Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Fitbit ONE Done? Alta Alternative?

Pretty much everyone who knows me at all knows I'm a Fitbit fan. I got my original Fitbit Ultra back in 2010. I upgraded to the One shortly after it became available. I tried out the ChargeHR (still keeping my One too ... double tracking!) and recently upgraded to the Charge 2. I've sold family and friends on Fitbit and am the resident "go to gal" for questions. I've done oodles of Fitbit posts here on my blog. 

As a Fitbit Family, we've tried out almost every make and model. We've had dozens of Ones and Zips through the years. Some malfunctioned, some were lost, and several are sitting unused here at our house. My youngest started wearing one again (a Zip ... he lost his One). My oldest has the Blaze, my 14-year old the Alta.

Recently, my One was giving me a little trouble. It wouldn't sync, and I'd have to do a "soft restart" to get things going again. As I'm addicted to my Fitbit feedback and don't want to deal with lost data, I thought I'd look into getting a new One to have on hand as a backup if this one failed.

That's when I found out ... 
the Fitbit ONE is done. 

Fitbit has discontinued it! While (for now) the Zip clip is still an option in their inventory, it seems Fitbit is focusing on wrist trackers. The Flex, Alta, Charge, Blaze, Surge and the latest, the Ionic. All wrist trackers. 

Fitbit ... don't you know? Not everyone likes wrist trackers! Many people don't like the look or they prefer actual watches. Many are unable to wear wrist trackers due to work/sport restrictions.  I for one, am not sold on their accuracy. Wearing both the Charge and One and comparing numbers ... the wrist tracking Charge is almost always well below the One (and the One step estimates are closer to actual measurements via GPS or treadmill displays and my old Omron, as detailed below). Many have complained that activities using arms to push (strollers/shopping carts) result in missed steps. At the end of the week, I generally have a difference of over 20k between my two devices.  And while my experiences have always had wrist trackers come in lower, many have exclaimed over extra steps added for simple hand movements.

The Fitbit One has a very loyal following. Many are original customers, dating back to when the One was the ONLY  option. Even as all the other, more advanced alternatives, became available, I and so many others were still completely happy sticking with our little Ones. News that it is no longer being sold has many up in arms. There's a thread devoted to it on the Fitbit Forums with unhappy customers commiserating and complaining about its loss.

What alternatives are there? Fitbit has tried to convince customers that the Zip or Flex are options ... they are NOT. They are completely different ... and inferior. Then the Alta, with an aftermarket 3rd party clip was brought up. At first I dismissed the idea, but then figured I'd look into the Alta alternative a little bit more.

I ordered a clip, and then borrowed my son's Alta. You can see in the pictures here that the One and Alta are quite similar in size and shape, both easily worn under clothes clipped to a bra or on pants pockets.  The Alta has two models available, one with a heart rate tracker and one without. While the basic Alta has a price point of $129.95, it has been offered for $99 very often ... that matches the selling price of the One (generally listed for $99 ... although now due to supply and demand, some are selling for over $200 on ebay) ... although you do have to factor in the additional $8 for the aftermarket clip! Wearing both the One and the Alta in basically the same spot on my bra (and still wearing my Charge2 on my wrist) I compared numbers and the Alta and the One seemed quite consistent. Here are some of my activities the last couple days ...

Steps tracked for 20 min elliptical ... Charge 2181, Alta 2714, One 2774
Steps tracked for 20 min elliptical ... Charge 1781, Alta 2615, One 2613
Steps tracked for 30min/1.80mile treadmill walk ... Charge 3449, Alta 3857, One 3851
Steps tracked for 30min/1.75mile treadmill walk ... Charge 3292, Alta 3682, One 3676
Steps tracked for 60min Zumba ... Charge 6233, Alta 7337, One 6276
Steps tracked for 60min Zumba ... Charge 5907, Alta 7156, One 6515

Total Steps Monday ... Charge 28108, Alta 31997, One 31942
Total Steps Tuesday ... Charge 26287, Alta 32085, One 31602

Now who is to say the Alta/One numbers are closer to correct than the wrist worn Charge? Well, I've been a double tracker gal for a while. Before I got my Charge, I wore an Omron pedometer on my hip. Its numbers and the Ones were always quite close (Omron/One). Also, the One's estimates are closer to actual readouts (the treadmill tells how many miles have been walked). 

Double tracking ... One and Omron.
They were usually close, but I remember this day in Feb2014
when they were EXACTLY the same.

So ... in size, cost, accuracy, the One and Alta alternative are fairly close.
Both show the same stats, both have silent alarm options.
Both have illuminated displays and a rechargeable battery.

CONS ...
  • No altimeter: The One tracks "floors" and the Alta does not. I like the floors feature, but it's not a deal breaker for me. It IS for many people.
  • No timer: Press and hold the button on the One and it starts a timer. It may seem obsolete because the Alta has auto-tracking (which is listed under Pros) but it's a feature I used almost daily. It's how I knew I'd completed at least an hour of Zumba or used it to time weight workouts.
  • Display: On the One, you press the button change the display options, on the Alta, you have to "tap" ... personally, I have trouble with the tapping (not hard enough, too hard and it skips forward). I prefer pressing the button! Initially, I was very displeased with the vertical display on the Alta, but I checked into it and was able to switch it to a horizontal presentation just like the One, which I prefer.

PROS ...

  • Auto Tracking: The Alta will recognize your activities so you don't need to start/stop the timer to record workouts or sleep! That is a nice feature. 
  • Reminders to Move: I've enjoyed this feature in my new Charge 2 (the One doesn't have it, nor did my old ChargeHR). If I haven't reached my 250steps each hour, I'll get a small nudge to do so. I rarely sit, so I don't get the reminders that often ... the vibration is quite light, sometimes I miss it.
  • Battery Display: With the One, I can only tell the battery level by checking the app or website, or plugging it in to charge. The Alta shows the battery level as one of the options as you scroll through the stats. 
  • Wrist Option: While this post is aimed at the Alta in a clip as an alternate to the One,  you do have the wristband option if by chance you wanted it at some point.

There are several 3rd party clips to choose from ...
This is the one I bought off Amazon

So, while I was originally quite dismayed at finding out the One was no longer available ... my experiment here has proved to me that the Alta will be an adequate alternative for me. My One is still working for now, and I'll wear it until I wear it out! We'll see if Fitbit listens to its clip customers and comes up with any more acceptable solutions. Fitbit doesn't recommend wearing trackers other than the way they were intended, saying that can lead to faulty step counts. Yet my experiment (and I realize two days isn't "proof" or anything) seemed to indicate that it is the wrist wearing placement that can cause greater inaccuracies. And ironically, Fitbit markets a pendant worn around the neck as an option for their Flex2 ...

... I best return the Alta to my son, before I get addicted to THREE trackers at once!


  1. Hello - great article!.......What about the Fitbit Zip as an alternative? It doesn't log stairs, but neither does the Alta.

    1. In addition to not doing stairs, the Zip doesn't track sleep, which is something else most One users wants. Beyond that, the Zip is quite a bit bigger (to wear discreetly on a bra) and doesn't have a rechargeable battery. That can be a pro or con depending on the person, but anyone used to the One would see it as a huge disadvantage.

  2. This was very helpful, thanks. Another thing I prefer in the One over the Zip is that the display lights up, so I can see it if I get up at night.

  3. The Zip also has a VERY poor quality readout.

  4. Your article is exactly what I was looking for. I flushed my fitbit one down the toilet this morning and was devastate to learn it had been discontinued. I will likely follow your advice and get the alta as a replacement


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