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Fitbit Alta In-Depth Review

Fitbit-Alta-Pink-Band-Flowers

It’s been a touch over two months since Fitbit announced their most recent wearable, the Fitbit Alta.  Like all of Fitbit’s entrants this year, it was designed to be more fashion focused, while giving incremental upgrades in terms of features like move alerts and automatic activity recognition.  The idea being that it somewhat replaces the existing Fitbit Charge (and before that the Fitbit Force & Flex) units.

I’ve been using it for the past month as my daily activity tracker, seeing how well it handles as a more low-key alternative.  And thus at this point I’ve got a fairly good handle on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Note that Fitbit did send over the unit to try out.  But like usual after my review publishes I’ll give it back to them.  Leave no traces and all that.  Feel free to hit up the links at the bottom if you’d like to support the site (or if you just like clicking around the interwebs).

With that – let’s dive right into!

Unboxing:

Fitbit-Alta-Unboxing-Base

The Fitbit Alta comes in a few different colors and sizes, so those will vary slightly – but the core of the unboxing would be the same.  To begin, the inner box slides out of the outer shell:

Fitbit-Alta-Unboxing1

Inside you’ll find the Alta just sitting there, waiting for you to pluck it out.  Below it is a small treasure box.  That little treasure box contains two layers, or rather, two boxes of its own.  First up is a small pile of paper stuffs.  Manuals and such.  Whereas the other box is the charger and USB adapter.

Fitbit-Alta-Unboxed

Fitbit-Alta-Unboxing-Parts

The USB adapter is only needed if you plan to sync your Fitbit Alta via desktop software as opposed to syncing via a mobile phone.

Fitbit-Alta-Unboxed-ChargingClip

Meanwhile, the charger just charges (it doesn’t sync):

Fitbit-Alta-USB-Charging

Fitbit-Alta-Charging-Clip

Here’s the paper stuff.  Basically it tells you to remember to take off the band every once in a while so you can’t sue Fitbit when you get a rash, and that you shouldn’t go swimming with it.  And that you shouldn’t put it on upside-down because you’ll get non-ideal results.

Fitbit-Alta-Unboxed-Manuals

And finally, here’s the unit itself, front and back:

Fitbit-Alta-Front-Face

Fitbit-Alta-Back-Band

Looking closer at the unit itself, it pops out of the band, which allows you to swap to a flotilla of different accessory styles.  For example, pink:

Fitbit-Alta-Pink-Leather-Band-Box

Here’s you can see the multiple pieces pulled apart:

Fitbit-Alta-Pink-Leather-Band-Swap3

Fitbit-Alta-Pink-Leather-Band-Swap1

Fitbit-Alta-Pink-Leather-Band-Swap2

The bands have that little metallic clip you see on the inside, so they don’t pull apart without depressing that (which is impossible while worn on your wrist, so no worries there).

Size & Weight Comparisons:

Fitbit-Alta-Pink-Leather-Band-Size-Worn

(Above: On The Girl’s wrist, she’s petite at 5’2” tall – so that gives you some perspective on how it looks on smaller wrists)

When it comes to size the Fitbit Alta is a fair bit smaller than the Fitbit Charge (seen below left), as well as something like the Polar A360 (which obviously has a lot more features) – but just to give some context.

FitbitAlta-FitbitCharge-PolarA360

But while it’s smaller in size, it’s actually slightly heavier.  It comes in at 29g, versus the Fitbit Charge at 24g and Fitbit Charge HR at 26g.

Fitbit-Alta-Weight-29g

Fitbit-Charge-HR-Weight-26g Fitbit-Charge-Weight-24g

As you can see, all of these are pretty much in the same ballpark, minus the A360 – but again that has a full color screen.

Garmin-Vivosmart-HR-Weight-30g Polar-A360-Weight-37g

Obviously note that the exact band you use on the Fitbit Alta will change the weight.  So they’ll all differ a little bit depending on the materials.

