Activity trackers are everywhere. Whether you run 10K every weekend or do little more than plod to the bus stop in the mornings, many of us have some form of sensor strapped to our wrist or shoved in our phones, tracking our every movement.
When those movements are in the form of steps rather than cycles or lunges, Fitbit is king, and, joining a blossoming device range that includes the smartwatch inspired Fitbit Ionic and Fitbit Blaze, along with the general-purpose Fitbit Charge 2 is this, the small, slim and surprisingly well-rounded Fitbit Alta HR.
An update to the existing Fitbit Alta, the HR, as its name suggests, has thrown an integrated heart rate scanner into the mix without bigging up the device’s bulk.
This takes its skills beyond the basics and from fitness tracking into the realms of more in-depth fitness monitoring and improving. It’s an addition that boosts the device’s abilities, but one that comes at a cost.
Fitbit Alta HR price and release date
- Out now, launched in March 2017 at $149.95, £129.99, AU$249.95
- Prices have dropped slightly - you'll find it for around $140, £120, AU$230
- You can still buy the Fitbit Alta, which is a touch cheaper
Despite its simplistic look and modest array of sensors, the Fitbit Alta HR isn’t the most affordable of devices. Available at launch for $149.95 (£129.99, AU$249.95) we've now seen the price drop as low as $140 (£120, AU$230) from some retailers.
Around sale periods, it may drop even further too. OK, no, it’s not exactly Apple Watch 3 levels of wallet abuse, but for what’s still essentially a glorified pedometer, it’s a sizeable chunk of change.
If you can live without the HR skills, you can pick up a rival with the same level of activity tracking for much less, such as the Fitbit Alta for $130 / £100 / AU$149.95 or other alternatives like the Garmin Vivofit 4 have cost around $79.99 / £69.99 / AU$159.
The extra expense of the Alta HR might deter many, but before you dismiss it based on price alone, we’ve been living with the Fitbit Alta HR to find out if its actually good value for the extra coin.
- Sleek 15mm body
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Strong customization options
When it comes to looks, the Fitbit Alta HR is classic fitness tracker. A small stainless steel sensor pod strapped to your wrist with a robust and sweat-resistant rubber strap. It’s not exactly thinking outside the box, but when the box can look this good, who cares.
At just 15mm thick, it’s large enough to host an easily readable display while lining up 25% slimmer than its big brother, the Charge 2. That’s key. Although this looks like a fitness tracker, it’s not grabbing people’s attentions like many rubbery wearables do.
It’s a sleek, stylish design that shows the world you’re keeping fit without making everyone worry you’re going to bore them with your latest training tips, or encourage them to eat nothing but kale and quinoa.
As well as being easy on the eye, the Alta HR is comfortable too. The device’s barely-there body is light and gently curved to the arc of your wrist, securely locking in with a plastic buckle that ensures the Alta HR never feels at risk of jogging loose whether walking in the woods or doing sprint sessions.
Its slim form factor and lack of physical buttons give it a clean, almost jewelry-inspired finish, with the option of a silver, black or gold metal body further refining the look. The inbuilt display is basic, but pleasingly so, offering up all the required information without bombarding you with unnecessary figures and battery-sapping showy graphics.
It’s not faultless though. Take it out on a sunny day and visibility quickly becomes an issue - this isn’t the brightest panel and it can quickly get overshadowed by sunlight, making it almost impossible to read without first shielding it.
This is a pretty serious problem, and one that’s bound to annoy those who live in places that are more consistently sunny.
Finishing the look, the Alta HR comes in a variety of color schemes, with the different body options able to be paired with a variety of straps direct from the box. These range from understated black to more vibrant coral and fuchsia hues.
You’re not stuck with your day one color choice either. Decide that your playing it safe black band is a bit boring, fine. It can be quickly unhooked and replaced with one of Fitbit’s many more colorful and stylish options.
These aren’t just limited to rubber either, there are leather straps, fabric ones and even cool metal watches that the Alta HR’s pod can be clipped into.
As with Fitbit’s other activity trackers, you’ve got two strap sizes to choose from, small or large. We’d recommend trying Fitbit’s printed sizing chart before splashing the cash because the large strap is pretty massive and many will be able to get away with the small strap.