Fitbit ChargeHR review

You may have heard of Fitbit. It's a company that makes fitness devices that measure a wide range of movements and now, with the ChargeHR model, they easily record your heartbeat. Check out this review.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could quantify in numbers just how hard you’ve worked today? And when I say worked I mean physical work. I’m talking about walking, climbing, breaking into a sweat – that sort of work. Well, now you can.

Pedometers have been around for years. They work well but only tell half the story. To get the complete picture you need to include your heart rate. The new Fitbit ChargeHR can now measure this using two green flashing lights located under the device that, when next to your skin, will calculate your heart rate based on the capillary action in your blood cells – and it’s pain-free.

This simple watch-like wristband can monitor your activity not only during workouts but also during quieter periods of your day and night.

For a wristband with just one button, the ChargeHR can do a lot. A lot more than I thought possible when I first picked it up. The slim rubber and plastic device is worn much like you do a watch. Yes, it will tell you the time but special sensors also continuously monitor your movement and heart rate.

The display can cycle through a range of modes when the button is pressed. The first is the current time, then how many steps you have made, your current heart rate, the distance you have travelled, the calories you have burned and the equivalent number of floors you have walked up. What you see is user definable. That’s a lot of data from just one button.

The idea is you wear the device pretty much all of the day, and even while sleeping. Although it’s not waterproof, it is water-resistant and according to Fitbit, it can be worn in the shower, but like any electronic device, you probably wouldn’t want to make a habit of getting it wet.

Once you get the device, you first log on to the Fitbit website and create a free user account. You then pair the device to your account via a supplied USB dongle using Bluetooth. You enter basic details such as your weight and height. Then as you progress through your day you can wirelessly sync the ChargeHR with your account.

When online and viewing with the dashboard you see many different reports and graphs showing a history of your movement during that day, week, month etc. The more you wear it the more data is collected so that over a few weeks you can get a comprehensive history of your physical movement, or lack of it in some cases. You can enter how much food or water you’ve consumed to get a broader picture of your lifestyle.

You can set yourself goals like walking 10,000 steps in one day to climbing 10 flights of stairs. Because your heart rate is recorded you can also see how hard your heart as been working and whether it’s been in the cardio stage or perhaps, like I like to see, the fat burning stage.

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If you need any further encouragement or motivation, you can invite your friends and family to share stats and data, or set challenges to help push you a little bit further.

If you wear the device to bed, in the morning you will be able to gauge how well you slept and what your resting heartbeat is. If you had a restless night the device will be able to detect this and graphs the results. Most people will know when they’ve had a bad night but the ChargeHR will be able to tell you how many hours sleep you actually got.

There is a free smartphone app available for both Android and iOS devices that pairs with your ChargeHR and using this you can see most of the data you would get, accessing your online account. You can setup the device to how you want it and also set a silent alarm that’s good for waking just you, and not your partner.

If you tap the screen twice, the ChargeHR will show you whatever data you have selected for quick access. It could be the time, current heart rate or whatever. It’s nice and simple when you want to have a quick look without fussing about with the button. Hold the button down for three seconds and it sets the active mode showing a stopwatch display. Hold down again to stop – easy.

The real benefits come from been able to analyse your results over many months. You can see trends and hopefully, improvements in your overall health. You can set daily fitness challenges with yourself or share your results with other fitbit users and compare your level with theirs.

Once paired with Bluetooth to the smartphone app, when you get a phone call the ChargeHR will vibrate and display the name from your contact list of the person who is calling you. This is a nice feature that saves you having to get your phone out when you are busy working out.

I found the battery lasts up to five days depending on how often you access your data. When the battery starts getting low it will automatically send you an email reminding you to recharge the device, via USB using a supplied cable. That’s cool.

The verdict

Being small and lightweight it’s easy to wear this device 24/7. It’s well made comes in two sizes depending on your wrist size. Fitbit do make a simple Charge model without the heart rate monitor but for an additional $20 you can get the ChargeHR, which is a much better purchase in my opinion.

Seeing that I only needed 700 more steps to reach 10,000, I got up and started walking more until I reached it. I could see a company providing these to encourage its employees to be more active during the day and improve the general health of all personnel.

Score: 4/5

Fitbit ChargeHR RRP $199.99

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