FitBit, a leading player in the wearable space, is finally in India. Wearables have been gaining ground in India thanks to the availability of really affordable activity trackers from companies like Xiaomi, but FitBit will be the first company to launch a bouquet of devices aimed at different types of users. I decided to test the FitBit Charge HR as it is the first wearable in the Indian market that keeps a constant tab on your heart rate.
FitBit has been on Indian wrists for a while now, mostly brought in by people who visit the US or other geographies where it is available. But it is only now that you can buy a FitBit directly in India. The Charge HR looks like a large version of the very popular Flex band. However, unlike the Flex this has an LED display with a control button. But there is also a sensor at the back that constantly keeps monitoring your heart rate. FitBit recommends that users wear the band a finger length away from the wrist bone for best results. It is also recommended that the band be worn loose, especially since you will be wearing it the whole day.
What is good?
The FitBit Charge HR is a simple, no-nonsense device. It has just one button that lets you move through the data sets the band is collecting through the day. So the first click shows time, then steps, distance covered and calories burnt. A long three-second press of the buttons initiates an activity period, like when you start a jog or a wait training session. It can be ended with another long press. Can’t get simpler.
Almost all activity trackers are limited to counting the steps you take and translating this to distance covered and calories burnt. But we tend to overlook the fact that calories are burned even when you are idle and end up not counting this at all. But Charge HR, through its PurePulse Heart Rate, can track you even when you are asleep and thus shows a more accurate calorie count than other devices.
The Charge HR does not have to be told anything, especially when you are going to sleep. Other trackers have sleep mode, but this one knows when you are sleeping thanks to the heart rate monitor. This also gives the most elaborate sleep data I have seen. And it is very accurate too.
The overall experience of any wearable device to linked to the effectiveness of its app. And FitBit has a great app. It gives all you data in one screen, giving you the perspective of how you have performed over a period of time and also lets you customise goals as you need. The app also has a very motivating social layer that lets you challenge or accept challenges from friends. The charger, which has been a major issue with some of the wearable devices we have tested so far, is a simple USB cable with a proprietary port on the other end. Thankfully, there are no extra appendages or docks needed.
What is not that good?
The app can lag a bit at times and will refuse to show you specific data for the day. It isn’t something that can’t be fixed with a few prods, but is irritating nonetheless. This is not because the band and app are not synced, because the dashboard is always updated. It is only when you want to see your BPM for the day that is at times fails to show the latest data.
The calorie count on the app can be a bit confusing for those who are used to other trackers. I have been using one tracker or other for over a year and most trackers show you kilo calories. The FitBit app shows calories and that took me a bit to adjust too. The rubber strap is great for workouts, but wearing it 24/7 can be a bit tricky in Indian conditions. I got an itch after wearing the watch overnight and stopped wearing it to sleep.
Should you buy it?
If you are one of those who have been pushing an active lifestyle and would like to get some actionable data, then this is surely a good buy. Others can choose the more affordable Flex without the heart rate monitoring. Overall, this is among the best wearable in this price range and for the target audience at the moment.
Estimated street price: Rs 12,990