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Wednesday
Apr052017

Review: Fitbit Alta HR

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Fitbit's most impressive fitness tracker isn't the biggest or the one with the most features, but a perfect mix of reliable activity and sleep tracking, ease of use and a refined design.

With the Fitbit Alta HR, we see the slimming down of the now familiar form factor of the Fitbit Charge 2 as well as the appearance of the heart-rate monitor on one of the smallest bracelets we've seen.

While Fitbit has shaved off size and weight to create a perfect tweener device that sits firmly between the  Fitbit Charge 2 and the more simplistic Fitbit Flex, it has heaped many useful features in the software and analytics, making this tiny bracelet adept at delivering on the promise of 24/7 activity and sleep tracking.

Design and Build

The Fitbit Charge 2 is the most popular fitness tracker of all time. I see more and more of them in the wild and owners seem to love them (I've added a few on my social feed). I like that the Charge 2 can be used as a watch but also serves as a tracker but without the arduous complexity you get from most smartwatches.

Despite having tried various generations of smartwatches, I always revert to mechanical watches. The Fitbit Alta HR, gives me the fitness and sleep tracking capabilities I need, while allowing me to wear various other watches and not look like a total dork.

The Fitbit Alta HR looks like a slimmer Fitbit Charge 2, it shares a similar metal frame and OLED display, albeit one that is smaller. It has a similar charging clip and it is good for seven days of use on a full-charge which can be topped up in under two hours.

The build is rugged but not overbuilt. Like the Charge 2, you can't swim or even shower with the Fitbit Alta HR, but you can easily change bracelets if you want to go from sporty to dressy.

Software and Tracking

 

It is no secret that Fitbit's secret sauce is its fantastic software component. Whether you're using the Android or iOS app or the desktop software, you can expect to get detailed and granular information on the activity and sleep data the device has collected.

With the Fitbit Charge 2, you need to manually let the device know what activity you are about to do to track it accurately. The Fitbit Alta HR has no such functionality, it can effectively track steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes, hourly activity & stationary time.  Which is more than what most people expect out of their fitness trackers.

Fitbit Alta HR also features SmartTrack, which they say “automatically recognizes select activities and records them in the exercise section of the Fitbit app." I was skeptical about this feature but after using the Fitbit Alta for two weeks in the gym, on long walks and wearing it for 24-hours, I must say it really does work.

One of the pain points of fitness wearables is having to interact with them. Start the exercise, pause the exercise when you're drinking water and then save the exercise so it is recorded. The Apple Watch is like this so sometimes hours pass by and I still haven't saved or unpaused my activity which is annoying to say the least.

With Fitbit's SmartTrack on the Alta HR, I no longer must worry about this. It can tell if I am on an elliptical, if I am doing free weights, or if I am on a bike. All this information in automatically recorded and stored saving me a lot of time and heartache.

I found SmartTrack to be very accurate and it is now a feature that I cannot live without. 

Conclusion

Fitbit's Alta HR is an ideal fitness tracker for any level of user. It has a bright screen, tracks activity and sleep 24/7, and can determine what sort of activity or exercise you are doing. Ideal for users who like to wear real watches, or don't like bulky devices, it has the best size to functionality ratio on qny tracker out there today. The availability of a heart rate monitor on a device of this size is a big win.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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