Thursday, April 16, 2015

Charged!

A review of the Fitbit Charge and Charge HR.
I'm a Fitbit Fan. I've had one for five years now. I started with the original Ultra and upgraded to the One a couple years ago. Everyone in my family got on board, and we added more Ones, a couple Zips and a Flex. Then the Charge came out. My oldest son wanted to try it (after going through a Jawbone, Flex, and a Zip) ... and I figured we needed one in the family. The ChargeHR came out not long after, and I had my eye on it for a bit before I plunged and purchased. 

My oldest son was leaving the country for two years on a church mission and we didn't think he should take the Charge (I got him an inexpensive pedometer and he sends me his steps each week). We passed the Charge down #4, my 11-year old. He'd been wanting a wrist one, but didn't want the Flex (which doesn't show the stats on the device). So now that we've been wearing them a while, I thought I'd do a quick review about how the Charges compare to each other, and to the other Fitbit wearables. So far so good! Just Thinking Out Loud and sharing my thoughts on these gadgets.

You can see from the picture above, the Charge and Charge HR don't look very different at first glance. So what IS the difference, besides the $20 (the Charge runs about $129, the ChargeHR $149) in the price tag? Two things, the strap closure and the heart rate monitor.  Whichever your reason, I would definitely recommend upgrading to the HR over the regular Charge. $20 isn't that much more, and the HRM function is so nice to have, and the watch-strap closure is much more secure than the tabbed Charge/Flex.

Here's a few features I'll touch on in my review ...

  • HRM: I bought the ChargeHR for the heart rate monitor. I have a PolarFT4 which I'm fairly happy with, but I really do NOT like the chest strap, I would always take it off the moment my workout was done.  I'm not used to wearing a watch, but the ChargeHR been quite comfortable. I wear it all day. I track my Zumba workouts (starting and stopping the timer to get a specific reading) and then just randomly check it during the day at rest and during other quick workouts.  I haven't adjusted to sleeping with it at night (which is intended, to track your sleep and resting heart rate). I've still worn my Polar along side the Charge HR for many workouts, and the data is generally quite close. I've been impressed with it's accuracy there.
  • STEP COUNT: I've still been wearing my One too (I have a hard time giving up my old devices!) and the ChargeHR has been coming in consistently lower in steps. On the Fitbit boards, others seem to be complaining of the opposite, of it picking up hand-movements and over counting. I have not found that to be the case. I was happy that it picked up my elliptical just fine, whether I am using the the moveable arm bars, or gripping the center stationary ones.
  • SLEEP: I was looking forward to seeing the sleep feature ... and comparing it to my One's readings. The Charge and ChargeHR have an "auto"sleep function, so you don't have to set your device for sleep or manually enter the times like you do with the One or Flex. As mentioned above, I have a hard time sleeping with something on my wrist (I wear my One clipped on my jammies, not in the wristband they provide). I tried it a night or two, and wasn't sure about the times it said I fell asleep and awakened - also, I couldn't see that I had the power to adjust/change it either. 

  • WORKOUT FEEDBACK: I really like feedback from my individual workouts. The ChargeHR provides a snapshot showing the ups and downs of the heart rate, the average, the high, the time in the various zones. It shows the steps and estimated calorie burn. What I do NOT like, is that if I forget to stop/start the timer, I can't adjust that afterward (I can do that with the One).
  • DURABILITY: Being an avid Fitbit user, and having multiple Fitbits in the family, overall I've been quite impressed with quality and with the company customer service. That said, I've seen broken cases and straps pretty often too. I'm a little worried about how the strap part will hold up, as the electronic part isn't able to be swapped into a new case like with the other styles.
  • CHARGING: I haven't had any battery issues yet, but as I'm not wearing mine to sleep, I stick it on the charger each night. My son will wear his for several days, or just put it on the charger for 15minutes every other day while he showers. We occasionally get an email notice that my son needs to charge his Charge, which is also a nice feature. One complaint, as others have mentioned if you've been reading reviews ... why not make it charge with a universal charger? It's frustrating to have yet another proprietary charger around and to try and not lose. 
  • CALL NOTIFICATIONS: Honestly, I rolled my eyes at the "call notification" feature. Big whoop. I have my phone, why do I need my Fitbit to tell me if it's ringing. I must say ... I love this feature! I actually DO miss calls on my phone fairly often. I've forgotten to turn on the ringer, or it's buried in my purse, or in the other room. Now, I know I've got a call. It's a feature I never would have asked for, but now I'm very glad I have.
So ... I'm a Fitbit Fan. I think I would recommend the ChargeHR over any of the other styles because it has the most features. Well, almost. The step up to the Surge adds in GPS (which I don't need as almost all my workouts are indoors), definitely not worth the additional $100 in the price tag for it. But Hubs ... he's eying the Surge (and I'm all for him getting it!)

