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People really like their Fitbits. That is evidenced by sales numbers alone: Fitbit sells more activity trackers than other people. Anecdotally, Fitbits abound: walk through any airport, hike any trail, jog through town streets, and you may likely see someone wearing a Fitbit.
So it’s unsurprising that so many persons have asked me about the brand new Fitbit Charge 2 when they’ve spied it on my wrist recently. The midrange Charge 2 may be the successor to (and replacement of) the Charge HR activity-tracking wristband. The $149 Charge HR, using its optical heartrate sensors and its capability to automatically recognize exercise activities, really hit the sweet spot for a whole lot of folks when it arrived in 2015 – so much in order that it’s still Fitbit’s best seller a lot more than 1 . 5 years later. The Charge 2 aims to accomplish all of this plus much more, and for the same price.
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What more could it possibly do, you ask? For just one, it includes a bigger display compared to the Charge HR. Four times bigger, to be exact. It’s a tap-sensitive, OLED display. The Charge 2 most surely looks like an exercise tracker, not really a bracelet or anything suggestive of a “fashion” wearable. But this key design change permits a multi-sport mode: tap on the display once for running, tap onto it again for biking, etc. Fitbit in addition has added “connected GPS” to the Charge 2: the wristband will pull GPS data from the telephone while you’re walking, running, or hiking outdoors.
The promise is excellent. It’s a Charge HR on steroids, a Charge HR that pushes you to accomplish more beyond just basic step-counting and sleep-tracking.
Nonetheless it didn’t fulfill that promise for me personally. I came across notable discrepancies in distances tracked with the Charge 2 in comparison to GPS sport watches (something Fitbit said was because of bugs after multiple attempts to troubleshoot the problems).
First, at most basic level, the Fitbit Charge 2 does what a great many other activity trackers do. It records your daily step count, stairs climbed, calories burned, distance traveled, heartrate, and sleep patterns. It’ll show notifications from your own smartphone, like incoming calls and calendar alerts.
The Charge 2 also offers dedicated functions for recording workouts, a thing that the Charge HR didn’t have. Included in these are running, walking, hiking, biking, and elliptical workouts. There’s even an interval mode, where the Fitbit pulses on your own wrist to let you know when to stop and begin an activity; I must say i liked this. And it’ll record weight-lifting sessions.
Gleam new feature called Cardio Fitness Score. It’s a combo hardware-software feature: Fitbit uses your resting heartrate, recorded with the wristband; a few of your exercise data; as well as your profile information, to assign a heart-health score, within the heart rate portion of the mobile app. Anything over 44.9 is “excellent” for my age and gender, according to Fitbit.
But of the half-dozen distance tests I did so in either Run, Walk, or Hike mode, the Charge 2 only accurately recorded one event, a 5K run (3.11 miles). Otherwise, distances were off, whether I used Fitbit’s linked GPS feature or not. A 1-mile walk was recorded as 0.71 mile on the Charge 2. A 3-mile run was recorded as 2.13 miles. A 3.6-mile hike was recorded as 3.3 miles.
To try to fix this, and partly at Fitbit’s request, I switched from a fresh iPhone 7 back again to an older iPhone, because the iPhone 7 just arrived and it had been suggested that there might have been compatibility issues. Fitbit also sent me a fresh Charge 2 wristband. I tried that, too.
Distances were off in nearly every test
Still, the distance-tracking was disappointing. Just this last weekend, a 4.28-mile hike was recorded as a 3.83-mile hike on the Charge 2 (without GPS), and it measured a 3.02-mile run as a 2.82-mile run, whilst using linked GPS. Seems I’m not by yourself, either; various other Fitbit users have reported inaccurate distances in Fitbit’s online forums.
Fitbit primarily suggested it may have already been my stride length or the actual fact that I was pausing to walk during runs that might have been triggering this. Eventually, the business said they’ve discovered a bug in the program on Charge 2 that triggers inaccurate distance estimates when working with Connected GPS to track the Walk and Hike activities. In relation to a few of the other discrepancies, Fitbit says the business is continuing to research it.
There is another software bug aswell that showed an outdated distance on the display when I’d first raise my wrist throughout a run. After lowering my wrist and raising it right back up again, sometimes more often than once, the reading would modify itself.
It’s not merely the inaccurate distances that befuddled me, though that is by far my biggest problem with the Charge 2. Fitbit added a huge display and multiple-sport modes to the wristband… but didn’t put in a pause function. No button, no tap-to-pause option, nothing. If you need to stop throughout a workout – to tie your shoe, await a pal, or catch your breath – you can’t. It’s also not waterproof.
Then there’s the Charge 2’s Relax feature, which guides you through yoga breathing exercises. Apple introduced an identical feature called Breathe its new Apple Watch software; though Fitbit has said its Relax iphone app is more personalized, since it uses your heartrate to gauge your breathing rate.