Day to Day Use:

Fitbita-Alta-Front-Steps

It should come as no surprise that the Fitbit does well in step tracking.  After all, if there’s anything Fitbit generally nails – it’s tracking of steps and the metrics around that.  Like all of Fitbit’s products, the unit has a small screen on it, this one oriented horizontally.  But you can rotate it if you’d like.

On the screen are the following metrics: Time (+ Date/Day), Steps Walked Today, Distance (Miles or Kilometers), Calories Burned, and Active Time.  Plus the currently set alarm if you have that configured.

That’s it.

To rotate through them you’ll simply tap the display.  There’s no swiping concept on the Alta, just a tap. And tap, and more tap.

All of this data is saved on the unit itself, and then sync’d to the mobile app.  You can configure it to sync continuously (called ‘All day sync’, or only when you’ve manually sync’d it.  I just prefer the all day sync, as I don’t find it hits my battery that badly.

Within the dashboard you’ll see your totals for the day (steps, distance, calories, etc..).  But you can also click on a given metric to get more of a historical view.

2016-04-20 14.45.38 2016-04-20 14.45.43

Note with the Alta the display is always off, unless tapped or if your wrist is detected as turned.  This is to save battery.  There is no option to let the display remain on at all times.  In general this mostly works, but I find it a bit finicky from time to time.  I think it’s fair to say that the Apple Watch is the most impressive in terms of recognizing the wrist turn properly.  So stepping from that to this can be a bit frustrating in how often it misses the more subtle wrist turns (such as sitting and reading, and/or eating).  I really wish there was an option to just leave the display on.

Fitbit-Alta-Front-Facing

The singular unique feature to the Fitbit Alta that’s not actually (yet) found on any other Fitbit product is the new inactivity alerts, called ‘move reminders’.  These alerts follow in the footsteps of Garmin, Polar, and many others in reminding you that you’ve been lazy that hour.

The way it works is that each hour, at 10 minutes to the top of the hour (i.e. 2:50PM, 4:50PM, 5:50PM, etc…), it’ll vibrate to remind you that you’re short on steps for that hour (assuming you are).  The number of steps is 250 within a given hour.  You can’t change the steps per hour, but you can change the ‘window’ that it’ll buzz you on.  I extended mine a bit later.  Note that if it thinks you’re sleeping, it won’t buzz you (i.e. if I slept in till 10AM).

2016-04-20 14.28.58 2016-04-20 14.29.01

Typically when it buzzes it’ll give you some cute and/or encouraging message to get you moving, along with the number of steps remaining that hour.

Fitbit-Alta-Move-Reminders

That segues into Active Minutes.  While Fitbit has a big-long article explaining exactly how they measure these, it can be best summed up as anything other than sitting when done for more than 10 minutes at a time.  So an 8-minute walk won’t cut it, but an 11-minute walk will.

Fitbit-Alta-Screens-Active-Minutes

Active Minutes are tracked both on the display (as seen above with the lightening bolt), as well as in the app.  For example, below you can see yesterday that it triggered on my run in the evening.  It also triggered at noon when I went briefly to the grocery store.  Interestingly though, last Thursday it said I didn’t trigger even once.  That’s sorta odd since I spent the entire day active on my feet at Sea Otter bouncing around.

2016-04-20 14.32.13 2016-04-20 14.32.16 2016-04-20 14.32.57

Finally, as for general use (I’ll cover sport and sleep in later sections), I should mention the battery.  The unit uses the small charging clip that you saw in the unboxing section, in order to charge.  I’ve found that it charges very quickly.  Definitely under an hour to get a full charge.

Fitbit-Alta-Charging-Clip

As for battery life, it’s on par with Fitbit’s 5 day guidance.  I’ll give Fitbit credit in that they almost always nail (or even exceed) their published battery life timeframes.  I’ve had no problem getting 5 days between charges.  And since charging typically doesn’t take very long, it’s a nice balance between the two.

Sport & Fitness Use:

IMG_9847

When it comes to sport and fitness use of the Alta, it’s about as hands-off as you can get.  By that I mean that while you’re actually doing your activity of choice (Running, Cycling, Yoga, Horizontal Shuffle, etc…), there’s no feedback about your workout to you on the display.  Instead, it’s just business as normal (steps/distance/time/etc…).

