Review: Fitbit Alta HR

Post by Mark

A couple of months back, Fitbit sent me their latest fitness tracker to review, the Alta HR. I’m a mechanical watch kind of guy and so don’t own an Apple Watch so figured this would be a good alternative. I’d be able to keep wearing my mechanical watches on one wrist, and a fitness tracker on the other.

The Fitbit Alta HR is a pretty great looking tracker, it’s slim and looks like a regular rubber bracelet and so can be worn on the opposite wrist of your watch and not look like you’re wearing two watches. The biggest selling point for me with the Fitbit was the fact it had a heart rate monitor. I’ve been going to spinning quite a bit and was curious to know how many calories I was burning exactly. Since the Fitbit could monitor my heart rate, I assumed it would be great at that one job… it wasn’t. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

The Alta HR has a pretty simple and straight forward screen that can display the time, your heart rate, how many steps you’ve done, how many calories you’ve burned and a bunch of other information. You flip through the screens by tapping the screen and using the Fitbit app on your phone, you can even customize what information you want to show on the screen and in what order. So in my case the first screen would show me my heart rate, second screen the calories burned, followed by my active minutes and finally the battery life.

I like the screen because of its simplicity but I hate the responsiveness of it. I have quick view turned off since I don’t want the screen to turn on randomly when I raise or flick my wrist, so to turn the screen on I need to tap it. Problem is, 99% of the time it doesn’t turn on with the first tap, 70% of the time it doesn’t turn on with the second tap, 30% of the time it doesn’t turn on with the 3rd tap either. I have to tap the screen a few times to get it to wake up and thats very frustrating. The other major issue I have with the Alta HR is that the heart rate monitor doesn’t seem to work when I’m sweaty which is when I need it to work the most since thats when I’m working out. During spinning when I’m curious to see my heart rate, I need to tap a few times on the screen to turn it on and when it finally would come on I’d get “–” which means it can’t read my heart rate. Then the screen shuts off again and I tap it a few times to wake it up and I get “–” again. Then the screen shuts off and I tap it again a few times and suddenly its reading my heart rate and showing “148” or whatever my heart rate is at that moment. So much work and in the middle of spinning its really unpractical.

The worst part is it doesn’t seem to be accurate at all. Saturday I ditched my gym and didn’t do any exercise other than binge watch season 2 of “F is for Family” and my Fitbit says I burned 2,995 calories that day. Yesterday on the other hand I had 45 minutes of spinning and my Fitbit says I burned 3,084 calories all day. It won’t do the one thing I wanted the Fitbit to do which is let me know how many calories I’m burning during spinning. It doesn’t make any sense.

On the bright side, it does seem to be good at doing one thing really well, monitoring my sleep. The Fitbit is pretty accurate in knowing when you fall asleep and when you wake up. It also uses your heart rate to monitor how much deep sleep you’re getting, if you’re waking up in the middle of the night and how much light sleep you’re getting. So if you want to monitor your sleeping patterns this is actually a pretty great tracker for that. Another great feature is the ability to vibrate when you get a phone call or message. My phone is always on silent and I tend to not notice it vibrating sometimes. Now my wrist vibrates as well and so I haven’t missed a call ever since I started wearing the Fitbit. Battery life on this thing is also fantastic, it lasts around a week of constant use which means you don’t have to constantly be charging it.

Overall though I’m pretty disappointed with the Alta HR. The biggest selling point for me was the ability to monitor my heart rate and let me know how many calories I was burning but that didn’t work out as planned. The FitBit Alta HR is selling for around KD54 on [Xcite] and KD59 on [Blink]. Here is a link to the official Fitbit Alta HR product page [Link]

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8 comments, add your own...

  1. Leeann says:

    How about the fitbit charger 2? You should review that. I recently placed my order for it and looking forward to receiving it soon. I’ve heard that’s better than the Alta HR

  2. Wassim says:

    Vivosmart 3 from Garmin is better.
    – Includes fitness monitoring tools such as VO2 max, fitness age and strength training;
    – Monitor wellness with all-day stress tracking and the relaxation-based breathing timer;
    – 24/7 heart rate monitoring with Elevate™ wrist heart rate technology;
    – Tracks steps, floors climbed, calories burned, intensity minutes, sleep, Personal Rep Counter and more;
    – Safe for swimming and showering and
    – Battery life: up to 5 days.

  3. Nasser says:

    Hi Mark,

    I know this is way off topic but I just wanted to remind you that your blog is awesome and you’re doing a great job making it very enjoyable to see and read

  4. Smee says:

    I watch F is For Family too!!! I love it! I feel like no one else I know watches it

  5. Alshatti says:

    so .. i am following since u were blogging in Miskan probably .. but i never i think replied to one of ur post ..
    regarding the calories being burned , well that’s normal , u being awake or even sleeping will burn certain amount of calories .. just doing ur regular steps and stairs u might burn enough calories to maintain you weight , given that u r watching what u r eating in the same time .
    any extra activity is counted plus to that .. so if u did spinning that’s an extra 400 calories or less .. i use fitbit charge2 for the past few months ,, where it is not an excellent counter for indoor activity it is actually excellent for running outdoor and for cycling providing that u carry ur phone with u since the fitbit charge 2 doesnt have gps in it .

    finally .. thanks for blogging all those years u r doing an excellent job , u among very very few sites always made it to my fav list …

    • Mark says:

      hey, yes its normal that your body is burning calories but what i was highlighting in my post was that it doesn’t accurately measure how many calories you’re burning. I burned 2,995 calories on a day without exercising and 3,084 calories on a day with exercise which means my 45 minute spinning class burned just 89 calories when it should have been 400-600 calories. That has to do with the fact that the heart rate monitoring doesn’t seem to work when you’re sweating which is when you want it to work the most since thats when you’re exercising.

      thanks for leaving a comment after all these years :)

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