Fitbit Charge HR Review

Fitbit Charge HR Review
Fitbit Charge HR Review
Fitbit Charge HR Review
Fitbit Charge HR Review
Fitbit Charge HR Review
Introduction


The wearable fitness category is fast becoming crowded, to the point of over-saturation. To this day, however, Fitbit continues to thrive at the top of the ladder, as its various fitness trackers and mobile apps have shown their popularity amongst consumers. Very recently, we got the chance to review one of its latest models, the Fitbit Charge – a decent offering to say the least, but not quite as impactful than some of its previous efforts. This time around, the Fitbit Charge HR takes everything we already know and have with the existing Charge, but it tacks on a PurePulse heart rate monitor to give serious fitness buffs more accuracy with exercises.

Packaging contains:

  • Proprietary charger
  • Bluetooth dongle
  • Users manual

Design

Similar in design from before, but now there’s a heart rate sensor on its underside.

Aesthetically, the Charge HR doesn’t deviate from the sporty style that we already saw with the Fitbit Charge. To tell you the truth, the only major change here is the blinking heart rate sensor tacked onto the underside and the type of buckle it’s sporting. Specifically, the strap features a surgical-grade stainless steel buckle, which is adjustable like any other watch. Beyond that, everything else is identical with this model.

Unlike the Fitbit Flex, which offers interchangeable bands, there’s no mixing or replacing the strap of the Charge HR – so what you pick out initially is what you keep. Luckily, Fitbit currently offers the Charge HR in two colors, black and plum, with blue and tangerine coming in the future. Employing the same durable elastomer material from before, which has a pleasant textured pattern and rubbery feel, it really fits the scope of what we want to find in a wearable fitness tracker. It’s not too soft or too rigid, so its feel for long periods of time on our wrist is pretty comfortable.

Stuffed with even more hardware, it’s no surprise that it doesn’t see any changes to its water resistance. Indeed, it’ll be safeguarded against sweat or usage in the rain, but the company is careful to point out that it’s not protected against being worn in the shower – so it’s not something that can be submerged.

When it comes to juicing the Fitbit Charge HR, we’re required to use the included proprietary USB cable. It’s certainly not a new occurrence, seeing that it’s a common practice we’re familiar seeing in many other fitness trackers, but it’s just a pain having to remember to bring it along. Worst yet, it’s not something that’s readily available in the event we lose or misplace it – mainly because it’s a rare sighting to find in retail stores.

 

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Display

It might be small, but it’s simple and offers quick access to useful data

There’s nothing new here with the display, since it’s the same tiny sized OLED strip from before. Well, to be fair, it’s something we appreciate because it provides us access to viewing information directly on the unit – as opposed to relying on the app. Naturally, the OLED display delivers a potent glow that’s effective in making it visible in all sorts of conditions. To that regard, it’s bright enough on the sunniest of days, and not too irritating to the eyes in complete darkness.

Cycling through the various modes is done by pressing on the single button to the left of the display, which allows us to view the time/date, steps tracker, distance covered, calories burned, floors climbed, and our pulse. Alternatively, we can set it up so that a double tap on the display will turn it on. In contrast to other fitness bands, the display here isn’t quite as profound – more so when we look at other models like the Samsung Gear Fit or Huawei TalkBand B1. Regardless of that, it has the necessary tools without taking away the unit’s focus of being a discrete thing.

Fitbit Charge HR Review

Fitbit Charge HR Review
Fitbit Charge HR Review
Fitbit Charge HR Review
Fitbit Charge HR Review
Fitbit Charge HR Review
Introduction


The wearable fitness category is fast becoming crowded, to the point of over-saturation. To this day, however, Fitbit continues to thrive at the top of the ladder, as its various fitness trackers and mobile apps have shown their popularity amongst consumers. Very recently, we got the chance to review one of its latest models, the Fitbit Charge – a decent offering to say the least, but not quite as impactful than some of its previous efforts. This time around, the Fitbit Charge HR takes everything we already know and have with the existing Charge, but it tacks on a PurePulse heart rate monitor to give serious fitness buffs more accuracy with exercises.

Packaging contains:

  • Proprietary charger
  • Bluetooth dongle
  • Users manual

Design

Similar in design from before, but now there’s a heart rate sensor on its underside.

Aesthetically, the Charge HR doesn’t deviate from the sporty style that we already saw with the Fitbit Charge. To tell you the truth, the only major change here is the blinking heart rate sensor tacked onto the underside and the type of buckle it’s sporting. Specifically, the strap features a surgical-grade stainless steel buckle, which is adjustable like any other watch. Beyond that, everything else is identical with this model.

Unlike the Fitbit Flex, which offers interchangeable bands, there’s no mixing or replacing the strap of the Charge HR – so what you pick out initially is what you keep. Luckily, Fitbit currently offers the Charge HR in two colors, black and plum, with blue and tangerine coming in the future. Employing the same durable elastomer material from before, which has a pleasant textured pattern and rubbery feel, it really fits the scope of what we want to find in a wearable fitness tracker. It’s not too soft or too rigid, so its feel for long periods of time on our wrist is pretty comfortable.

Stuffed with even more hardware, it’s no surprise that it doesn’t see any changes to its water resistance. Indeed, it’ll be safeguarded against sweat or usage in the rain, but the company is careful to point out that it’s not protected against being worn in the shower – so it’s not something that can be submerged.

When it comes to juicing the Fitbit Charge HR, we’re required to use the included proprietary USB cable. It’s certainly not a new occurrence, seeing that it’s a common practice we’re familiar seeing in many other fitness trackers, but it’s just a pain having to remember to bring it along. Worst yet, it’s not something that’s readily available in the event we lose or misplace it – mainly because it’s a rare sighting to find in retail stores.


