Fitbit has announced the Alta HR, bringing heart rate tracking to its slim and stylish fitness tracker. The Alta was a fabulous device for basic tracking but it missed out on a couple of features that stopped it being excellent.
Does the Fitbit Alta HR have what it takes to become the king of the fitness trackers? Here are our first impressions.
Fitbit Alta HR: Design
The Fitbit Alta HR features an almost identical design to the original Alta, meaning it retains its lovely slim and stylish build. The main difference in the new device is the addition of the PurePulse optical heart rate monitor on the underside of the device, as the name suggests, along with a change in clasp to make the new model more secure for the heart rate tracking.
Fitbit has managed to make the PurePulse monitor smaller compared to the Charge 2, Surge and Blaze trackers, which in turn has meant it could deliver the Alta HR in the same sized body as the original model. The Alta HR therefore measures just 15mm wide, which Fitbit claims is the slimmest heart rate tracker on the market.
Like the original, the Alta HR has a lovely chamfered metal frame which has a 1.4-inch OLED tap display on top, featuring a 128 x 36 pixel resolution. The display is sharp in appearance, like the original and it is responsive to touch-based controls, allowing for easy progress checking without opening the Fitbit app.
On the underside of the Alta HR on either side of the PurePulse monitor, there are the clips that enable you to remove and change the straps easily. The Alta HR comes in four standard colours, all of which have a textured elastomer band, but there are special addition models available too, including leather bands for a smarter look. All the bands for the Alta are also compatible with the Alta HR.
The charging port is positioned on the underside of the Alta too, offering the same mechanism as the Alta with a bull-dog-style clip that locks into the pins. The original device offered a five day battery life, but Fitbit has said the new device will deliver seven days.
Fitbit Alta HR: Features
The Fitbit Alta HR tracks steps, distance travelled, calories burned, active minutes, heart rate and sleep data. Fitbit is making improvements in its sleep tracking functionality, adding heart rate tracking to sleep, REM data and breaking sleep down into more useful data.
Fitbit trackers that are capable of sleep tracking currently show time asleep as a total figure, with sleep quality detailed as times awake, times restless and number of minutes awake or restless. The Alta HR will introduce light sleep, deep sleep and REM, like the Withings Aura sleep system, but it will also offer information on each category and tips on how to achieve goals and how sleep could be related.
The Alta HR will also offer Fitbit's SmartTrack feature, which means it will automatically recognise certain activities, such as running, walking and elliptical, recording them in the exercise section of the app for the user to then categorise them. The Reminders to Move feature will also be present, as well as call, text and calendar alerts.
As there is no physical button on the Alta HR and it is aimed at the everyday consumer, rather than the active one, it misses out on a couple of the Charge 2's features, including Multi-Sport Tracking, Connected GPS, Guided Breathing and Cardio Fitness Level, the latter of which translates to VO2 Max.
Fitbit Alta HR: Performance
We weren't able to test out the Fitbit Alta HR's performance during our brief amount of time with it but we'd expect a very similar experience to the original Alta, with the addition of hopefully accurate heart rate tracking and better sleep data.
The Fitbit Alta ever so slightly over-estimated on steps counted compared to the Charge HR and its distance tracking wasn't the best, though it seemed capable of counting calories burned as well as the Charge HR without heart rate data so good things are expected from the Alta with heart rate data.
Sleep tracking was also mediocre when we tested the original Alta, but the changes Fitbit is bringing to this area will hopefully make quite a big difference to the Alta HR, and the other devices it will be coming to, such as the Charge 2. We will of course put the Alta HR through its paces as soon as we have it in for review.
Fitbit Alta HR: App
The Fitbit app will look the same for the Alta HR as it does for other Fitbit devices, meaning the experience will be familiar and simple. It's a clean, consistent and concise app that is easy to navigate and one of our favourite features about Fitbit devices.
The Alta HR will bring changes to the sleep section as we mentioned, though these changes will also appear on other Fitbit trackers too, and there will also be the addition of the heart rate data on the new Alta, which wasn't of course available with the original.
Other than that though, you can expect the same experience if you already have a Fitbit device, or an easy and pleasant experience if you are new to Fitbit.
The Alta is by far the most stylish Fitbit thanks to its slim body and interchangeable straps, but the Alta HR brings function to the already great form.
We loved the original Alta for its ability to offer simple and stylish tracking in a slim body but it missed out on some key features, heart rating tracking being one of them. Although Fitbit hasn't added waterproofing or elevation data to the new device, the addition of the PurePulse heart rate monitor is a big win for such a slim device.
Does the Fitbit Alta HR do enough for us to give up our Charge 2 now? We will let you know.