Fitbit Charge HR First Impressions

2015-05-22 16.39.25So I finally caved and ordered a FitBit Charge HR because REI was having a deal, and I was already planning on upgrading anyway.  There were only a couple things I was hesitating about, first I had only just bought my FitBit Flex in September, so upgrading so quickly felt like a waste of money.  Though to be honest, I really wanted a heart rate monitor with my fitness tracker in the first place, and almost went with a different brand to try to get that function but then it turned out that none of the ones on the market at the time really offered it.

I also wanted to see if they would release any new band colors because unlike the Flex, the Charge HR isn’t able to be switched out to have a new color with the same tracker.  If I couldn’t switch the band color, I really, really wanted to get my Charge HR in red.

But it’s been around six months since they announced the new products and no new colors are on the horizon.  I’ve seen the announcements about the slate and tangerine wristbands, but I’ve not known anybody who actually physically has those, and in the end black is the better choice for me anyway if I can’t have red.

The other reason I wanted to wait six months was because I wanted to make sure they’d gotten all the kinks out.  One of my co-workers got a Charge HR a few months ago, and I’ve been asking her about her experience and what her device does, and there have been some really glowing reviews lately so I figured that coupled with the sale meant it was time.

I’ve only been wearing the Charge HR for a few days so far, but I’m pretty happy with it.  It’s got all the things I like about my Flex but a lot of extras. I love having a watch feature, I’ve missed knowing what time it was.  And since I have a heart condition and generally like to have a heart rate monitor handy, this is perfect for me.  Plus no more math to figure out how many dots equals how much towards my goal.

There’s a few things I’m still getting used to so far.  First, figuring out how to wear it.  How tight should it be, how far up my arm, all that stuff.  It takes a bit more getting used to than I expected.  I read everything in their materials about the topic, but I’m still not sure if I’m doing it right.  Maybe I should search out some user YouTube videos.

A second concern is the sleep tracking.  I’ve had a bit of trouble with it’s automatic sleep tracking features, but they are possibly related to ongoing issues with the dashboard instead of the tracker itself.  Usually my app and my web dashboard don’t say any sleep is logged, but when I go to manually enter it, it’s magically appeared.  This morning, it just had no sleep log at all and it decided I was asleep most of the morning after I got up (it marked me as awake, just also as a sleep log).  I never minded needing to put the Flex in sleep mode, and it’s not really that much of a big deal to manually enter when I went to bed and got up, but it seems like maybe if it’s supposed to be a major feature it should be a bit more functional.  Maybe it’ll work the kinks out over time.

The last thing is a bit superficial and cosmetic, but the band isn’t perfect. The waffle pattern on the plastic looks great, but it seems to collect dust and dirt in a way and is hard to keep always looking nice.  It also is a type of plastic that really makes you sweat more underneath it, and in the muggy humidity of Virginia’s summer I don’t need help with that. I wish they offered some sort of liner band made of moisture wicking fabric to help offset the issue, because sweat interferes with the heart rate tracker so it loses functionality simply because of the material in the band.

In general, I’m really happy with my upgrade.  I love testing the new features and figuring out how it works, I think my sleep tracking, once I make sure it’s got the right times listed, is more accurate than before.  I wish it did a few more things, but no tracker is going to be perfect.

I’ll have a stronger opinion later, but I’d say if you have a Flex and love it, stick with it for now.  But if you’re joining the world of FitBit, I’d go for the Charge HR of what they’re currently offering.

Posted in FitBit, gear.