My Experience of Using Fitbit Charge HR in Thailand

August 14, 2015
By

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Fitness wearables are becoming very popular these days and many people have started to wear them. My first one was an UP by Jawbone which I started to wear in early 2014 (see my blog here). What it does is monitor your activity and sleep patterns and then gives you feedback based on this in an app on your smartphone. For me it changed my life. I had never really exercised before, but after setting a target of 10,000 steps per day, I was out there nearly every day walking to keep fit.

For me it really worked as it was a great motivator. In fact, the day it broke, was the same day I literally stopped exercising. Yes, I know. I am weak. Three months later I decided I needed to do something to stop my weight gain. So, I went for the UP2 by Jawbone. Unfortunately, I experienced some problems with this device (see my blog here) and I returned it the next day to get my money back. Which is a shame, as I really love the UP devices and the app on my smartphone. But, I desperately needed a replacement, so I decided to jump ship and go for a Fitbit Charge HR wearable.

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I’ve been using the Fitbit now for about six weeks. It is quite different from the UP. Not only the device itself, but also the app. I will go into more details in a moment, but first I just wanted to tell you the things that impressed me that first week of using the Fitbit Charge HR. Like the UP, you can set your target for steps per day. But, the Fitbit also has a challenge to climb floors every day. I love that. So, now I aim to do 10,000 steps and climb 40 floors per day! That does sound a lot, but as my office is on the 6th floor of the school building, I have plenty of opportunity to climb stairs.

In fact, the very first day of using the Fitbit at school I stopped using the lift. I now average about 45-50 floors and 7,500 steps while I am at school each day. I then usually top up my steps in the evening on the treadmill or go for a walk. I also like it how Fitbit sends you digital badges for your achievements. Like I have the Rollercoaster Badge for climbing 125 floors in one day. And the Urban Boot Badge for doing 15,000 steps in one day. Just this second, I got another badge notification. I just achieved the London Underground Badge for walking 402 lifetime kilometers. In addition, each day that I reach my target, the Fitbit vibrates to inform me of the good news.

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Another big difference between the UP devices and the Fitbit Charge HR is that there is a small monitor on the wristband. I know it makes the device bigger, but I actually like it. So many times I have looked down to my wrist while wearing the UP thinking it was going to tell me the time. The Fitbit does that. When you raise and swivel your wrist to look at the Fitbit, the monitor comes on with the time. You can then tap it to see other things like your progress with steps and floors. I do love that, because with the UP you have to turn on your smartphone, open the app and then wait for it to synch to see your progress. With the Fitbit, I very rarely look at the app on my smartphone. Everything I need is on the small monitor.

The HR in the name of this Fitbit device stands for Heart Rate. What it does is use optical lights in the wristband to monitor your heart rate while you are sitting at your desk and while you are exercising. When I first started climbing the stairs in the morning, my heart was really racing when I got to the top. As I am gradually getting fitter, my heart rate is significantly lower when I check it on the wristband. As it is a live rate, it is also good for meditation. I sometimes open up the app and watch my heart rate go down as I relax. You can also see this on the wristband if you like.

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Before I forget, the Fitbit has one more thing I really love and wished the UP had. Many times I am in a situation when someone calls me and I didn’t hear the phone ring. No problem now that I have a Fitbit, as it vibrates when I receive a call AND it gives the name of the caller on my wristband monitor! Thinking about it more, the two features that I love most about the Fitbit Charge compared to the UP is the tracking of floors climbed and the Caller ID. If UP just had those two things, I would go back to it straight away. The heart rate thing lost its charm after a week or so.

The suggested retail price of the Fitbit Charge HR is 5,550 Baht, though I bought it for only 5,000 Baht at the computer fair in June. Here is the full list of what the Fitbit Charge HR can do:

– Bright OLED screen displays all day stats including steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, floors climbed, and the time

– Exercise Mode records workouts with the press of a button and provides real-time exercise stats on the display, as well as detailed exercise summaries on the Fitbit dashboard

– Automatic sleep detection monitors sleep quality; also features a silent, vibrating alarm

– Caller ID helps users stay connected to incoming calls; wristband vibrates and shows caller’s name or number when paired with smartphone that is nearby

– High-quality, water-resistant, comfortable textured design with a secure clasp

– Fitbit’s proprietary PurePulse optical heart rate technology, delivers continuous, automatic wrist-based heart rate tracking all-day (not just when you wake up) and during workouts without an uncomfortable chest strap

– Heart rate helps users maintain workout intensity; maximize workouts with heart rates zones; track resting heart rate; and monitor all-day calorie-burn

– All-day insights into overall heart health including resting heart rate and heart rate trends, alongside stats like steps, distance, floors climbed, calories and active minutes

– Up to 5 days of battery life – Charge HR is specially designed with battery efficient technology, so users can spend more time tracking and less time charging

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I now have a dilemma. After I wrote that “bad review” of the UP2 last month, the regional PR agent for Jawbone contacted me to apologize for the problems I had experienced with that device. He said that since then, a firmware update had come out that solved most of the problems that I was having and also increased the battery life to 7 days. He also said that the UP3 was about to be released in Thailand and that if I was interested, he would send me a review copy to test out. My dilemma? Well, I now have TWO wearable devices on my wrist. A Fitbit Charge HR and an UP3. I like them both a lot, but I obviously cannot keep wearing two devices.

Give me a couple of weeks and I will write a blog review on my first look at using an UP3 in Thailand. I will also do my very best to make a choice between the two. I’m tempted to go for the UP3, but I love the climbing floors challenge, the Caller ID and the monitor showing progress on the Fitbit Charge HR. Have you used either of them? What do you like about them the best?