That’s because unlike the previous Fitbit Charge or Charge HR, there’s no method to start a workout/activity.  Instead the Fitbit Alta uses auto-recognized activities, which they call SmartTrack.

SmartTrack is designed to recognize workouts that are longer than 15 minutes in length.  But it doesn’t do that on the band itself.  Rather it does it after your data is sync’d to the Fitbit platform.  To illustrate a bit better, first start off and go for a run (oh, and put the band on your wrist):

DCIM\101GOPRO\GOPR0671.

Now again, as you’re running you won’t see anything workout specific.  Sure you’ll get your daily steps and distance, but it’s not separated out between the run and the rest of the day (like it is on other Fitbit products).

After you finish dying outside, go ahead and sync your Alta to your phone.  If you’ve got automatic sync on, then this will happen pretty quickly.

What you’ll notice now is that you’ve got a ‘Run’ activity created on your dashboard, for the period of the run.  This activity will show you total steps and calories for the run, as well as time.  But not distance or pace.

2016-04-20 14.35.07 2016-04-20 14.35.20

In my testing, it does a pretty good job of picking up the start/end times of your activity.  Where it can get tricky though is when you finish your activity with a longer walk back to your starting point (i.e. cool-down).  Most of us might not count that as part of the run, but oftentimes the Alta will.  For example, for the same run above, here’s the summary from the Garmin GPS watch I was wearing.  Note the time on the Garmin had me at 55 minutes, versus the Fitbit at 46 minutes.  It appears as though the Fitbit cut off the shorter intervals at the end (30secs running hard, 90secs rest).

If I don’t have this sort of short activity, it does seem to get it fairly close in time.

image

Said differently: If you want your 45min and 32sec run to be shown at 45:32, then the Alta isn’t for you.  If you’re OK with the run being shown at 45min or perhaps even 48mins, then it’s OK.  So if you’re just looking to go for a run for a set period of time and don’t care about distance, then the Alta is fine.  But if you’re on a training program with distances and paces, then you should look elsewhere.

It does track other activities – for example, cycling.  But in the case of cycling it won’t use your phone for GPS like the Fitbit Blaze will.  Instead, it just gives you a total time.  See below for a comparison.  At left is my summary screen.  In the middle of a bike workout with the Fitbit Alta.  And at right is a bike workout with the Fitbit Blaze (which has GPS):

2016-04-20 14.38.05 2016-04-20 14.38.08 2016-04-20 14.38.14

You can tweak which activity types it tracks, as well as the thresholds for them within the settings:

2016-04-20 14.38.54 2016-04-20 14.38.58

Finally note that the Fitbit Alta does NOT have an optical heart rate (HR) sensor in it, nor can it connect to HR straps of any type.  So if HR is of importance to ya, again, the Alta probably isn’t what you want.

Sleep Tracking and Alarms:

Like most activity trackers, the Alta will measure sleep.  And also like most others, it’ll do it automatically without any input required by you.  You simply wear it, and it simply tracks your sleep.

It won’t show any sleep metrics on the device itself, though it will semi-congratulate you when you get up and walk your first steps of the day. It does it in a nice way, but sometimes I feel like it’s really saying “Well then, nice of you to get your lazy ass out of bed.  Start walking…now.”

In any case, you’ll get your sleep metrics displayed down towards the bottom of the main Fitbit app page.  If you tap that, you get a more detailed sleep page:

2016-04-19 13.34.51 2016-04-19 13.35.09

You can then click on a given day and get a bit more detail about that night’s sleep.  It’ll divide up your time into Asleep/Restless/Awake.  To some degree I appreciate the simplicity here – since it’s probably more accurate that some of the sleep-state assumptions that others provide.

2016-04-19 13.36.18 2016-04-19 13.37.22

Note that you can edit the times if for some reason they’re off.  In my case, I’ve found they pretty much nail my sleep times quite well.

