During this series I’ve made regular mentions of my FitBit; it’s what facilitated my 70,000-steps-a-week challenge and has provided both motivation and information on how I’ve been getting on in my endeavours to become pretty healthy. I’ve owned a FitBit Flex since Christmas, but this summer my wonderful mum gifted me a new FitBit Alta (inheriting my Flex in the process!). Now I’ve had some time to get to know it, I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to a review.
We picked up the Alta from John Lewis for £99.95, but it’s always worth shopping around for the best deal. In the box was the tracker, the wristband of your chosen size (I went for plum but there are various colours and materials available), a charger, and a dongle for syncing the tracker with your computer. The FitBit doesn’t come with a manual, but it’s pretty intuitive and instructions for setup and use can be found online. The tracker comes pre-charged so you can set it up and start using it straightaway.
I’d been looking at upgrading my Flex for some time. Partly I wanted something with more advanced technology (which I’ll come on to later), but I also was never hugely keen on its look and. Mine was a ‘slate’ Flex which wasn’t a colour I was hugely keen on, I never felt the design was particularly stylish, and one of my bands recently broke as I removed the tracker for charging so I had to switch to a spare.
The Alta, on the other hand, is a different story. It’s been widely marketed more as a fashion accessory than an activity tracker so perhaps I’ve just fallen for that, but the glossy tracker screen really helps to dress up the look of the band, which itself is a much prettier colour. Like the Flex it’s comfortable to wear and I rarely notice it. I wear my FitBit on my left (non-dominant) wrist so when I go out it sits next to my watch, but where the Flex looked awkward and a little out of place the Alta fits in.
The screen is my favourite thing about the Alta. Whereas with the Flex double-tapping the tracker would show up to five dots representing how many steps I’d taken, the Alta tells me in numbers. I don’t even need to tap it; instead I can just flick my wrist towards my face as if checking my watch, and the screen lights up with the time and date. From there I can tap through my steps taken, miles travelled, minutes active and calories burned, plus the Alta’s battery life and any alarms I have set. Reviewers often comment that the screen isn’t always responsive and this is true, but in my experience once you have the knack of tapping through each stat it’s soon second-nature.
At first I was concerned that effectively wearing two watches would be frustrating, but it’s actually given me much more flexibility. Whereas before I would wear my lovely Olivia Burton watch all day, every day, now I only put it on when I go out which I hope will save the strap from a lot of wear. When I go to the gym or to the yard, I now don’t need to worry about my beautiful watch getting damaged, or having to buy a new strap too soon.
I’ve always found the FitBit app to be smooth, intuitive and responsive, and in the past have made use of the ability to link up with other apps like MyFitnessPal for food tracking. The Alta keeps all this, as well as the automatic sleep tracking and the silent alarms which I’ve come to rely on this year, but it also enabled me to finally utilise all the tools available.
Like many reviewers I’ve found the ‘Reminders to Move’ feature super helpful in makng sure I actually walk around every so often – if I’ve walked fewer than 250 steps in the past hour, the Alta vibrates at ten-to between 9am and 5pm to jolt me into doing so before the hour is up. It’s a neat little challenge, and best of all the Reminders are entirely customisable; I could ask to be reminded between 8am and 10pm, if I wanted, or not at all on Sundays, or I could turn them off altogether.
Another feature I really like is the automatic exercise tracking. My goal is to intentionally exercise at least five days a week, and this feature tracks that exercise without me asking to. It recognises when I walk, run or cycle for longer than 10 minutes and tracks this as exercise, though in order to also get GPS tracking – say, for runs – it has to be inputted manually. It doesn’t recognise other types of exercise like the stationary bike, rowing, kayaking or horse-riding, but it’s easy enough to input these post-workout.
The Alta doesn’t include all the features that top-spec FitBits like the Blaze and Surge do. For example, it lacks a heart-rate monitor and the ability to measure how many flights of stairs you climb each day. It’s also not swim-proof, unlike the Flex 2 (now available for pre-order). The heart-rate monitor in particular is something which more hard-core fitness fanatics might deem necessary, but for me at this point in time I don’t need it. Ultimately it comes down to what you want to use your FitBit for: whilst some want or need to measure their heart-rate and detail their workouts, tracking daily steps, activity and exercise is perfect for me – just like the Alta.
Do you use a FitBit or other activity tracker?