What Is It? – You know what a Fitbit is – the best-selling fitness tracker – and the latest model, the Fitbit Alta HR, is slimmer than the well-rated Charge 2, which we reviewed earlier this year. The “HR” designation distinguishes this model from a slightly less expensive Fitbit Alta, in that it monitors heart rate (and sleep stages), which the non-HR Alta does not. The “PurePulse” heart rate monitoring of the Fitbit Alta HR is now part of the Charge 2, which got a recent firmware update, so it takes a little looking to distinguish the two models. The first part is easy, as the Alta HR is much skinnier than the Charge 2 – and skinnier than their Blaze and Surge models which do not have heart rate monitors. The Alta HR is only just over half-an-inch wide, while the Charge 2 is just under 1-inch wide, and it also has a side button, while the Alta HR is touch screen only. They both measure steps, calories, and distance, have customizable alerts to remind you to get up from your desk or couch and move around, and notify you of calls, texts and calendar items when linked to your smartphone. They both also have changeable straps, for wrist size, color and type (leather or rubber). The Alta HR claims a battery life of 7 days, the Charge 2 is said to last 5 days. Both are water-resistant but not waterproof, so they are taken off for your shower or bath, and are not for swimming. The Fitbit app for your Android or iPhone is the same for both watches.
Besides being larger, the Charge 2 has several features that are not in the Alta HR: it counts steps climbed; it recognizes which sport you are engaged in (running, biking, etc.); it will report on your cardio “fitness” level; connects to GPS; and can give you guided breathing sessions to relax.
50 Plus Friendly? – The Fitbit Alta HR is pretty easy to use after pairing it to your phone and setting up an account. Like the Charge 2 it comes with a USB charger that clamps onto it, but you need a power source, likely the same one for your phone, or plug it into the USB port on your computer.
Frustration Factor? – Honestly, I’m not sure how accurate the “Sleep Stages” feature is. For me, it showed me wide awake in the middle of one night for what appeared to be at least 15 minutes and I’m very sure that didn’t happen. For my wife, it showed her as asleep for an hour when she was sitting next to me & watching TV one evening, and she was definitely awake! A sleep-only monitor I reviewed recently seemed more accurate, but it’s hard to be sure of your sleep while you’re sleeping.
Is It Worth It? – Like its cousin the Charge 2, the Fitbit Alta HR is priced starting at $149.95 and delivers a solid sense of the basics you’ll want to know about whether you are getting enough cardio exercise plus has some of the “extras” like sleep monitoring & notifications. The slim form factor may make it more fashionable to those who don’t like a larger fitness watch. Direct from Fitbit or from Amazon.
Here’s the Fitbit Altra HR promo video: