Fitbit Charge HR Fitness tracker Review


Shockingly for me this is a piece of what can only be called fitness equipment, but luckily its also a gadget so thats fine.

Last year after many years of thinking about it I actually joined a gym, and as part of this I was interested to see how active/inactive I was but to also track my sleep.  After having a look a various bands I settled on the Fitbit Flex which did its job for a few months, but I wanted more, more stats to look at and a watch.

The Fitbit site started to show details of their upcoming fitness bands, the Charge, the Charge HR and the Surge.  The Charge was pretty much the Flex with a display so that was ignored, the HR had more features including 24/7 heart rate monitoring (hence the HR) but also things such as tracking flights of stairs climbed.

Anyway, after looking at other options (MS Band, Apple iWatch) and deciding they were too far from launch and would probably cost double or more I opted for the HR.

I ordered direct from Fitbit on their pre-order day and about a week or so later I had it in my hand.

First Impressions.

Well the box was pretty much identical to the flex box, basically a 2 story clear plastic watch box with the HR on a stand in the top half and the USB Cable, Sync Dongle and some paperwork in the bottom half – the manual, and app are online from Fitbit’s website.

Taking it was simple and the first thing I noticed was how much more flexible it felt than the ironically named flex, coupled with a traditional watch buckle it already felt leagues ahead of the flex.

Setup.

First things first, it needed some electricity – so after a quick 1 1/2 hours it was showing a full charge.  A quick update of the already installed software and the HR was connecting to the app, within seconds it told me there was a firmware update available and it was downloading ready to install. (Bearing in mind this was released in the UK that week).
Update took a few minutes and it was then tied and synced to my fitbit account.

Next the iPhone app, opened it up and it paired with the HR and performed a full sync, but it overwrote that days data from my flex which was disappointing.

The app gives you a dashboard view with various options to view which can be hidden if desired, details of the band (inc. battery life) and the ability to set various options such as screen display and goals/targets.

Use.

The use over the past 3 months has been pretty straight forward, needs a charge every 4 days and seems to track my sleep and lack of activity very well, you do forget its there to be honest except when you remove it for charging or if showering etc (its sweat proof but not water resistant).

Disappointingly its had a couple of issues, when synced to the iPhone the bluetooth connection can stay open which just drains the battery in a matter of hours, the same thing doesn’t happen when syncing to an ipad so which is a little odd, both are pretty much the same spec too.
The second issue is something of a common complaint (and was a big issue for Fitbit on a previous band) – the band has caused a rash, for me its where the little buckle holds the strap on. Fitbit say its caused by excessive wear, wearing too tight and trapped sweat/dirt – well I clean it all the time, it has the amount of play they suggest and its taken off for at least half an hour a day and yet the rash remained.

Verdict.

Overall a good fitness tracker for the money, only let down by a buggy bluetooth connection and an annoying rash, but in terms of tracking my exercise, heart rate and sleep its proven that I’m pretty active, burn plenty of calories, have a good resting heart rate but suck at sleeping.

Its no Microsoft band or Apple iWatch but then again it has a better battery life and doesn’t need you to sell your soul in order to buy one.  Mine was £120 from Fitbit but I’ve started seeing them for close to £100.

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