I have a fitbit, Polar heart rate monitor, a pedometer (I had a few cheap ones), a Nike+ and a smart phone.
Of those I use:
My fitbit, my heart rate monitor and my smart phone. I used the Nike + and pedometers for a while but for different reasons stopped using them. I didn't get all these at the same time. Knowing what I know now, if I were to buy again, it would be the phone, fitbit and heart rate monitor.
Which one if only one? If it were just for fitness tracking either the heart rate monitor or the fitbit depending on what I want to focus on. Here is why:
*The fitbit is good for motivating you to move throughout the day. The distance and speed estimates are pretty good for me but I did test and calibrate my walking and running strides on a track. I found it more accurate in distance than my Nike+, but I never calibrateed the Nike+ so perhaps that is unfair. So if your main activity is walking or jogging, the fitbit may be good for tracking your exercise too. I mainly like it to generally track how active I am throughout the day outside exercise. I also use it for the energy balance comparing the calorie burn to what I log on spark. That works fine for me personally, I must be in fitbit's sweet zone in estimates, but that probably varies by the person. There are other gadgets that sound great for motivation and overall activity tracking too. I only have used the fitbit and it as worked well for me so I haven't acquired any others. A good pedometer might do this for you as well, the ones I had were bulky in comparison to my fitbit and over and under counted steps to the point where I just could not trust it. The fitbit I wear on my bra and whenever I test it is usually tracks accurately. It is small enough no one sees it and I forget about it until I want to check my stats. It has no subscription fee to see the archives on the website. When I looked at various competitors from time to time, I find that fitbit is at a great price point given everything I can do with it. A pedometer would be cheaper, I just haven't personally had a good experience with them.
*If you want something to track intentional exercise and a variety of aerobic exercises and are interested in using heart rate training or as a way to see improvements in fitness Then perhaps a heart rate monitor is best. I was using one before I had a fitbit and would go through pains withdrawing from it (though the same with my fitbit).
I actually use the two together and use a heart rate monitor app on my iphone that can sync some of my intentional workouts directly to my fitbit account. You could do a lot of the things a fitbit could do with apps on the smart phone to some extent. I just prefer having a tiny discreet device do it rather than running an assortment of apps and carrying my phone everywhere. Most of the time my phone sits on a table or my desk as I rarely wear clothes with pockets so a lot of steps would be missed if I used a pedometer app.
Also fitbit can link with a lot of other apps and sites (I think that is also true of bodymedia). So my fitbit account gives me an overall picture of food I logged, sleep, blood pressure, weight, measurements, bodyfat percent estimate and activity over the past year or two. I like having a semi-central place for this information. Now that Spark and fitbit can sync some of the data it is even better.
I think it is really a matter of personal preference and budget though. People have been fit and healthy with no devices. I think most of them do what they advertise more or less. So it is really the one that you will use consistently and be motivated by that is best for you. It is a good idea to research which would meet your wants and needs though since they can be an investment
and may have a learning curve involved.
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