We Tried The Fitbit Alta HR, An Ultra-Thin Heart Rate Tracker

The stylish fitness wearable gets an upgrade, and the app gets new sleep-tracking features.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed News

The ultra-slim Alta was one of Fitbit’s most popular wearables in 2016. Barely a year later, Fitbit is debuting the slightly rebooted Alta HR, which adds a feature for the fitness-conscious: heart rate tracking. The technology is typically found on chunkier wristbands and smartwatches, like the Apple Watch or Fitbit’s own Charge 2 — but now it’s available on the skinny-as-a-bracelet Alta HR.

At the same time, Fitbit is rolling out new app features that purportedly tell you about your sleeping habits in detail.

We tried out the Alta HR and the sleep features for a couple of days. While we didn’t have enough time to draw definitive conclusions about each new product, we’re sharing our first impressions. Fitbit’s latest wristband can be preordered now and will be available in April, while the sleep features will go live sometime this spring.

The overview

The overview

The same things we loved and hated about the Alta were also true of the Alta HR. The device itself is very comfortable to wear and, as we mentioned in our previous review, it’s also one of the sleekest, most attractive fitness wearables available on the market.

The touchscreen, however, remains a guessing game. The Alta is a button-less device, which means that to scroll through your stats or turn on the screen, you need to tap it. The problem is, it usually takes two or three tries (targeting different parts of the screen, tapping with varying levels of force) to get the screen to respond.

A Fitbit representative tells us that swiftly double-tapping the bottom corners of the tracker are most effective — but even with that advice in mind, it’s tough to get the motion exactly right while on the move, specifically when attempting to view your heart rate during a dimly lit spin class.

The Alta HR’s “smart features” — call, text, and calendar notifications — are helpful, unless you use an alternative messaging app like WhatsApp, Messenger, or Signal, in which case you won’t get a text alert. The trackers’ “smart features” are limited to SMS.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed News


View Entire List ›

We Tried The Fitbit Alta HR, An Ultra-Thin Heart Rate Tracker

The stylish fitness wearable gets an upgrade, and the app gets new sleep-tracking features.

The ultra-slim Alta was one of Fitbit’s most popular wearables in 2016. Barely a year later, Fitbit is debuting the slightly rebooted Alta HR, which adds a feature for the fitness-conscious: heart rate tracking. The technology is typically found on chunkier wristbands and smartwatches, like the Apple Watch or Fitbit’s own Charge 2 — but now it’s available on the skinny-as-a-bracelet Alta HR.

At the same time, Fitbit is rolling out new app features that purportedly tell you about your sleeping habits in detail.

We tried out the Alta HR and the sleep features for a couple of days. While we didn’t have enough time to draw definitive conclusions about each new product, we’re sharing our first impressions. Fitbit’s latest wristband can be preordered now and will be available in April, while the sleep features will go live sometime this spring.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed News

The overview

The overview

The same things we loved and hated about the Alta were also true of the Alta HR. The device itself is very comfortable to wear and, as we mentioned in our previous review, it’s also one of the sleekest, most attractive fitness wearables available on the market.

The touchscreen, however, remains a guessing game. The Alta is a button-less device, which means that to scroll through your stats or turn on the screen, you need to tap it. The problem is, it usually takes two or three tries (targeting different parts of the screen, tapping with varying levels of force) to get the screen to respond.

A Fitbit representative tells us that swiftly double-tapping the bottom corners of the tracker are most effective — but even with that advice in mind, it’s tough to get the motion exactly right while on the move, specifically when attempting to view your heart rate during a dimly lit spin class.

The Alta HR’s “smart features” — call, text, and calendar notifications — are helpful, unless you use an alternative messaging app like WhatsApp, Messenger, or Signal, in which case you won’t get a text alert. The trackers’ “smart features” are limited to SMS.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed News

During our workouts with the Alta HR and Apple Watch for comparison, it was hard to get a consistent reading.

During our workouts with the Alta HR and Apple Watch for comparison, it was hard to get a consistent reading.

