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IT & Systems Management

Fitbit Force is a slim fitness band with more screen

The latest fitness band from Fitbit isn't just about counting steps and burning calories.

With the inclusion of a small OLED display, the new Fitbit Force is a little more smartwatch-like. It can tell the time and, soon after launch, it'll be able to alert you to incoming calls by pairing with a smartphone. Fitbit's previous band, the Flex, only included a strip of LED dots to measure step progress.

Of course, all the health-tracking features of the Fitbit Flex remain intact. The Fitbit Force can count steps taken, distance traveled, active minutes, hours slept, and quality of sleep. And unlike the Flex, the Force has an altimeter for tracking stairs climbed. It can also vibrate to wake to silently wake you up in the morning.

The watch itself is water resistant, and Fitbit says it'll last seven to 10 days on a charge.

As for connectivity, the Fitbit Force wirelessly syncs with iPhones and Android devices via Bluetooth 4.0, and an included Bluetooth USB dongle lets the fitness band sync with PCs and Macs. Certain NFC-enabled Android phones can also pair with the Force by tapping on it.

Users can track their progress over time, earn badges, and engage in a little friendly competition with other users. If you need more than Fitbit's own apps, the Force can pipe data to several other services.

The Fitbit Force isn't the only fitness band with a display. The Nike+ Fuelband has a basic OLED display for telling time and conveying basic fitness information, while the Nike+ Sportwatch has a larger grayscale display for showing distance, the time, and other information.

Fitbit's Force strikes a balance, keeping the slim look of its fitness bands while offering more detailed information on the screen. The addition of call notifications is especially intriguing, and suggests that these already-popular fitness bands will ease their way into the broader smartwatch market.

For now, the Fitbit Force comes in two colors--black and a teal-like "Slate"--and costs $130. That's a $30 premium over the Fitbit Flex. It ships in three to four weeks.

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