Which Fitbit Activity Tracker to buy?
Activity Trackers are currently the most popular items in the Fitness world.
They also make great gifts. But, whether you’re buying one for yourself or for someone else, deciding which one to get can be a bit of a minefield.
So what do they all do and what are the differences between them.
The best selling brand at present is Fitbit, and they currently have the following main models:
- Fitbit Zip
- Fitbit One
- Fitbit Flex
- Fitbit Charge | Fitbit Charge HR
- Fitbit Alta
- Fitbit Surge
- Fitbit Blaze
- Fitbit Ionic
4.3 / 5 stars.
To see user reviews of the Fitbit Zip, click here
Available in 4 colours: Charcoal, Midnight Blue, Magenta and Lime Green.
The Zip is not designed to be worn on the wrist. It has a silicone holder with a clip on the back which enables you to clip it onto your clothing or a bag.
It only weighs 9g so you don’t really feel it.
The data tracked by the Zip includes: Steps taken, Distance, Active Minutes and Calories burned.
To toggle between the displays of the various modes, you tap once on the screen.
The Fitbit Zip retains detailed, minute-by-minute, motion data for 7 days. It also tracks daily totals for the past 23 days. The Zip isn’t completely waterproof so you can’t swim with it, but it is rain-proof, splash-proof and sweat-proof. It uses a replaceable flat watch-type battery. It can’t be can’t recharged.
The Fitbit Zip syncs wirelessly to mobile devices via Bluetooth with the free iPhone / iPad or Android app or your desktop PC or Mac. The bluetooth range is about 20 feet / 6 metres. Syncing to computers requires a USB connection. Both require internet access.
The Flex 2 is a small activity tracker which can be worn as a slim wristband (normally), or as a bangle or pendant.
In features offered, it lies somewhere between the Zip and the Alta.
It is quite elegant looking but only has LED lights, not a readable display.
SmartTrack automatically records workouts – runs, rides, elliptical, sports and aerobic workouts – and syncs wirelessly to your Fitbit app.
It tracks steps, distance, calories and active minutes. It does not track stairs but does monitor sleep.
It can track how well you sleep and for how long and you can set a silent alarm to wake you with a small vibration.
The Flex 2 is swim-proof – an upgrade on the original Flex which, though supposedly waterproof, was not recommended to be worn in the shower or pool.
To help you stay active throughout the day, Flex 2 sends Reminders to Move that encourage you to take 250 steps every hour.
The Flex 2 has call and text notifications – it vibrates and flashes lights which are colour-coded.
Battery life is good with up to 5 days use before charging. You charge it by plugging it into a USB port or approved USB mains charger.
Fitbit Flex 2 Wristband alternatives
There is a host of different options for replacement wristbands in lots of different colours and design, as well as bangles and pendants.
The Fitbit Alta is a stylish narrow band activity tracker with a range of wristband options, both colour and material.
They are available in small (5.5in/14cm – 6.7in/17cm) and large (6.7in/17cm – 8.1in/20.5cm) sizes.
What does the Fitbit Alta do?
The Alta tracks
- Calories burned
- Active Minutes
- Sleep quality
You can see your stats, or the time (there is a choice of horizontal and vertical clock faces) on the Alta’s bright OLED display, rotating through the modes with a tap of the finger.
If your smartphone is within bluetooth distance, you can get call, text and calendar notifications.
For calls, your Alta vibrates; tapping the display displays the caller details.
As well as displaying the time, you can set a silent, vibrating alarm.
Fitbit advertise a Battery Life of up to 5 full days and nights without needing a charge.
Sweat, rain and splash-proof, but wearing it in the shower is not advisable. The leather straps are less waterproof than the Classic or Steel bracelets.
You can synchronise the Fitbit Alta with a computer as well as or instead of a smart phone or tablet.
The question you’re bound to be asking is “What’s the difference between the Alta and the Alta HR?”
Well HR stands for Heart Rate and that is the difference – the HR has a heart, or rather Pulse rate monitor added. It constantly monitors your heart rate throughout the day so you can see what your resting heart rate is and how high it it goes during workouts. These figures can give you a good indication of the health of your heart. With the app you can use heart rate zones to increase or decrease your effort.
Monitoring the heart rate can also give you an indication of how many calories your using.
The HR also has a more secure wrist strap clasp.
The Charge 2 includes All-Day Activity Tracking: Track steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes and hourly activity.
‘Pureplus’ continuous wrist-based heart rate tracking gives you a more accurate idea of your cardio fitness level.
Sleep Tracking: At night, it monitors how long and how well and how long you sleep, and you can set a silent vibrating alarm. See your time in light, deep and REM stages to better understand your sleep quality. Work towards a consistent routine and get reminders to stay on track.