If you are new to Fitbit, or considering getting one ... check out some of my previous posts. Wondering About A Fitbit is just a general review about what they can do.  Lost and Found showcases an app to help you locate a lost Fitbit (we've had to use it several times) and Reaping the Rewards (and followup posts on the various programs) will hook you up with different  programs that will reward YOU for your Fitbit activity data ( $$, store credit, prizes). 

Linking up late with Workout Wednesday ...





5 comments:

  1. I was looking forward to seeing your review. I have a Charge HR (had it about a week) and had a One before (had a Force until the recall) and DH has a Flex. I agree with most of your comments.

    I set up my One on a separate account so I could wear the one and my Charge HR at the same time. The One consistently gives me about 15% more steps than the Charge HR. I agree most on the Fitbit boards have the opposite problem. I actually am thinking about getting a replacement unit on mine to see if another one would be better (thinking maybe it is just a problem with my unit). But, it took over 2 months to get mine in plum and not sure how long it would take to get a replacement. It is annoying though not to have all my steps counted (and I've checked enough comparing them to know that this is mostly the Charge HR undercounting, not the One overcounting).

    For walking on the treadmill the Charge HR is usually very close on heart rate and calorie burn to my Polar H7. When I walk outside in my hilly neighborhood, though, it tends to understate the heart rate by quite a bit. I haven't used it with a strength training workout yet. I did use it with my exercise bike and it understated the heart rate some. I will probably keep wearing the chest strap for most exercise.

    I do sleep with it. I have found it easy to get used to it. The big thing is that if I am sitting in bed reading before bed it usually says I've gone to sleep before I actually start trying to go to sleep. You can edit sleep records. Go to the detailed sleep log and you can change the stop and ending time of sleep. You can also delete a sleep entry.

    Sleeping with it and using heart rate part so much, the battery doesn't last as long as Fitbit claims but it is pretty easy to charge it while I'm working on the computer.

    I am a little annoyed that I haven't been able yet to get the call notifications working. I need to go look on the help forum and see if I can figure out what is going wrong.

    I thought about getting a Surge, but I don't really need the GPS since I have my chest strap and I use Digifit which uses the GPS in my phone so I get the GPS route on the Digifit app and webpage. But, if I had a Surge then I might not bother to wear the chest strap. But, the Surge is SO big and bulky and not really in good colors (I love the plum on the Charge HR)

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    1. Love your response and review. I'm so interested in hearing other's experiences with all things Fitbit as well! My ONE is still on my main Fitbit account, and I set up a new one for the ChargeHR. I'm rather silly that way, I have a hard time giving up my old gadgets when I get a new one. I still have my original Omron pedometer, and it's step count is much closer to the One than the Charge. The Charge does seem to under count.

      I also still wear my Polar for any extended exercise (an hour). I do prefer the Polar for Zumba, being able to SEE my heart rate right there, without having to press a button and scroll through. But it's also been good to see that the two devices have been giving pretty similar results. My hubs wore it jogging and got almost identical data to his chest strap monitor. It seems pretty accurate for my walk/jogs, although apparently my heart rate doesn't get up much on incline (even with the treadmill up to 10%).

      I'll have to look into adjusting the sleep times. I do it all the time with my One. I know I tried once and kept getting an error message that I already had a sleep recorded. I didn't really put much more effort into it after that, as I'm using my One to track sleep. But I can also adjust workout times times with the One (if I forget to stop/start the timer) and can't see how to do that with the Charge.

      My friend has also struggled to get the call notifications working. I know I had to try it twice. I'm glad it worked the second time, because I don't know how much effort I would have put into trying to get it working, as I didn't think I'd care about that function. It is nice to have.

      Hubs DID try the Surge ... he was disappointed that the GPS didn't seem accurate enough. He'd run a route he knew was seven miles (using other trackers) and the Surge would report back with five. That was a dealbreaker for him, and he returned it.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting!

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  2. Girl, you need to write them and be an ambassador LOL. When it is time for me to buy one, I will be checking out your posts. #wowlinkup

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    1. I KNOW ... I'm an unofficial ambassador for both Fitbit and Zumba. I just love them both so much. I sure wouldn't mind getting a little kickback from Fitbit, but I'm not proactive enough to go after it :)

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  3. I absolutely LOVE my Fitbit Charge HR! The HR feature was what convinced me to take the plunge, but I have to agree the call notification feature is AWESOME too!!

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