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Fitbit Alta HR review: a much better activity tracker than I expected
Not exactly new, but just new enough I don't know about you, but I'm about ready for Fitbit to drop something genuinely new on the world. Over the past couple years, the company has put out a few new activity trackers that seem to package the same stuff — an accelerometer here, a heart rate sensor there — into slightly different wristbands sold at slightly different price points. With the exception of the Blaze smart fitness watch, Fitbit's designs haven't evolved much. And now Fitbit's newest tracker, the Alta HR, looks just like last year's Fitbit Alta, with the addition of heart rate sensors.
But because it's Fitbit, and Fitbit is the leader in the US market for lightweight activity trackers, people are very interested in it. They want to know if they should buy the "new Fitbit." They can't be blamed for this: Fitbits, in all their elastomer glory, still hold the promise of self-betterment without putting too much pressure on their wearers.
Fitbits, in all their elastomer glory, still hold the promise of self-betterment
So I put on the new Fitbit Alta HR and got to step counting and sleep tracking; to my surprise, I liked this new Fitbit. So much so that when its battery died while I was traveling, I was disappointed I couldn't use it that day. If you were a fan of the Fitbit Alta before but have said to yourself half a dozen times over the past year, "I wish it read my heart rate," then you are in luck. Or if you wanted a heart rate-tracking Fitbit but didn't like the looks of the Charge 2, then you are also in luck. The Alta HR may have been yet another unexciting move on the part of Fitbit, but it also seems to me like it was a good move.
There are some basics to cover before we get into the new features. The first is price: the Fitbit Alta HR is selling for $149.95, which is $20 more than last year's Fitbit Alta (you can still buy that one) and is the same price as Fitbit's Charge 2, a thicker tracker with more specific sport-tracking features.
The Alta HR looks almost exactly like last year's Alta, which means it's more of a bracelet than an activity tracker. It's modular, so the bands on either side of the plastic module in the middle can be easily swapped out. It has the same display as the Alta. It's not touch sensitive, but requires a tap on either the face or side of the module if you want to cycle through your data. This can get annoying.
There is one noteworthy design change: the strap. Last year's Fitbit Alta had a snap-in clasp (one I didn't like very much), but this year's has a more traditional railroad-style strap.