FitBit Ultra review: A good looking gadget to help you look good

‘Tis the season to regret being quite so jolly last week. But not regret enough to stop one from overindulging quite heavily again on New Years Eve. Then the real regret kicks in. Tralalala la la la lah.

Almost as predictable as the wave of articles about unwanted gifts, bumper post-Xmas sales and people stabbing each other over cut price trainers is the wave of articles about “getting fit in the New Year”. And we at Latest Gadgets are sticklers for tradition.

FitBit-Ultra-Woman

Not for the first time in my career a tech company emailed me and asked if I’d like to try a weight loss gadget. I try not to get insulted. The company – FitBit and the gadget is the sleek looking FitBit Ultra weight loss tracker, the wellness widget that’s been taking America by storm.

The FitBit Ultra is a tiny USB key shaped dongle that you can clip to a belt or necklace. The design of the dongle is pretty sleek in a really nice matt black and a belt clip design. There is a single button that cycles through the hidden display – revealing the time, how many steps you’ve taken, how many stairs you’ve climbed and how many calories you’ve burned. You can also hold the button to log activies such as sleeping or skiing.

The Fitbit Ultra tracks steps, distance, sleep patterns and even stairs climbed via a state-of the-art altimeter, and includes an on-device display for real-time feedback. Fitbit Ultra’s accelerometer and state-of-the-art altimeter technology work together to track movement from climbing the stairs, so there is no confusion with taking a lift or escalator. Online, Fitbit.com compares daily climb activities to well-known landmarks around the world such as The Eiffel Tower and Machu Picchu and even Big Ben’s 389 steps.

Because I’m lazy, one of my favourite FitBit features is the USB hub that attaches to a PC. It automatically uploads all your data to Fitbit.com whenever your dongle is within wireless range, making it easier to keep track or your activities.

Have friends? Fitbit.com has a range of social features to help users stay motivated including messaging and achievement badges for reaching landmarks for stair climbing, steps walked and distance travelled. And it is fully integrated with all social media platforms if you feel the need to overshare. A weight management support tool, Food Goal, is also included which dynamically changes based on activities you complete during the day and calories consumed.

Fitbit’s online motivational support is available on your PC or Mobile, or via Fitbit’s iPhone app (well mobile website). It also includes a stopwatch – so that users can challenge themselves to beat a previous time and a clock.

Fitbit Ultra is available in blue or plum and is £79.99 SRP.

For more info head to Fitbit.com

TuneUp Utilities 2011 review

TuneUp

Like people, computers seem to slow down as they get old. With human ageing, it’s usually losing information that slows things down. With a PC, however, it’s the opposite – too much data. Accumulate enough old and redundant files and even the fastest system will struggle. Over 20 million people have turned to TuneUp to solve these issues. We got hold of the 2011 edition to find out why.

After a painless install, TuneUp automatically boots and asks if you want to scan your system. Its part of the 1-Click Maintenance service, which cleans and defragments the registry, removes broken shortcuts, deletes temporary files and optimises system start-up.

When ran on my six-month old computer, it found 582 registry issues, 96 broken shortcuts, 484.16MB of pointless temporary files and 11 potential system start-up optimisation. Suddenly, I felt like an abusive parent.

A quick browse of the “show details” option showed that I’d been fairly caught, too – most of the errors in the registry were from installed software referencing to absent files. Not exactly my fault, but it was clear that TuneUp wasn’t making the number up.

While most users will have to take TuneUp’s recommendations as gospel, even less advanced users might be able to understand the start-up optimisation options. Clicking “show details” launches a panel that reveals superfluous boot-up software – the stuff that slows down your computer’s loading time.

Not only can it tell you to remove some of them, but it also recommends moving some of the programme updates to weekly schedules rather than to run on boot. This is perfect for updating software – you’ll keep up with the latest releases but prevent a mammoth boot time.

There is plenty of functionality other than 1-Click Maintenance to dig through, although the most memorable is Turbo Mode. At the click of a button, TuneUp will change some preset (by you) system settings, such as graphic options and unused system processes, and free up computer power for whatever important task you’re doing. This is a godsend for older computers tugging along, although it won’t make too much difference to your top-end system.

After ten minutes of following wizards, I’d finished.  Rebooting my computer, start-up had definitely improved. Of course, ten minutes of Googlin’ can tell you how to increase your boot-up times using the Windows built-in MSCONFIG.

As for the rest of the optimisations – I couldn’t tell. I’ve got a lightning fast system, so the difference is hard to notice, and realistically, probably minimal. Having looked at what the programme does, however, I can say for a fact that older systems will love this programme.

If you aren’t an advanced computer user, I almost guarantee that this programme will prevent your computer from unbearably slowness. There’s a 15-day free trial, so it can’t hurt to give it a try – especially on a system over a year old. I think I’ll get it for my Dad.