With Alta, Fitbit lastly made a trendy health band

The Fitbit Alta is what occurs when Fitbit sits down and decides to make a health tracker that is not ugly. In any case, the novelty of health trackers is sporting skinny, so the corporate wants a brand new technique to tackle more and more flashy rivals. We noticed hints of a brand new design course with the Surge in 2015, nevertheless it actually got here into focus this yr with the debut of the Blaze smartwatch and Alta band. They are not as trendy as different health devices from the likes of Jawbone and Misfit, however they seem to be a begin. The Alta particularly is Fitbit’s most trend-ahead gadget — one thing you can put on both on a run or a date. That is the hope, no less than.

Gallery: Fitbit Alta evaluation | eleven Pictures

Engadget Rating
Poor
Uninspiring
Good
Wonderful

Key

eighty two
Execs
  • Fitbit’s most trendy and cozy tracker but
  • Battery lasts 5 days
  • Automated exercise monitoring
  • Large number of band choices
Cons
  • No stair or coronary heart fee monitoring
  • Some bands are troublesome to placed on
Abstract

The Alta exhibits Fitbit has discovered sufficient about design to compete with extra trendy rivals. It is alsoa lesson in how fewer options can typically result in a greater product.

Engadget Rating
Poor
Uninspiring
Good
Wonderful

Key

eighty two
Execs
  • Fitbit’s most trendy and cozy tracker but
  • Battery lasts 5 days
  • Automated exercise monitoring
  • Vast number of band choices
Cons
  • No stair or coronary heart fee monitoring
  • Some bands are troublesome to placed on
Abstract

The Alta exhibits Fitbit has discovered sufficient about design to compete with extra trendy rivals. It is alsoa lesson in how fewer options can typically result in a greater product.

Hardware

The perfect factor concerning the Alta is that it does not look something like Fitbit’s previous couple of generations of wristbands. Gone are the extensive straps, chunky builds and skinny shows (the Flex could not even show textual content, simply dots). As an alternative, the Alta is dominated by a big, contact-delicate OLED display. It has a modern metallic core unit and its straps are all a lot thinner. It is nonetheless apparent you are sporting a health band, however at the very least it does not appear to be a low-price range, sci-fi film prop.

Surprisingly, there are not any buttons on the Alta. That is since you do not actually need them; it routinely tracks your actions and sleep. You work together with it by elevating your wrist, or by double-tapping the show. Tapping on the underside of the display cycles by means of your primary health stats, together with your steps, distance traveled, energy burned and lively time.

With Alta, Fitbit finally made a stylish fitness band

The Alta ships with both small or giant normal bands, that are constructed out of the identical elastomer materials as Fitbit’s different straps. They’re rubbery and considerably stiff — the type of factor you will not should fuss with in the event that they get moist or sweaty. Look-clever, the bands are simply OK. They do not name a lot consideration to themselves, however they are not precisely elegant (although I am actually digging the plum one).

Fitbit additionally has a slew of equipment available this time round, together with pink and graphite leather-based bands for $60 and a stainless-steel one for $one hundred. You can even decide up further normal straps in black, blue, plum and teal for $30. The thought is that you’ll customise your Alta and gown it up and down as mandatory. Swapping the bands is pretty straightforward, as properly: You simply want to carry down two buttons on the Alta’s underside and slide within the alternative straps.

There is no coronary heart fee monitor on the Alta, which speaks to how Fitbit is positioning it. Most individuals do not really need that performance and for a lot of, having a barely sleeker gadget is extra necessary.

Software program

With Alta, Fitbit finally made a stylish fitness band

Should you’ve seen the Fitbit Cost in motion, the Alta is not a lot totally different. Along with displaying the health stats I discussed earlier, its display will even provide you with a warning to incoming calls and texts. You’ll be able to swap between vertical and horizontal textual content show from the Fitbit app, which additionally has a number of totally different watch faces to select from. All of these watch faces principally look the identical, although; you’ll be able to solely anticipate a lot from a monochrome display.

Past that, there’s not a lot to customise with the Alta. You possibly can select to show off sure stats from the system’s display, or rearrange the order they seem. However that is about it.

Naturally, you will be counting on Fitbit’s cellular apps more often than not for detailed details about your health stats. The Alta mechanically syncs with these apps all through the day, or you’ll be able to provoke guide syncs by yourself. It is been a couple of years since I’ve reviewed a Fitbit wearable, so its colourful, extra consumer-pleasant apps have been a welcome sight (they was excessively uninteresting).

