Gadget of the week: FitBit Ultra fitness on the fast track

The FitBit Ultra is a pedometer turned intelligent. Not only does it calculate the number of steps you have taken, it also helps you maintain a food diary with suggested calories per day and charts your sleep patterns

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Tabloid on Saturday

What is it?

It's summer and we're getting our fitness on. And to help us along the way is this tiny gadget that does big things, such as analyse our eating, exercise and sleep patterns. Say hello to the FitBit Ultra.

 

So what exactly does it do?

The essence of the FitBit Ultra is that it is a pedometer. So once you've clipped this to your belt, or shirt or bag, it will keep track of how many steps you have taken and stairs you have climbed, calculate mileage and estimate the amount of calories you have burnt. It's tiny and light, so basically it can go anywhere.

But the beauty of the FitBit Ultra is that it does more than that. Once you've hooked it up to your computer, it will take you to the Fitbit.com website where you will be required to download a software. After you've entered a few details, this will encourage you to set goals and maintain a food diary. All that information is then matched to the information the tiny device collects throughout the day — whether you're walking, running or climbing stairs. For instance, it will calculate your food goals for you after you've entered your target weight, with the number of suggested calories per day, depending on just how active you've been.

To make your activity more fun, the device also comes with a clock and, at various points during an activity, will beep you encouraging messages to egg you on.

Another interesting feature of the FitBit Ultra is that it doubles as a sleep tracker. With the help of a Velcro wristband to which the device is clipped, it gives you an analysis of your sleep quality the next morning: What time you went to bed, what time you fell asleep, how many times you woke up during the night and your actual sleep time. This way, you get a better understanding of what makes you sleep better.

Let me warn you, though, that initial reviews have been quite contentious about the accuracy of the device's sleep tracker. Some early reviewers have said that the device often calculated sleep even if you are lying still but awake. Still, I'd say it's a great device to help you get a general idea of one of your most important activities.

The FitBit Ultra also uploads all your activity logs wirelessly to your computer whenever you are 15 feet of the base station, which has to be plugged into your Mac or your PC.

 

So where is it available and for how much?

The FitBit Ultra is not retailed in the UAE, and the Fitbit.com website only ships to the US and Canada. However, Amazon.com will happily ship it to you for about Dh355, plus Dh55 for shipping.