Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband
Fitbit’s Charge HR is device which might be interesting for many people. It is basically an activity and sleep tracking device that has the form of a wristband. Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband can be very useful as a motivational tool for some of us who want to get more physically active, just like previous Fitbit products have been. One thing though, the wristband form factor might not be for everyone’s taste. The Charge HR is one of three new wristband-form activity trackers released by Fitbit this season, and it’s the middle-based model in a range that includes the Charge (without HR, which stands for a heart-rate monitor), and the smartwatch-style Surge.
Design and build quality
The Charge HR comes in small and large band sizes in the shops and it’s made of a rubbery material that’s joined at the ends by a metal clasp. For larger wrists on which the Charge HR can’t be worn loosely, it can feel a little uncomfortable until you get used to it, but it might feel most uncomfortable at night while you sleep. This is especially true if you’re not accustomed to wearing anything on your wrist. We would have preferred an option to remove the tracker from its band, and perhaps a softer fabric-style strap to wear at night.
You can wear the Charge HR all the time and track how many steps you take, how far you’ve travelled, how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed, and how many calories you’ve burned. You can also wear it to bed in order to track how well you sleep; you’ll be able to see how long it took you to get to sleep, how restless you were throughout the night, and how long you spent in a deep sleep. That is, of course, if the wristband doesn’t bother you.
It comes with a small USB dongle that can be used for syncing with a laptop or desktop (using Fitbit Connect software that can be downloaded from the Fitbit site), and there is a USB cable so that you can charge its battery. Bluetooth 4.0 is supported by the device, and if your smartphone also supports Bluetooth 4.0, you can enable it to set up the Charge HR wirelessly through the Fitbit smartphone app, though you will still have to plug it into a USB port to charge it. Data from the tracker can be synced wirelessly through your smartphone, either manually, or in the background.
Software and usability
A button on the right side of the Charge HR allows you to cycle through all the stats that it records. The stats are shown on a one-line OLED that can be seen in bright light with the help of some shading. When you cycle through the stats, an icon is shown before each stat so that you know what it represents.
Feet are shown for the step count, a location pin for the distance, fire for the calories burnt, and a zigzag with an up arrow for how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed. The tracker cycles through these from the start each time, starting with the clock (indeed, you can use this as a watch), rather than going back to the previously seen stat. However, you can change which stat appears first, and also disable the clock. Additionally, it supports double-tap gestures, and you can set it to show your desired stat without pressing the button. It doesn’t show activeness, which isn’t much of a problem unless that stat gives you motivation, but you can see how active you have been when you log in to the app.
Step counts were generally accurate during our tests, as were stair counts and kilometres travelled. However, we noticed that extra arm movements did generate steps when we weren’t walking so you need to be careful. Heart rate monitor is also quite accurate. You need to tighten the wristband a bit to always have good contact between the skin and the tracker so the results of heart rate monitor be constant.
All the data can be viewed through the Fitbit phone app or the Web site, and it has a bubbly looking interface that will give you graphic representations of all that you’ve achieved. You can easily track your progress for the day, as well as for weekly and monthly periods. There is also an ability to track food intake, though this can be a little confusing due to the way food is listed by region.
We prefer looking at the Profile view when using the Web site, as it provides a more convenient view of all the data, and even shows you which badges you’ve earned for the day and throughout the course of using the tracker. We think the badges are a nice little motivator in themselves as you can challenge yourself to unlock the next one.
You’ll get a graph that shows periods during the night when you’ve been restless or awakened. For us, it was a little inaccurate in its reports. During times when we knew we were awake, the app only showed that we were restless. We had sleep sensitivity set to ‘normal’, but it can be set so that all detected movements are classified as periods of being awake.
Other things to note about the Fitbit Charge HR are that it’s water resistant, its battery can last about a week before requiring a recharge, it can show caller ID on its screen from your phone, and there is a vibrator that acts as a silent alarm to wake you from your slumber (but you can also set alarms for any time). Caller ID can only be set up on supported phones, and requires that the phone be paired with the Charge HR. It worked perfectly with our Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, which is a supported model.
Our only quibble with the device is that it’s a wristband form factor. If you aren’t accustomed to wearing anything on your wrists, then it will take a period of adjustment before the Charge HR becomes a comfortable part of your life. Furthermore, the clasp can be a little awkward to lock into place as there are two notches to line up (or you could just use the end one if you have a big wrist), and you have to give them a firm push so that they can make a secure connection.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a fitness tracker that can motivate you into becoming more active on a day to day basis, the Charge HR is a good candidate. We like the overall look and feel of the device, as well as its capabilities and the way data is presented in the smartphone app.