Fitbit products have gone beyond counting steps and focused increasingly on measuring exercise. Last year, the company introduced a “cardio fitness score” that shows you how fit you are (and can be) on its devices with heart rate tracking. That's based on your resting heart rate and profile (weight, height, age, and gender). And the app recommends ways to improve; for example, Nicole was told to increase the intensity of her exercise in order to increase her score by 20%. Intensity is measured in part by being in different heart rate zones, like peak (the most intense), fat burn (least intense), cardio, and out of zone (not exercising).

This all depends on the accuracy of the heart rate reading, of course, so we worked out with the new Alta HR and compared it to the Apple Watch (both the original and second-generation versions, which share the same heart rate sensor). And in our experience, the Alta HR's accuracy seems to wane with activity.

Stephanie went on a run and, at one point, the Alta HR said her heart rate was 173 bpm, while the Apple Watch said 88. Another time, the Alta HR said 125 and the Apple Watch read 105. Both bands were affixed tightly, with the watch further up the wrist.

Shelten Yuen, Fitbit's vice president of research, said he didn't want to comment on the Apple Watch's readings since he doesn't know much about how it works. But “the Alta HR seems like it was probably working pretty well,” he told BuzzFeed News.

Stephanie M. Lee / BuzzFeed News


View Entire List ›

We Tried The Fitbit Alta HR, An Ultra-Thin Heart-Rate Tracker

The stylish fitness wearable gets an upgrade, and the app gets new sleep-tracking features.

The ultra-slim Alta was one of Fitbit’s most popular wearables in 2016. Barely a year later, Fitbit is debuting the slightly rebooted Alta HR, which adds a feature for the fitness-conscious: heart-rate tracking. The technology is typically found on chunkier wristbands and smartwatches, like the Apple Watch or Fitbit’s own Charge 2 — but now it’s available on the skinny-as-a-bracelet Alta HR.

At the same time, Fitbit is rolling out new app features that purportedly tell you about your sleeping habits in detail.

We tried out the Alta HR and the sleep features for a couple of days. While we didn’t have enough time to draw definitive conclusions about each new product, we’re sharing our first impressions. Fitbit’s latest wristband can be preordered now and will be available in April, while the sleep features will go live sometime this spring.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed News

The overview

The overview

The same things we loved and hated about the Alta were also true of the Alta HR. The device itself is very comfortable to wear and, as we mentioned in our previous review, it’s also one of the sleekest, most attractive fitness wearables available on the market.

The touchscreen, however, remains a guessing game. The Alta is a button-less device, which means that to scroll through your stats or turn on the screen, you need to tap it. The problem is, it usually takes two or three tries (targeting different parts of the screen, tapping with varying levels of force) to get the screen to respond.

A Fitbit representative tells us that swiftly double-tapping the bottom corners of the tracker are most effective – but even with that advice in mind, it’s tough to get the motion exactly right while on the move, specifically when attempting to view your heart rate during a dimly-lit spin class.

The Alta HR’s “smart features” – call, text, and calendar notifications – are helpful, unless you use an alternative messaging app like WhatsApp, Messenger, or Signal, in which case you won’t get a text alert. The trackers’ “smart features” are limited to SMS.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed News

During our workouts with the Alta HR and Apple Watch for comparison, it was hard to get a consistent reading.

During our workouts with the Alta HR and Apple Watch for comparison, it was hard to get a consistent reading.

Fitbit products have gone beyond counting steps and focused increasingly on measuring exercise. Last year, the company introduced a “cardio fitness score” that shows you how fit you are (and can be) on its devices with heart-rate tracking. That's based on your resting heart rate and profile (weight, height, age, and gender). And the app recommends ways to improve; for example, Nicole was told to increase the intensity of her exercise in order to increase her score by 20%. Intensity is measured in part by being in different heart rate zones, like peak (the most intense), fat burn (least intense), cardio, and out of zone (not exercising).

This all depends on the accuracy of the heart-rate reading, of course, so we worked out with the new Alta HR and compared it to the Apple Watch (both the original and second-generation versions, which share the same heart-rate sensor). And in our experience, the Alta HR's accuracy seems to wane with activity.

Stephanie went on a run and, at one point, the Alta HR said her heart rate was 173 beats per minute, while the Apple Watch said 88. Another time, the Alta HR said 125 and the Apple Watch read 105. Both bands were affixed tightly, with the watch further up the wrist.