2016-04-19 13.36.50 2016-04-19 13.36.28

You’ll notice a small star next to some nights.  That indicates you hit your sleep goal.  You can customize this by hitting the little settings icon, changing the number of hours/minutes that you aim for each night:

2016-04-19 13.38.26 2016-04-19 13.38.02

Next up we’ve got alarms. You can create a silent (vibrating) alarm on the Fitbit Alta by going to your main dashboard on the app and selecting the Alta device.  Then from there you’ll select Silent Alarms and then ‘Set a New Alarm’.

2016-04-19 13.39.04 2016-04-19 13.42.47

You can set additional day-specific options too.

2016-04-19 13.42.54 2016-04-19 13.43.04

Once the alarm buzzes, it’ll repeat once, then go away.  Else, you can double-tap to dismiss.  I kinda wish it would just keep buzzing till I dismissed it.  As it doesn’t last very long.

Finally, you can create multiple alarms if you’d like.  This software implementation for creation of alarms is actually one of the cleanest I’ve seen on a wrist band type wearable.  Rather nicely done.

Smartphone Notifications:

Fitbit-Alta-Phone-Setup

The Alta has smartphone notifications, or more accurately – call, text, and calendar notifications.  You’ll remember from my past Fitbit posts, such as the Fitbit Blaze, that I’ve been relatively annoyed with Fitbit’s lack of general smartphone notifications.  By that I mean that you can’t get notifications from apps like Twitter, WhatsUp, or countless others that use the standard notification center functionality (like almost all other activity trackers).

But in this case, I don’t mind that too much with the Fitbit Alta.  Why’s that?

Because the Alta screen is totally useless for any notifications at all.

How so?

Well, the screen real estate and the method it shows you text messages makes it just not terribly useful.  To begin, unlike most other wrist bands, the entire name and text message is on a single line (versus double-stacked).  Except, the screen is too short to display much other than a portion of just the name of the incoming texter, let alone the message.

Fitbit-Alta-Text-Notifications

So then it scrolls the message.  Except, the scrolling is so slow that Grandma would even get bored waiting.  Not only is it slow, but then it cuts off the text message after a few words.  Here’s an animated GIF of the text seen above (you have to twist it like on your wrist to get it to start):

TextAnimatedGIF

So basically, by the time all of this happened you could have just taken out your phone to look at the message.  Which you’ll have to do anyway because it didn’t finish showing you the text.

And don’t get me even started on the fact that the rotation of the wrist display adds even more delay and latency to this entire process (because it’s finicky in and of itself).  Or the fact that if during the wrist rotation it false-triggers, then you can’t get back to that text at all, without of course going to your phone.  It’s like Snapchatted sext, without any way to re-read the message.

Finally, yes it does display both calendar alerts and incoming phone calls.  The phone call piece is a bit better than the text piece, because there’s no text message along with it.  So it just shows a phone icon and buzzes with the name of the caller.

Fitbit-Alta-Phone-Notifications

And calendar notifications are kinda halfway in between.  I think much of the Alta’s notification display problem could actually be solved if they just used two lines to display the text messages.  That’d solve the latency/slow-scrolling problem, as well as the lack of length problem.

Comparison Chart:

I’ve added the Fitbit Alta into the product comparison tool for activity trackers, so you can go ahead and compare it against other standalone activity trackers (non-GPS).  While I’ve added a few comparative Fitbit options below, you can make your own table here in the product comparison tool.

