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Fitbit Alta HR Review

Fitbit Alta HR (heart rate)
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 4 stars
£119 to £129
  • 80%

  • Heart Rate functionality
    Editor: 60%
  • Heart Rate Accuracy
    Editor: 95%
  • Activity Tracking features
    Editor: 85%
  • Running functions
    Editor: 50%
  • Cycling functions
    Editor: 40%
  • Fitness monitoring features
    Editor: 70%
  • Ease of Use
    Editor: 90%
  • Battery Life
    Editor: 90%

The Fitbit Alta HR  adds Fitbit’s PURE PULSE wrist based heart rate sensors to the popular Fitbit Alta. Designed to track your activity throughout the day including 24/7 heart rate monitoring.Automatic recognition of exercise means all your activities are tracked. When connected to your smartphone the Alta HR provides notification alerts for incoming emails & texts and upcoming calendar events. The Alta HR also gives feedback on to the duration and quality of your sleep. This review of the Fitbit Alta HR has been prepared by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic.

Fitnbit Alta HR reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic

Release Date (UK) > March 2017

Product it replaced > None – Alta HR is a new product

Suggested Retail Price (at time of released) > from £129 upwards depending on case etc.

NEWS > Fitbit’s have a new smartwatch with built-in GPS and wrist based heart rate. The new Fitbit Ionic has been reviewed here

I have awarded the Alta HR a 4/5 star review. It may have been higher but the display is quite hard to see in bright outdoor sunny conditions. This criticism is not exclusive to Fitbit, most units with the same OLED displays suffers in the same way. I’m also not a great fan of the need to FLICK the unit, rather than swipe, to change from one screen to another. If you’re looking for a discrete, competent fitness tracker with built-in heart rate sensor it’s a good option.

Who’s it For?

The Fitbit Alta HR is for the customer seeking a discrete, stylish, adaptable fitness tracker with wrist based Heart Rate. Featuring time of day, movement reminders, step, calorie and distance tracking plus smartphone connectivity and incoming call / text notifications. The Alta HR, like the non-HR Alta, has automatic exercise detection. No need to activate exercise mode each time you train, the Alta HR will detect it automatically.

Main Features

Fitbit Alta HR main feautures and functions

Next model UP

The next model up is the Charge 2 with floors climbed, connected GPS (sharing your phone’s GPS) and cardio fitness level tests.  If you’d prefer a more “full-sized” watch then consider the Blaze which also piggybacks your phone’s GPS for accurate running / biking speed and distance feedback. Alternatively, if you prefer to have built-in GPS, then you should consider the top of the range Fitbit Surge.

Fitbit Charge 2  bigger, brighter display with floors climbed, cardio fitness score & GPS sharing ….

Fitbit Blaze larger full colour display, Fitstar training & GPS sharing

Fitbit Surge large square display & built-in GPS

Next model DOWN

The model below the Alta HR is the basic Alta. Same fitness tracker really with the omission of the wrist based heart rate. Taking it down another level is the Fitbit Flex 2 and, from the legacy products, the Fitbit Charge. The Charge has a much smaller display and does not feature smartphone notifications. The Flex 2 has similar activity tracking functionality, however, these is no DISPLAY so it doesn’t replace your time of day watch (and no heart rate …)

Fitbit Alta no heart rate,

Fitbit Charge no heart rate, no smartphone notifications & smaller display

Fitbit Flex 2 no heart rate, no display, but it’s SWIM PROOF

Closest Competitors

The nearest product in functionality and price to the Alta HR are the Vivosmart HR and Polar A360. Both are high quality fitness trackers with wrist based heart rate, smartphone connectivity and 24/7 activity tracking.

Polar A360 with full colour display

Garmin Vivosmart HR  features a clearer display and floors climbed

Update Oct 2017 > Garmin have just released their new Garmin Vivosport fitness tracker. Replacing the Vivosmart HR+, the Garmin Vivosport features built-in GPS, wrist based heart rate, dedicated running functions (auto-lap, pace alerts etc) a full colour display, VO2 max, Stress tests and much more. CardioCritic have awarded the Garmin Vivosport Best on Test in the Fitness Tracker category and expect it to be one of the best selling fitness trackers of 2018.

Garmin Vivosport Best on Test – a sleek, discrete fitness tracker with GPS and wrist based heart rate

There is also the innovative Mio Slice. The Mio Slice is the world’s first fitness band to incorporate PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence). More advanced than simply counting daily steps the Slice wants to see elevated heart rates for extended periods throughout the day.

