BATTLE! – Striiv Touch versus Withings Pulse O2 versus Fitbit Flex versus Garmin Vivofit

Two companies recently released new or updated versions of their devices in the Fitness Wearables market.  First Withings unveiled an updated version of their Pulse as the “O2” version with a watch-style band, while Striiv jumps from their prior clip-on versions to finally add a new wrist-worn version called the Touch.  Time to put these two devices to the test against my existing Fitbit Flex and the recently released Garmin Vivofit for another installment of BATTLE!

striivwithings-devices-1 striivwithings-devices-2

 

Table of Contents:
-> Before We Begin
-> Where is the Garmin Vivofit?
-> Remembering the Fitbit Force
-> Setting Up, Charging & Battery Life
-> Interface on your Wrist
-> Interface on your iPhone
-> Interface on your Web Browser
-> Others Odds & Ends
-> And the winner is…

See a photo? Click on it for a larger version for your enjoyment!

BEFORE WE BEGIN

With so many new wearables cropping up each day it is hard to stay on top of them all.  Some of these new-to-market devices are packed full of new techie features and carry a hefty price tag, such as the ones I recently reviewed from LG Electronics.  Other high-end new releases include Samsung’s new Gear Fit and Gear 2 devices. Then there are the legacy units such as the JAWBONE UP24 and the Fitbit Flex, which remain the two top sellers still today.  And there are plenty of other units coming to market very soon.

Traditionally I have reviewed new devices against whatever I’m currently  using daily.  This article is no different then, as I’ve brought my Lime Green Fitbit Flex to the battle.  Today’s post covers two new-to-market touch-screen-display units in what I consider to be the sweet-spot for pricing.  Although technically the Striiv Band is more directly a competitor to the Flex (and cheaper!), my driving desire for a touch-screen based unit kept it out of the comparison focus for this shoot-out.  Hence the four devices named in the title here today.

I considered the Garmin Vivofit worthy of this article, as the title suggest.  But you’ll see in the next section more details as to why it isn’t actually pictured here.  For comparison purposes, at the time of publishing this article the MSRP is $99 for both the Fitbit Flex and Striiv Touch, while the Withings Pulse O2 demands an extra $20 in retail cost, same as the likes of the JAWBONE UP24.  The Vivofit is $130 right now.  There are a few reasons why the Withings may be worth the extra money it demands, but more on that later.

So with these devices all being relatively similar in pricing the question that I’m looking to answer is which one offers the best feature set, user interface (using my iPhone 5S for testing), and ultimately which device provides the best bang-for-buck compared to the others.  It is no secret that I’m a huge Fitbit fan, so it can be hard to overcome my loyalty to their ecosystem.  But with the Fitbit Force gone (see later for more recollection on that device), and with my desire to have a watch on my wrist, the search continues for the one device that can make me happy on all levels.  Could one of these new devices be the one?!

WHERE IS THE GARMIN VIVOFIT?

Some weeks ago I posted an admittedly half-baked review of the Garmin Vivofit (see HERE).  Since then I’ve been tempted on quite a few occasions to revisit the device, pick one up with the optional heart rate monitor chest strap, and give it a more sporting chance.  It seems only fair to do this if I want to try to stay impartial to the current offerings on the market.  But that is just it, I’m not doing this for a living, so I don’t have to be neutral, do I ?!

Friends/family know about my blog, and often ask me advice before they purchase a fitness tracker.  Those folks almost always fall into two distinct categories.  First are those who are looking to lose weight (burn fat), and second are those who want to train (such as for a marathon, or just become a better athlete).  Most of them are in the former category, and almost all of them have a smart phone. The first thing I tell them is to download MyFitnessPal and start logging their food.  Diet remains the cornerstone to any healthy lifestyle, and to any weight loss plan.  Therefore the lack of MFP integration keeps me from recommending the Garmin Vivofit, where all three others here integrate with MFP.  EDIT 22-Jun-2014, since my publishing this article Garmin has announced integratin with MFP.  Because of this I will most likely be picking up a Vivofit finally, to put through its paces!

Second issue for the Garmin becomes that of sync.  For those looking to lose weight they need something that require as little input as necessary, because let’s face it when you want to lose weight, you don’t really want to think about it constantly.  I realize this lack of constant syncing and the omission of backlighting is part of what makes the Vivofit have such a superb battery, but it is hard enough convincing people to log their food intake, let alone asking them to also remember to manually sync their new wrist device.  Without auto-sync you also don’t get the immediate automatic real-time caloric data you need to make proper food choices.  Sure you can look at your wrist, and compare it to your food intake app of choice, but this extra step puts the Vivofit at a disadvantage to the rest.