Function/FeatureFitbit ChargeFitbit Charge HRFitbit Alta
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 4th, 2017 @ 6:14 pmNew Window
Price$109$149$129
Body PlacementWristWristWrist
Data Transfer TypeBluetooth SmartBluetooth SmartBluetooth Smart
Bluetooth to PhoneYesYesYes
Has GPS built-inNoNoNo
WaterproofingATM1 (~10m)1ATM (~10m)Not really
Battery LifeUp to 7 daysUp to 5 daysUp to 5 Days
Battery TypeUSB RechargeableUSB RechargeableUSB Rechargeable
Changeable Bands/StrapsNo
Phone Music ControlNoNo
WatchFitbit ChargeFitbit Charge HRFitbit Alta
Displays timeYesYesYes
Has time alarmsYesYesYes
Has smart sleep alarmsNoNoNo
NotificationsFitbit ChargeFitbit Charge HRFitbit Alta
Smartphone NotificationsCall notifications onlyCall notifications onlyText/Call/Calendar only
WorkoutsFitbit ChargeFitbit Charge HRFitbit Alta
Workout guidance/coachingNoNoNo
DataFitbit ChargeFitbit Charge HRFitbit Alta
Step CounterYesYesYes
Stairs ClimbedYesYesNo
Distance WalkedYesYesYes
Calories BurnedYesYesYes
Sleep MetricsYesYesYes
24x7 HR MetricsNoYesNo
SensorsFitbit ChargeFitbit Charge HRFitbit Alta
Skin TemperatureNoNoNo
Heart RateNoYesNo
Optical Heart RateNoYesNo
Can re-broadcast Heart Rate dataNoNoNo
Skin PerspirationNoNoNo
Cycling SensorsNoNoNo
Action Camera ControlNoNoNo
SoftwareFitbit ChargeFitbit Charge HRFitbit Alta
Web ApplicationYesYesYes
PC ApplicationYesYesYes
Mac ApplicationYesYesYes
Phone AppsiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Ability to export/sync settings from computer/phoneYesYesYes
PlatformFitbit ChargeFitbit Charge HRFitbit Alta
3rd parties can access data via APIYesYesYes
Ability to export your data out of platformYes (paid option)YesYes
PurchaseFitbit ChargeFitbit Charge HRFitbit Alta
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)LinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerFitbit ChargeFitbit Charge HRFitbit Alta
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

Again, remember you can make your own comparison charts here in the product comparison tool!

Summary:

Fitbit-Alta-Loops

In many ways, I feel like the Alta was a product released ‘just to release a product’.  Not because it offered a unique selling point other than being a Fitbit branded product that’ll sell by the millions.  Just like McDonald’s sells millions of cheeseburgers, doesn’t mean they’re the best cheeseburger around.  On the flip side, the Alta isn’t bad.  It’s just not great.

The Alta is in a tough spot in that I like the slimmed up form factor and design better than the Fitbit Charge.  And unlike the charge it has the SmartTrack workout automatic recognition.  But at the same time, it lacks the Charge’s ability to manually create workouts (or just a timer), which is generally more useful in a gym/workout setting.

Fitbit counters that the Alta is designed to be an all-day activity tracker, which is a fancy way of saying it’s supposed to be used for the 23 hours of the day that you’re not working out.  And in much of that it does well.  For example, the encouragement with the inactivity alerts are executed well, as is the entire app integration piece.  And even the SmartTrack triggers for long walks around town. The battery – also on-point.  All good in many categories.

It’s just too bad that the smartphone integration is so lackluster, as that’s really such a downside of the unit compared to so many other competitive options that execute that portion better.

Of course – like most activity trackers on the market today, Fitbit doesn’t have any issues counting steps or sleep or other core metrics.  And Fitbit’s main strength is their platform with millions of users on it.  Users that are likely your friends.  That matters when it comes to encouragement of hitting various step goals.  So if all else is equal and you’re trying to decide between Brand X and Brand Y, I generally recommend looking to see what your friends have on their wrists, and choosing something of the same brand to take advantage of those social features.

Wanna save 10%? Or found this review useful? Read on!

Hopefully you found this review useful.  At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device.  The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love).  As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers an exclusive 10% discount across the board on all products (except clearance items).  You can pickup the Fitbit Alta (or any other Fitbit Alta bands) from Clever Training. Then receive 10% off of everything in your cart by adding code DCR10BTF at checkout.  By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get a sweet discount. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.

