It seems like everyone is trying to get in on the wearable tech band wagon. Brands like Garmin, Jawbone, and Fitbit occupy a crowded market and of course there is the Apple Watch. Others have also tried to push the fashion aspect, for example Withings Activite, which emphasizes its styling over functionality. After doing extensive research on a slew of these activity trackers I decided to pick up the Fitbit Charge HR. Has it been a game changer?
First off where does the Charge HR (Heart Rate) sit in the family of Fitbit products?
The top end product is the Fitbit Surge which has GPS functionality. Next is the relatively new Fitbit Blaze which has a color screen. The Fitbit Charge HR follows that up with a smaller slimmer profile and heart rate monitor. The wristband comes in small, large, and X large. Not sure which size is for you? Click here to view their wristband sizing tool.
Let’s take a look at what the Fitbit Charge HR comes with.
- Fitbit Charge HR activity wristband unit
- Fitbit Charge HR USB charging cable
- Instruction booklet
Nothing fancy here. One thing of note is the proprietary USB charging cable. The cord itself is only about 12 inches long. Not only that but it doesn’t come with a wall plug so you’ll have to use one that you have lying around or charge your Fitbit Charge HR using your computer/laptop.
Fitbit Charge HR Functionality
Functionality wise the wristband displays and tracks the following. Note that the following sequence is the default order. You can rearrange the order in the Fitbit app.
- Heart rate
- Calories burned
- Floors climbed
To see any of these, just raise or flick your wrist as if you were looking at your watch. This activates what they call the Quick View, showing you the time. From there you can either click the button on the left side of the device to scroll through the displays or gently tap the face of the device. Pro tip: There is no need to actually tap the screen of the device, which happens to be very narrow. You can tap the flat part of the band just below the screen and it works just as well.
Another cool thing is that you can use the Fitbit app to change the settings of the tap gesture. The default setting makes it so a double tap displays the time. You can change it to any of the other displays i.e. steps, mileage, etc. The Quick View however cannot be customized in this way. The app only allows you to keep it on, which shows the time, or turn the functionality off.
If you’re doing a workout you can activate the exercise mode by holding the left side button. You’ll feel a little vibration and a stopwatch will appear on the screen. When complete, hold the left side button to turn off exercise mode. The device will then show you all the statistics of the workout tracked during exercise mode. Pretty cool function but I have to say I haven’t used it much.
The Fitbit Charge HR also keeps track of your sleep. I wear mine to sleep every night and it’s always interesting to open up the Fitbit app to see how much sleep I got. It even tracks how many times you were awake and restless. Also for those who don’t like the annoying alarm noises in the morning you can set a silent alarm on the app and your Fitbit Charge HR will vibrate to wake you up. You can also use this function as a reminder during the day.
Finally there is a caller ID function on the device. I actually found this out accidentally when my sister gave me a call and my wristband starting vibrating, displaying her number. Note that the Charge HR doesn’t display texts like the Blaze or Surge.
For such a small device it actually packs a bunch of functionality. As for battery life the claim is that the device can last for 5 days on 1 charge. That claim seems to be pretty accurate as I find myself charging the device every 3 to 4 days, mainly because don’t like seeing the warning message that the battery is low.
So has the Fitbit Charge HR changed my life? Not entirely but it has made a larger impact than I anticipated. I am not a watch wearer and the wristband actually comes in pretty handy. Instead of taking out my phone, I just turn my wrist up and the screen turns on to display the time. Pretty convenient. As for the step counter it provides some good encouragement, especially when I look down at my wrist after a long workout to see 28,000 steps. I’m sure when I step up my running mileage, even with my flat feet, it’ll provide some good motivation. Speaking of motivation, Fitbit allows you to add friends via the app and cheer or taunt them and also shows you a leaderboard. It adds a little boost throughout the week. The weekly report also gives you a summary, essentially a little pat on the back or a little kick in the butt. If you’re looking for an activity tracker, I definitely recommend checking out the Fitbit Charge HR.