Monday, 20 March 2017

Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate and Fitness Tracker Review

What’s your daily exercise companion?  

Fitbit charge 2 heart rate and fitness tracker box

With fitness and health becoming a priority now in our lives, it's not surprising that more people are jumping into the “wearables” segment to monitor health data, including me. I’ve been thinking about it since last year; it took me a while to finally make a decision in buying a fitness tracker/watch. (But why?) Because it meant I will make my other watches useless. Not that I have too many, not that they’re expensive. But do you know the feeling of having a few little things that you like or love and find it hard to let them go…

Back of Fitbit Charge 2 box

However, I knew that I need to be more aware and conscious about my mobility, how much I move everyday and reduce my “stagnant” hours or minutes. This is not just about losing weight but about being fit and avoiding bodily pains, which could be signs of aging as well (aaaaarrrrrr!). My job involves long hours sitting on a chair in front of computers. I could be stuck on that chair for 4-6 hours in a day without getting up unless I need to go to the restroom or get some water to drink. Yes, I know I know, it’s terrible. 

The bad thing with our time of advanced technology where we rarely need to walk or move to talk to someone is that it's bad for health. We’ve all been pampered by chat apps, emails and phones so much that some people may find it a “burden” to need to walk. During my days at my first job, employees have to walk a lot and even travel to get an approval, get a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from a boss, take photo of a set-up or check competitor prices. But now, everything can be done via chat apps. In a few seconds or minutes, you can get an answer for important matters. While this is great for a lot of things, it diminishes our urge to move. 

Fitbit charge 2 heart rate and fitness tracker

But the awesome thing in this decade is that we now have wearable technology and apps to help us get moving and hopefully healthier and more fit! I did some research on different fitness trackers and decided to get the Fitbit Charge 2. 

Why I chose Fitbit Charge 2 (Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband)
1. Appearance - I was looking for a clean, sleek look, not too masculine like Garmin Fenix, and must look pretty enough to wear to work everyday. The appearance of Fitbit Charge 2 is great for me and it comes in purple band too.
2. Size - I wanted a fitness tracker that will not be bulky on my wrist specially when running. I don’t like the feel of normal watch on my wrist while sweating so my fitness tracker has to be slim enough to wear.  
3. Weight - I’m not sure if professional runners like heavy trackers but I, a beginner/amateur, definitely prefer a light one while running and sweating. This Fitbit is light at only 1.23 oz or 35 grams. 
4. Data display - I want a tracker that serves as a normal watch, too. This is why I didn’t go for the Fitbit Flex even if it was slimmer and sexier. Fitbit Charge 2 also displays multiple data in various screens. You can choose to display time, date, number of steps taken and heart rate in first screen; this is great for me. By tapping the screen, you can switch into different data displays like distance walked/ran, stairs climbed, active minutes and more. 
5. Auto-detection of running - This is my core exercise during the weekends and it’s great that Fitbit Charge 2 can auto-detect this activity. 
6. Sleep tracking and other exciting metrics - I’m not a big fan of sleeping (yes, I’m weird) but I know I have to sleep better and longer. I’m used to sleeping late and getting up early to send my son to school then go to work. Fitbit Charge 2 shows sleep data and can help me aim for better habits.  
7. Battery life - Product info online says it can last up to 5 days. But in actual use, my Fitbit lasts for 7 days, I only charge once a week and it even has around 15-20% battery life left when I do. 
8. Price - At RM730 and with all the features packed in, I think it’s reasonably-priced. If you’re seriously looking for a device to help you get more fit, save up for this one instead of replacing a phone that still works fine. Of course, if you’re a serious runner or if you do multiple activities that need more detailed tracking, you might want to consider other Fitbit models or even Garmin. 

After 1 month of use, I realise that Fitbit Charge 2 may not be perfect but I love this device. It serves everything I need, my purpose for buying a fitness tracker. I’ve been moving a lot more than I did before. Fitbit Charge 2 has notifications that remind me to walk based on the goals I set. 

Fitbit app for fitness and health tracking
(left to right) Fitbit app dashboard, Hourly activity summary, Sleep Data

Fitbit charge 2 heart rate and fitness data
(left to right) Heart Rate view showing Cardio Fitness, Summary of Heart rate zones, Heart rate zones based on my running exercise

I can’t say enough about how much I love the Fitbit app dashboard. It’s got everything I need to get moving and get closer to my goals. This dashboard can be on your mobile phone, tablet and notebook at the same time, giving you access to your Fitbit account everywhere. After all, what's the point of tracking a lot of information if you can't see them, make use of them and crush them? From what I've learned, the app is just as important as the fitness tracker itself. 

track fitness and health data on fitbit app
View of Fitbit dashboard on desktop 

It marks milestones with confetti on the dashboard, which I find really cool. It helps me to see accomplishments and track progress better. Small, progressive developments help me to continue pushing myself harder. I believe that a key to achieving fitness goals is consistency in whatever small steps I do while setting the bar a bit higher each time, even if it’s just an additional 0.5km or additional 2 flights of stairs. 

