Updated Feb 2017: Please note Sara has enough participants and…
My addiction to exercise and activity trackers started with the Fitbit Charge HR. Fitbit have just released a new line-up of trackers and I was recently offered a Fitbit Charge 2 to review, I was really excited to see how far the updated Charge HR model had come! I was offered a choice in colour so of course I went for plum. I really like the plum and silver colour combination. I have to say though, the lavender and rose gold special edition model that is being released later on is beautiful and I am lusting after it!
The Fitbit Charge 2 has come a long way since the Charge HR. I’m fairly sure the Charge HR was Fitbit’s first model that had the ability to track your heartrate and that was the main reason why I chose it when I purchased my first Fitbit, you can read my review of the Charge HR here. I very quickly came to love my Fitbit and from when I got that very first one I haven’t gone a day without wearing one Fitbit or another.
I really like the size of the Charge 2 device. I had a Surge (here’s the review) before this and the size of it on my tiny wrist made it seem slightly ridiculous. The Charge 2 is a much better size and it seems so much lighter than the Surge did. The band is really comfy and there is enough range in the band that I can tighten it a notch when I’m running and it sits comfortably on my wrist. I think it sits flatter on my wrist than my Charge HR did and I don’t find it annoying to wear at all.
The Fitbit Charge 2 has some awesome new features. The screen size is four times the size of the original HR screen, not only that but it can display a whole heap more stuff on it. The screen does not have touch screen capability but you just need to tap the screen (or the band near the screen) or push the button on the side to cycle through the menu options. The display turns on when you lift your wrist towards your face so you don’t need to tap it to see your basic stats.
The main standout features that Fitbit are excited about in the Charge 2 are the pure pulse heart rate monitor, multi-sport tracking with connected GPS, call, text and calendar alerts, cardio fitness level measurement and the guided breathing sessions. There are also what Fitbit call the essential features like the all-day activity tracking, auto sleep tracking, SmartTrack auto exercise recognition, reminders to move and long battery life. You also can’t forget the silent alarms and customisable clock faces, the awesome Fitbit app for your phone that pairs with the device and with the Charge 2 you can change up the wrist bands.
This is the clock face I have picked!
One of the reasons I love Fitbit is they are always adding in great new features and they apply it to the existing devices through the smartphone app where possible. The joy of getting a new Fitbit is that the device is made with those new targets in mind and one of the things I love about the Charge 2 is the reminders to move. I have been hot on trying to get 250+ steps an hour for 12 hours a day and have had streaks of doing it for more than two weeks at a time. Now, if I haven’t done my 250 steps for the hour, at 10 to the next hour my Fitbit vibrates on my wrist to remind me to get them done so I meet my target.
The heart rate monitor is good and there wasn’t any noticeable difference when I changed from my Surge to the Charge 2. I like that it tracks it all the time and I wear my Fitbit when I’m sleeping to get a better overall picture of what it’s up to. I love that when my activity picks up and especially now that I’m running again, I notice the positive difference it has on my resting heart rate. I also like how it reflects how hard my exercise has been and that I can see how much of my workout I’ve had my heart rate in the peak zone. As I get fitter it gets harder to keep it there so it’s a good reminder that my body is ready to be pushed a bit further.
I haven’t had much success with the multi-sport tracking with the connected GPS so far. I have had a bit of back and forth about this with Fitbit support and to be honest it’s been a bit frustrating. It took a while to get past being referred back to their online help pages and suggestions of how I could adjust the settings. I tried everything they suggested and nothing fixed it. I’m finding the distance tracked when it’s tracking in connected GPS mode is way off. It has been measuring a 5k run as 6k. This messes with my other stats and when I’m working on getting better and training for events this is not ideal. If you just track the exercise with the app on your phone (which has GPS) it’s fine but of course you don’t have your stats on your wrist. I have heard of someone else not finding this feature very reliable so if that’s important to you it could influence your decision. I will be using my Fitbit Surge for run tracking in the future.
A little niggle I have about the multi-sport tracking with connected GPS is the slight delay you have when the device needs to sync. I wouldn’t say the stats are true real time because I do find myself waiting for it to sync to see where I’m at. The other slightly annoying thing is that there is no notification, vibration or anything when you get to a kilometre marker like there is if you use the Fitbit app or when using the Surge. That’s another reason why I’d prefer to track running with just the app on my phone when I’m using the Charge 2 because at least doing it that way the phone reads your stats out to you at a frequency you choose and you get that little bit of motivation while you’re out there.
