I am a techno geek, I love every kind of gadget I can get my hands on and I have always been a fan of fitness gadgetry. I’ve been wishing after a fitness tracker for a while, so a few months ago I took the plunge and ordered a Fitbit Charge HR.
The first decision I had to make was which member of the Fitbit family I wanted to choose. There are six different Fitbit models to chose from, all ranging in prices and features. You have the Fitbit zip and Fitbit one which are the lower priced offerings. Both are clip on trackers, meaning they are designed to be clipped to a belt or an item of clothing, rather than being worn on the wrist. The zip is the most basic model at £49.99 and tracks steps, distance and calories burned. The Fitbit One does the same but also has the added feature of counting the number of floors climbed and sleep tracking. Then you have the Fitbit flex, which has the exact same features as the One, but it is a wristband rather than a clip on tracker.
Then you move on to the more advanced wristband trackers: the Charge, Charge HR and the Surge. The Fitbit Charge has the same features as the Flex, but what differenciates it, is the fact it has the ability to track your active minutes – It also features caller ID. The Charge HR is the upgrade from the Charge and again, has the same features as all the other models except it is able to constantly measure your heart rate via a green light that measures blood flow through your wrist. The top of the line model, the Surge has GPS features and is able to map out your activity.
I decided to go for the Charge HR, priced at £119.99. It wasn’t cheap, but I wanted a tracker that would provide me with as much information about my daily physical activity, as well as when I work out.
The first thing i liked about the Charge HR is the fact that it has an actual watch type clasp, meaning it’s much harder to lose. The reason I didn’t go for the Flex was because of the flimsy design of the wrist strap. Having a watch strap band has meant I can keep the band on securly without worrying about it falling off mid run or gym class and me frantically flailing about trying to find it again!
There’s a little button on the left hand side that you press and the small screen will give you a brief overview on how you are doing. It tells you the time, steps taken, resting heart rate, distance travelled, calories burned, floors climbed and, if you have an alarm set – the time your alarm will next go off.
Battery life is good, you charge it via a USB plugged into your PC. I find that the band fully charged will last around 4 days of constant use. Whilst sometimes inconvenient, it’s not a total deal breaker.
I have set my daily step goal at 10,000 steps and It’s been surprisingly difficult for me to achieve this every day. I have to admit, when I first got it I thought it would be easy, but 10,000 steps equates to about 5 miles and as a girl with a desk job, 5 miles a day is hard to achieve. Luckily, you can adjust your daily step goal to suit your own needs. If I want further information than what’s on the little screen of my Charge HR then I go to the Fitbit app that I’ve downloaded on my phone. It gives detailed analysis of how close I am to achieving my daily goals and I’ve found this the most useful tool to help motivate me.
This is the home page of the app, it gives you the same information as you get on your Fitbit. It also provides colour coding as to how close you are to achieving your goal. Red is low, orange is nearly there and once you’ve reached your goal you get a little smily face at the tile turns green.
If you click on a goal such as steps it gives you an infographic of how many steps taken in more detail. The picture above shows the steps I’d completed over the course of a day. As you can see, my walk to and from work are in green as these are where I’ve taken the most steps. The red graphs show where I’ve been pottering around the office, going to the printer or making a cup of tea. you can also view these stats over a different time period which is really useful.
The main reason I purchased the Charge HR was because I wanted to get a better understanding of how hard I’m working when I’m doing class workouts or at the gym. The picture above shows the resting heart rate feature (to be honest I don’t find it much use – it’s more of a novelty). I tested it against my Polar FT4 heart rate monitor and my resting HR was pretty accurate.
If you give the button on the Charge HR a long press it vibrates, telling you it’s monitoring your exercise. It monitors your heart rate throughout your work out and tells you how long you spent in three different training zones: fat burn, cardio and peak. It also gives you a nice line graph of your heart rate patterns throughout the workout. How accurate is it I hear you ask? Well, this is something that really lets the Charge HR down. For me, it’s just not accurate enough. To give you an example, the workout above was just over an hour long and my Fitbit said I’d burnt 311 kcals. However, I also wore my Polar FT4, which directly monitors my heart rate via a chest strap and I’d actually burnt 505kcal! I was really disappointed, I felt like the main reason I had bought it was so I could accurately track my Heart Rate and calorie burn but it was way, way off the mark!
For workouts I have gone back to my trusty Polar FT4. I know it’s accurate and it’s giving me the correct information. The Fitbit Charge HR wasn’t a total let down though, I wear it daily and I still find it a great motivator, I always want to push myself to reach my daily targets. If you are in the market for an everyday fitness band I’d probably recommend the model down, the Charge. If you are buying this just for the Heart Rate features, you may be disappointed. I love Fitbit as a brand, I find in terms of step count they are the most accurate, but I just didn’t love the Charge HR as much as I wanted to.