Fitbit Alta (select drop-down for size/colors)
Fitbit Aria Scale (compatible with Fitbit Alta, see my WiFi Scale roundup here)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit (all colors shown after clicking through to the left) or accessories (though, no discount on Amazon).  Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells).  If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.  Though, Clever Training also ships there too and you get the 10% discount.

Thanks for reading!

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43 Comments

  1. H.W.

    The GIF is a nice touch, it fits in with the flow of the story!

  2. Meara

    When you say “don’t wear it Upside down” does that mean wearing it on my right wrist would not work??

  3. Bryce

    I see what you did there. You referenced burgers and then started the next sentence with “on the flip side”. You wanted to allude to flipping burgers. Intentional or not, well played Ray, well played.

  4. I am not sure these kind of product releases warrants a in-depth review (or any review).

    As you said: “was a product released ‘just to release a product’”, while this review feels a bit like “a review done just to do a review”.

    There are now hundreds of these devices around and they are all doing more or less the same thing. Even fitbit still has three different wristbands without HR or GPS.

    I might feel different if I would be looking for one of these :-)

    • No doubt that there are many devices in the market. But Fitbit is the biggest player in the market, and the number of questions I get on their devices is pretty substantial. After all, they’ll sell millions of this specific unit, so there’s definitely demand out there (both for the unit, but also information on it).

      On the other hand, you won’t/don’t see my reviewing every product in the market. As you noted, there are hundreds of them, and most do the same entry-level things. Fitbit’s strength in this case is really their platform.

  5. Gabe

    Looks like we are hitting a saturation point with these fitness trackers in terms of functionality.

    Where is the new tech? Is battery tech holding back advancements?

    Im surprised we havent seen timex like LTE/GPS watches yet.

    • I think the core reason we haven’t seen more LTE/cellular watches is that it’s mostly a nightmare for the companies (i.e. a Garmin/Timex/etc…) to deal country market to country market in terms of cell plans.

  6. Doug

    For measuring HR, without a chest strap, what is the best ( most accurate ) wrist based unit. I currently have the MIO fuse. Thanks.

    • The Mio Fuse is among the most accurate optical HR units on the market today to be honest, that along with the Scosche (non-wrist, but optical). Are you looking for a watch in general, or?

  7. In 2016 they felt the need to manufacture and distribute a USB Bluetooth dongle with every unit? Even though the device actually has a wired USB connection available. Unbelievable. I think it’s worth commenting in your reviews about stuff like this Ray, I’m no hippie but this is extremely wasteful from so many perspectives. The power and materials used to create these, the larger boxes needed resulting in fewer per shipment and heavier shipments leading to more fuel use. Finally, the millions of plastic and metal dongles which will sit in drawers for 3-5 years before being put into landfill having literally never been plugged in to a computer.
    You can argue the same for the bundles of paper which will never be read by anyone which for some reason also have their own packaging inside the packaging!

    As I said, I’m not exactly a tree hugger, but if we don’t tell companies that they are being silly these things will never change. Let’s push them to standardise chargers too, or at least make the charging cradle micro USB so we don’t need another cable for every device.

    • Yeah, I thought it was a little strange. But I understand why they did it.

      It’s largely because their target demographic is so big and so vast that it’s hard for them to say ‘mobile only’. So that moves onto using the USB cable for both sync and power. Initially that adds a bit more wiring internally (negligible though of course) to the cable. Same goes for on the unit itself, though most likely it has that already for servicing type items.

      The far bigger reason for Fitbit is that they’ve only ever done wireless interfaces to their devices, so in this case all their devices act identically to a computer. So they likely use the same code snippets and rinse/repeat. Versus adding USB sync support means they’d have to spend dev time on that (QA/etc…), for something that almost nobody uses.

      I do agree it’s a waste. It’d probably be interesting to know the cost of that dev time vs cost of adding those adapters. I think the shipping cost is a wash, since it doesn’t impact packaging size any (the box wouldn’t be smaller without it). Though probably impacts their cost a itty-bitty bit.

