Monday, 11 April 2016

Fitbit Alta: an Honest Review

There are so many fitness bands on the market; the leading market manufacturers at the moment are Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin & the Microsoft Band. When Fitbit announced the Alta I really liked the look of it because it's the first one I've seen that is small and slimline rather than bulky with a large display. I don't wear a watch, and I hate the feeling of bracelets and watches, so I knew if I was going to buy a band I needed it to be lightweight so that I could forget about it. 

I went for the Fitbit Alta in plum. It costs £99 direct from the Fitbit online store, and it arrived on my doormat weeks before the pre-release shipping was even announced which was amazing. 

The Alta makes a great first impression. It ships with a small slimline charging cable which is great for charging in the office or on the go. It was very easy to set up simply by downloading the Fitbit app from the Apple App Store and enabling Bluetooth on both the band and my phone. The band takes information about your height, weight, age and other factors and optimizes targets based on your answers.

The Fitbit Alta tracks your steps, your calorie intake and your active minutes. It synchronizes with many other apps, such as My Fitness Pal, to offset your actual diet with your exercise and movement. The battery seems to last for ages (I've been wearing it for 2 weeks and I've charged it 3 times, for about an hour each time), but what I really like is the sleep tracking functionality. Wearing the band at night enables data collection around your sleep patterns. The Fitbit app will tell you how long you slept for, how many times you were restless and how many times you woke up during the night. I found that it gave really valuable insight into my mood and my energy levels, because nights that I felt I'd had great sleep had usually included a lot of restless periods where my brain was active, which explained a few tired episodes I was having during the day.

Another great function of the Fitbit Alta is the text notifications. My wrist vibrates when I have a call incoming which is great for when my phone is on silent in my back pocket. The Alta also displays my texts to me (by scrolling them on the screen, not literally announcing them!) which is useful for when I'm in the car or in meetings.

I think that a hugely under appreciated function of the Fitbit fitness band range is the silent alarm. My husband gets up for work before I do most days. This used to mean that I was awake at 6am, then grumpy until my own alarm went off at 7am. It used to cause a lot of arguments between us, especially when he snoozed the alarm multiple times at 5am in the morning. That issue has now completely dissappeared. He uses his Fitbit vibrating alarm to wake him up in the morning and I barely notice he's left the room. If I'm up early for travel it means that he isn't woken up before he needs to be. It's a great feature, and we basically never use our actual alarms anymore.

One thing that I would point out about the Fitbit Alta is that the wristband can be quite uncomfortable. I've found that unless I wear it fitted quite snugly to my wrist it doesn't collect quite as accurate information, understandably. However, when I use the tighter adjustment I do sometimes get marks on my wrist by the time dinner rolls around, especially if I've been driving and my wrist has been flexing back and forth. This could be exacerbated by the fact I don't wear a watch, but I'm already looking into the leather and metal Fitbit bands to see if this enhances my experience (another amazing Fitbit bonus: you can change the straps and there are some really lovely ones coming!).

The "Reminders to Move" notifications are enabled when you first set up the Alta. This means that once per hour the Fitbit vibrates to encourage you to get up and walk around. This is a great feature, but I ended up having to turn it off because once per hour feels quite frequent and almost nagging, especially when you're in an afternoon of meetings that you literally can't escape from, or you're eating crisps on the sofa in the middle of a 90210 binge. My husband has left his on and finds them very useful, but it wasn't quite for me. However, they are super easy to turn off using the app!

In summary, I love the Fitbit Alta. I'm happy that it is the fitness band most suited to me that is currently available and I love that it is lightweight and more discrete than other fitness bands. I'd absolutely encourage you to go ahead and order one. Let me know how you get on with your Alta!

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