Mio Slice the world’s first fitness band with PAI score

Summary & Conclusions

The Fitbit Alta HR is great for those looking to keep track of daily activity, exercise intensity (with heart rate off the wrist) and sleep quality / duration. One of it’s key appealing features is it’s sleek and discrete styling. Not everyone wants their fitness tracker to shout out from their wrist. The Alta HR is a low profile unit suitable for both men and women. The changeable wrists bands mean it can be customised to adapt to your style and mood. If the features and functionality of the Alta HR meet with your requirements it comes highly recommended. My only criticism are the TAP display features (to change screens) and the OLED display when in bright sunlight. I have awarded the Alta HR a review rating of 4/5 stars

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  • Discrete
  • Wrist based heart rate (no chest strap)
  • Tracks, HR, steps, distance, calories and sleep duration & quality
  • Up to 7 day battery life expectancy
  • Changeable wrist straps
  • Supported by solid / reliable Fitbit App (iOs & Android)
  • Cons

  • OLED display hard to read in bright sunlight
  • Tap to change display can be a little tempremental

  • Pure Pulse Heart Rate

    This is a key feature of the Alta HR. If you are not interested in tracking your heart rate then stick with the cheaper Fitbit Alta. The Alta HR uses the same wrist based heart rate sensors featured in the Blaze, Surge and Charge 2. As with these other wrist based heart rate sensors the accuracy is excellent, but can spike / dropout occasionally. From my comparison tests I have found them to be about 95% accurate for approximately 98% of the time. The times they seem to suffer most is – intense interval training, cycling on rough terrain (with heavy vibration) and when flexing wrists repeatedly (eg. rowing). However, the inconvenience of the odd spike / dropout is far outweighed by the convenience.

    Off the wrist heart rate training with Fitbit Pure Pulse

    All day Heart Rate Tracking

    The Alta HR can be set to track your heart rate throughout the day. Doing so gives an insight in to both your resting heart rate and your activity intensity throughout the day.

    Heart Rate during training shown on Fitbit APP All day heart rate monitoring shown on Fitbit APP

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    Automatic Exercise Recognition

    SmartTrack is a clever feature also found on the Surge and Blaze. The Alta HR automatically recognises when you are exercising and what exercise you are performing. Moving for a continuous 15 minutes alerts the fitness tracker that you are exercising, no need to press START. It could be something as casual as walking the dog, or it could be an ad-hoc game of football in the park with the kids. Exercise is exercise, whether planned or not and the Alta HR sees everything and records it automatically.

    The Fitbit Alta HR has automatic exercise recognition

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    Time to Move !

    Reminders to Move keep you moving throughout the day.  Many of us spend too long sitting at our desks, staring at our computer. In the past, it was considered a good thing to have a desk job. Now that we realise the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, the Alta is here to help you make subtle, but dramatic changes to your daily routine. Moving for a few minutes every hour can help you keep your metabolism up and help reduce the negative impacts of sitting. The Alta HR attempts (default setting) to get you to move for 250 steps per hour. A quick walk around the office will achieve this. If you want to turn OFF the movement reminders, that’s fine, just pop the Alta in to DO NOT DISTURB mode.

    Get time to move motivation from the Alta HR

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    Smartphone Notification Alerts

    The Fitbit Alta HR uses Bluetooth Smart to give alerts for  call, text and calendar notifications. If you phone is within Bluetooth range the Alta receives alerts by way of a visual indicator on the display and also via a gentle vibrating alert. The Alta HR is currently compatible with over 200 smartphones on the most popular Android, iOS and Windows systems.

    Keep connected with smartphone alerts and notifications
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    Improved Sleep Monitoring

    With the addition of the heart rate the sensor the Fitbit Alta HR gives more thorough feedback on sleep duration and quality. The original Alta relies solely on movement, the Alta HR also takes in to consideration heart rate throughout the night.

    Fitbit Alta HR features improved sleep monitoring
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    How does it Compare

    The Surge is my personal favourite product from the current Fitbit line up, but that’s because I run 2 – 3 times per week and cycle 2 – 3 times per week. I need speed, distance and heart rate data for all my exercise sessions. the Surge gives me activity tracking, heart rate (off the wrist) and GPS (built-in) The Blaze does NOT have a built-in GPS, but it shares the GPS from your smartphone which is safely tucked away in your pocket. So, for me, the Alta HR does not meet my personal requirements.

    However, if you want a motivational activity tracker with the convenience of wrist based heart rate, estimated distance (no GPS) then the Alta HR could be for you. Remember there are also some good alternatives from other leading brands including the Polar A360 or Garmin Vivosmart HR

    Compare Fitbit Alta HR – Blaze – Surge

    The comparison table below shows the key functional differences between the Alta HR, the Blaze and the Surge

    Compare the main features - Fitbit Alta HR, Blaze and Surge
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    Compare Fitbit Alta HR – Charge 2 – Surge

    The comparison table below shows the key functional differences between the Alta HR, the Charge 2 and the Surge

    Compare the main features - Fitbit Alta HR, Chrage 2 and Surge

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    Fitbit SmartTrack detects automatic exercise sessions

    Product Images

    Fitbit Alta HR showing STEPS

    Fitbit Alta HR side profile

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    Fitbit Alta HR showing Heart Rate off the wrist

    Fitbit Alta HR showing STEPS - black model

    Video (Fitbit’s own)

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