If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you’ll note I’m a big fan of my Fitbit. I’m slow off the mark though – I didn’t get my first, the Fitbit Zip until well after everyone else had, and didn’t upgrade to the Fitbit Charge HR until last Christmas. So I’ve taken my sweet time actually putting up a review of it.
In short, I love the Fitbit Charge HR. Being able to count my steps during the day is an awesome way to incentivise myself to just walk that extra block instead of jumping on a tram, and the satisfaction of getting to the end of the day and seeing that I’ve clocked well over the recommended 10,000 step minimum is pretty cool.
I do think that dramatically increasing my incidental exercise at the same time as ‘proper’ workouts, has made a big difference to my weight loss, and weight maintenance during those times I’ve been traveling or not using a gym regularly.
Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband – FB405BKL: Features And Benefits
What I like so much about the Charge HR:
It’s comfortable and looks good – or at the least it’s not bulky and stupid looking. Mine is a size small in the plum colour (FB405PMS) so feminine enough that it doesn’t jump out and ‘take over’ your wrist. There is also a large size in plum (FB405PML) and the ever popular black large and small sizes (FB405BKL & FB405BKS respectively). There are also blue, tangerine and pink colours to choose from.
The step count feature seems reliable and I have put mine through some seriously long days!
The Charge HR also has a heart rate monitor built in which is handy if you’re serious about exercise and want to be able to track your heart rate. I do find this a bit hit and miss because sometimes particularly if I’m sweaty it won’t register my heartrate at all and I’ll need to wiggle it around on my wrist to get that to show again.
It has a silent alarm which basically means it’ll vibrate gently on your wrist to wake you up without waking your spouse or anyone else which I’ve only used once or twice but was grateful I could.
The display is nice and bright and I like how when you bring your arm up it can sense that you may be wanting the time and will automatically flash the time up, so it’s basically a watch as well.
A short promotional video for the Charge HR, courtesy of Fitbit:
It’s a Fitbit and I love their customer service and ethic. Syncing the new Fitbit to my existing app was easy peasy, and previously when I had an issue with the rubber casing splitting on my Flex, they replaced it for me super quickly at no cost and no questions asked.
What I’m not so keen on:
As I mentioned above the heartrate monitor feature being a bit sketchy could be annoying if you were hell-bent on tracking this meticulously. Then again if you were you’d be going for a much more high end product than the Fitbit – maybe a Garmin or something that’s GPS enabled as well.
The battery only seems to last a few days, probably because the extra features that didn’t exist for the Zip are always ‘on’. This is fine but you don’t get a lot of warning that it needs charging, and I’ve had plenty of days where it’s died halfway through the morning and then I have to remember to charge it overnight. Not a super big deal but mildly annoying.
Things To Consider Before Buying The Fitbit
The obvious question is will you really use it? And if you do, is there a risk that you’ll get too obsessed with the numbers, in the same way people can get obsessed with the scale when they’re trying to lose weight? It has been argued that Fitness Trackers are bad for us – I’ve provided my own defence of that view here but it is worth considering what ‘type’ of relationship you may end up having with a tool like a Fitbit.
Another thing to be aware of is that the Fitbit communicates with your smartphone app using Bluetooth. And although you can turn the phone app off so it’s not constantly syncing, the Fitbit is always emitting what I read is a tiny little amount of Bluetooth all the time, and if you’ve got concerns about the possible health implications of this then this product isn’t for you.
When I see that little green light blinking on the back of the Fitbit right where it meets my wrist, I do wonder if history is going to prove us wrong and we’ll all end up dying of cancer because we’ve wi-fi’d and Bluetooth’d ourselves into oblivion.
Where I eventually end up on this subject is that wifi and Bluetooth and all sorts of other ‘rays’ I don’t even know the name of surround us every day and are all but impossible to eliminate.
So I do what I can to limit this by not wearing my Fitbit at night (although many people do because one of its features is helping you track your sleep), not wearing it on days when I know I’m just going to be at home and I don’t want to, or care about knowing how many steps I’ve taken, and I don’t automatically sync it to my phone.
These are small precautions that don’t inconvenience me, but nor do I spend any significant time worrying about whether I’m giving myself cancer.
Alternatives To The Fitbit Charge HR FB405PML
As mentioned above, if you’re seriously training for an event or wanting to meticulously track performance, or maybe just a massive nerd about self-tracking, then you can go for something more comprehensive than the Charge HR.
The Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness watch looks pretty cool. In addition to all the usual Fitbit features, it will track a number of different sports, like cycling, cross-training etc. You can ask it to give you recommended exercises, with instructions, and it is also GPS enabled so you can map your running route, etc.
I was just saying to my boyfriend yesterday that if I had more time and a little more cash I’d like to invest in training for a new type of sport – like trail running for example – and if I did that then I would definite upgrade to the Fitbit Blaze. It’s currently the No. 1 Best Seller in Fitness Watches on Amazon. Plus it looks cute 😉
Fitbit Charge HR FB405BKL: Conclusion
Ok to summarise the pros from my own personal experience but also others’ reviews, the Fitbit Charge HR:
- Is stylish and comfortable – slim enough to wear on your wrist every day without feeling bulky.
- Offers a reliable step count which is great for motivation.
- Has an easy to read, nice display.
- Syncs effortlessly to an easy-to-use dashboard on your smartphone app.
- Includes a good indicative heart rate monitor.
- Is backed by Fitbit’s usually-exemplary customer service.
- Connects you into the community of other Fitbit users so you can add friends, challenge and motivate each other.
A few things that people might not like so much:
- I’ve read (forgot to mention this above) that some people think the retail price is expensive. It’s retailing at the moment on Amazon at over $120USD (at time of writing), which I personally think is reasonable considering what you get.
- The battery only lasts for a few days – maybe a week, I haven’t been meticulously tracking it, but it feels like it’s short.
- The heart rate sensor sometimes fails or may not be accurate. This is extremely rare however.
- The Bluetooth is always on, although I think this is just something that we have to accept if we’re wanting to be collecting activity data in ‘real time’.
- Some reviewers have raised concerns about the clasp being unsecure and the band coming loose and being lost. I haven’t had any issue with that.
In closing I’m clearly a Fitbit devotee and will likely always stay pretty brand-loyal, however if this were my first experience of a fitness tracker I would be impressed. It’s a great way to stay active and motivated.
Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband: Customers Reviews
Just out of curiousity I’ve been browsing reviews on Amazon for the Charge HR and here’s what some other people have had to say that I hadn’t personally thought of.
“I cannot stress enough the quality of the Fitbit app and web based dashboard. They are motivational and intuitive and they give you goals to shoot for. I have yet to see any sync issues or any of the other nonsense I have seen in other reviews.”
“I ordered the small. Fitbit needs to redesign the clasps. Mine easily comes unclasped and falls off. Now I can see why people loose [sic] them.” (Note I haven’t had any issue with the clasp being loose but a few reviews mentioned this.
“Not only do you get the device, but you also get a community of Fitbit wearers, and THAT is what helps me stay fit. I walk more because of the challenges you can be involved in with the community.”
Do you have a Fitbit? Want to share your thoughts on it? Why not comment below!