However, if you fall into that second group of folks, looking for a device that will help you with fitness, the Vivofit does prove to be a more useful tool.  That is until you consider devices like the Polar Loop which gives you deeper real-time heart rate analysis and a better ecosystem.  The ONLY capacity in which I can see the Vivofit beating the Loop is that you don’t need a smart phone to make it work, especially when working out, and of course the battery life.  Say for example you’re a hockey player who can wear a chest strap, but your phone stays in your locker– that is where the Garmin’s phone-less HRM recording is truly awesome.

Hence for the more fitness minded folks you should take a closer look at devices such as the Polar Loop and the Garmin Vivofit.  But as you read this review keep in mind that I’ve mentioned it but actually EXCLUDED it from my testing because it doesn’t meet my PERSONAL requirement of needing to work with MFP.  EDIT 22-Jun-2014, it now works with MFP, and will be tested!  Although I’ve personally met my weight goal I still use caloric tracking to maintain my on-going health and weight maintenance goals.  Integration with MFP, for me, is vital.

The Vivofit offers many similar traits to the devices here– but lacks a few key items to be a viable option for me– but it might be okay for you.  And if so, go for it!

REMEMBERING THE FITBIT FORCE

It wasn’t long ago that I was reviewing and comparing my Fitbit Force to other devices.  Sadly that excellent device has been taken off the market.  There are plenty of reasons why I returned my Fitbit Force, as I post about over HERE, but not a day goes by that I don’t miss that awesome little device.

Compared to my current Fitbit Flex, the Force provided me 50% longer battery life.  It added a gorgeous OLED screen that was easy to read in all lighting conditions (though a bit brighter than needed in dark rooms).  There were sensors that logged stair climbing (elevation), just like the Withings Pulse O2 reviewed in this post.  And the Force featured silent alarms (vibrations) for waking you up in the morning or other reminder based tasks.  Fitbit never did manage to bring alerts to the device before it went off market (but the Striiv Touch finally does as noted in this article), but it was still a great little unit.

In the past I’ve worn a watch on occasion, but not daily.  For me the Force was great because it finally gave me two devices I wanted, a watch and an activity tracker, all in one nice package.  Just for a few days here testing I’ve enjoyed the Striiv and Withings devices giving me instant view of my time, and my steps, without having to extract my phone from my pocket.  For me I see great value in your fitness tracker having multiple uses/functions.

Though the Force wasn’t particularly ornate in appearance, it functioned very nicely for my needs.  Some argued that the physical button (which made it lack of water resistance) was a negative, and of course the skin irritation issue was a thorn in the manufacturers side.  They’ve promised to bring out a new device soon that will replace the Force, and I for one can’t wait to see what is next.  Rumors are already surfacing about the new Fitbit devices.

Nowadays having an activity tracker is old hat– people expect their device will do more than just tracking, but also some visual feedback and perhaps added tech.  These new devices are compared then first to my old Force, and then to the other market devices.  Do they work as a watch?  Do they do more than just count steps/calories?  Let’s take a look.

SETUP – CHARGING – BATTERY LIFE

Setup on each device is nearly identical.  I’ve covered the Fitbit family ad nauseam, so for this review I’ll focus mainly on the Withings and Striiv offerings.

Naturally you start by charging it fully first, then link it up to your smart phone via Bluetooth.  In all cases you’ll need to create an account, though most of the apps allow you to use Google, Facebook or other 3rd party credentials to login if you desire.  Once you establish your login account you enter your vitals (age, gender, height, weight) so that the system can properly calculate your steps (stride length) as well as your caloric burn.  Remember, factors like your age or gender do matter to these algorithms so be honest!

Below are various photos, first showing the Withings and then the Striiv as I set up the devices on their maiden voyage to my wrist.

striivwithings-pulse-ios-1 striivwithings-pulse-ios-2 striivwithings-pulse-ios-3 striivwithings-pulse-ios-4
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It is worth noting that because of the notifications features the Striiv Touch offers, it must always maintain a BT connection with your device.  Since my phone is always in a cradle at work, or in my car, my phone’s battery is unlikely to suffer.  But the same cannot be said for the Striiv.  Their claim was up to 5-days of battery life, compared to the Pulse which claims 2-weeks average.  All devices were given a full charge the evening I acquired them, such that I went to bed with them all at 100% full.  On the third day at Noon the Striiv Touch was down at 19% and was showing me a low battery warning on the device screen.  When the iPhone app finally gave me a pop-up warning about the low battery life a few hours later (around 3:34 PM), the device was already down to 4% — see image above — but claimed it had a full day left.  A full day of power left, when it showed 4% remaining? Yeah doubt it!

