As part of our “lets get fit and stop eating so much rubbish” mission for 2016, and because we’ve wanted them for a while, Hubby and I went out and bought a Fitbit Charge HR fitness tracker each…
First off, they weren’t cheap, but they were on offer at £80 in Argos (as opposed to the £119.99 on the Fitbit website). We spent quite a lot of time weighing up the different options and types of tracker – initially I was interested in the much cheaper Fitbit Flex, which is still a fabulous looking device, but having investigated a little further, we decided the additional features of the Charge HR were worth the extra cost.
What Is The Fitbit Charge HR?
The Fitbit Charge HR is a movement, sleep and heartrate tracker – ideal for keeping track of your steps, flights of stairs climbed and distance walked. While the cheaper Flex does most of these things too, the Charge HR also acts as a watch, which was a huge attraction – it means you don’t have to wear two things on your wrist! It is lightweight and made of a rubbery latex-free material similar to sport-watches.
The initial set up was very simple, although I would recommend charging the device before you start – we were too excited and wanted to get them done straight away, but the batteries died halfway through the 3 minute set up so we had to do it all over again an hour later when they were fully charged.
It links up to the official FitBit app for your smartphone too, as well as having the ability to sync with a number of other fitness apps (not something we’ve tried ourselves, as the FitBit app itself if more than sufficient for our needs at the moment). You can also access all of your stats on the FitBit website.
Another bonus is that, with a bluetooth connection, the Charge HR gives you Call Alerts by vibrating and displaying the caller name or number. This is really easy to turn off if you want to save both your phone and Charge battery.
The OLED Screen
This is the thing that really swung going for this model over the Flex – the fab little screen! It’s very clear, easy to read and works great as a watch. It isn’t permanently on, only when you tap the device, press the small button on the side, or if selected, when you turn your wrist to look at it.
This last feature sounds like a great plan, but it’s a bit frustrating when you turn over in the night and the whole room lights up… On the subject of lights, the Heart Rate monitor functions using two green lights on your wrist – if you’re not exercising and let the device hang a little looser, these are visible – again, a bit annoying in the dark.
The website suggests the battery life can be up to 5+ days, although so far I’ve not managed to get past 3 without having to charge it up, but that could be because of all the notifications I get sent to it – not that it takes a lot of charging. The only gripe I have there is that the cable that comes with it is incredibly short!
The FitBit has a handy Alarm feature to gently rouse you out of sleep by vibrating on your wrist – Hubby uses it to wake him up of a morning, and I rarely stir, which considering I’m a very light sleeper is a total blessing.
The Smart Track feature is supposed to identify when you’re doing exercise, and what sort of activity it is. As a regular user of a pushchair, this feature is less than reliable, and if it does actually pick up that we’re out for a walk it often assumes I’m on a bike as my arms are stationary on the buggy handle. There is the option to turn on an activity and GPS tracker when you’re about to go out, which I usually forget about until I’m halfway home, which is annoying. The other issue with using a buggy is that it doesn’t give an accurate step count due to the position of your arm.
We’ve been using these for just over 2 months now, and it’s interesting to see how our fitness is changing, although probably more interesting to see how well we’re sleeping (in my case, never very well.) It has certainly encouraged me to get myself walking more, and I feel pretty chuffed when I reach my steps target for the day!
It would be nice to have a “buggy walk” choice added to the exercise options, as I think most people would agree, pushing a 7kg buggy plus a child on a 3 mile walk is considerably more work than just a 3 mile walk!
One final piece of advice I would give is regarding size – the Charge has a watch like strap, but is available in Small and Large. If possible, try to find one to try on in person rather than going by the measurements online – we thought the large was going to come up small on both of us, but is actually perfect. We popped into a Currys/PC World where they had tester models to try for size.
UPDATE March 2016 – since the latest update to the Fitbit Charge HR ver. 2.20, BitTicker no longer functions with this device, so the recommendation for it has been removed.
Disclaimer – I have reviewed this product as a paying customer; I have not been compensated for this post in any way – I just really like it!