In use

With Alta, Fitbit finally made a stylish fitness band

The Alta makes a superb first impression whenever you see it, although placing it on is one other story. Even after utilizing it for weeks now, it nonetheless takes much more effort than I might like with the bundled strap. The large problem is Fitbit’s clasp implementation, which depends on getting two prongs to suit into two holes, all whereas balancing the Alta and ensuring it matches tightly sufficient. Every time I attempt to put it on, the Alta’s commonplace strap inevitably slips out of my palms or I’ve hassle getting these prongs into the holes. Inevitably, I am left annoyed and with a barely bruised wrist. (It was a lot simpler to place the Alta on with the leather-based band.)

As soon as it was on, the Alta labored as promised. It precisely counted my steps and distance, as Fitbits have achieved for years (sadly, it does not rely stairs just like the Cost did). And I used to be stunned that it did not have any hassle mechanically monitoring my actions, be it a 30-minute run or an extended stroll. As soon as it begins monitoring an exercise, the Alta additionally introduced issues like my tempo and timing out loud (you possibly can disable these notifications within the app). Equally, it was capable of monitor my sleep habits with none further prodding, although I typically needed to go in and delete some entries the place it mistook my late night time/early morning writing as extra sleep time. (We tech writers reside sedentary lives.)

Automated exercise monitoring is not something new for Fitbit, however the Alta’s implementation provides one other layer of refinement. Health devices are recognized for having a really low retention price; loads of shoppers have tried them solely to surrender after a couple of weeks or months. Automating probably the most rote duties is one option to probably assist customers recover from that hump. They only need to put the Alta on, with out worrying about urgent buttons or twiddling with settings.

With Alta, Fitbit finally made a stylish fitness band

I’ve worn loads of health trackers through the years, and the Alta is among the most snug (except for the frustration of truly placing it on). The usual wrist band is not something particular, however I used to be capable of put on it for days with none points. The Alta’s leather-based strap is even higher: It is as delicate and clean as you’d anticipate a premium band to be. It ended up turning into my go-to, although I needed to be a bit extra cautious since Fitbit recommends protecting it away from water, oils and something that would probably injury it. The large takeaway: For those who’re getting an Alta, you need to undoubtedly plan on choosing up a leather-based band.

Fitbit claims that the Alta ought to final round 5 days on a cost, and that is fairly near what I noticed in apply. Typically I might should cost it on the fourth day if I exercised so much, however for probably the most half it reached 5 days with out situation. That is on par with the battery life you will get from Fitbit’s Cost HR band, although the plain Cost can final seven to 10 days.

Whereas it is snug and straightforward to make use of general, the Alta does not go far past the essential capabilities of a health tracker. It does precisely what you’d anticipate, and nothing extra. Truthfully, although, that simply may be an indication of the health gadget market stabilizing a bit. Positive, it does not have a coronary heart price monitor, however that is one thing solely hardcore health club rats want anyway. Most wrist-based mostly innovation lately is concentrated on smartwatches, so it is sensible for Fitbit to focus extra on design with the Alta. (Although our assessment of the Fitbit Blaze exhibits, it nonetheless has rather a lot to study within the smartwatch realm.)

The competitors

With Alta, Fitbit finally made a stylish fitness band

At $one hundred thirty, the Alta is identical worth as final yr’s Cost, which has a a lot clunkier design but in addition has the additional advantage of stair monitoring. (I anticipate the Cost to get a worth reduce quickly.) In the event you’re extra of a health hound, you will get the Cost HR with coronary heart-fee monitoring for $one hundred fifty, or step as much as the Blaze for $200.

The Alta’s closest competitors is different design-targeted health bands just like the Jawbone Up3 ($one hundred) and the Misfit Ray ($one hundred). Whereas cheaper, neither of these options have screens of their very own, as an alternative they depend on their cellular apps to show stats. We discovered the Up3 to be extremely problematic when it launched, however it’s value noting that Jawbone was capable of embrace a primary coronary heart-fee monitor. The Up3 can also be less expensive now than its unique $one hundred eighty worth, which partially factored into our evaluation when it got here out.

Wrap-up

With Alta, Fitbit finally made a stylish fitness band

In the long run, the Alta is an enormous leap ahead for Fitbit when it comes to design, but it is in some methods a step again in performance. However for a corporation that is principally been targeted on know-how over seems to be for the previous few years, that is in all probability a sensible compromise.

Health trackers are not the recent new factor: You want a little bit of flash to remain within the race. It is also a reminder that the majority shoppers won’t want the options gadget corporations have been pushing on us. In relation to one thing I put on all day, I am going to all the time take a slim and engaging health tracker over a cumbersome one which simply occurs to trace my coronary heart fee.

Devindra has been obsessive about know-how for so long as he can keep in mind — beginning with the primary time he ever glimpsed an NES. He spent a number of years fixing different individuals’s computer systems earlier than he began down the treacherous path of writing about know-how. Mission completed?

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