The Withings Pulse O2 still had 56% charge at that point, and the Fitbit Flex app showed “Battery medium” (they don’t show a percentage, which is a beef I’ve always had with their software).  Given that I definitely was playing with the Striiv more than you might once you got over the exciting honeymoon stage, I’d suspect it could see 3 to 4 days but highly doubt it would go 5-days total.  The only way it might last that long would be if you turned off notifications, since that vibration feature surely sucks down a lot of the juice.  As for the Withings it looks like it should last just shy of a week though my use didn’t last that long.  It would probably survive closer to 10-14 days if you “play” with it less– but for my testing I was using the screen/device more than typical I suspect.  The Withings then matches or beats the Flex, but given its size one would hope this is the case.

In comparison to the new entrants above, the Fitbit Flex lasts a solid 7 days before warning you to recharge, and truly lasts the better part of an extra day there after if needed.  I’m not particularly fond of the charging hardware needed to replenish both the Fitbit & Striiv devices (see photos below), but their water resistant design demands non-standard USB openings.  In comparison, the Pulse has that standard micro-USB port on the side like so many devices these days, but its presence causes the device to lack the water-proofing the others offer.  Pick your poison– if you need or want to bathe or swim with your device you’ll immediately want to exclude the Withings device.  I’m surprised there isn’t yet a mainstream activity fitness tracking device that uses inductive charging.

striivwithings-charger-touch striivwithings-charger-pulse striivwithings-charger-fitbit

Overall getting going on all these devices was fairly easy.  All of them can push software updates over the air (OTA) and were able to provide firmware updates (which all of them have needed during my time of ownership).  This is nice to be able to do right from your smart phone, where devices like the Polar Loop require hooking up to a computer for firmware updates (tsk tsk).  Once charged and going, you can start to explore the interface.

INTERFACE ON YOUR WRIST

Before I talk about how these devices work (user interface), let me first at least mention their clasping mechanisms.  My initial reaction to the Striiv Touch was one of amusement, as it would be hard to tell it apart from the Fitbit Flex with my eyes closed.  They share an identical clasping design, which is fine with me as the Flex stays on my wrist fine and is comfortable (unlike my Force which would fall off regularly).  Since the Flex can be removed from the band itself, they provide two size bands for users when you purchase.  In contrast Striiv expects you to trim your band if your wrist falls at the smaller end of the spectrum (see trim markers in photo below).  Although my wrist falls in the Small zone  I opted to not trim it, and still found it comfortable to wear albeit harder to put on with the extra unneeded length tucked under the band.  As for the Withings Pulse O2, it has a clasp identical to that of any standard wrist watch with a tang-type buckle, just like your waist belt.  It is the easiest to put on of this bunch but it is a bit bulky.  And when you want access to the device (as I’ll talk about later for heart rate sensor access) it can prove tricky to slide the guts in/out of the band, especially without first removing it off your arm.

striivwithings-touch-strap-1 striivwithings-touch-strap-2

There isn’t really much of anything to the interface on the Flex (you can tap it, showing dots that display how far along in percentage you are of your daily goal, which is typically steps).  You can have it show you a different goal if you desire– but again the simplicity of this devices means the interface is non-existent.  Not entirely a bad thing, but since my goal here was to find something that does “more”– how did the other two stack up?

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Looking at the display & interface on the Striiv vs Withings  finds the menus on both devices are VERY similar, where both will show you time, steps, distance, and calories burned.  You get the addition of elevation on the Withings, and the added view of active minutes on the Striiv.  From there both have ways within their menu system to put the devices to sleep, and the Withings handles heart rate data (see later in this review).

Specific to the Striiv is the fact that you can flip the face display 180-degrees from the touch-menu on the device itself, which is pretty slick but pointless once you establish a wrist you’ll wear the device on.  You can also pull up some info about the device that I have no idea why you would need (some odd ID codes).  It seems to me like the folks at Striiv plan to add even more down the road based on their web site info, so it will be interesting to see what features they add eventually.

