Back in the old days with the Fitbit Ultra, I was constantly frustrated with the syncing method to move data from the device to the cloud. That old model had a tiny dock that you had to clip the Ultra onto for charging; that dock connected to your computer via USB, and any time you were near the dock the Ultra and dock synced. In reality, it didn't work that well a lot of the time.
What's great is that the Fitbit Force really doesn't need that computer connection anymore, as it's perfectly happy connecting directly to your iPhone or iPad over Bluetooth LE. You can set up the device through your computer; all of the setup instructions are found on the Fitbit website and you download software that's appropriate to your device. The Mac app for the Force is also used for the Fitbit Flex, One and Zip devices. So you do need to plug in a small, easily lost USB dongle during setup, but it can be removed from your computer or hub as soon as you're done.
Before doing anything, you'll need to charge up the Force. I was unhappy to find that Fitbit chose to use a proprietary charging cable, although I'm sure that there were some design constraints that led to this. Use of a standard -- like the ubiquitous micro-USB cable -- would have been nice. It also turns out that this proprietary plug can be plugged in upside-down, which I found out after unsuccessfully trying to charge the Force for four hours before turning the plug over...
On the plus side, battery life seems to be stellar with the Fitbit Force. After wearing the device for eight days, it still has more than half a charge so it appears that one might be able to go for two weeks without charging.
Design-wise, I like the understated look of the Force. It's a slender black (or slate) strap, not emblazoned with bright LEDs, and all in all quite futuristic-looking. The band straps onto your wrist securely with two small studs that go into holes on the strap, and it's easy to put on and take off.
One feature of the Force that I love is the built-in vibration alert. With other activity trackers it's quite common to have to actually look at the screen to indicate that you're starting an activity or going to sleep. Not so with the Force -- you just push and hold the button until you feel the device vibrate, and you know it's ready to go. The same vibration feature works when stopping the timer as well. As if that's not cool enough, the Force vibrates when you reach your step goal for the day, and you can also use it with the app as a silent alarm.
Fitbit notes that with an upcoming firmware update, you'll also be able to get call notifications from an iOS 7 iPhone 4S and higher smartphone. That should be very useful, providing a physical alert if your phone is nearby and you have the ringer shut off.
The Fitbit team has obviously been quite busy behind the scenes, as the app has been updated to not only provide an iOS 7 flat design, but provide control and monitoring of the features of the Force and other monitors. The app is quite colorful, starting the day with all indicators in a teal color, but then changing the colors to yellow, red or green depending on how close you are to reaching a specific goal.
Steps are tracked and converted into miles or kilometers walked. There's an indicator for how many flights of stairs you've clmbed, and a calculation of how many calories you've burned based on your base metabolism and activity. If you're tracking your weight either manually or automatically, your current weight, percent body fat, and pounds to go to reach your weight goal are displayed in the app.