18 Responses to My Experience of Using Fitbit Charge HR in Thailand

  1. Robert Du Chesne
    August 14, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Question,your comments on the Fitbit could not have been more timely as I was with a friend last night who has been wearing his Fitbit for the past 3/4 weeks and he is very happy with the information it provides.

    My question is Where can I buy in Bangkok as I want to be certain I am getting one that is not a “Fake”

    Your help would be most appreciated.
    Would also like to say that I enjoy receiving your emails as I find them very informative.
    I live in Bangkok full time when I am nog travelling.

    Regards, Robert.

    • Richard Barrow
      August 14, 2015 at 11:14 am

      You should be able to buy at electronic stores such as iStudio, Jay Mart and Power Buy. Which one are you interested in? Here is the full price list:

      – Fitbit Surge (RRP 8490 THB); available in black, blue3 and tangerine3
      – Fitbit Charge HR (RRP 5550 THB); available in black and plum, blue3 and tangerine3
      – Fitbit Charge (RRP 4550 THB) available in black, blue, burgundy and slate
      – Fitbit Flex (RRP 3990 THB); available in 10 colors – black, slate, navy, red, tangerine, teal, violet, blue, lime and pink
      – Fitbit One (RRP 3990 THB); available in black and burgundy
      – Fitbit Zip (RRP 2490 THB); available in charcoal, magenta, blue, lime
      – Fitbit Aria (RRP 4990 THB); available in black and white

  2. Michel
    August 14, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Would be nice to read a bit about battery time…Thanks for the review and all your other tweets and articles!

    • Richard Barrow
      August 14, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      As mentioned above, it only lasts for 5 days. You can turn off option for constant updates which save a bit of battery. Turning off heart rate probably saves more. But then, what is the point in paying extra for heart rate if you do that? The other model without it lasts a good week which in my opinion should be the minimum for the battery length. I just this second got an email to say that the battery is running low and so I am topping it up now while I am sitting at the computer. Usually, a battery symbol appears on the wristband to show that I have less than a day to go. The Up3 is seven days and Up2, which doesn’t have heart monitor, is 10 days I believe. With the Fitbit they actually recommend you charge every few days. There’s been a few times when I have been out and the battery went dead.

  3. Roy Yonaoshi
    August 14, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Have you checked out leap4life? Its a fitness rewards program where you can earn tangible rewards for your efforts. Does not cost a thing to become member. The rewards are provided by advertising sponsors of leap4life.

  4. Brian
    August 17, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Hi Richard , thanks mate another very interesting blog . First question do you need a smart phone to use a fitbit device , if so can you recommend a low price smart phone that would do the job . 2nd question have you got your own treadmill , if so was it new when you bought , how much did you pay & where from . Is it possible to buy a refurbished treadmill .

    • August 17, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      With the Fitbit and UP wearables you need a smartphone. I think there are other devices on the market that can be standalone. Though the problem is the monitor sizes to get access to all of the information. About the treadmill, I bought from the department store. I guess possible to buy a refurbished one, but not sure where. They are not cheap. Not everyone would need one. If I had a long commute I would walk part of the way home. But I only live a few minutes from my workplace so need a treadmill to help me reach my daily target.

      • Brian
        October 17, 2015 at 10:53 am

        Hi Richard , I got a fitbit charge HR last week it is great I am averaging 10 k`s per day . I also now have a treadmill which is also a terrific way of keeping fit .

  5. Leighton Cripps
    October 4, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Well thanks for the review, i have a Fitbit Charge HR which was working great untill it stopped working.
    I contact Fitbit and they offered a replacement…… the only problem is they cant post to Thailand and i cant find a service center.
    So essentially the 1 year warranty is useless as there is no support in Thailand for users.
    At least with Jawbone and my constantly breaking UP2 it got replaced.

  6. Michael
    October 20, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I can’t seem to get the notification working… I have a note 33 trying to connect to surge .,it indicates that it is connected but can’t get messages. This is a huge bummer. Any advice where I can take it to help me?

  7. Roshan gurung
    December 11, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    My fit bit wont update. Where can i repair.

  8. Paul
    December 13, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Hey Richard,
    Love your updates! I live and work in Bangkok. How is your Fitbit HR? I bought one around the same as yourself and I was loving mine, great way to keep you keep you active, that is until it stopped updating and the battery life was reduced to two hours! Was wondering if you had experienced any problems with yours here in the big mango? I really came to rely on it and want to get it fixed so that so that I can continue to benefit from it!

    • December 18, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Sorry, to hear about your problems. Mine has been fine so far though someone else reported a problem and needed to get it fixed. However, I cannot find any address yet. Maybe someone else can help.

      • Paul
        December 18, 2015 at 9:05 pm

        Hey Richard, thanks for taking the time to reply! Just to let you and anybody else know, Fitbit support have been great, without even asking they are going to replace my charge hr once they knew I’d bought it from a reputable Thai dealer. The only problem is they can’t delve or Thailand which isn’t a personal problem for me. However, their support was great and they used the online analysis to work that their was a problem and immediately offered a replacement. Really looking forward to getting the new one as, for me it’s a great device!

  9. Worsak
    February 22, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Hi Rechard. I bought a new version of fitbit via ebay. However, I was unable to charge the battery. Do you by any chance know the service center for fitbit in Thailand?

  10. Pasquinel Cobra
    April 20, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    I’m 68 yr old live in Chiang Rai and would really appreciate it if you could tell me with 100% accuracy where in can purchase a Misfit shine 2 in Thailand. PERFER in store purchase but if necessary on-line purchase from store inside Thailand ok. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Brian
      April 22, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Hi , If it is a fitbit you want check out Lazada online .
      I bought a Charge HR from them no problem .
      R’gds Brian .

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