By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
Fitbit’s most comfortable health-tracking wristband yet loves watching you dream
The FITBIT Alta HR is the slimmest fitness wristband with continuous heartrate tracking I’ve ever tried. It’ll monitor your ticker, keep up with your exercising and – get this – it will analyse your sleep.
Oh, and the straps are chic in the extreme.
The Alta HR combines the benefits of smart notifications with PurePulse technology, which automatically recognises the exercise you’re doing, tracks your sleep and keeps the battery alive for up to seven days.
Compared to its predecessor, the Charge 2, the Alta HR is way slimmer and lighter and thus more comfortable to wear in bed while it watches you dream.
But the smaller design means you sacrifice some of the functions available with the Charge 2. One thing I missed is the sensor that counts how many floors you climb in a day. I happen to love exercising by way of defying gravity.
Also absent are MultiSport feature and Connected GPS, which enabled use of a mobile phone’s GPS for more precise tracking of running, biking and the like.
That said, the Alta HR is still a very useful and comfortable gadget for tracking activities all day long. And the doctors will appreciate having your normal heartrate data handy if you get wheeled into hospital on a gurney.
Just kidding about that – the heartrate tracker is a good way to improve your overall heath and fitness.
The wristband links into two functions on the new Fitbit app – Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights – that can offer insights about the quality of your sleep and suggest ways to improve it so that you can deal with the daytime better.
The Alta HR continuously tracks a variety of statistics. Doubletap it to see the current time or just raise your arm and turn your wrist. Tap it once to view the next entry in your statistics chart – it cycles through steps taken, heart rate, distance covered, calories burned and minutes of continuous activity.
When you reach the suggested goal of 10,000 steps (in any timeframe), the device vibrates and displays a celebratory animation. Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back.
To start with, you need to download the Fitbit app to your phone and register or log onto your account if you already have one. The account is where they store and compare your personal data to check your progress. You’ll get a weekly email compilation so you can see how you’re doing.
You also need to enter age, height, weight and gender for accurate calculation of the number of calories burned.
Once you synchronise the Alta HR with the app, all this information goes into your Fitbit.com cloud.
Strap on the device and use the phone app to connect, selecting “Alta HR” from a displayed list of devices to be added.
On your wrist you have an OLED display that can be set up for vertical or horizontal viewing. Use the app to change the dock face and what statistics are shown. As soon as you’re all synced up, the Alta HR will vibrate for incoming calls and messages and calendar events. See what’s up by doubletapping the screen or, you know, lifting your wrist and just looking at the gadget.
Like most modern fitness devices, the Alta HR will keep bugging you from 9am to 6pm to get moving, every hour, like a disapproving parent. It’s a firm believer in the benefits of taking at least 250 steps a day. The daily goal is “9/9 Move”. Office workers ought to appreciate this if they tend to get so absorbed in playing video games when they should be working that they forget to stand up and move around, possibly resulting in spinal ailments.
When you’ve been active for at least 15 minutes, the SmartTrack function automatically recognises whatever it is you’re doing. Again, use the app to select the specific activities that should be recognised – and which ought to be held in discretion.
Slim trackers like the Alta HR don’t usually have a heartrate sensor. This one works continuously, using PurePulse “to help you make more informed decisions about your health”, as Fitbit puts it. With continuous samples of heartrate, you get to see right on your wrist how your everyday activities and different kinds of exercise affect it.
If you like, you can add your heartrate at rest to the display and then try to lower it. A decrease in the resting heartrate is a good indicator of cardiovascular health. One way to lower it is to consistently complete 30 active minutes, or you could work in an extra 15 to 20 minutes per day of walking, running or cycling.
As for snooze periods, you get estimates of the time spent in each stage of nightly sleep – light, deep and dream-intensive REM (rapid eye movement) – as well as any moments of wakefulness. If you wake up in the morning feeling either particularly rested or more than usually tired, check the device to find out why.
The Sleep Insights function provides guidance to help increase your overall sleep quality. Initially its advice is based on the information programmed into it, but the more familiar it becomes with your sleep patterns and the more personalised its recommendations.
While I was testing the Alta HR, it told me I’d taken 12,384 steps in the course of the day, the equivalent of 8.74 kilometres, and I’d stayed active for 123 minutes.
It noticed when I was walking and later reported that I’d walked for 58 minutes and burned 483 calories, at an average heartrate of 121 beats per minute. I’d been in the peak heartrate zone for five minutes, in the fatburn zone for 12 minutes and in the cardio zone for 41 minutes. My peak heartrate was 177bpm.
It acknowledged that I’d cycled for 41 minutes with an average heartrate of 104bpm and burned off 209 calories. During that time I was in the cardio zone for five minutes and fat burner for 34 minutes.
In the cardio zone, your heartrate is between 70 and 84 per cent of maximum ability. It’s when you’re pushing yourself, but not straining. In the fatburn zone your heart rate is at 50 to 69 per cent, a good place to start for people new to exercise. A higher percentage of calories are burned from fat at this pace, though the burn rate for total calories is lower.
The Fitbit Alta HR is sold for Bt7,490 with a Classic band in black, blue grey, coral or fuchsia.
KEY SPECS: Fitbit Alta HR
– Sensors, components: 3axis accelerometer, vibration motor
– Display: OLED tap display
– Radio transceiver: Bluetooth 4.0
– Syncing range: Up to 6.1 metres
– Memory: 7 days of detailed motion data, minute by minute.
– Water resistance: Rain, sweat and showerproof but not safe for swimming
– Battery life: Up to seven days
– Battery type: Lithiumpolymer
– Charge time: One to two hours
Republished with permission from The Nation