Most notable in this section right now is that the Striiv Touch offers notifications right on your wrist.  It has a built in vibration feature (something the Withings Pulse O2 lacks but the Fitbit Flex offers).  But with the added display the Striiv takes things further than the Flex.  When you have an incoming text, email, appointment or other alert you get a visual and vibration notification that you can actually scroll through and read on your wrist.  Extra cool was that it shows your caller ID data– displaying the name of the person right on your wrist when a call comes, or the number if the person isn’t in your contacts.

I found reading these texts or emails difficult on the display since not a lot of data was there at once (small size) and required you to scroll through a few pages to read the message entirely.  Still it is indeed a very cool feature to have.  My biggest complaint is that right now you cannot suppress these notifications during specific times of the day, so even when the device is in sleep mode you still might get awoken.  My phone was in Do Not Disturb, so it was silent/dark but my wrist still vibrated with emails and such overnight — not good!  Striiv did release a bug fix update (on 20-Jun-2014), but has not yet provided any way to handle this issue.  Hopefully a future version will.

Another comparison short-coming for Striiv is that it lacks time-based alarms, a feature that the Flex has had for quite some time.  My wife/I use this as it is great for waking you up silently without bothering your bed-mate.  With the Striiv you could setup a calendar event to trigger the Touch alert, but they really need to add this natively to the app since that for that to work means all alerts work, and as noted above, that is a problem.

When it comes to the physical display, these two units are quite different.  Brightness is almost always too dim on the Withings in most conditions except complete darkness.  It was a nice way to check the time in a dark movie theater, but nearly impossible to read in sunlit areas.  On the flip side, the Striiv display is quite bright and easy to read in all conditions and reminds me of the old Fitbit Force.  To activate the display on the Withings you simply press the button on the side, and repeated pressing scrolls through the menus.  It also has a touch screen, which is used to scroll between past-day stats in each sub-menu, and also to activate sleep mode or heart rate recording.  However about 25% of my presses/swipes were missed, and I would rate the responsiveness of the touch on the Withings as a solid B-minus.  On the other hand the Striiv Touch touch-screen was virtually perfect, a solid A-minus for sure.  My two complaints there are first the menus were not as intuitive as the Withings.  And second, I’m not a huge fan of having to hold your finger on the display to wake it up– which didn’t always happen on the first try (hence the minus).

As more devices like these with displays come to market I think it will be interesting to see how they handle the fact that a vertical display (one that is perpendicular to your wrist) is easier to read.  In that regard I love the fact that you can setup the clock vertically on the  Withings.  It is obvious that the folks at Striiv know this is better, because the sub-menu that shows the icons (person, moon, etc) is vertical.  So why isn’t the rest of their menu system?  Though the same goes for Withings, where having the clock vertical is a good start, but the sub-menus there after go back to horizontal and harder to read on your wrist.  With the forthcoming Moto 360 paving the way for round display things are about to get better.

Both devices fare well in this section.  Due to the Withings having a larger display it is more bulky overall, and the display again is hard to read.  But the menus are easier to follow and the vertical clock is my favorite view (it shows the date, time, and steps).  But when you consider the added bonus on the Striiv of vibration alerts, phone notification alerts for texts/emails/calls, and the much easier to read display it becomes quite a contender.  In this instance it may really come down to your personal taste.  It is also very much worth noting that the Withings comes with a clip, and doesn’t always have to be on your wrist, allowing more versatility to the device!

INTERFACE ON YOUR IPHONE

There exist already a plethora of reviews on the Withings software.  Although they have added support for the new O2 version, the principals of their software remain the same.  Here are some snap shots during the course of my days testing.

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One thing that you’ll notice, and a feature that I really like, is that the iPhone 5S has the M7 motion coprocessor and their software lets you use this on the moments notice.  Forgot your device at home?  Or the battery died? No worries, your phone can be called in as a backup, which is a very smart feature.  However it appeared to use the data from your phone for the entire day– you could not use part of the day with one or the other as far as I can see.  That is not a perfect system, but better than nothing I guess.

Within the Health Mate App you can keep tabs on everything their software allows, ranging from steps to calories, activity (steps) to heart rate, even your weight.  Just as Fitbit offers their Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale you can also pickup a comparable device, the Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer.  And just as Fitbit shows their data on their web portal and inside their iOS app, the same happens with Withings.  Without a doubt then those two are going head to head, though Withings goes one step farther with their Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor.  Still I felt that the Withings app on-screen display felt more congested, the layout a bit more of a mish-mosh versus Fitbit, with information overload.  Personal preference, perhaps– but I found the Fitbit app easier to navigate around.

There are two big issues I had with the Withings software.  First off, I was unable to find anywhere I could change my step goal and customize it to my personal needs which was a problem.  Secondly, I often found the main dashboard page failed to update my steps, though when I dug deeper into the steps page it was more often correct, but even then sometimes didn’t match the device.  Even after an update, I would have to close (or sometimes force-close) the app to get the on-screen data to be proper.  In comparison, the Flex and Touch app seemed to stay up to date better, and lack these glitches.

That is not to say the Touch app was perfect.  Hard as Striiv tried to perfect their software, it was also just a small step in feeling as polished as the Fitbit app.  Here are some screen shots.

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As you can see setting goals inside the Striiv app was very simple and straightforward.  Views are a bit more simple and reminded me a lot of Fitbit.  In truth the simple layout of the Striiv felt far more welcoming than the Withings, even if a bit more toy-like.   With the bug fixing release there are no errors I’m seeing right now, other than again my request to be able to suppress notifications during sleep mode.  One small complaint is that in the side-bar menu there is no “home” option– so you have to basically hit the top left corner button twice to return home– sort of odd.  But otherwise, easy to navigate.

Again a lot of this will come down to personal preference.  Since Striiv doesn’t offer as many metrics to measure, their menu can be a lot simpler.  With the added girth comes added screens to the Withings.  I’ll cover more in the final section as to why I see both being good, but dependent on your future plans I may favor the Withings just for growth (for now).

INTERFACE ON YOUR WEB BROWSER

I’m going to not spend much time in this section, because I suspect most people these days would use their phones as their primary viewer of data.  Between the fact that the device itself shows data and your smart phone is in arm’s reach at all times, the web dashboard might be something most people don’t care about.  For me, however, I find it quite useful.

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As you can see in the photo above, the Striiv dashboard didn’t want to play nice.  I never did get it to work, so I have no data to post about that.  EDIT 23-Jun2014: Striiv customer service advised me (finally) that the Touch does not yet have/support a web portal.  So for the moment the data is stored in the cloud but you can only view it on your phone.  I’ve covered the Fitbit dashboard in my other articles before, and absolutely LOVE it!  Here are some screen shots of the Fitbit dashboard, and then of the Withings dashboard.

striivwithings-fitbit-dashboard-1 striivwithings-fitbit-dashboard-2

striivwithings-withings-dashboard-1 striivwithings-withings-dashboard-2

Plenty more screen shots showing deeper data review could be done here.  But instead I’ll do my best to summarize this section briefly as I don’t feel the web access alone makes or breaks any device here.  I’ll simply say that BOTH Fitbit and Withings have done an excellent job showing you granular details of your tracked data.  I like the Withings dashboard marginally more than the Fitbit because somehow it feels more medical and accessible, where the Fitbit feels still like a bit of a play-toy.  Never the less both provide you good data, though perhaps the Withings does it with more intensity.  Neither fail to please.

OTHER ODDS & ENDS

Considering that Fitbit makes some “entry level” priced devices (such as the Fitbit Zip), it seems to me like many folks stepping up to this price point will want a few extra bells and whistles.  One thing that I’ve always enjoyed about the Fitbit Flex is the ability to put the device into Activity Mode (tapping on the face performs this task, which is the same for sleep mode entry).  This allows you a finite recording of steps/activity, so that you can later review how long your walk or run was with regards to steps, time duration, and distance covered.  Those steps are still part of your daily logging, but now you have a snapshot of just that particular moment in time.

It is odd to me that neither the Pulse nor the Touch offer this feature or anything remotely like it.  Where the Polar Loop and Garmin Vivofit somewhat mimic this (when you’re recording heart rate data), none of the other units here offer this feature.  Sure you could use your smart phone to record this data with apps like MapMyfitness or RunKeeper, and the data can be parsed over.  But that requires your smartphone and doesn’t use any of the step data from your wrist-band.  Sure it can work off GPS, but that won’t always work, such as on the treadmill, power-walking at the mall where reception might be tough, or any instance where your phone can’t be on your persons.  (ie: playing hockey)

Sidebar: If you are running at a fast enough pace the Withings device will put you into a special run mode and you can see your run data.  I don’t run so I did not fully test this feature, but I’ve heard a short-coming there is that it is cumulative for the day.  So if you were out for your 2nd or 3rd run, it shows the total distance and time of ALL your runs for that day, not just the run you’re on.  I cannot verify this is still the case, but if so then that would be a negative in my eyes.  And again, this is only useful for running, and doesn’t help if you are jogging slowly or walking quickly.  I did a brief test and found it didn’t show real time data, but rather showed my run data for me 20 minutes after my quarter mile jog.

