Striiv Pedometer Review: Step It Up

It's been a hectic week. I had to travel, and work has been pressing. Consequently I'm missing workouts. But at least I'm staying active. Seriously: It's due in large part to the fitness tracker in my pocket.

Striiv is a keyfob pedometer with a touchscreen display that tracks your steps and sends you encouraging messages throughout the day. It has built in game mechanics that reward you for accomplishing certain tasks -- like walking up 100 stairs in a day. You can swap between steps taken, calories burned, distance walked, stair equivalents and "energy". (More on that later.) It also has a screen for your total stats, and charts that look at your progress. There's even a cute little built-in game. Aw, puddin'

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One thing I really like about the Striiv, like the Fitbit or Jawbone Up, is that it stays with me all day -- whether I'm walking, or running, or just sitting at my desk -- constantly telling me how far I've been and how far I should go. That's very helpful.

I also really dig the full colour screen. It makes me more likely to look at it. That's a simple thing but kind of a big deal, because that encourages me to stand up, and walk around. Just by showing me how many steps I've taken and calories I've burned in real time, it makes me to take more steps and burn more calories.

And then there are the game mechanics. I'm not into unlocking arbitrary achievements just for the sake of doing so. But when I see that I'm, say, 50 steps away from some goal threshold -- like walking a mile in a day -- I'll take those extra 50 steps. And I loved the built in the walkathon app. As you take steps, you earn credits that go to charity -- you can choose to benefit clean water, rain forests or polio. All you have to do is walk, and Striiv and other companies donate money on your behalf.

I also really enjoyed seeing my calories as food items. Every once in a while, as you cross some calorie threshold, Striiv will hit you with an achievement letting you know that you've just burned off the calories from a soda or a cupcake or a large fry. Delicious.

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Striiv uses an Energy measurement through the system, but doesn't explain it well. There's an entire screen is dedicated to it. Yet despite watching a tutorial and reading the directions, I still have no idea what the number stands for. My Energy for today, for example, is 2123. But 2123 what? Jules? Megawatts? Red Bulls?

There are also syncing problems. Connect the Striiv to a computer and it uploads your data to Striiv.com. But when you go to the website and log in, there's no mention of it. Where did it go? There's nothing about it in the manual or tutorial. Confusing! Speaking of syncing, it would be great if you could export your data to something like Runkeeper or Fitocracy. You can't.

Finally, the built in MyLand game is, well, dumb. I can't imagine grown ups caring about filling up their virtual world with virtual trees and flowers. Then again, it's somewhat similar to FarmVille. So, your milage may vary.

Vital Stats Week Four

Weight: 77kg BMI: 25.2 Fat Mass: 19% RHR: 64

Should I Buy?

It depends on whether you prefer logging or encouragement. This is a nice little device and at $US99 it's quite reasonable for what you get. Despite some problems, it's fun and useful. It doesn't track nearly as much data as a Fitbit (like sleep or meals, for example) but it does a much better job of relaying information to you throughout the day, and providing goals to keep moving. If you're looking for something that not only tracks your activity, but also stimulates you to do more, it's a decent choice. But if you want more data reporting, and integration with services like RunKeeper, I'd stick with the similarly-priced Fitbit Ultra for now. [Striiv]