The call, text and calendar alerts that I have synched to my phone are great. I’m really used to it now and find it handy when my phone is on silent, like when I’m at work, I still get notified that my phone is trying to tell me something even if I don’t have it on me. Unlike the Surge I can’t read the whole text message on the Charge 2 but it tells me that I’ve got a text, call etc and who it’s from. I’m glad they got this feature in there because it’s one I would miss if it went away.
The cardio fitness level measurement has been really interesting. I had only just started running again when I first got the Charge 2 and it initially placed my cardio fitness level between average and good. It bases the assessment on your age, sex and your V02 max which is an estimate of the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise. Here’s a screenshot of how they figure it out and what the ranges reflect (but FYI Fitbit you have my date of birth and I’m not 30 yet!) After doing a few more runs with the Fitbit Charge 2 and getting fitter over those couple of weeks it has put me at 44-45 which is at the upper end of good for my age. I’m on a mini mission to get it up into the very good range because I know I am more than capable of it!
The guided breathing sessions are pretty cool. If I’m having a crazy day and need a moment to literally catch my breath, I’ll do one and if I’m a bit wound up (thanks annoying things I read on the internet!) then I’ll do one to calm myself down a bit. You just scroll through the menu options with the button on the side and hold the button down when you find the option you’re looking for. The Charge 2 then measures your breathing for a little bit and then you follow the circle on the screen as close as you can while breathing in and out. It always tells me I’ve done well and I always feel better after doing it. The guided breathing sessions bring my heart rate down too.
I really like the addition of the SmartTrack auto exercise recognition. This feature was added to the Fitbit smartphone app at some point after I got my surge and I’m glad it’s carried over to the new Charge 2. I’ve set the bar low at 10 minutes to auto track walking and it’s quite surprising how often I walk for more than 10 minutes at a time. It’s great because if you end up walking more than you expected then it’s tracked and you don’t worry later that you forgot to track it as exercise. This works for quite a few different activities like walking, running, riding a bike, a general sports umbrella category and aerobic workouts. Awesome work Fitbit I love this feature!
Then there’s the things that you kind of just expect from Fitbit now. The long battery life is still claimed but out of habit I charge mine every second day. I tend to do a lot of steps, have the heart rate monitor running all the time and when I track exercise I think it uses more battery so it’s just what I do. They say up to five days but I think I’d get three if I could break my charging habit. One of the best things about the Charge 2 model is the charging cable. I used to find they connected precariously to the other models I’ve had and if you knock it then the Fitbit would fall off and stop charging. This one grabs the device firmly and it is well and truly there to charge.
The great, grabby little Charge 2 charger!
The silent alarms are great and it’s still one of my favourite features that I’d hate to see go away. I liked the options for the clock faces for the Charge 2. There seems to be lots more choice and variety then other models I’ve had before and I went for the one that shows the time, date, my step count and heart rate.
The Fitbit Charge 2 retails in New Zealand for $269.95 for the standard models or $329.95 for the lavender/rose gold and black/gun metal special edition models. The lavender/rose gold one is seriously beautiful. If you purchase one directly from [Fitbit] you get free shipping, a one year warranty and a 45 day money back guarantee. You can also purchase different bands for the Charge 2 and you can get any of the colours from the standard range for $54.95 or beautiful looking leather bands for $129.95.
I’m going to give this Fitbit two different ratings. As a normal step/activity tracker it’s freaking awesome. There is so much more functionality than just counting steps and the features like the reminders to move every hour are great if you’re really trying to work on your overall activity levels. In this case I’d give the Charge 2 5/5 stars. It’s really on a whole different level from the original Charge HR and Fitbit have evolved it well. As a more serious exercise tracker I would only give it 3/5 stars. Maybe my expectations have been lifted from having a Surge but since the tracking on the device is way off I will be using my phone to track running and that means I can’t see my stats in real time on my wrist.
Do you already have a Fitbit? Are you looking at getting one for the first time or did these new models come out at just the right time for you to upgrade? Comment below, I’d love to hear your Fitbit stories!
*Please note: as mentioned at the beginning of this post I was sent this product from Fitbit to review. I have not been paid to review the device and my opinions and views are all my own.
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