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There is one very unique feature the Withings brings to the table the others lack which is their heart rate monitor function.  In ten years, you won’t even know you’re wearing devices such as heart rate monitors or activity trackers, but as we live in the present time most devices still require manual user input.  In the case of the Withings Pulse O2 that requires removing it from the wrist-band, navigating to the correct menu, and placing your finger behind the device.  A small red LED turns on, and reads not just your heat rate but as the new “O2” model, also shows your oxygen levels.  This works good for resting pulse, to help monitor fatigue or other factors, and the blood oxygen levels are helpful (SpO2) if you’re looking for that info.  But it seems more of a gimmick than anything.  Data was good, easy enough to read, and matched the results I also got from my Heart Rate Pro by Runtastic iOS app.  But that app only costs $1.99 and the Withings Pulse O2 costs $20 more than the Fitbit Flex or Striiv Touch.  And that is a problem because it is equally as easy to slide your finger behind your phone as it is to remove the Pulse from the wrist band.  Sure the Pulse reads O2 data, but that isn’t helpful for most of the general public.  And really, heart rate monitoring while resting is far less useful versus caloric estimation during cardio exercise.  And the Pulse doesn’t do that, so you’ll still want a good heart rate monitor for that need.  Is the Pulse worth the extra money just because it can monitor a resting heart rate? Hmmm…

Last but not least, all of these devices monitor sleep.  I’m pretty steady with my time in and out of bed, and have found the Fitbit sleep data pretty useless.  Although I did put the devices into sleep mode when I slept, I removed them all and do not typically sleep with anything on my persons.  Hence I did no real comparison here of the sleep data, sorry.

AND THE WINNER IS….

Placing one of these devices as a solid winner would be impossible.  That each hold unique value, and it also is important to know what (if anything) you have now, what your goals are in the future, and what your budget might be.  I’m going to do my best to break down EACH device in conclusion here, explaining what demographic I think is best suited for that specific unit.  Hopefully this will help you, other consumers, find the right product for your need and lifestyle.

Garmin Vivofit :: Earlier in this review I had a whole section explaining the pros and cons of the Vivofit.  If your end-game is a stand-alone device that can provide activity and exercise feedback then it remains a great bang-for-buck option.  I’d also recommend comparing the Polar Loop too.  But if your goal is weight loss then I suggest caloric food tracking, and integrating with MyFitnessPal.  Hence the Loop/Vivofit don’t fit my recommendations thereEDIT 22-Jun-2014, with the Vivofit now offering MFP integration I will do an updated review of this device to compare to ALL the other devices.

Withings Pulse O2 :: If you are considering the Pulse, check out this thorough Withings Pulse O2 Review as I found it did a nice job going deeper than I may have here.  If you suffer from low blood oxygen levels the obvious benefits of having an SpO2 device goes without saying.  However I truly feel that for the rest of us the resting pulse monitor feature is not one that offers and great benefit, and not for the premium cost over the other devices.  That being said, the Withings device offers great scaleability because of the 3rd party integration that they allow, plus their other product offerings such as the scale and blood pressure monitor.  But the lack of water resistance, the hard-to-read display, the large size when compared to the competition– it is hard to recommend the Pulse to anyone.  I’d likely recommend a product like this to an aunt or uncle, as the software has more online help than the others, and holds your hand through the experience quite a bit more.  But for the cost and the strange “slide into the wrist-band” layout, it is my least favorite of the bunch here.

Striiv Touch :: Okay so this software reminded me a lot of the Fitbit, the device looks like the Flex even down to the clasp, and the “coolness” factor of the notifications are sweet.  But I can’t help but wonder how quickly I’d get annoyed with charging 5 or 6 times per month, compared to the 4 times of my Flex.  One thing I miss most about the Force was the amazing battery life, and the Touch goes in the wrong direction.  I’d actually trade off size (the Force was a nice size IMO) for extra battery life. And perhaps a display turned 90-degrees to better serve the user?  And honestly that is all the Touch needs to be pretty much perfect.  But with new Fitbit devices as well as perhaps an Apple iWatch coming around the bend, I can’t help but feel like the Touch is cool now, outdated tomorrow.  While that can be said for much of the tech out there, Striiv doesn’t offer a wifi scale (again, it often comes down to having that full ecosystem).  And their software clearly needs more updates (they sent out an email admitting to such just a few days ago).  Keep your eyes on this device though.  If you’re not already a Fitbit user and you are new to the market, and if you’re the kind of person who really wants a device that does more than just track your moves, I highly recommend the Striiv.  You’ll wow your friends with the notifications on your wrist, you’ll love the bright easy-to-read display, and the software while still in its infancy is very nice, simple and straight forward.  Just be aware of the battery life, and be patient as they work out the kinks with this still fairly new device.

