There’s an old adage that says if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. If I followed it, this would be a very, very short review. It’s not that the Adidas Fit Smart is BAD, per se…it’s just that the handful of useful features don’t outweigh the major flaws.
So here’s the good parts of the Fit Smart: the heart rate monitor and the workout-specific features. The heart rate monitor is from Mio, a company with a great deal of experience in optical heart rate monitors, and it is quite accurate. I’ve seen very little variation between the FitSmart, the Lifebeam hat, and those machines you pop your arm into at the drugstore while you’re waiting to get a prescription filled.
Fit Smart only does consistent heart rate monitoring during a workout, but when it is monitoring you get lights on the side that show which heart rate zone you’re in, which is a great visual if you’re trying to gauge effort. Adidas also offers a number of workout options while you’re out running, from simply tracking the run to giving you orders on intervals, speed, and heart rate zone.
All that is good, but none of it is special enough to make the Fit Smart stand out; a Garmin, Polar, or Fitbit Surge can all do the same thing. The all-day fitness tracking did seem to get the steps right, but there were a number of other flaws that detracted from that feature, as you’ll see below.
So that was the good. Here’s the bad: The Fit Smart is uncomfortable to wear, looks cheap, has a spotty Android sync, doesn’t offer sleep tracking or an alarm, and has the strangest calorie calculating I’ve ever seen on a workout device. Let’s take the flaws one by one.
Fit Smart is a bit stiff due to the optical heart rate monitor, so it’s hard to get a really good fit. You either need to strap it quite tight to get the monitor up against your skin, or leave it a little looser, which can cause issues with the monitoring, and can make the tracker slide down onto the bonier parts of the wrist, where it presses uncomfortably. Also, while I didn’t get a rash from it, I did find that my wrist got a bit itchy after extended wear. My guess is that the band is not terribly breathable.
This is not a device that’s going to turn heads, at least not for good reasons. It looks sort of like a Nike Fuelband got hungry and swallowed an old Casio, and that’s not a compliment. You can see the electronics of the screen and buttons through the translucent material, and while that looks cool for a moment, when the screen is off it has the effect of making everything look rather cheap. It looks more like a novelty device than a $149 fitness tracker. The blocky lettering makes it easy to read on the go, but also means you wouldn’t want to flash this in a meeting. Basically, even though it has all-day tracking capabilities, the design is clearly aimed towards athletics-only use.
I was able to sync the Fit Smart flawlessly with my iPad Mini, but it had a great deal of difficulty with my HTC One M8. It took several tries to connect it properly, and then it never sync’d again to it. I tried uninstalling the app and re-pairing, but I was unable to get it to reconnect, even after multiple reboots. It was unreliable to the point of being wholly useless on Android, though from the small amount of time I spent with the Android app it did seem to have feature parity with the iOS version (except for sync, apparently).
Neither the iOS nor the Android app had an easy way to access my steps after the fact, which was another frustration. They get buried under “workout history”, so they aren’t easily accessible right when you start the app; instead, you’re greeted with a screen encouraging you to start a workout. Not a bad thing, but again, it shows that this really is more of a workout companion than an all-day tracker, step counts notwithstanding. [Update: I did have more success syncing with a Nexus 6, but my complaints about the interface of the app still stand.]
The real failures come when you try to use the Fit Smart as an all-day activity tracker. For one thing, you can’t use it to track sleep, even to indicate how long you slept. For comparison, a $20 Misfit Flash can do this, so it’s not an uncommon feature. Further, you can’t use it to set any alarms, which, again, a cheap fitness tracker still manages to do. For that matter, a cheap Timex can do that as well.
I’ll admit that I’ve been spoiled over the last year, but between the Pivotal Living tracker, my Pebble, and the Martian G10, I’ve never been without a device that has a silent vibrating alarm. Since I often wake up before the rest of my family to work out, I need a device that offers vibrating alarms so I don’t disturb anyone. Again, this is a feature almost every fitness tracker has, so it’s not unreasonable to ding the Fit Smart for not offering it, especially since there is a vibrating motor in it (it vibrates when it takes your heart rate).
Worst of all, the Fit Smart has apparently failed basic biology, as it has a very strange sense of how many calories I burn in a day. For reference, I am 5’7″ and weigh around 173lbs; using a Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) calculator, we can ballpark that my daily calorie burn is between 1,820 to 2,351 [depending on whether I define myself as sedentary or moderately active]. Last Saturday, I walked around 6,600 steps, and did a 36 minute bodyweight strength training workout. The FitSmart proudly informed me at the end of the day that I had burned 3,500 calories, which means even if we’re being generous with my activity levels, it overestimated my caloric burn by almost 1,500 calories.
If you follow the rough idea that 3,500 calories=1lb, if I followed the Fit Smart’s calorie estimates I would gain over a pound a week. In fact, in order for me to burn 1,500 additional calories in a day, I would need to run for approximately 3 hours or 15 miles, according to Livestrong. Since I am relatively certain I’d remember going for a 15 mile run, I think it’s safe to say the Fit Smart is very off on the calculations. I checked and triple checked my statistics on the app to make sure I hadn’t accidentally put down that I was 7ft tall or something, but it all looked correct, so the issue was clearly with the Fit Smart algorithm and not user error.
For reference, I included a screen shot of my friend’s Fitbit on a day when she walked 10,000 steps. As you can see, her Fitbit gives her approximately 1,000 LESS calories burned with more steps taken than the Adidas-there’s something very off about the Fit Smart’s algorithm.
If the Fit Smart cost $50, I might be willing to overlook many of the flaws, simply for the heart rate monitoring and the helpful workout statistics. But for $149, there’s a world of options out there, from Garmin Forerunners to various Polar products to the Fitbit Charge HR, and that’s without touching smartwatches that may be on sale for that price. All of these will track activities and workouts, and almost all of them have some form of heart rate tracking (either on the wrist or through a chest strap). They’re more attractive, more full-featured, and from my limited experience with them, more accurate in terms of calories burned. The Fit Smart has three big features: heart rate monitoring, step tracking, and calorie calculating, and it fails so miserably on one that it renders the other two basically useless, since you can get a better device that does all three for the same or less money.
Here’s our video take on the Adidas Fit Smart as well:
If you’re heavily tied into the Adidas MiCoach system and you only plan to use the Fit Smart for workouts, well, it’s overpriced but it works for that purpose. As an all-day fitness device, it’s an utter failure, and I can’t recommend it.
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
What I Liked: Heart rate monitor works well.
What Needs Improvement: App sync is flakey on Android; calorie burn calculations are wrong; unattractive design; uncomfortable to wear for long periods; lacks features offered by similar products in this category and price point.