Fitbit Review: The New Fitness Charge HR

Fitness Charge HR has remained on the top of the list of fitness tracking gadgets for the entire year—causing the company to make a huge IPO and cementing its position as the buzzmaker in the hot and happening wearable tech market. The cutting-edge Fitbit tracker is an excellent gadget for both health and tech aficionados, because it monitors your heart rate continuously to keep track of your everyday activity, workout sessions, rest and sleep sessions and so much more.

So how is Fitbit HR measuring up to similar products on the market, such as another of its offerings, the Fitbit Surge, and also rival products like the Jawbone UP3? Here’s a review of how the product works:

Structure and Design – The Fashion Quotient


An excellent feature of the Fitbit Charge HR is that it’s a fashionable piece of technology anyone would love to flaunt. It comes in a range of five colors—plum, blue, teal, black, tangerine and looks sleek and lovely on your wrist. The display is also of the same color as the band, and hence does not stick out awkwardly.

The screen is an OLED display, and easily readable, although it is rather small. There are a range of options that can be accessed with the help of buttons on the side of the screen, leading you to scroll through your calorie count, steps walked, climbed etc and most importantly, your heart rate.

The clasp is pretty minimalistic, with a standard watch like rubber strap and a well-fitting buckle.

One thing that Fitbit hasn’t been able to address is the skin irritation complaints by several of its customers. It is probably the sweat that gets under the band and reacts with the skin, but this problem seems only with Fitbit trackers. Fitbit responded by telling users to take breaks in between using the gadget and cleaning it regularly. The Fitbit HR had made a few developments, but you shouldn’t be buying it if you have sensitive skin issues.

Otherwise, the band is pretty comfortable to wear, unlike the Microsoft Band, which makes you feel like you’ve got your hands in handcuffs. You can actually sleep with the Fitbit trackers, and let it measure your sleep vitals.

Under The Hood – The Tech Quotient


The Fitbit Charge HR contains all the usual advanced tracking facilities available on wearable tech. It can track your daily steps, calories burnt, heart rate during sleep and a lot more. A new development in this gadget is that you don’t need to put your tracker on sleep or snooze mode; it will automatically doze off and come to life based on your heart rate and involuntary movements like breathing.

Another awesome feature is the exercise tracker, where you hold down the left button and make your gadget display the stopwatch mode, which is excellent while doing time-bound exercises.

A quirky new inclusion is the Caller ID, which links your smartphone to your watch through the Fitbit app. The display shows the caller number when someone calls your smartphone, presumably so that you can decide whether to pick up the call or not during an exercise session. It’s an interesting innovation, but doesn’t exactly make much of a difference.

One important feature that the device unfortunately lacks is water-resistance. Though it’s water-proof in 1 ATM which means you can wear it in a shower, it’s unsuitable for wearing in the swimming pool. This makes it unable to track swimming exercises, so if you’re into those, you should look at Misfit’s Shine or other similar device.

In-Depth Look On FitBit Charge’s Most Noteworthy Features


Like every other Fitness tracker, the Fitbit Charge HR will measure your usual vitals, like heart rate, calories, steps taken and so on. One crucial lack in the Charge is that it lacks GPS, which puts it behind a lot of other wearable trackers on the market, including its own compatriot Fitbit Surge. Without the GPS tracking device, the distance travelled is usually wide off the mark, although Fitbit assures that the figure would be close to the actual distance travelled. Because the pace measurement depends upon distance, that usually gets skewed as well. That might be problematic for a lot of people, but then your heart rate, calories and steps come out pretty accurate, so go for it if you do not want too much sophistication.

About the stopwatch mode; you don’t have to manually turn it on or off. It records almost every activity, and you can fill in the exercise type and etc later through the app. The automatic flexibility makes it very useful as you don’t have to keep switching your gadget on or off.

The USP: Tracking Heart Rate


This is what the USP of Fitbit is, and makes device live up to its hype. It’s mainly for people who prefer hitting the gym over running and cycling, which explains why it hasn’t got GPS. It tracks your heart rate through an optical monitor which manifests as a detailed chart, showing you the live graph of your pulse and tracking the peak, cardio and fat burning time intervals.
The Fitbit Charge works best while doing stationary exercises, like bikes, weights, treadmill etc. You can check out the BPM and confirm it with the trackers of the machine you’re exercising on. It is rather off the mark when you hit the road, as it does not protect very well from environmental interference and rapid movement.

Another unique feature is the resting heart rate, which the device will automatically start reading based on your breathing patterns and heart rate. According to most health formula, your resting heart rate is supposed to go down as you get fitter. So, recording your hr while you sleep is a great idea. Unfortunately, Fitbit is not quite able to execute it, because the figures are wide of the mark, by at least 10 points. Not a very reliable aspect of the device.

The sleep tracking graph is surprisingly simple for a market leader like Fitbit, having nothing but a blue block to denote your entire sleep duration. It does not offer detailed analysis like periods of light and deep sleep, unlike its competitors like Misfit Shine. However, it does keep track of when you toss or turn, and that it usually enough to know whether you’re getting a full eight hours of restful sleep.

Battery Life and Chargeability – A Compromise?


Considering you can keep it on all day, the battery life of wearable gadgets is often a deciding feature. The Fitbit Charge lives up to the challenge pretty well, as you can wear it continuously for five days without charging, and topping up is usually quick. Of course, given the standards of Withings Activite and Misfit’s Shine, both of which measure charge in months rather than days, this can come across as rather paltry. But this tracking device is the best HR monitoring product there is, and considering it keeps flashing your heart rate data, the battery life is pretty impressive. Charging will happen through a cable that will click magnetically to the back of your device.

Fitbit Unboxing Video by Unbox Therapy

The Fitbit App


Lastly, here’s some insight on the the smartphone app that monitors and keeps record of all your data. The UI is simple and non-cluttered, unlike the Withing and Misfit rivals which offer a lot of information which you might not need.

In addition, there are a lot of food tracking, planning, and losing weight options, which are really advanced and not very useful.

All your metrics are given on the side-panel of the main homepage, including heart rate, calories burnt, “active minutes” (when the stopwatch was on) and so on. Clicking on any of them will reveal detailed analyses of your daily and weekly exercise curriculum.

Also, a number of Goals and Challenge options that the app provides make the device interesting for users, particularly for those looking for sources of motivation from the app. As you delve into the app, you will discover other feature, such as adjusting your tracker to the dominant wrist, caller ID activation, and so on.