I am sure most of us started this new year with a common resolution – “GET FIT!” like every new year. We all try to stand true to it for a few days or sometimes even a few weeks but then everything goes downhill and soon we find ourselves hogging over that delicious cheese burst pizza all alone. Quite correct eh?
Well, to combat this we do have a lot of smart devices and wearables in market which can work wonders to assist you in your fitness goal (provided you are a man of discipline). Personally I was never fascinated with the wearables due to their intrusive nature, poor battery life and hassle to set them up for every particular moment. I have had tried Android wear and Apple watch last year, but soon dismissed the idea as it felt like just another smartphone with array of sensors and tech slapped on your wrist. I wanted something simpler and a no-brainer smart device which would just sit and work without requiring much of my attention.
Guess what?! My employer, Adobe India, did read my wishlist and decided to gift all it’s employees a Fitbit Charge HR as a New year present. Isn’t that awesome? 😛
In team meeting around November 2015, it was announced that we all will be getting Fitbit(s) to encourage more physical activity. And let’s accept it, IT professionals suffer from one of the worst possible sedentary lifestyle which turns most of us into a slobby couch potato. I had just bought my Samsung Galaxy S6 and I was extensively using S-Health (with heart rate sensor in the device itself) to keep a track of my daily physical activity, so I thought “Na! What better a fitbit could be?” and dismissed the idea of even using it when I receive it. I filled up the procurement form and ordered a Fitbit Charge HR (Black, Large) for myself and forgot about it.
During my shutdown (or as my friends call it, my winter vacation), I researched about wearables and read a lot about Fitbit Charge HR, including the functionalities it provides and how it works. I spent some time going through the Fitbit forums, reading the first hand review/experience of the customers and some transformation journeys. I was amazed to find to that how wrong I was about generalizing all the wearables as per my past experience with Android wear and Apple watch platform. This was a whole different category as it doesn’t try to excel at all fronts and instead just do what it is best at, Fitness.
Anyway, the 11 day shutdown was over quickly and It was then the second working day of 2016 when we received the notification that our Fitbit(s) have arrived. Like everyone, I also got my Fitbit Charge HR from the designated room and brought it to my desk. Mind you, this was third month of ownership of my Samsung Galaxy S6 and I was not keeping a track of myself using S-Health anymore (thanks to rooting and custom ROMs). I kept it on my desk and resumed the daily work while everyone else was busy strapping it on and marveling over the new tech.
I was still in a two states of mind whether to use it or just put it on eBay/OLX/Quikr for sale and then wait for next generation of Android wear which is rumored to be much awesome.
A lot of people faced problems in setting it up and pairing with their smartphone device, to which I was happy to assist, thanks to my extensive research on the ecosystem. Everyone was curious to know why hadn’t I set it up yet. I was still confused if I will actually use this because honestly I am a very lazy person when it comes to following a routine or regime. Anyway, I got home and displayed the sealed pack box to my parents and they appreciated the gift by Adobe but also chuckled upon my honest confession of not having much of a use of it. 😛 After slaying some of the orcs in Shadow of Mordor on my gaming rig, I started browsing the Fitbit ecosystem online….
Finally, It was around 2 am (Night owl here) when I finally decided to give it a try as it would’t be a justice to sell/gift it even without trying a shinny new gadget. 😀
Time to set this up?
As easy as pie! (Not that I know how to make it) 😛
- Open the box.
- Marvel over the band and the bundled items.
- Wear the band and power it on by pressing the power button for 3 seconds.
- Just go to the https://www.fitbit.com/in/setup and follow the instructions as per your device.
- Create a new account or login using your Facebook or Google account.
- Pair the band with the app by following the steps.
The whole setup takes <10 mins from the cold boot. I really love the Fitbit mobile app as it is very well detailed. You can find all the meaningful data upfront on the dashboard. I would suggest you to take time and actually set up your profile accurately as it goes a long way in determining your calorie burn/need count.
Although it’s really early to say anything about the band as it is my first month of usage but I will still like to contribute my experience till now, as I think the real struggle of accommodating anything in your day-to-day lifestyle is in initial days of the ownership.
TThe Fitbit Charge HR is a neat looking device which is light, easy on the wrist, and does not look out of place in terms of appearance, either. The rubber wristband is reasonably comfortable, and also manages to look good. The array of sensors on the Fitbit Charge HR are located underneath, indicated by two pulsating green LEDs. It has six screens that you can choose to see and rearrange on the display. By default, it is arranged as Clock – Steps – Heart Rate – Distance – Calories – Floors, which seemed a good arrangement for me but you can always change that via companion app. The band also shows a silent alarm (which can be set from the app), incoming calls (you can only see who’s calling, not receive/reject the call) and a stopwatch, which is activated by long pressing the side button.
