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.
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.
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.
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
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?