works in conjunction with the Fitbit app, which is a well-known and heavily used app by all Fitbit activity trackers. Wirelessly transferring data via Bluetooth, the metrics recorded by the Zip is synced with the Fitbit app, which allows runners to customize goals, follow their progress, enter their food and water intake, and interact with friends through the app. The Fitbit app charts the runner’s progress and gives them a clear picture of their performance over time, their advancement towards daily goals, and how much more they have to go before they hit their long-term goals. Working as a motivator, the Fitbit challenges the runner and rewards the user with badges and a fun interface that makes their performance and goals a competitive challenge. In addition, the Zip will also work with a number of third-party apps the runner can sync it to.
      One great aspect of the Fitbit Zip is that it’s meant to be worn anywhere (in your pocket, clipped to your jacket sleeve or pants, on accessories), allowing you to wear it in a spot that is most comfortable for you. While not a wearable in the traditional sense (i.e. not a wrist activity tracker), its silicone clip will fasten it securely to wherever you choose without worrying about it slipping or falling off.
      Designed to be worn anywhere, the Fitbit Zip is just an inch wide and long, making it inconspicuous and easy to carry and wear. Its small LCD screen is easy to read in either daylight or low light conditions and its touchscreen allows for easy navigation through its simple menu. Starting a function is just a tap away, and the friendly nature of its interface (it even displays a smiley face when you wake up!) makes it one of the most accessible digital pedometers on the market. It comes in four colors--blue, pink, black, and green--that are distinct and bright, and overall the Zip is a simple, easy, accessible pedometer that can be used by adults and kids alike. It’s just a simple, straightforward fitness tracker whose design fits its straightforward, simple functions.
      For such a small device, the Zip is incredibly durable. The tracker is cased in durable, protective silicone that sits in a silicone clip that’s easy to slide out when it’s time to change the battery. It’s water-resistant (although not waterproof), so getting it a little wet won’t ruin its functionality. The battery is a replaceable coin cell battery that runs for a remarkable six months before needing replacement. Don’t worry about the cost of replacement, as coin cell batteries are incredibly cheap.
      The face of the Zip is unsurprisingly small. The actual device is only 1.4 X 1.3 inches, so the screen is even smaller than that. However, its black-and-white display is easy to read. It only displays basic images, text, and numbers, so those looking for a more deluxe screen will not find it here. But it is a touch screen device, so just a few swipes and taps and you’re on your way!
      The Zip does not have a band as it is not a wristwatch; however, it does have a silicone clip, which you use to attach it to your clothing or accessories.
      The Fitbit Zip only comes in one size and that size is small. Its dimensions (1.4X1.3X.38 inches) allow for the Zip to be easily carried wherever the runner goes, while its weight (2.4 ounces) is barely noticeable. Not only is it super-simple to use, but it’s super-small as well.
      Ease of Use
      It’s almost ridiculous at how easy the Fitbit Zip is to use. Although it comes with an instruction manual, a runner wouldn’t need it to figure out how to use the Zip. Just turn it on and out of the box it’s ready to use. Swipe the screen to scroll through the menus, tap the screen to select one, and you’re ready to go. Its simple, easy to understand nature carries through to setting up its sync with Fitbit and other third-party apps on your smartphone, and it comes with a USB-capable wireless dongle for your laptop to sync your data through a desktop computer. Overall, it’s one of the easiest to use fitness trackers on the market.
      Power Sources
      The Fitbit Zip only has one power source, and unlike most fitness trackers it’s not a rechargeable battery. Instead, it’s powered by a simple coin cell battery, like the kind you use in a watch. Because of its simple nature and basic LCD screen, the Zip doesn’t require a lot of power to run continuously. It comes with a coin cell battery to start, after which it will need to be replaced every six months which is a very long running time for a fitness tracker!
      Fitness trackers can cost a lot of money, especially ones that have deluxe options like color screens, a built-in GPS, or multisports functions. But the Zip bypasses all of this sort of nonsense by providing runners with simple functions (steps taken, calories burned, distance) and is incredibly small and easy to use, as well. As a result, the price is almost absurdly cheap for such an accurate, durable, long-lasting activity tracker. Affordable to the point that a parent could give one to a child without fear of a severe investment loss, it’s almost the perfect activity tracker for beginners.
      There are very few, if any, accessories for the Fitbit Zip. You can buy a replacement clip holder for the device, but outside of that, there’s not much to accessorize with this small, simple device.
      Key Features
      - Incredibly easy to use touchscreen interface
      - Highly accurate recording of distance, steps taken, and calories burned
      - Wireless data sync with smartphones and desktop computers
      - Syncs with both Fitbit and other third-party fitness apps
      - Small and comfortable, can be worn nearly anywhere on the body
      Bottom Line
      Small, simple, and affordable, the Fitbit Zip is an excellent fitness tracker for beginner runners or those looking for an economic entry into fitness trackers. It comes in four colors and is an attractively unobtrusive fitness tracker. Highly accurate, it records steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, and also provides the current time--and that’s it. Which, if you’re just looking for these metrics, makes the Zip one of the best all-around options for a digital pedometer. Its touchscreen LCD face is easy to read and navigate and it syncs wirelessly with both a runner’s smartphone or desktop to the Fitbit app or third-party fitness apps to upload their metrics and track their progress over time. This is a great intro to fitness trackers that is affordable, easy to use, and will provide runners with the simple metrics they need to monitor their performance.

      Sure, it’s not a smartwatch and it won’t play music or let you check your email, but isn’t that what you have a smartphone for? Besides, the metrics it does provide will provide runners and walkers alike with the data sets they desire while external apps are there to record and analyze the runner’s performance. It’s highly affordable and small enough that you may even forget that you’re wearing it after a while, but it also functions as an accurate fitness tracker. The Fitbit Zip: it may not be flashy but it is functional--which is sometimes all you want or need.
      Where to Buy
      By Mike Gray
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 28. 2021

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