Fitbit Flex :: Old and dated, the Flex pales in comparison to this new crop of devices.  While I highly recommend the Flex because of its simplicity, seamless sync features, small and compact size, and modest battery life, even I cannot deny the fact that the only thing keeping me in the Fitbit realm is their ecosystem (I did buy that pricey scale so I don’t want to jump ship just yet). I’m clinging to hope that Fitbit will release a slew of new devices, with displays and touch screens, soon.  If they don’t you can expect I’d probably swap to the Striiv (heck I might keep it for a while anyhow and see how it does).  Who should buy the Flex, then?  Right now that is hard to say…. because the only thing it really does better than the Striiv is offer a more polished software experience and better battery life.  Beyond that it just feels like “last years model” – and it is!  I love the Flex, and I still REALLY recommend it as a great entry level unit to this market segment.  But I think sometime between now and this year’s holiday season we’re likely to see some new Fitbit devices that will rival the Flex.  So if you’re not in a rush, you may want to wait.  If you want the BEST SELLING tracker on the market today, however, then you can’t go wrong with the tried-and-true Fitbit Flex.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going back to playing with the Striiv some more… 🙂

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Published by

Ari Jay Comet

Sharing my life experiences. Interacting with technology. Digital self-expression. Binary is black, white, and many shades of grey.

23 thoughts on “BATTLE! – Striiv Touch versus Withings Pulse O2 versus Fitbit Flex versus Garmin Vivofit”

  1. I lost my Fitbit Force. I was really happy and no problem of skin irritation. If someone want to sell me his.. i lost it while canoeing.. i should have buy the small fasteners on ebay for 4 $ . I dont usually wear a watch, but the force was a discret watch-tracker… i absolutely love the oled screen and many people commented me about how nice was this small watch (tracker). I almost send it back to fitbit to buy an Amigoo, but did resist and was happy… now i lost it and im sad 🙂

    1. Fitbit has a slew of new devices coming out very soon. I would suggest you get a flex for now and wait to see what new stuff they release. Should be a nice replacement for force that is even better soon!!

  2. I just bought two Striiv Touchs for my wife and I to trial out this week. The biggest thing I like is that its a smart watch and notifies me of sms and phone calls (allowing me to mute my phone wile at work). Saying that its a very new device and buggy. Caller ID shows the Number and not the name, the phone app doesn’t sync my wife’s steps on my phone and vice-versa very often. It just always seems to be delayed, and this makes it hard to compete as your almost always shown in 1st place on your own phone. I have noticed other small concerns, but they could just be bugs. Depending how this week goes, if we decide to keep them, I am really looking forward to seeing how this device evolves over the next few months. As this device is so new, this is seems to be the first real review I have been able to find thus far.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, that is really great to hear. Out of curiosity, did you find my review prior to purchase, or was my blog something you stumbled upon after already making your purchase decision?

      I’ve still been getting emails about software updates on the Striiv — even tho I am no longer testing it. So make sure you had the latest updates as they have new software not just for your phone but the device as well– so make sure the latest firmware is installed on the device. Good luck!

      1. I bought after comparing features and price. I have wanted a smart watch for a while, and my wife and I want to compete on the steps/fitness side of things… I just want something simple and not a large watch/screen on a device. Right now I think we will keep them, but when I bought both Striiv Touches yesterday, we had zero experience with these devices and were planning to trial them and most likely to exchange for a different model. As such, I found your review when looking to compare it with other models. I do find it somewhat buggy, and had an issue with my after upgrading it. I have to reset it to defaults to get it to talk to my phone again. My wife’s didn’t have any issues before/after upgrade. Also mine seems to have an issue with the battery, as it will jump from 92% to around 62% or 74%. Right now I am hoping it is just having an issue understanding its actual battery life and will clear up after a few charges. This device is still very new and reviews suggest they have good customer support when using email (forums. not so much). How did you get on their, software update/email list? Are they giving you forewarning on new updates or just letting you know whats being fixed when the updates are released? I would like to receive these notifications.

