Fitbit Alta HR in-depth hands-on review : World’s slimmest 24/7 heart rate tracker explained

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Continuous heart rate tracking comes to the stylish Alta

The leaks are true: the Fitbit Alta HR is the company’s latest addition to its fitness tracking stable. The company claims the new tracker is the world’s slimmest device to feature continuous heart rate tracking and we’d be inclined to agree.

New Fitbit Alta HR is a record breaker

The Fitbit Alta HR offers advanced health metrics to non-fitness types, and is designed for those looking to achieve more modest health goals. As well as 24/7 heart rate monitoring, the Alta HR heralds big improvements in sleep tracking, which will also roll-out to existing Fitbit products.

The Alta HR joins an increasingly crowded line-up that operate in very tight price brackets, which could have users wondering exactly which Fitbit is best for them. But read on for all the essential information on the Fitbit Alta HR.

Fitbit Alta HR lands: the world's slimmest 24/7 heart rate tracker

Fitbit Alta HR: Design

The Alta HR manages to pack in its PurePulse optical heart rate sensor in a band that’s the same thickness as the first Alta and 25% slimmer than the company’s existing Charge 2. It’s impressively small and light, and there’s virtually no visual difference from its immensely successful Alta fitness tracker.

The company is launching two models, the standard Fitbit Alta HR and a special edition with a colour-coded body that retails for $20 more. There’s a host of coloured bands to suit all tastes, just like the original Alta.

Like its predecessor it’s still predominantly a female targeted fitness tracker, although there are gun-metal and leather versions that don’t look out of place on male users.

The company has also managed to up battery life from five days to a whole week, thanks to a new, smaller chip that’s increased efficiency and left room for a bigger battery.

Fitbit Alta HR lands: the world's slimmest 24/7 heart rate tracker

Fitbit Alta HR: Features

But the addition of heart rate tracking doesn’t mean that Charge 2 obsolete. Many of the fitness features are missing on the Alta HR, including workout recording, VO2 Max tracking, ConnectedGPS for running with a smartphone and, curiously, the guided breathing.

SmartTrack automatic exercise detection does make the cut however, which means you can take Alta HR to your gym class and have the session tracked and ranked in your Fitbit app.

With fitness features not making the cut, the Alta HR remains focused on wellbeing. Resting heart rate remains a focus of the Fitbit ecosystem, with more information around watching your heart health improve. But it’s sleep that gets the biggest overhaul.

Sleep tracking in the Fitbit ecosystem has been an ever-present since the original Flex back in 2013, but it’s been a little unloved in recent years. In fact, we’ve criticised the company for its underwhelming sleep metrics in reviews of the Blaze, Charge 2 and Flex.

Fitbit Alta HR lands: the world's slimmest 24/7 heart rate tracker

Fitbit Alta HR: Better sleep stats

Things get a lot more detailed on the Alta HR, with the sleep graph now showing metrics for awake, REM, light sleep and deep sleep cycle. The Alta HR uses heart rate variability to determine your sleep stages, which makes it even more curious that the breathing hasn’t made it to this predominantly wellness-focussed device.

But, encouragingly, the focus seems to be on more than just raw data, something we’ve been arguing in favour of for years. Actionable insights are now baked into the app to help users get better sleep. These include analysis of individual’s sleep information, correlations and patterns between exercise and sleep, bed time reminders on the Alta HR itself, and the ability to create a sleep schedule.

Fitbit Alta HR: Price and release date

As we mentioned, these insights re also coming to users of other Fitbit heart-rate enabled devices including Charge 2 and Blaze.

The Fitbit Alta HR is available to pre-order on Fitbit’s store now, and should be available on Amazon within a few weeks. It’s set to cost $149.95 with the Special Edition weighing in at $179.95 putting it between the original Alta and the more advanced Charge 2.

(wareable.com, https://goo.gl/b2coeS)

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