Fitbit Alta Fitness Wrist Band Review
I’ve tried a few fitness bands over the years and to be honest I’ve never found one that I felt comfortable with. A lot of them are just to big for my tastes, I don’t want it to be a watch, I don’t need it to tell me the time. I have a perfectly good watch that does that which I don’t want to stop wearing just because I’ve bought a fitness band. If you look like you are wearing two watches, either on the same wrist or both wrists, lets be honest you look ridiculous. Maybe you dont really care about that but personally I do, it’s not that I’m vain but I don’t want to look ridiculous at the same time.
So this is what attracted me to the Fitbit Alta Fitness Band. To me it doesn’t look like a watch, it’s more subtle and is what it claims to be. A band. So without really looking into it much more I went ahead and purchased one.
The first thing that bugs me about it is the lack of a heartbeat sensor, sort of to be expected in a band of this size but without a heartbeat sensor I just don’t trust the calories burned stats. All they have to base it on is distance travelled or number of steps. So if you are really interested in accurate calories or you want to monitor your heart rate levels when working out, this band isn’t for you. You will have to go for something like the Fitbit Blaze. The main problem I have with this and all fitness bands that they just aren’t that accurate for counting steps. For example you might find you have unexpectedly walked 500 steps when drying your hair or making a sandwich. This immediately makes me wonder whether these things are worth the investment. It’s around £100 so it’s not a fortune but at the same time for £100 you expect something accurate. Again this isn’t unique to the Alta, it’s pretty much a standard problem across this industry.
- Calories burned
- Active minutes
The next thing that annoyed me about this was before I even bought it. There are two sizes, small and large.
- Small band is 5.5″- 6.7″
- Large band is 6.7″- 8.1″
So which do I need? I had to get a tape measure out and measure my wrist, this really shouldn’t be necessary. It got worse though, my wrist was 6.7″ so which one do I need?! Can I get either? Well this question went unanswered and I went for the small, my wrists are pretty skinny looking to me so I figured I’d manage with the small. Fortunately it fits me and I didn’t have to mess about sending it back. Surely there is some solution to this problem. When I buy a watch I don’t have to choose a size or measure my wrist. Never the less it was here and it fit my wrist. Although it was either slightly to tight or slightly to loose for my tastes. To be fair to the Fitbit Alta this sizing issue is not exclusive to it, most brands and their respective models have a similar situation. All this is after you manage to get it fastened, this is no easy task, the clasp or whatever you would call it is awful. The holes are to small for the pin, I had to ask my wife to put it on for me.
There isn’t a massive choice from the outset. Teal(light blue), Plum(purple), Blue and Black. I’m not trying to be patronizing by putting the colours in brackets but that’s what colours they are. Why the need to call purple “Plum” is beyond me. Unless I can see a picture of plum I don’t know what colour it is. Purple I know. I went for the black. Black is a safe choice, it goes with everything and it doesn’t stand out like a sore plum. Despite the poor colour choice the good news is you can buy extra bands in a range of colours from third party sellers.
So it’s a small display as you can probably tell, it doesn’t give you a wealth of info but it gives you it in two different optional formats. Horizontal and Vertical. The best way is vertical because that’s that way you look at it. Having it in horizontal mode was giving me a stiff neck, ok well not really but it’s as easy to read at a glance. The only problem is when in vertical mode the screen has even less space to give you your stats so when they start to get high it gets cut off. So now if I want accurate stats I either have to change it back to horizontal or get my phone out and check the app that it syncs too.
Speaking of the app, it is excellent. Everything is seamlessly synced to your phone and you can glance back over the days to see how you’ve been improving (or not). The only problem with the app is if you have a Windows phone. At the time of writing it is broken. It simply doesn’t work. I fully expect this to be fixed quite quickly but bear it in mind if you are a windows phone user. I have an iPhone and I have no complaints at all.
Back on the topic of the display: There are no buttons on the Alta so it relies on touch gestures. You have to tap the screen twice to bring up the next screen and the next set of stats. Sometimes this is fine and responds as expected but sometimes you have to whack it so hard with your finger you wonder whether it’s faulty. It isn’t, they are all like this.
One feature about the display that is really nice is the tilt to view. As you bring your wrist up to look at the band it automatically lights up the screen. So you dont have to beat it half to death just to get the screen on. It also means the battery lasts a long time. Roughly 4-5 days.
If for some reason you would like to track your sleep, you can. Personally I found this interesting for a couple of nights and then never looked at it again. Again it comes down to accuracy. If I turn over in my sleep does that really mean I was awake for 30 minutes? No, I wasn’t so again, what is the point of this feature when it tells you nothing useful or accurate. It is accurate at pointing out the times you got up out of bed for a wee but I already know when I have a wee, I was there. All this info is available in the app. Of course it means wearing the band for bed. It’s not for me, it’s a light weight band and not to intrusive but it’s still a presence I don’t need in bed.
Another thing I should point out is the Fitbit Alta is not waterproof, so don’t even bother if you are looking to track your swimming activity. It is rated as splash proof and sweat proof but you cant shower in it and you definitely cant submerge it in any water.
It’s not great. I bought this thing on impulse and to be honest I now regret it and wish I could return it for something better or just get my money back. I’m yet to be convinced there is any fitness tracker that is actually worth buying. They all seem to have massive accuracy issues and this is a problem that is unlikely ever to be solved, we wave our arms about a lot and any technology is going to find it hard to work out whether that is us running, walking or simply gesturing while sat in a chair.
The app is good if you have a phone it works with. The sleep recorder works in a fashion but I honestly don’t see the point as I mentioned.
The band itself is downright horrible to use.
I probably wouldn’t recommend you buy this. Look elsewhere and if you are interested in any kind of accurate calorie count, get one with a heartbeat sensor.
- Looks nice
- Swappable Bands
- Awful strap
- Not accurate
- Not waterproof