      2. Just email updates after they are released. Though they’ve eluded to what is being fixed next in some of the emails. And I got added just when I originally registered the product with them. So you’ll probably automatically get it too. It is usually just an email saying the new version will be out later that day, a list of what it fixed etc. I know the most recent fix included battery issues. But new products are often buggy. That’s just the nature of these devices it seems. Good luck!

    2. I have had two different striiv devices and neither one of them have worked for me they have both broken down within months of purchase. It can be Infuriating because you can’t get a hold of anyone in customer service. I will not be purchasing anything from them in the future.

      1. Thank you for the feedback Jennifer. That is horrible to hear. I would suggest a Fitbit or Garmin. Check out my blog for reviews of those items. They have better quality. Especially the Garmin Vivosmart!

  3. Good to know. I am really looking forward to future updates/apps. I feel even if we do return them to get a more mature device now, I will go back to the store and buy it again in a few months. Anyways, thanks for the review and quick replies.

  4. I’m a very busy hairstylist looking for a pedometer that is accurate to steps. I purchased the Samsung Fit watch to use as a smart watch/pedometer but found that because it was worn on my wrist it counted “steps” when all I was actually doing was moving my arm while doing a blowdryer on clients. It would show that I had walked 5 miles! It took me a bit to figure out that this was WAY off and so I returned it. I fear that any device I wear on my wrist will just do the same thing so I’m thinking I personally would need a clip on…
    The other fallback is that although I like the idea that it linked to my phone, it actually didn’t sync completely and ran off of its own app that was not cohesive to the phone, for instance if I went for a walk and was wearing the watch but left my phone at home I would have 2 different results at the end of the day. I don’t want to have to carry my phone (it has its own health app) so I don’t think I want a “smart” anything.
    Do you have any suggestions? I’m honestly tired of researching 🙂
    I am looking for accuracy first, then any fancy features second although I would like to be able to play with a food/exercise tracker. I like the idea of tracking my food intake but it’s not a necessity.
    Thank you!

    1. Kelle, you are a good candidate for some of the new devices that are coming out in the next year or two, that will either be an insole in your shoe, or worn on your ankle. However for many people they will feel the ankle device will look too much like they are on house-arrest, haha!

      All kidding aside, I personally think the BEST option for you is the Fitbit One. It can be clipped any many places (your bra, your belt, your shoe) and should give you a more accurate count. As Fitbit has over 65% market share they have the most data and the best accuracy. I think you will also like how it stores data, so that you can sync to your phone when you want, but even when you don’t sync it still works to provide you a screen with data that you want. Any of these devices, however, are going to ultimately sync with your phone to store your data on the cloud. But I personally love the Fitbit in that it is the most carefree user experience.

      You mentioned exercise/food– both of those would work nicely with Fitbit, too. The nice thing is that the Fitbit will work with MyFitnessPal which is the best food tracker. So you could record calories in there, and it will automatically sync with the Fitbit data– the more you walk, the more you can eat, and so forth.

      Hopefully this helps answer your questions. If you desire more data that isn’t answered on my blog feel free to email me — arijaycomet@gmail.com

      1. Thank you! I actually have thought to myself that an ankle based tracker would be great and hey it would be great to give nosey folks something to ponder on, lol! One to wear on a shoe would be nice too.
        For now you have sealed it and I’m going with your recommendation of the fitbit. I’m off to Bestbuy!

      2. Excellent! Let me know what you think. I have a neighbor two doors down she loves her clip-on Fitbit. Lots of girls love it because you can hide it on your chest beneath your shirt on your bra and that makes it very discreet. Good luck!

  5. Don’t waste your money with STRIIV Touch I purchased one, had it all of 18 hours before it fell of my wrist and sank to the bottom of a lake while kayaking. I have emailed STRIIV customer support 3 times (because they do not have a customer service phone number) and ZERO response.

  6. The stats seem off on the Striiv. I’ve been up for 4 hours and did a strenuous T25 workout and it says i’ve burned149 calories. Also, I miss the ability that the fitbit has of adding your own workout manually so your dashboard is more accurate.

    1. Diane- yes the Fitbit tends to have the best app experience, regardless of iOS vs Android. It has the most flexibility, both stand-alone but also with integration with sites like MyFitnessPal.

      It has been a while since I tested the Striiv, but is it possibly showing not total caloric burn, but only “active” calories? Meaning the 149 listed is what you got from exercise, not including your BMR? Just a thought. Enjoy!

  7. Hey all – so I have actually taken over the Customer Care department at Striiv recently, and if anyone has problems with their Striiv devices, drop a line to customercare (at) striiv.com – I’m going to be doing my best to make as many people happy as I can.

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