You would have to be living under a rock to not have seen the flood of wearables entering the market. It seems like every tech company either has some sort of wearable on sale or coming soon. It makes sense, just about every new feature on our smartphones is geared to make our lives smarter and more efficient. Wearables can help us gain important information about ourselves and when used in conjunction with a smartphone, can form a powerful tool. While wearables are improving at a rapid pace, there are some hurdles that need to be overcome. The most glaring issue is probably the cost of the hardware, but things like the constant need to charge batteries, looks and ease of use keep people away too. Enter the Fastfox fitness band.
When I heard that someone was offering a smart fitness band for $8, I had to check it out. Yes, you heard that right, the Fastfox is a smart fitness focused wearable that costs eight bucks. Fastfox accomplishes this task by taking a very focused approach with their product. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles here, but for eight dollars you get a wearable that keeps track of the distance you cover in the day, tracks your sleep quality and alerts you when you receive a call or text. Furthermore, the Fastfox uses a standard watch battery that should give users months of use without the needing to recharge the battery.
When you receive your Fastfox the first thing you will notice is that the simplicity continues onto the packing materials. The fitness band comes in a simple, thin cardboard box. None of the usual software discs, owners manuals and charging cords that accompany our gadgets these days comes with the Fastfox. The only thing you will find inside the box is the Fastfox fitness band, a sheet of instructions and another sheet of stickers you can use to decorate your band.
The basic Fastfox is a black rubberized band with a silver disc in the place you would find a watch face. The silver puck is the important part of the band, it holds all of the electronic bits and the battery. If you don’t like the black band, you can pop the silver disc out and put it into a different colored band (bands are sold separately or as part of a more expensive set). If a band isn’t for you, you can even put the disc in a pocket without the band. The watch bands look good and seem to be pretty sturdy. They should hold up to most abuse you will find in normal fitness activities. The band is long enough to fit even the biggest wrists and is comfortable when worn for long periods of time, which is good because you are supposed to keep the Fastfox on at all times.
The setup of the Fastfox goes quickly. You need to download the Fastfox app and pair your band with your smartphones Bluetooth. When you start up the app it asks for your name, gender, height and weight. Next you set goals for how many steps you want to take in a day and how many hours you want to sleep in a night. Once your done with that your band should already be tracking you.
When you explore the app you can see the app keeps track of your steps, the total distance you covered and determines if those are running steps. The app tells you how many steps you’ve taken that day, in the week and in the month. If you hit your goal for the day the app offers up a few encouraging words. The app also shows you how many hours you slept in a given night and how many of those hours were during a deep sleep cycle. At the bottom of each page is a graph that helps you keep track of your progress. While there is a minimum of information offered, it is all valuable. Some fitness apps give you information overload, the Fastfox app doesn’t. Overall, it is a pretty good fitness tracking app, simple and easy to use. There are some small problems though, the app only shows kilometers which could bother some. I mostly mention this because it seems like an oversight to not offer a way to change the system of measurement, I can’t believe it would be that difficult to add this option. The other small issue with the app are the options to share information with friends. It can be hard to find the option to share photos and info, at the moment this option feels unfinished.
Using the Fastfox is a mindless endeavor. All you do is wear the band and check in on the app every so often. This should really be how fitness trackers work. You strap it on and go to town. However, the most important part of any fitness tracking product is the validity of the information, this is were I ran into trouble with the Fastfox. The steps counter in the Fastfox was significantly off. When I set my band up I clocked 400 steps by the time I was done, the problem with that is I was sitting on the couch. I found that the Fastfox consistently added a bit more than a kilometer onto my daily travels. It was pretty good at differentiating running steps from walking steps, but distance was a problem that wouldn’t go away. I don’t know if this is a sensitivity issue, software issue or something else. On the other hand tracking my sleeping habits was great. It was almost spot on when tracking the time I slept. I have no way of knowing how much time I spent in deep sleep cycles, but on mornings I woke up and had more time in deep sleep, I felt better and more energetic. While I had two different experiences with tracking steps and sleep, it was mostly a positive experience.
The Fastfox is a compelling device. A fitness tracker that costs $8 is accessible to almost anyone. While I have a hard time recommending a fitness tracker that is as inaccurate as the Fastfox, for $8 you could get one to try for yourself. Furthermore, if an update comes out that fixes the accuracy issues and polishes the app a bit, this would be a killer device. At this moment I would tell you that this would be a great fitness tracker to help you track your sleeping habits and make positive changes. The steps counter was inaccurate, but it can at least give you a vague picture about how active you were in a given day. At the very least the Fastfox is a device you should keep your eye on, especially for $8.