SmartTrack automatically recognizes select exercises (running, biking etc.) and records them for you in the Fitbit app. Track specific exercises like running, weights or yoga to see your workout stats on display
It provides Reminders to move and Guided breathing sessions.
Connected GPS: Connect Charge 2 with the GPS on your phone to see real-time stats like pace and distance on display and record a map of your route.
With bluetooth connection to your phone, you can also get Call, Text, Calendar alerts and other smartphone notifications.
An interactive OLED display makes it easy to view your stats. Simply tap the screen to get the information you need.
The Fitbit Charge 2 is sweat, rain and splash proof. However, it is is not swim proof or shower proof. It has a battery life up to 5 days.
Customize your Clock display based on the stats you want to see and the design that suits your taste.
Colours: Available in black, blue, plum, teal, black gunmetal, lavender rose gold.
As with other Fitbit products, there is a wide range of optional accessories – if you want to upgrade your strap, there’s plenty of choice.
FitBit Charge 2 Accessories
The Surge has a number of features in addition to the features of the other Fitbits above and includes: activity tracking, distance travelled, calories used, stairs climbed, sleep quality and all-day PurePulse heart-rate monitoring (Get continuous, automatic and all day heart rate monitoring and see simplified heart zones).
The Surge has built-in GPS tracking GPS functionality in case you get lost on the way to the gym. Just kidding! What the GPS does enable you to do is to map routes and see distance, pace and elevation climbed, then review routes and split times.
Multi sport capability
You can record running, cross-training and cardio workouts, then see comprehensive workout summaries with tailored metrics, workout intensity and calories burned.
It can swap between monitoring workouts to tracking real-time stats via its 8 sensors.
You can also play, pause and skip songs from your smartphone, and it displays text and call notifications.
The Surge is has been tested for waterproofing to 50 m but Fitbit advise you not to wear it while to swimming.
Fitbit claim best-in-class battery life of 7+ days, but users say 5 is more likely.
Fitbit Surge Add-On item
- High sensitivity: The glass is coated on the back with a strong silicon adhesive that makes installation easy and attaches the film firmly so as to not affect the touch screen’s sensitivity
- Ultra-high light transmittance: (transmittance of 98% or more) optical transmittance grade, ultra-low reflection, high transparency
- High Hardness：Glass material after high tempered steel processing,surface hardness up to 8-9 h,impact resistance is strong,not easy scratches
- Designed specifically for Fitbit Surge only.
Where the other Fitbits are activity trackers which may or may not be worn on the wrist and may or may not display the time, the Blaze is positioned as a stylish Smart Watch whose main functionality is that of fitness and activity tracker. In other words, it looks more like a watch and while many people who like their own wristwatch might wear a Fitbit wristband on their other wrist, some might be happy to replace their existing watch with the Blaze.
The look of actual watch face is versatile, having a hi-res colour touchscreen with a variety of faces to choose from.
Of the standard flexible elastomer material Fitbit straps, there are 3 strap colo(u)rs to choose from: Black, Blue, and Plum. However, there is also a range of optional leather or metal straps sold separately but, while adding a stylish look, these are not as waterproof as the standard strap.
The Blaze fits into a frame to which the strap is attached so it is pretty quick and easy to change. Unfortunately, you also have to remove the Blaze from its frame to charge it by inserting into a charging dock but I daresay that’s something you’ll just get used to.
Fitbit claim a 5-day charging cycle but it depends on various settings. A 3-4 day recharging cycle might be more realistic.
As an activity tracker, the Fitbit Blaze has a similar features to the Surge, including all-day PurePulse™ heart-rate monitoring, multi-sport tracking, sleep monitoring and the ability to control your music. Furthermore, the Blaze adds Calendar alerts to call and text alerts.
One minus point compared to the Surge is that, while it has GPS functionality, is does not have GPS built into the watch, but uses your phone, so you have to have your phone with you for it to work.
There are buttons on the side of the Blaze but the screen is touch-sensitive and you swipe across or down to see different screens and settings.
The Blaze links up with third party company FitStart for workout coaching – you can start a FitStar workout and get on screen workout instructions on your watch.
Of course, like all Fitbits, it links up with mobile apps and computers for detailed analysis of your progress.
Available from 2nd October, 2017
The Ionic is the new top-the-range fitness-based smartwatch from Fitbit. There is a more in-depth review of this here, but below is a short summary.
In addition to the features of other Fitbit trackers and watches, additional features which the Ionic boasts include:
- Personal Coaching
- Built-In GPS
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Fitbit is currently the leading company in activity trackers with all the variants described above being amongst the most popular trackers available. The progression in features is logical and easy to understand, so it’s just a case of choosing your feature set and budget accordingly.