Fitbit also automatically sends emails for milestones achieved and when the battery is around 25% or less. 

Key fitness details are accessible on the Fitbit device such as the number of steps taken, heartbeat, distance, number of flights climbed - all these can be set using the mobile device to which you pair it. 

I have very bad sleeping habits. I’m someone who doesn’t like to sleep. I do it because I have to, not because I want to. Fitbit Charge 2 automatically tracks the time/number of hours I sleep and even how many minutes I was awake or restless in between! It’s a bit creepy but I find it accurate and it helps me be more aware. I now make a conscious effort to (try to) sleep earlier and longer. I previously sleep maybe 4-5 hours and now I’m between 5-6. It’s still not good enough but it’s a progress.


best fitness tracker to wear


how to charge a fitbit charge 2

box Fitbit charge 2 heart rate and fitness wristband

SUMMARY
Pros - things I adore in Fitbit charge 2
  • Long-lasting battery life - lasts 5-7 days without charging (this varies on personal use but with me, it lasts up to 7 days)
  • Fast charging - plugged to a MacBook, it can easily charge from 25% to 100% in an hour
  • Replaceable/changeable straps in various options of colours available
  • Lightweight, does not bother me while running and sweating
  • Detailed and customisable dashboard
  • Useful notifications - SMS and calls are notified on the wristband
  • Reminders to move (oh, man, I'm actually this "lazy"?)
  • Multiple clock face options - you can choose between analog and digital styles, and the level of info you want to be quickly accessible on the tracker/wristband
  • Calorie counter is comprehensive with measurement, amount of calories, when taken


Cons
  • Over-counts while driving, ironing or mopping the floor (yes, I do mopping!)
  • Occasionally under-counts stairs climbed
  • Tracker face sometimes does not auto-display based on motion: when wrist is lifted towards the face/body, it should automatically turn on display
  • Plugging the charger takes a bit more effort than it should
  • Calorie database only allows 1 country; you cannot pick 2-3 database and Malaysia is not listed (yet) - I don't count my calories religiously but if you do, you can choose to key-in calories manually for nasi lemak, roti canai, chutney and other yummy Malaysian dishes
  • Not waterproof so this model is not ideal for swimmers. I take it off before bathing, which is not so bad since I don't need to track walking or running in the bathroom anyway.


how to charge fitbit charge 2
The charger takes a bit more effort than necessary to place on the right spot, lucky I only need to do this once a week.


Fitbit charge 2 heart rate and fitness tracker box
The Fitbit box comes with safety instructions booklet

purple fitbit charge 2
Protective seal for screen and heart rate sensor at the back



Getting started with the Fitbit Charge 2:
  • You need to sync your fitness tracker to your preferred device at first use. Fitbit works with Android, Apple and Microsoft devices. 
  • More likely, the fitness tracker needs to be charged. Check the battery percentage left by pressing the button several times.

Tips on charging your Fitbit:
1. Plug the charging cable into a USB port.
2. Clip the other end into the port on the back of the Fitbit Charge 2.
3. The pins on the charging cable must be lined up with the charging port on your tracker and securely locked into place.
4. When your tracker is correctly plugged into the charging cable, the battery icon appears.
5. While charging, the battery icon appears to be less than full.
6. When fully charged, the battery icon is full and solid.


There’s so much more to know and discover about Fitbit Charge 2, functions that I haven’t tried checking, such as Challenges, Adventures, Guided Breathing or adding more friends. Another great thing with Fitbit app is it’s helpful for people like me who exercise alone. I don’t join marathons or group activities but the Fitbit app has various actions to motivate individuals in its own way. It marks achievements and even sends emails about milestones and badges. It helps me recognize my accomplishments, even if they’re small and helps to keep me going. I also receive weekly progress via email, which is really helpful in continuing with my health and fitness goals. 

fitbit_weekly_statistics_and_badges


If you want to find out more about different brands of wearables, below are great articles I’ve read. It helped me decide on which one is suitable for me. If you are interested with Fitbit Charge 2, you can also check out Garmin Vivo Smart HR.  


I wish you a great journey to a fit and healthier you!

Fitbit charge 2 heart rate tracker and swarovski bracelet
My Fitbit Charge 2 is wearable with a fashion bracelet too!