Display

It might be small, but it’s simple and offers quick access to useful data

There’s nothing new here with the display, since it’s the same tiny sized OLED strip from before. Well, to be fair, it’s something we appreciate because it provides us access to viewing information directly on the unit – as opposed to relying on the app. Naturally, the OLED display delivers a potent glow that’s effective in making it visible in all sorts of conditions. To that regard, it’s bright enough on the sunniest of days, and not too irritating to the eyes in complete darkness.

Cycling through the various modes is done by pressing on the single button to the left of the display, which allows us to view the time/date, steps tracker, distance covered, calories burned, floors climbed, and our pulse. Alternatively, we can set it up so that a double tap on the display will turn it on. In contrast to other fitness bands, the display here isn’t quite as profound – more so when we look at other models like the Samsung Gear Fit or Huawei TalkBand B1. Regardless of that, it has the necessary tools without taking away the unit’s focus of being a discrete thing.

Fitbit app

Workouts are dissected to deliver a deeper understanding of your activities.

We’re not going to go into detail about the Fitbit app, which is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, since we’ve covered it extensively in our Fitbit Charge review. It’s no different, obviously, but there’s one new category that’s of particular interest in this review – the section in the app pertaining to heart rate.

With the Fitbit Charge HR and its PurePulse heart rate sensor, it’s constantly flicking and on to monitor our heart rate. Any hardened fitness buff will surely know and appreciate this new feature, seeing that it’s able to provide better accuracy with the amount of calories we burn throughout the day – both from workouts and through normal activity. Using the app, we can visually track the progress of our resting heart rate (BPM), which in turn can indicate improvements to our health. Of course, the lower the number, it means that the heart muscle is in better condition and doesn’t have to work as hard.

In addition, the heart rate sensor continues to prove its value when checking out the “workout” category in the app. When beginning a workout, a long press of the button next to the OLED display places the Fitbit Charge HR into its workout mode – and once finished, another long press is needed to end it. Going back to the app to check out the results, it’s broken down to three different heart rate zones that include peak, cardio, and fat burn. They’re classified according to the heart rate measurements taken by the sensor throughout the workout.

Fitbit Charge HR Review
Connectivity


Pairing it with an iPhone 6 Plus via Bluetooth, the Charge HR is able to synchronize data on a timely basis, which is done as a background process – to minimize the impact to its battery. In addition, we can even have the Charge paired to allow Caller ID notifications to pop up on our wrist. Text messages, emails, and other notifications aren’t handled by the Charge HR; a bummer to say the least. At the end of the day, it really would’ve been swell to see its notifications support extended into those other things.

Performance

It’s still plagued by phantom step movements.

Before getting down and dirty with the Fitbit Charge HR, we first had to test if it’s still registering phantom steps – a problem we’ve seen in the Fitbit Flex and Charge. Unfortunately, it’s still a persistent issue here, as moving our hand to mimic the walking movement causes the Fitbit Charge HR to register it as a step taken. Who knows why Fitbit is unable to address this problem by now, especially when it’s been a common occurrence with its previous products.

Fitbit Charge HR Review
Fitbit Charge HR Review
Knowing that, it’s a safe presumption to say that it’s not quite as accurate as some other fitness trackers when it comes to monitoring steps – though, it’s still better to have an estimated figure than none at all. In that regard, the Fitbit Charge HR will surely be able to give users an oversight to their activity. On days we run and exercise, we notice the steps number to be higher than days we’re mostly inactive. Where it absolutely separates itself from its sibling is in how it’s better able to give us a more accurate net figure for the amount of calories we burn.

Sleep tracking is available as well with the Charge HR, but unlike the Flex, which needed to be physically placed into sleep mode, the Charge HR’s tracking is done automatically. Frankly, this is a special treat, since we’re no longer needed to place it into sleeping mode. In general, it’s pretty accurate in determining when we’re asleep – and when we wake up.

And finally, the Charge HR can also track how many floors we climb thanks to the altimeter that’s inside of the unit. Interestingly, it’s more accurate than tracking actual steps, which is ironic, seeing that we can’t fool it into believing that we’re ascending steps by using a stair climber machine or something similar.

Fitbit Charge HR Review
Battery

Due to the always-on heart rate sensor, its battery life is less than the standard Fitbit Charge.

Fitbit claims that the Charge HR is able to achieve up to 5 days of usage with its rechargeable lithium ion battery. In our experience, it’s just a smidgen short of that at 4 days. Now, that can be due to the fact that it’s constantly paired with our iPhone 6 Plus for call notifications, which can inadvertently lessen its tally. Comparing it to the Charge, we get half the amount of battery with the Charge HR, since the heart rate sensor-less Fitbit Charge got 8 days of battery.

Conclusion


No doubt, the only thing notably different here is the heart rate sensor tacked onto the Fitbit Charge HR, as its name so happens to imply. With that addition, it receives a higher price point of $149.95, which is a $20 premium over the standard Fitbit Charge model. To that effect, we find the price point to be more than justified – making it a better option to pick up over its sibling. Workouts are more accurately monitored because the heart rate sensor is actively on to provide users with informative data, which in turn, delivers real numbers based on actual physical data obtained by the unit.

In contrast, the Fitbit Charge is only able to estimate things. Fitness buffs will no doubt appreciate the inclusion of the heart rate sensor, but the compromise in having it is its lower battery life. Sure, it might not be as feature rich or stylish as some other wearable trackers, but nevertheless, when it comes to tracking fitness, it can’t be beat due to the information it obtains and how it presents the data in a meaningful manner in its app.



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