    • LB

      On the subject of dongles: a family member’s Fitbit Charge has stopped auto-syncing with her iMac after it was upgraded to El Capitane. It was working fine with Yosemite. After going on the web I found that lots of Fitbit users are having syncing problems with their Apple computers,(losing connection with USB devices), mobile apps and even PC’s. Re-installing the Fitbit software doesn’t help.

      Our “work around” is to unplug and re-attach the dongle to force a manual sync. Which is tedious to say the least.

      Is Fitbit not modifying their code to work with changing OS’s? Why is the auto-sync function failing?

  8. Nathan Budd

    Hi Ray, I have an Edge 520 and a 910XT, but I’m looking for a bunch of fitness trackers for the family to be competitive with.

    I had the first gen Vivofit, but it really annoyed me that it would count thousands of steps on my bike commute to work. It wouldn’t pick up that my Garmin 520 had recorded a ride during this time, and it wouldn’t connect to my Garmin Speed/Cadence sensor to recognise that I was on a bike.

    I see that this has “Smart” activity detection. Are you able to confirm that once it’s detected that I’m riding, it stops counting steps?

    Cheers.

  9. likepend1

    Others have mentioned the saturation point already!

    I have the following questions:
    -) what’s next? Will those companies continue to release multiple devices (different categories)? I mean the HW is basically almost the same (GPS-sets). The only changes i believe are the use algorithms (calories)? Or can we expect one company to come across with a basic HW-design & features (that can be enabled/purchased?). Like basic GPS/HR (& features like recovery-time, steps, navigation, R-R analysis)?

    -) We have a shipload of data available at the moment. People are generating massive amounts of GPS, HR, R-R, steps (movement-profiles), RHR, Power & …… what do we get out of it? Is it just marketing/gimmicks since for more accurate results you gonna need lab-anaysis? what’s the message? just that movement is healthy? yeah we know that. or is it just that people need numbers and limits (steps, HR) for motivation? where are we heading?

    cheers!

  10. Jon Niehof

    Please tell me there’s an option to auto-recognize horizontal shuffle. Although the at least 15 minutes limitation might be a bit demanding in some cases.

  11. Slava Bolshin

    Got it as a gift for my mother. :-)

  12. Asaf

    Is it possible to sync Strava with Fitbit so you can see the accumulated calories per day on Fitbit (that is, using a fitbit alta to monitor daily activity while uploading workouts to Strava, which obviously raise the calorie total )?

    • Strava does sync to Fitbit. For example, I just completed a ride a few minutes ago (without any Fitbit product on me). But I did use a Garmin to record that, and that sync’d to Strava, which in turn sync’d to Fitbit and shows calories for the ride.

    • Asaf

      Thanks! Does it apply for indoor activities as well, such as indoor cycling (I zwift more than I ride outside)?

    • Actually, now that I look carefully at the sync’d activity (text was cutoff), it didn’t come from Strava. Rather, it came from MyFitnessPal, which in turn came from Garmin.

      Where do your activities originate? From the Strava app natively?

    • Oh, and in this case for a ride a week or so ago, it did show up calories for the sync’d Garmin > MyFitnessPal > Fitbit ride that was indoors.

    • Asaf

      Originally, it starts with Swift syncing to Strava, and questionably from there to Fitbit. I guess could direct it first ti MFP and then to Fitbit.

  13. Elizabeth Adrian

    I am wondering if I get another Fitbit HR, will my info go automatically to the second one! As in all the data transfer from one to the other, or will it have to be set up separately? Thanks

  14. Rob

    What about showering in it. I know they aren’t waterproof, but you have proven in the past that showering with most devices has not caused issues. Thanks.

  15. Rob

    Picked up the Alta and it seems to be a decent device, at least for what i’m looking for out of a tracker. Biggest issue i have is the vibration motor seems VERY WEAK, so much so that I slept through it this morning. I would say it’s about 50% weaker than the UP3.

    Curious your experience with this and if you’ve seen a way to improve it.

    In my head, my perfect device is the UP3 if you add a screen or the Alta with a stronger vibration, but I don’t think that exists.

    Appreciate any input you have.

  16. Jamie Y

    Mine and my husbands batteries die every day…ugh!!!!

