Since my Fitbit Force was recalled earlier this year, I’d been pining for a simple motivational aid. Microsoft’s Band looks awesome, but it’s sold out as soon as they get another batch of units. The Garmin VivoSmart had some interesting features, but lacks stair climbs (important to me because I do so much of that in a given day) and was at the upper end of my price range. (They weren’t discounting it for CyberThanksGivingBlackShoppingHolidayWeek, either.) Fitbit, meanwhile, has been such a tease, but finally wanted to take my money in exchange for Fitbit Charge HR. I’ve used it for two weeks.
I was a little nervous about the heart rate sensor needing to be super snug against my arm. I’m happy to say that it doesn’t need to be. If you’re used to wearing a watch, you won’t notice the difference. If you don’t wear a watch, like me, you’ll fiddle with it a few times a day.
The heart rate sensor uses two green LEDs that need to be “close enough” to the skin to do their thing. When you take it off for charging, or if there is some kind of malfunction, the LEDs will power down. If you bump it at night, you may get an eyeful of blinking green LED. Reason: the Fitbit is designed to record your heart rate all day. The pretty HR graph is available on the Fitbit web site, but not the phone application.
I’ve found the HR sensor works best if the watchband is two to three finger-widths from the end of my wrist. The heart rate reading seems believable. The “resting heart rate” setting should record after one wakes up, but is still lying in bed. Unfortunately, it seems to wait until I’m up and out, reading a little higher than expected. I’m sure they’ll get this kink worked out.
The Fitbit web site sorta kinda integrates with other apps and products. For example, I use MyFitnessPal to record my dietary intake because its food list is very good and EveryMove for additional motivation. The “sorta kinda” is FitBit records my caloric intake, but not the things I ate.
A huge plus over the Force and the Charge (non-HR) is the band has a real clasp. The little nub on the prior model was prone to coming undone when anything tugged against the band or if the nub wasn’t thoroughly pushed through. In my first week of The Force, I nearly lost it twice.
Another really nice improvement is the sleep recording is automatic. Previously with the Force, I’d have to remember to set the timer before going to bed and unset it when I get up. Needless to say, I often didn’t. Now, it’s more of a wear and forget device, which is precisely what I wanted.
Battery life seems to be on the order of 5-6 days of normal use, where normal use is “Use the vibrate to wake up Monday-Friday” (it is really nice you can set multiple alarms on different days) plus walking and occasionally hitting 10k steps. Because the cord is proprietary and apparently incompatible with every other model of Fitbit, I have been charging it roughly every fourth day.
So, overall, I’m pleased with the device. It’s also had the desired effect of getting me to the indirect route through Seattle’s stair district in an effort to boost my stats for the day.