Fitbit Charge HR Activity Tracker Reviews
Among the latest sport wearables, including many that grew into fitness tracker-smartwatch hybrids, the “old” Fitbit Charge (released in 2014) can now be categorized as a basic gadget. This wrist wearable that used to be top of its class back then (when it replaced the Fitbit Force, which was pulled off shelves due to its allergy-inducing wristband), is nowadays a fitness tracker with very simple features and only a few “extras”.
In the meanwhile, fitness trackers were enriched with continuous heart rate tracking features (like Fitbit Charger’s big brother Fitbit Charger HR), caller IDs shown on the display, social media notifications, and calendar alerts. Some even “pay for coffee”, answer phone calls, tweet and do a lot of other stuff — performing more like smartwatches than sport wearables. The prices of the enhanced, trendy trackers have gone up too.
But if you don’t want all those distractions on your fitness wrist gear and you want to concentrate only on activity, sport and health results, Fitbit Charge is a more affordable and still pretty solid tracker that covers the basics. In addition, it has a nice and clear design, soft and texturized wristband with a good clasp, is light to wear and is easy to use.
Connected to your smartphone Fitbit app, it counts the number of steps taken during the day and notifies you when you reach your goal. The first time I experienced this, I shuddered a bit because I wasn’t expecting it to buzz so vigorously, showing on the display that I reached 10.000 daily steps! And that was just after lunch time, which seemed a bit strange. But then it hit me – FitBit Charge was counting my “steps” during my mini-trampoline exercise class in the morning, so what was, in reality, a jump, my tracker recognized as a step. I thought next time I have to remember to set up the special exercise tracker, but when I tried to do that, I realized that it tracks only runs, walks and hikes (connected to the GPS), so there is no monitoring of other physical activities, like pilates, yoga, gym exercises or alike. Still, for runners and hikers, it’s a good feature.
Yesterday I got an email from FitBit that was apparently very impressed with my earning “the Marathon badge”. Yes, your overall distance crossed during the day is measured too, and you get an “award” for certain scores.
Also, it shows the number of calories burned throughout the day (more on that later) and when you press the side button just one more time the display will show the number of floors you have climbed. There’s a badge for that as well, which I earned a couple of days ago: Redwood Forest badge for 25 floors in the last couple of days. Looks like working in an office inside an old building with no elevator turns me into a staircase champ.
And, of course, there’s the time display since this gadget started as a watch – a fact that nobody seems to remember anymore. After all, the focus is on data tracking and [what kind?] advice.
Looking simply at those features shown on the display, the watch is truly a basic gadget for monitoring health and sports activities. However , you get more useful information and features when you sync to the app on your smartphone. The one I like the best is the sleep tracker, which is switched to “night mode” automatically. It tracks your body’s activity and at some point when you stop moving concludes that you are sleeping. The other day, when I was meditating during the day for 20 minutes and after that took a short power nap for another 40 minutes, Fitbit translated all that as a 1-hour sleep and added it to my night sleep. It also counts a number of times that you awaken during the night or are restless, so you may learn about the quality of your sleep and track patterns. This is how I found out I sleep too little – only a bit over 6 hours on average, which is less than the preferred 8 hours a day. All in all, it’s not a game-changing feature, but it comes in quite useful.
Now, about the diet plan and food intake…. To be honest, I didn’t bother with that part for very long. I started to enter the number of pounds I wanted to lose and the optimized weekly loss amount and it gave me the estimated date when I’m supposed to hit my goal. But, later it required logging in food that I was consuming, calorie numbers and the like and that was too time consuming for me on most days, so I quit. I finally tried it again today. After you log your food intake (after every meal), the watch updates your activity during the day to the app. The trick is to remember to log in the data whenever you eat something and to find out how many calories have you eaten per meal. Anyhow, after entering the calorie data, the updated calculation of the Fitbit app shows how many calories can you still eat until the end of the day. Apparently, after dinner, I was 271 calories over my budget and today I did not hit my 1,616 calories goal (that would make me lose 4.4 pounds by the end of August at a very gradual rate).
A very cool feature that I unfortunately never used was the Fitbit friends section, along with challenges. You can partner up with a friend who also owns a Fitbit wearable and challenge him or her to a “race”, where each of you tries to make more steps or stairs on a daily, weekend or even a weekly basis. And if you do not know who owns a Fitbit among your acquaintances, the app can connect to your Facebook account and find them for you.
Additional useful tips and tricks when using the FitBit Charge:
• You can change and adjust your stride length, which can help your step count be more accurate. While the FitBit Charge guesses your average stride length based on your height and gender, you can enter more accurate values to Personal Info on the Fitbit website.
• FitBit Charge has a MobileRun mode (inside the Exercise section on the app’s home screen), that connects with your smartphone GPS and tracks your walks and runs more accurately. Use it!
• Also, if you are a cyclist connect the FitBit app and the Strava app (a well-known fitness platform) to exchange data both ways and track your progress.
• The battery lasts for at least five days; however, this depends on how many times the FitBit Charge has been synced with your smartphone. There is no need to do that continuously, so it is advised to turn off the All-Day Sync on the app’s home position.
• Better usage of the calorie counting and diet plan section can be achieved if combined with another related app that has a bigger food database, like MyFitnessPlan.
In conclusion, the FitBit Charger may have a few flaws and disadvantages – like the missing heart rate tracker – but then again, its basic features and easy usage of the gadget and the app are exactly what some users are looking for.
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Fitbit is certainly looking add Pebble as a feather in their wearable technology cap. After all, Pebble was on the cutting edge with a great smartwatch on the market in 2013, way ahead of many of the latest entries in the wearable space by large corporates after a piece of the huge smartwatch pie.
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