I previously owned the FitBit Force but returned it once they announced their recall. Earlier this year FitBit released their new Fitbit Charge HR, so I decided to give them another look. I read reviews for several other fitness trackers as well including Garmin, Misfit, and Jawbone. (“I seen’t you break someone’s jawbone off.” Name that movie.) Most companies offer a variety of trackers ranging in price according to features. Ultimately I decided to go back with FitBit since I was happy with their previous product and the price is fair for the features.
Warning: This post is long. If you don’t care to read all my ramblings, feel free to scroll down for the TL;DR.
First, I’ll talk about the differences between the FitBit Force and the Charge HR. They sell a Fitbit Charge which would probably be a better direct comparison, but I don’t own one to review. The strap closure is a nice improvement. Rather than the snap closure which was tricky to close and would sometimes pop open (not great when you’re working out), the new Charge HR has a regular buckle closure. The heart rate monitor adds some bulk though. It doesn’t sit as comfortably on my wrist but I’ve gotten used to it now. I wear it all the time including sleeping. It sits higher on your wrist to get the most accurate HR reading. The Charge HR also automatically tracks your sleep whereas the Force required the user to manually start and stop the sleep timer. The green LEDs used to track heart rate can be annoying if you wake up during the night. In an “Ugh, what’s that flashing right by my face?” kind of way.
In addition to being a step counter, the FitBit Charge HR functions as a watch. When I’m on a job, whether shooting an event or assisting another photographer, I don’t have to keep pulling out my phone to see how long it’ll be until I’m reunited with my couch. Joking, but seriously though, I love my job but I also love my couch. You can set an alarm and the FitBit will buzz you awake. I’ve started using it rather than my phone. The buzzing wakes me up without the annoyingly happy ringtone. Even ringtones shouldn’t be that peppy in the morning. The FitBit Charge HR also features call notifications. You can sync it to your phone so incoming callers’ name or phone number will appear on your tracker. The feature is mostly useless at this point. The tracker either doesn’t alert me to the phone call or it does so after I’ve already answered the phone. I hope this will be addressed in a future firmware update.
The feature that sets the Charge HR apart from the Charge is the heart rate monitor. Judging from what I’ve read, the heart rate monitor is fairly accurate. The good thing is FitBit determines your resting bmp and provides a graph so you can compare your activity levels throughout the day. The step counter is the main feature for all the FitBit trackers; however, I recently started biking so I knew the step counter would not be able to track that type of exercise. Since I work at my desk most of the time (the “unglamourous” side of photography), I check my FitBit from time to time throughout the day. My usual response is “Damn, I’ve been really inactive.” It’s good motivation to take the dogs on a long walk, hop on a bike, or even walk around the living room while watching OITNB. It’s better than sitting on the couch, right? If you are suffering through the Houston heat too, you’ll understand why I am currently avoiding the outdoors.
The Charge is $129.95 and the Charge HR comes in at $149.95. If you’re really into biking or running though, it may be worth the extra $100 to upgrade to the Fitbit Surge which provides GPS tracking.
The FitBit app is where you’ll get all your information. The tracker syncs to your phone through Bluetooth. (I recommend turning off the All-Day Sync function. It drains both your tracker and phone’s battery.) You can view steps, distance, calories burned, sleep information and more. The app can be linked to other apps such as MyFitnessPal. It motivates me to utilize the MFP app to track my eating so I have a good overview of my day. You can also add friends and family for a little friendly competition. I don’t have any active friends on FitBit right now, so I’m not sure of the all the social aspects of the app. If you’d like a FitBit buddy hit me up. Leave a message below and we’ll link up.
Note: Most people will need the large size. It’s deceiving because they should label the small as child and the large as adult. I have a small wrist, and I’m glad I purchased the large size.
TL;DR: The FitBit Charge HR is an excellent fitness tracking option. The heart rate monitor is especially useful for exercises like biking that can’t be measured in steps. Do some research, evaluate your fitness goals and activities, and you’ll find the right tracker for your lifestyle. FitBit offers variety of trackers so you’ll be able to find the one for you.