  17. Greta

    I tracked my walk this afternoon and now can’t go back to my dashboard on my fitbit alta. I did that before and had to uninstall and reinstall but it lost all my information. Plus that’s a pain. Can you tell me how to go back to the dashboard or settings or anything, even turn off tracking. It just keeps running, though I can pause it. But can’t cancel or find way back to dahsboard. Help.

  18. mary

    The problem with my “charge” is that the wristband broke. Are you saying that with the Alta, you can change out wristbands, similar to the Fitbit original? Thanks for your reply!

  19. Shawn

    I want to get one of these for my wife, but the biggest concern is using this thing in the shower. How does the Alta hold up with daily hot showers? She’s looking for something simple, small, and a bit fashionable (hence why she’s looking for at the Alta) but if the thing really can’t be used in the shower everyday then it’s pretty much out of the running.

  20. Richard Behnke

    I think you missed the main (maybe only) advantage of this over other Fitbit trackers including the Charge. The bands all broke after about a year. So did my wife’s. Fitbit replace at least two, but the last time I just gave up on Fitbit products. So did that of several friends. But the Alta has the guts as a stand alone unit — not integrated hopelessly into the band. So all you would ever need to do is change straps — plus the stainless steel unit itself looks far sturdier than the other Fitbit products.

  21. jean von blon

    How does it track bicycling “steps”? I have the “flex” now and use a magnetic pod attached to my shoe and really feel that does a great job tracking my movement.
    Thanks!

  22. Jonathan

    Excellent review, as always.

    I find the OEM strap to be a significant problem with the Alta. It is too difficult to secure th clasp and the clasp pops open far too easily. This issue is widely reported around the Net and on FitBit’s own support fora.

    While I understand the choice not to use a conventional buckle — a major selling point for the Alta is its sleek, minimalist form — I am astonished that the company did not come up with a design that allows users to easily and reliably secure the tracker to their wrists! There is a certain irony that all the high technology capabilities of the tracker can be foiled by FitBit’s failure to solve the decidedly low technology problem of making a secure wristband. There do seem to be solutions out there. The rotating clasp on Garmin’s Vivofit 2, for example, works very well.

  23. JD

    ​Avoid Fitbit! Poorly built. They should start the name with sh instead of the F!

    I bought a fitbit charge for my wife at Dick Smith (Australian electrical goods store). The first one did not work straight out of the box, would not charge at all. Dick smith replaced it immediately, same day as purchase. A few months later the new one stopped charging. Again, Dick Smith replaced with a brand new item. Now, 9 months later, this 3rd fitbit charge battery will not charge and the rubber is peeling off the band and face.

    Subsequently, Dick Smith has closed down in my area so I can not return for a refund.

    I contacted Fitbit, who are saying the original purchase is out of warranty but they will do a “one off” and replace with the same model, but will not refund. WOW, i feel so lucky! They don’t have enough faith in their own product to give a warranty on the brand new replacement fitbit charge thats only 9 months old!! I asked if the replacement they are willing to send will have a warranty but they didi not reply.

    They also will not allow me to pay the difference to upgrade to a better model!!
    I’m accepting the “One off” replacement and it will be for sale on eBay as soon as it arrives at my door.

    Well, if you ask me thats pretty poor, they should write a book on how to lose customers because thats what they’ve done in this situation. Not only me but everyone I know I tell how bad the product is and the lack of faith they have in their own product. I strongly recommend buying a more reputable brand.

    Fitbit is a waste of money and you will more than likely be disappointed. I won’t go near the brand again!

  24. EA

    I just bought a Fitbit Alta and it seems to track steps by just moving my arm. Is there something wrong with it or is it just inaccurate at counting steps?

  25. Its amazing. I hope everybody like it. By the way it’s already proved that some fitness tracker works amazingly like fitbit, polar, Iwown etc.

  26. It’s a great tracker. There are various branded tracker in the market but every tracker do not work properly. This one is really good that can provide proper support. It’s alarm system is extremely work good.