Reviews

Fitbit Alta Activity Tracker User Review | GadFit

April 3, 2016

Fitbit’s newest fitness tracker focuses heavily on  making activity tracking an effortless part of your life.  Needless to say, the previous generation of fitness trackers such as the Charge or Surge series, while capable in its own way, hardly cut it in the aethetics department. Fitbit Alta is the company’s solution to buyers who are tired of standardisation, and hungry for aesthetic customisation and all day wearability.

In an era where smart watches mimics the functions of fitness trackers to a tee, is there still room for dedicated activity trackers to punch back? I had the Fitbit Alta for 2 weeks now and here’s what I have to say.

IN SHORT

Pros:

  • All day activity tracker
  • Tracks steps, distance, calories, active minutes
  • Automatically tracks sleep and activities with SmartTrack
  • 5 days battery life
  • Sweat, rain and splash proof
  • Move reminders
  • Call and text notifications
  • Changeable accessory bands
  • Vibration enabled

Cons:

  • No dedicated access to smart notifications
  • Easy to tap over the notifications

As usual, I’d recommend you browse through the entire review to check out the workings of the Fitbit  Alta thoroughly.



LOOK AND FEEL

Due to the small size, the Fitbit Alta will not monopolise your wrist like the Fitbit Blaze. On the contrary, it would appear almost second nature to mix and match it with the right accessory bands, maybe even swap out the changeable wrist band.Fitbit-Alta-perspectivesPerhaps it could be due to the slight increase in weight, it’s sturdier in feel as well compared to the Fitbit Charge series of trackers.

The screen is crisp under normal and low light conditions though you’d strain to see it under bright sunlight.Fitbit-Alta-on-handThe screen is not touch enabled so it relies on tapping, either on screen or on the side. I tend to tap it on the side since tapping on screen would leave fingerprints.

There were occasions, even now, when I would tend to over tap my desired stat. You know how when you tap and nothing registers, then you tap harder or do a double tap only to have both taps registered and you have to go an an entire cycle to see the step count again? Yep, that’s it.fitbit alta-clasp-systemThe strap is changeable and the core tracker unit is easily removable. Personally, I would love to have the option of wearing it as a necklace. The curved display does give it that little bit of extra aesthetic appeal.fitbit alta -chargerBattery life is advertised as 5 days and it’s about right. The charging cable is proprietary.

Unfortunately the Fitbit Alta is only sweat and rain resistant so like all Fitbit trackers, remove before water activities.

FUNCTIONS AND DATA PRESENTATION

All day activity tracker

The Fitbit Alta tracks steps, distance, calories, active minutes and sleep. I’ve always regarded Fitbit as the standard for basic activity tracking based on the numerous fitness trackers I’ve come across.

It’s not simply the tracking but the presentation as well. It’s concise yet informative.fitbit alta -various-stats-on-handUnfortunately it Fitbit has lagged behind Jawbone and Garmin in terms of stats analysis; Jawbone has Smart Coach and Garmin has Insights. Essentially, your tracked stats are analysed to highlight some patterns or prompt the mobile apps to provide some advice. Still waiting for Fitbit to come up with their own version of stat analysis.

Sleep tracking duration is spot on. I make no apologies for the lack of interpretation with regard to Fitbit’s sleep quality data. I’ve done my fair share of research and know the limits of fitness trackers in estimating sleep quality.



SmartTrack

Introduced in 2015, SmartTrack was rolled out to the Fitbit’s more recent fitness trackers such as the Charge, Charge HR, Surge and most recently the Blaze series.

While the concept isn’t new and fitness tracker companies like Jawbone have been utilising it in their products for the longest time, Fitbit’s implementation is worth noting; the Fitbit Alta tracker attempts to automatically recognise and categorise activities with a decent amount of success.fitbit alta -dashboardI teach Physical Education to teenagers and I could be teaching floorball, frisbee, soccer and even walking from the indoor gymanisum to the field or office any given day.

I’m happy to announce that Fitbit Alta has gotten it right most of the time. While it’s not smart enough, yet, to recognise the game per se the periods in a day when I’m on my feet teaching or just running trying to keep fit was accurately captured.

Low intensity activities such as yoga or pilates will require that the user key in the activities into the mobile app. Over time, the Fitbit platform becomes your training or fitness diary. Well played Fitbit.

Smart notifications

fitbit alta -smart-notificationsThe Fitbit Alta is capable of displaying incoming calls, texts, calenders notifications. The display may be tiny but it’s still adequate to show messages that ticker tapes across the screen. There’s no audio but the vibration enabled band more than made up for it in terms of discreet notifications.fitbit alta -reminder-to-moveUsers can also set alarms and even reminders to move on the Fitbit Alta. Strangely this reminder to move function is not available on the more premium Fitbit Blaze.

Again, Fitbit could’ve scored some points here but failed to do so. While it’s possible to set the duration in a day when movement reminders can come on, there’s isn’t a do-not-disturb function for smart notifications. So it’s going to be challenging if you forget to turn off the notifications and subsequently get a call in the wee hours of the night.

Changeable wrist straps

fitbit alta -removeable-wristbandsThis has got to be one of the biggest selling points of the Fitbit Alta that has nothing to do with its core functions of activity tracking. 3 years ago it was pretty cool to wear the Flex en masse, not anymore in 2016. Increasingly buyers want to accessorize and differentiate.leather-and-ss-fitbit alta

Fitbit has come up with their own official changeable wrist bands which are pretty steeply priced. The black or pink leather band goes for $59.95 whereas the stainless steel bracelet goes for a whopping $99.95. It appears customisation is correlated with your appetite to spend.

ANYTHING ELSE?

I’m not a fan of tapping in order to wake display. I honestly feel Fitbit has the capacity to fine tune this tapping function, such as making the response to taps more sensitive.fitbit alta -orientation-displayThough you can also set the display orientation to vertical or horizontal, I personally found the fonts on display too “slim.” Don’t get me wrong, you’ll definitely be able to see it. It’s just a tad too slim for my liking.

You’re going to face some difficulties if you miss the messages, especially longer messages, for 2 main reasons. The first is because the messages take so long to “ticker-tape”  across the tiny display I thought it was more convenient simply to check it out on my smart phone. Secondly, messages which are too long will get truncated.

IN A NUTSHELL

The Fitbit Alta is an adequate successor to the Fitbit Charge fitness trackers for those who are yearning for that option to customise its appearance and have that bit of smart notifications along with an enlarged display.fitbit alta -feature-3While it certainly is one of the better looking products in Fitbit’s arsenal, it is by no means the best I’ve seen on the market. Perhaps with the experience from launching the Blaze and Alta, the successor to the year old Fitbit Surge could finally be something to blow us all away.

Smart watches have been improving by leaps and bounds compared to fitness trackers. Yet I know there are those who’d be totally satisfied with the fitness tracking aspect instead of adding full smart notifications to the equation. And that’s what Fitbit’s line of trackers have been trying to do all along. Working out, staying active also means taking a break from being connected.fitbit alta -featureIf you’re keen to purchase the Fitbit Alta ($129.95), you can get it from Amazon where there’s usually a small discount and free delivery depending on where you reside. Plus your purchase helps to fund the running of this site! Thanks for reading. As usual, drop me a comment if you have further queries and I’ll try my best to answer.

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