(Pocket-lint) - The pedometer is nothing new. It's a gadget that's been around for many years, keeping track of steps taken and giving you an idea of how active you've been during that day.
If you work in a sedentary profession, like sitting in an office, and always drive to work and get the lift to the third floor, then there's a chance your day is less active than you might first think. Part of what pedometers aim to achieve is to illustrate that so you're more conscious of what you are doing.
The Fitbit Zip aims to take that a little further, tying into an ecosystem that will let you analyse this data, sync wirelessly to your PC and on to your smartphone, as well as linking in with other Fitbit devices to give you a fuller picture of what goes on during your day.
But is this any advancement over a £5 pedometer? Is this a gadget that will help you make the right lifestyle choices and how does it compare to something like the Nike FuelBand?
Designed to be worn
The Fitbit Zip is dinky. The pedometer itself it little more than the battery that powers it, a sleek little pebble that's a stone's throw away from the cheap bulky pedometers out there that look like a pager from the 1980s.
On the front is a small display to convey information and tapping it will cycle through the different stats available: time, steps, distance covered, calories burnt, as well as showing a smiley face to depict the general status, getting progressively happier through the day as you stay active.
It's a basic display, with no backlighting, but it's perfect for the job at hand.
Around the back is where the included battery goes and, as we said, the device is mostly battery: it's extremely compact, measuring 35.5 x 28 x 9.65mm and weighing just 8g.
You can slip it into a pocket and it will work, however it comes with a little clip case, which is finished in silicone, and can be clipped to your belt or waistband. It's quick and easy and we found it secure enough to wear all day, including when taking a run, with no worries about it falling off.
It's also compact enough and light enough to clip on and forget about. We wore it throughout testing and barely knew it was there. It's small enough to be discreet, but looks good enough to have on show. It's not making a statement like the Nike+ FuelBand with coloured lights on your wrist, if you're conscious about that sort of thing.
READ: Nike+ FuelBand review
The Fitbit Zip isn't waterproof, but it is weatherproof, so if you get caught in the rain or it gets sweaty at the gym then it's fine, but don't dive into the pool with it.
Connected to the Fitbit universe
There's more to the Fitbit Zip than just the pedometer part. It comes with a small USB dongle for you to plug into your computer, so you can establish a wireless connection. Software is available for Mac and PC, so you can sync the data that the Zip connects and hook you into the Fitbit ecosystem.
You'll have to register for an account, which is free, to then get access to all your data. It collates in one place so you can look at your activity over time as you use the Fitbit Zip. But as this is a central Fitbit account, it will also gather data from other Fitibit devices, such as the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi scales, or the Fitbit Activity Tracker.
The Activity Tracker app is available for iPhone and Android devices and syncs with your account. This will let you examine your data on the move, as well as add in additional details like the food you eat and the quantity of water you consume, if this is part of a wider diet plan.
So, the Fitbit Zip is more than just a pedometer, it's part of a wider world that wants to improve your lifestyle and provide you with the information to gauge your performance, with plenty of options and targets to set yourself through the website.
We found the Fitbit Zip to be accurate in measuring steps. Using a simple ad hoc method of counting along and checking the display, it has no problem measuring those steps.
Because it syncs with your account, the Fitbit Zip will know plenty about you, such as your vital statistics. Because it knows your vital statistics, it can calculate the calories you expend, so at a glance you can see how many you've got through.
Being alive burns calories, so even if you don't move some are being used, but the idea here is to get active and push that number up. You are also set the goal of 10,000 steps, which is a pretty standard target. If you have an active job and spend the day on your feet, you'll probably hit this easily. If that target is too low, you can change it through the website.
The same applies to a day walking around shops. The whole idea about devices like the Fitbit Zip is to reveal just how much activity you are doing during your days. This tracking and immediate information you can view on the display, means you're motivated to make better choices.
That might mean you walk those 15 minutes to the station, rather than get a bus, or take the stairs instead of the escalator.
Head out the door for a run and the Zip recognises that you're being "very active". The results in Fitbit.com will reveal these different periods of activity to you, so you can see that putting in a little more effort is worth it.
The Fitbit Zip itself will store seven days of detailed data, so you'll need to sync it regularly if you want to keep track of all the detail. Once this is out of the device and into your Fitbit.com account then it's safe, but there is no way of viewing any historical data on the device itself - it will only tell you about the current day.
The battery will last you 4-6 months according to Fitbit's information and it takes a CR 2025 which you can buy readily on the high street, so changing batteries is no problem.
We like the Fitbit Zip. Priced at £49.99, it is more expensive than some pedometers out there, but then you're buying good design, accuracy and into a wider system, rather than just something that measures your steps. As such, it's a nice device for those looking to increase their activity.
It's not as fancy as the Nike+ FuelBand and where Nike's device offers the same sort of data collection, it is a fashion statement as well, with heaps of celebrity endorsement and so on. But you have to pay much more for that privilege, even if Nike's system is slightly more visually engaging than Fitbits.
All in all, the Fitbit Zip is a simple and effective solution, but gives you plenty of options through the website and app if you have a wider lifestyle plan.