Hands on with the FitBit Alta
I like the idea of a wearable, but I've yet to find one that I actually trust. I understand that may sound like a ridiculous statement, but bear with me. I am not an athlete (no, really). I want a wearable that will track my movements and help me to become more active. I don't want a wearable that is unreliable or difficult to use.
In my quest to find an affordable wearable that wont lie to me, I've been using the FitBit Alta.
First impressions matter when it comes to wearables, and this device has two things going for it before it's even set up. Number one: it's a FitBit product. They are an incredibly well known brand and thought to be a leader in the wearable field. Number two: it's not ugly. Many sporty wearable are chunky pieces of rubber that you'd be reluctant to place on your arm. This, however, is neat, narrow and as nice as you'll get.
Thankfully, there's not a whole lot involved in the setting up process. Users simply need to down load the FitBit app to their smartphone and follow the steps. I had my Alta up and running in less than 5 minutes.
As with every single time I put a wearable onto my arm, I upped my activity for a day or so. I made a few extra trips to the office kitchen for a cup of tea and took the stairs to the reception - all to boost the numbers on the pedometer.
Once that little novelty factor died away (who has time for all that walking?!), I forgot about my Alta and just went about life normally. The device is light enough for a use to be able to forget it.
Within the app, there's space for users to fill in their calorie in-take information. Again, I found that life is just too short for me to log in everything I eat, so haven't really been using this feature.
I am one of those boring people who likes to talk about how much or how little I sleep. It's the dullest conversation in the world, but I'm intrigued by it and thought my new FitBit would mean I no longer have to use my dodgy estimates to find out how many times I wake in a night and how much "proper" sleep I get.
I wore my Alta to bed and found this chart stored within the app the following morning.
This comprehensive chart illustrates, what looks like a decent night's sleep. I was a little bit restless around 3am but slept pretty soundly before and after that. The stats say I slept for 7 hours and 36 minutes that night and didn't wake up at all.
I would be delighted if that was the case.
This particular night, I woke up at 3.05am and remained awake until 4.15 or thereabouts. I know this, because I purposely checked the time so I could compare details. It's worth pointing out that I didn't just sit still whilst I awake; I got up, got a glass of water and mooched around on social media.
Needless to say, I'm very disappointed with this aspect of the Alta.
In terms of its performance as a fitness tracker, it is very light and comfortable to wear whilst out running, but there is no GPS tracking, which is slightly disappointing too.
And so we come back to the T word. Why would we wear a wearable unless we can trust the information it provides? I've looked at the sleep logs everyday since, but don't believe that information to be accurate.
Aside from the data it provides, I've found the touch screen on the device to be quite hit and miss. The instructions and little demo video within the app say users just need to tap the screen to look at the time and the other data. I've found, however, that it takes several whacks, rather than taps. And even then, it might not come up.
The bottom line is: you can do better than this. The FitBit Alta costs €140 and I believe the majority of that money goes on the FitBit branding, rather than any of the technology on board. If you want a FitBit branded product, without breaking the bank, I'd recommend the FitBit Flex. It's more basic than the Alta, but I found it to be more reliable. It costs €99 and is available from Harvey Norman.