However when you launch into Relax mode, which lasts either two or 5 minutes, the Charge 2 doesn’t provide you any sort of haptic feedback to help you through it. You truly need to stare at your Fitbit’s display for just two to 5 minutes to visit a digital representation of your breathing, a circle swelling and shrinking in proportions. I don’t really meditate, but I’m certain most mediation exercises don’t commence with “Hold your gaze on your own activity tracker.”
Of course, you’re also buying into the right features when you get a Fitbit, otherwise it wouldn’t be so popular. The foremost is the program. Fitbit’s mobile iphone app is absolve to use, however the fact that it’s complimentary isn’t why is it good. It’s good because it’s agnostic. The Fitbit iphone app works together with iOS, Android, hell, even Windows Phone phones, and it runs on desktops, too, a good inclusion of men and women who still don’t have or can’t be bothered with smartphones.
The Fitbit app, that was recently redesigned, includes a user-friendly interface. Near the top of your dashboard you’ll see your steps for your day, with arrows on either side to jump a day before or forward again; below that are snapshots of floors climbed, miles traveled, calories burned, and minutes of exercise. All this sits along with a number of customizable tiles that show things such as heartrate, sleep data, even just how much water you’ve consumed that day. (A few of this involves manual entry for the user.)
Fitbit still doesn’t share its data with Google Fit or Apple Health, which not merely become repositories for health data but also share the info with other apps. Instead, Fitbit has direct data-sharing partnerships with a couple of health apps, including Strava, RunKeeper, MapMyRun, MyFitnessPal, Weight Watchers, Lost It!, even Amazon’s Alexa app.
But to its credit, Fitbit has almost perfected the art of subtle motivation, in the event that you could just see through how demotivating the accuracy issues are. “Overachiever!” the iphone app practically shouts if you’ve far surpassed your daily step goal. You can even set weekly exercise goals in the app. While I was largely inspired by the necessity to test – and test again, and again – the Fitbit, it had been nice to get that five-day exercise badge.
fitbit has almost perfected the art of subtle motivation
These slaps on the trunk, these virtual nudges, aren’t limited by the mobile app; they happen on the Fitbit itself, too. “Take me for a walk?” the Charge 2 pleads, in scrolling text over the display, in the event that you haven’t moved in some time. Other times, it’s more specific using its requests: “Feed me 250 steps.” Sure, I possibly could do 250 steps, you imagine. That’s very little. When you hit your daily step goal, little pixelated fireworks light the display.
The Charge 2 automatically tracks your more energetic activities, too, regardless if you don’t bother to place it into multi-sport mode. (This “smart track” feature is on a few different Fitbits now, and lots of competing wristbands do that, too.) My bike rides to appointments or a coffee meeting arrived in the software as exercise completed, despite the fact that I didn’t “tell” the Fitbit I was carrying it out.
Finally, the Fitbit Charge 2 can last almost a week about the same charge, despite having its larger display and multi-sport features. That’s much less impressive as the months-long battery life you’ll get with a Garmin Vivofit or a display-free Misfit tracker, but it’s much better than the one-day battery life of an Apple Watch.
Still, it’s hard never to feel as if Fitbit’s method of product releases this season has been more about volume than about innovation. The business has released four new wearables because the winter: the bracelet-like Alta (that i liked), the smartwatch-like Blaze, the entry-level Flex 2, which one, the Charge 2, which have a new aesthetic but improve on preexisting technology in iterative ways. The step-counting and sleep-tracking will be the same. The heartrate sensors will be the same, though Fitbit says it really is constantly enhancing its heartrate sensing technology. Two of the wristbands will have “connected GPS,” however in my experience with the Charge 2, that didn’t mean it had been more accurate.
can be an accurate tracker a great deal to ask for?
Fitbit says bug fixes are arriving at the Charge 2, which just started shipping, and that those bug fixes can help it do among the basic things it’s likely to do, which is track your distances traveled. And therein lies the rub: in the world of frequent software updates, firmware updates, and bug fixes, you’re said to be patient and wait it out (and present more of your individual data over, while you’re at it). Call me crazy, but that appears as an unfair bargain.
Update, Oct. 17, 2016: Fitbit now says that it has determined the problems with the Charge two and has issued a free of charge software update to repair it.
“These software errors caused the tracker to occasionally calculate stats like pace and distance with less precision than we expect from our products,” a spokesperson for Fitbit said via email. “We corrected these issues through a free of charge software upgrade open to all Charge 2 users.”
Fitbit also underscored that the business “has performed and continues to execute internal studies to extensively test the accuracy of” its products, and that it believes that it is health trends as time passes that matter most to its users.
The Verge hasn’t yet had the opportunity to re-test the fitn