Fitbit CHARGE Review

Firbit Charge Review

Firbit Charge Review

Here is the rather pretty and comfortable FITBIT CHARGE. It comes in nicely under £85 in April 2015.

It’s a straightforward activity tracker and sleep monitor that benefits from FITBIT’s excellent web and smartphone applications. FITBIT is one of the larger players in the wearables market and this kind of product from them exemplifies why.

The CHARGE is by no means the state-of-the-art device. The variant (same model more features) up is the CHARGE HR which, you guessed it, also add HR into the mix. The next model up is the FITBIT SURGE. The SURGE adds GPS and HR in a watch format.

So if you are looking for your first activity monitor this is the place to start. It’s fairly cheap, it works and it does the basics well. The manufacturer is competent (FITBIT) and the unit is well-made. Use one of these for a year and see how it fits into and complements your lifestyle then you can make a more informed choice later about the nice-to-have features of the competition. Anyway, in a year’s time this techie market will have changed a lot and for £100 in a year’s time you will get a LOT more technology than you do now (I promise!!)

So for a wearable-newbie (be that you or someone you are treating to a present) then get the CHARGE.

In any case, once you start moving up with great features you tend to overlook the increasing demands on battery life. You can quite happily wear your CHARGE for a week and never plug it in to either charge up or transfer data. It really will not interfere with your life. Once you get HR or GPS or a beautiful screen then you will find you have to plug it in EVERY SINGLE DAY. And you can’t leave one of those on charge overnight as part of the point of buying these things is sleep tracking.

And that is where, for example, Apple’s beautiful watch will fail to impress. They claim a battery life of 18 hours but with power-sucking apps it will be less. It may even get to the point of being practically unusable. The Fitbit CHARGE will really not cause you any problems in those respects. In fact the name is misleading…you don’t have to CHARGE it up very much at all 🙂

Anyway, if you want some more detail read on and I will also add some links to competing products and to best-buy tables further down:

OPENING UP

So it will come to your door looking like a fairly standardly packaged watch/strap/band. Like this:

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It’s a nice looking device (many of the others are not). In the box comes a tiny, wireless-USB-dongle (the bit that plugs into a USB port and then silently uploads stuff whenever you walk vaguely near it. You also get a short USB charge cable. Here are front and rear shots. The missing text on the screen was due to the shutter speed of the camera…the screen’s fine. It’s me. I’m not!

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The rubbery strap is very comfortable to wear, more so than many others. It’s as sweaty or unsweaty as any other strap. It’s sweat proof but I wouldn’t swim an IronMan triathlon in one.

Here you can see the CHARGE compared to the Microsoft BAND. This is really an apples vs. pears comparison as the BAND is more like the FITBIT SURGE HR. However you can see they are a similar size, you could perhaps surmise that the rubber strap might maintain its ‘new’ look longer than the Microsoft BAND. But the BAND is a more complex product at more than twice the price.

IMG_3554

MANUAL

For techie details on the CHARGE <here> is the manual.

SETUP

Setup is very straightforward and hassle free. Plug-pair-and-go would summarise the experience. It will work with pretty much any smartphone or MAC or PC bought in recent years running a recent operating system. Check the manual if you have concerns.

After you’ve paired the device using Bluetooth 4 (BTLE) then you install FITBIT CONNECT software on your device and that links to your data that will ultimately be stored in your online dashboard.

TRACKING

You wear the CHARGE 24×7 to track:

  • Steps taken
  • Distance travelled
  • Floors climbed
  • Calories burned
  • Active minutes
  • Hours slept
  • Quality of sleep
  • Targets (as defined on your online DASHBOARD)
  • Exercises – you can press and hold the button to start and stop specific exercise tracking.
  • Incoming notifications from your paired smartphone eg it will vibrate and display an SMS message

The online dashboard and apps are pretty comprehensive in how  you can look at the data (day, week, month) and the following gives you a flavour.

http://blog.fitbit.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Fitbit_Dashboard-steps-expanded-small.png

EASE OF USE

Easy! You mostly don’t need to read the manual…that’s how it should be.

I nearly bought one for an elderly relation last year but instead settled for a FITBIT ONE – which is a belt worn device with no smartphone notifications, perhaps more suited to that person’s lifestyle. But the software’s the same.

Heart Rate – Really?

You might wonder why you would want the HR. Well if you do exercise classes or other exercise, then those benefit from HR as a better measure of FAT BURNING ACTIVITY. HR can also give better data on sleep quality. So if you are a steps and activity person only then you would only marginally benefit from the HR analysis of sleep quality.

COMPARISONS:

Black Friday 2015 Amazon Price
Basis Peak £149.99 Link
Epson Pulsense PS100 £42.99 Link
Epson Pulsense PS500 £79.99 Link
Fitbit Charge £49.00 Link
Fitbit Charge HR £74.99 Link
FitBit Flex £112.00 Link
Fitbit One £58.65 Link
Fitbit Surge Ultimate £142.49 Link
Fitbit Zip £49.70 Link
Fitbug Orb £30.95 Link
Garmin Forerunner 15 £79.99 Link
Garmin Vivoactive £123.31 Link
Garmin Vivofit £44.98 Link
Garmin Vivofit2 £73.95 Link
Garmin Vivosmart £79.99 Link
Jawbone UP24 £52.89 Link
Jaybird Reign £179.99 Link
Microsoft Band £89.00 Link
Milestone Altitude £28.91 Link
Mio Fuse £94.95 Link
Misfit Shine £59.99 Link
Nike+ Fuelband n/a Link
Polar Loop £45.60 Link
Polar A360 £131.32 Link
Samsung Gear Fit £63.99 Link
sony Mobile SWR10 £29.89 Link
Timex Move x20 £50.55 Link
Withings Pulse £54.99 Link

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