The Fitbit app has four tabs: Dashboard, Challenges, Friends and Account. The main dashboard shows the device name, sync and battery status. Underneath it, you get tabs for steps taken, heart rate, total distance travelled, calories burnt and flights of stairs climbed. Tapping on each of these tabs opens a detailed date-wise view of each category, alongside a graph for every single day. You can tabulate your calorie burnt against calorie consumption (which you will need to enter, manually), and an echo-format heart rate graph, calibrated time-wise throughout the day. Also, the heart rate tab also shows resting heart rate mean, and calculated heart rate time zone graphs.
A really good thing about Fitbit is that the app does not need to run all the time, thereby saving a lot of phone and device battery. Syncing the device for the first time automatically sets the time on my Charge HR and my fitness count started from that moment. You can keep the app shut all day, the Charge HR stores the entire day’s data.
This is convenient, seeing that you can sync the device with the app once at the end of the day, and have all of your data graphed by time.
Why Fitbit Charge HR?
This is the right question, after all the band costs ₹12,990.00 which is not exactly dirt cheap. I found the following features to be the differentiating factor(s) when compared to other fitness bands & smart watches in the market. Let’s check them out:
#1. ~4-5 day battery life = Badass!
This is the most important metrics for me as I really don’t wish to charge another device everyday after actively charging my 2 smartphones (Galaxy S6 & iPhone 6) and my laptop along with my battery pack. It is just super convenient to have a battery life covering me for my work week.
💡 Tip: Put your Fitbit on charging while you shower to top up the battery everyday. It will save you from wearing a dead band due to your negligence. 😉
#2. 24×7 Continuous Heart rate monitoring
This is the second most impressive feature I found as it actually tracks your heart rate every second and gives you meaningful insights by combining it to number of steps and other parameters. This is something of a novelty as even having a heart rate sensor on my Galaxy S6, I still need to explicitly use that feature to get the data. It is just not proactive. Fitbit keeps a track of your whole day and plots a nice graph (heart rate/time) which is very useful.
💡 Tip: Keep HR monitoring on Auto to save some juice.
#3. Auto sleep detect works like a charm.
This is also a nice feature, as while using S-Health to track the same I had to manually log my sleep and wake up time everyday which is cumbersome. Fitbit Charge HR automatically detects when you sleep and wake up on basis of 3-axis movement and your heart rate which gets pretty low when you sleep. It’s quite smart as it can auto detect your sleep quality and visually tell you the moments you were in deep sleep or light sleep.
💡 Tip: Try setting a sleep goal to ensure a proper sleep which will benefit your health alot more than you can think of. 🙂
#4. Silent alarm gets me up!
This may not sound much, but I found it to be way better arrangement of waking me up than blaring a loud alarm noise in my head early morning. It’s really subtle and wakes you up by an ascending beep vibration which I found to be very effective. It could be due to a change in routine but a sleepyhead like me will really love this feature.
💡 Tip: I have 2 alarms on my fitbit. One to remind me to sleep on time and another one to get me up. You can try same strategy.
#5. Auto track workout + Fat burning and cardio zones
Continuous HR monitoring comes as a blessing for this feature as you can track your workouts better as the app will notify you about your Fat burning zones while doing an intensive workout. While you do have an option of logging your workouts manually, you also get auto tracking feature where the device will automatically detect a cardio workout without any input from you. This is really helpful as it works as an extension of your body. You can later track the crunched data on the app to understand how can you improve your workouts.
💡 Tip: Long press the button on your fitbit to start a workout session manually to get more accurate results.
#6. Fitness goals?!
I highly recommend setting up a fitness goal as it will motivate you to actually get off your bottom. You can chose to either gain weight, lose it or maintain as you are. On basis of your profile and daily lifestyle, Fitbit will automatically setup a calorie target for you to be in sync with. It’s really useful as it takes in account of the calories you burn even while sleeping thanks to the HR sensor. Make sure to log your meals and water intake properly.
Tip: For my Indian friends, use MyFitnessPal to search the calories you just gulped with that delicious bowl of Rajma. 😎
#7. Fitbit Ecosystem
This is the key USP of Fitbit as it doesn’t only sell you the band, but also let you be a part of a whole blossoming community of fitness freaks. Fitbit has gamified the platform so that you can compete with friends, share your stats with others. Combine this with a brilliant forum and we have a winner!
💡 Tip: Connect with your friends and compete with them on a weekly ranking board. Fitness is fun with friends.
I cannot stress enough the quality of the Fitbit app and web based dashboard. They are motivational and intuitive and they give you goals to shoot for. On accuracy fronts, I compared it with a manual heart rate sensor on my Galaxy S6 as well as a pulse oximetry machine at home and it was always very close in range-maybe off by 2-4 beats which is pretty decent for such a tiny device IMHO.
Though it’s a bit expensive for ₹12,990.00 but taking everything into consideration, the Fitbit Charge HR is a sweet spot for every fitness freak who doesn’t mind spending a few extra bucks to keep his fitness regime in order. It can really do wonders if used religiously. I would recommend this watch to anyone wanting to take charge of their health!
p.s: I plan to update this post on important milestones (6/12 months) so as to keep myself motivated and track the overall product livecycle. Let me know your views on the Fitbit Charge HR in comments below. 🙂