Shelten Yuen, Fitbit's vice president of research, said he didn't want to comment on the Apple Watch's readings since he doesn't know much about how it works. But “the Alta HR seems like it was probably working pretty well,” he told BuzzFeed News.

Stephanie M. Lee / BuzzFeed News


View Entire List ›

I Spent A Year Trying To Bulk Up And Get Swole And This Is What Happened

Let’s get real.

Hey, I’m Spencer. Last March I started this cool, intense fitness project where I basically tried to gain as much muscle mass as possible.

Hey, I'm Spencer. Last March I started this cool, intense fitness project where I basically tried to gain as much muscle mass as possible.

I've had body image issues for as long as I can remember. Even in elementary school I'd compare myself with the other kids, convincing myself that I was too small and not strong enough. But last year my self-esteem and confidence were at an all-time low. I seriously questioned the way I looked and felt because I didn't fit the mainstream norm. I did not think I deserved to feel good.

After countless attempts to gain weight and muscle but never really succeeding, I enlisted the help of trainer and registered dietitian Albert Matheny, who's the founder of SoHo Strength Lab and ProMix Nutrition, to see if he could help me change my body.

instagram.com

Be patient, because you probably won’t see changes immediately.

Be patient, because you probably won't see changes immediately.

Working out can be scary and exhausting and exhilarating and rewarding. Everyone wants to see instant results, but that's just not possible. I had to put in a lot of hard work – I literally drank a thousand protein shakes in a year – and spent countless hours at the gym before seeing any changes with my body.

There's nothing glamorous about sweating or having to watch what you eat. My fitness journey has literally been a lifestyle change, and it took a lot of time for me to see results.

Instagram: @spenceralthouse

Celebrate the small victories as you’re trying to achieve your overall goal.

Celebrate the small victories as you're trying to achieve your overall goal.

Focusing solely on the number of pounds I lost or gained was super detrimental to my fitness journey. Instead of trying to hit X number of pounds within X days, I celebrated other types of progress, like outgrowing my jeans, squatting a certain amount, and having to adjust the wristband on my watch because it got too tight. All of these were casual reminders that I was actually making progress.

Spencer Althouse


View Entire List ›

I Spent A Year Trying To Bulk Up And Get Swole And This Is What Happened

Let’s get real.

Hey, I’m Spencer. Last March I started this cool, intense fitness project where I basically tried to gain as much muscle mass as possible.

Hey, I'm Spencer. Last March I started this cool, intense fitness project where I basically tried to gain as much muscle mass as possible.

I've had body image issues for as long as I can remember. Even in elementary school I'd compare myself to the other kids, convincing myself that I was too small and not strong enough. But last year, my self-esteem and confidence were at an all-time low. I seriously questioned the way I looked and felt because I didn't fit the mainstream norm. I did not think I deserved to feel good.

After countless attempts to gain weight and muscle but never really succeeding, I enlisted the help of trainer and registered dietitian Albert Matheny, who's the founder of SoHo Strength Lab and ProMix Nutrition, to see if he could help me change my body.

instagram.com

Be patient, because you probably won’t see changes immediately.

Be patient, because you probably won't see changes immediately.

Working out can be scary and exhausting and exhilarating and rewarding. Everyone wants to see instant results, but that's just not possible. I had to put in a lot of hard work – I literally drank a thousand protein shakes in a year – and spent countless hours at the gym before seeing any changes with my body.

There's nothing glamorous about sweating or having to watch what you eat. My fitness journey has literally been a lifestyle change, and it took a lot of time for me to see results.

Instagram: @spenceralthouse

Celebrate the small victories as you’re trying to achieve your overall goal.

Celebrate the small victories as you're trying to achieve your overall goal.

Focusing solely on the number of pounds I lost or gained was super detrimental to my fitness journey. Instead of trying to hit X number of pounds within X days, I celebrated other types of progress, like outgrowing my jeans, squatting a certain amount, and having to adjust the wristband on my watch because it got too tight. All of these were casual reminders that I was actually making progress.

Spencer Althouse


View Entire List ›