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Fitbit Alta review – simply a great fitness tracker

Recently we’ve seen a number of devices which aren’t sure if they’re fitness trackers, fitness watches, smartwatches or all three. By comparison, the Fitbit Alta knows exactly what it is and where it sits in the fitness tracker market. In fact, the Alta is one of the best trackers I ve seen for a while, combining great design, intuitive usability and a decent feature set. Yes, there are more feature rich trackers out there, like the superb Garmin Vivosmart HR1, but the Fitbit Alta is aimed at a completely different user; the type of user who s not a fitness fanatic, but would like to improve their level of activity.

Specifications & accessories

The Alta continues the modular theme seen in previous devices, with the device itself interchangeable with different strap colours and types. The Alta comes with a rubber strap that s available in four different colours black, blue, plum and teal. The strap comes in two parts, each of which clicks securely into the Alta there s a clip at each end of the Alta which will release it from each part of the strap. The Alta can be equipped with a leather strap (in pink or graphite), and while this does improve the overall look, it doesn t transform it in terms of aesthetics and comfort the way the leather strap does on the recent Fitbit Blaze2.

Put simply, the Alta looks and feels pretty good with the standard rubber strap, so my advice would be to save yourself the 40 that a leather strap would cost3, and maybe invest in a second rubber strap in a different colour those are only 20 after all.

Fitbit Alta Review - Simply A Great Fitness Tracker

Fitbit also sells a solid metal bangle for the Alta, but given that this will set you back an additional 80, it s not far off the cost of the Alta itself, and I found it neither aesthetically pleasing or comfortable to wear, but I doubt I m the target market for that particular accessory. So, the standard Alta configuration is the sweet spot it looks good, wraps around the wrist nicely, and is comfortable to wear. The securing clasp has two teeth the push through the holes in the opposite part of the strap there s no secondary securing loop, but the Alta stayed safe and secure on my wrist regardless of my activities. The supplied USB charging cable clips to the underside of the Alta, allowing the metal contacts to meet and the charge to initiate. You do need to make sure that you re lining up the contacts on the cable with those on the device, otherwise you ll come back and find that it hasn t charged at all, but you ll only make that mistake once.

Fitbit Alta Review - Simply A Great Fitness Tracker

Fitbit also bundles one of its USB wireless dongles in the box, which is a great feature this allows you to sync the Alta wirelessly with your computer whenever you re close to it. Okay, so you ll probably sync most regularly with your phone, but it s still nice to have that option.

Features

The Alta is dominated by an OLED display. The display is much larger and easier to read than the examples on the Fitbit Charge4 and Charge HR5, and of course the Flex doesn t have a display at all. The display can be configured in various formats to suit the individual you can have the information displayed in portrait or landscape formats, depending on which is easier for you to read at a glance. Another nice touch is that the Alta has been equipped with the same automatic screen activation that the Blaze has that means that although the screen is off by default, as soon as you raise your wrist to look at the Alta, the screen will automatically activate. It s not infallible, but it works most of the time. The screen will display the time of day, along with date and day by default. Tapping the screen will cycle through the data that the Alta is gathering steps taken, estimated distance, estimated calories burned, active minutes and alarms set.

There s no built-in heart rate monitor, but that s not really the type of user that the Alta is aimed at. I would have liked to have seen an altimeter included, since the Charge will count the flights of stairs you take each day, and that s a great way to encourage you to ditch the lift. The Alta will also try to ascertain when you start any form of exercise, automatically logging when you go for a walk or a run, while also logging those periods as active minutes.

Fitbit Alta Review - Simply A Great Fitness Tracker

Vibration alerts are also on the menu, and the Alta will buzz after an hour of inactivity to try and encourage you to go for a walk. Even more useful is the silent alarm feature that will wake you up in the morning without disturbing your partner a vibrating alarm on your wrist is a surprisingly effective yet gentle way to wake. Of course the Alta will also automatically track your sleep there s no need to manually activate a sleep mode and it s pretty accurate when it comes to logging when you wake in the night, or whether you ve been particularly restless. As always, though, I m not sure what you re supposed to do with this data, since you can t act on it directly. However, you can ascertain whether your new, more active lifestyle is resulting in better sleeping habits, too.

The Alta will relay basic notifications from your phone, too you ll get your text messages, calendar reminders and call notifications. It’s well short of what you might get on a fully-fledged smartphone, but it covers the basics and that’s all that most people need.

Fitbit quotes five days of battery life for the Alta and I d say that s pessimistic. I charged the device on a Thursday and realised on Friday evening that I d forgotten to bring the charging cable home I needn t have worried though, since the Alta ploughed on through the weekend, and into the middle of the following week. I d suggest that you ll be looking at between six and seven days from a full charge, which is pretty decent for a tracker with a built-in display.

References

  1. ^ Garmin Vivosmart HR (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  2. ^ Fitbit Blaze (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  3. the 40 that a leather strap would cost (www.amazon.co.uk)
  4. ^ Fitbit Charge (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  5. ^ Charge HR (www.expertreviews.co.uk)

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