Why Fitbit Charge HR creates Exercise Competition among Gym Rats

If you read my article Analyst IDC logs Wearables Profitable in Q1 2015 Fitness Tracker Business then you’d know that Fitness Trackers are now a big trend for the past two (2) years.

Leading the growth in this Wearables market has been one company: Fitbit. They have a whole range of Fitness Trackers, mostly pedometers and heart rate trackers, all with the aim of helping to make exercise fun and competitive, both with yourself and with friends.

Gamefication, it seems, is the perfect formula for making anything that’s difficult fun, even exercise. After all, who can resist the fun of being able to run a whole 50km marathon, and then brag about it on social media or on Fitbit’s Lederboards?

The Fitbit Charge HR is the upgraded big sister to the US$130 Fitbit Charge. Costing US$20 more at US$150, the extra perk is a heart rate monitor. Fitbit Charge HR finally allows you to track your heart rate 24 hours a day and compare that with those of your friends on social media or on Fitbit’s Lederboards.

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So is this a rehash of the Fitbit Charge with a sprinkle of the discontinued Fitbit Force for nostalgia’s sake? Or is a heartbeat sensor worth payin’ US$20 more so you can show your social media pals how you and your girlfriend heart beats synchronize when riding the Midnight Trampoline?

Fitbit Charge HR – More Uncomfortable all in the name of fitness

Well, aside from the fun of being able to see if that’s actually true, the Fitbit Charge HR does come with some significant upgrades.

The rubber wrist strap now buckles in place, like a proper wristwatch with a mini Green LED (Light Emitting Diode) display. That display is blank and only lights up when you press a button on the side.

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The display isn’t the only thing that’s green; the double LED on the underside of the Fitbit Charge HR uses green LED’s to count your heartbeat. It also bulges out a little, digging into your skin so as to make a better contact to count the reflected light and calculate your heartbeat.

The whole contraption makes for tight, uncomfortable wearing, as Fitbit recommends that you wear it at finger’s length above the wrist bone to get the ideal reading on heartbeats. That heart rate sensor, dubbed Pure Pulse, starts working the minute you put on the Fitbit Charge HR, “hearting” you with a green LED heart.

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Those of you familiar with the Fitbit will be glad to know that even with the Heart rate sensor, it still works the same way. Press the button on the side starts the device recording your exercise session, recording steps taken via the pedometer, your general motion via the accelerometer and ECG (Electro Cardiograph) display of your heart rate. 

Reading the Fitbit ECG display – Fat Burning can also mean Bedroom Settings

Reading this will take some time, as you might have difficulty interpreting the graph. Sure, bpm (beats per minute), average hear rate and peak heart rate are easy enough to understand.

But the heart rate sensor’s OWN interpretation of your heart rate is inaccurate at best, as it makes the simple assumption that a higher heart rate means you were exercising which it refers to as your Fat Burning mode. These Fat Burning zones on you ECG readout display are colour coded red or orange, with yellow being for periods of inactivity.

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In reality, that’s probably because you were getting a quickies with the secretary, drinking caffeinated Blue Mountain Peak coffee or swizzleing a bottle of Red Bull, whatever you’re into, Fifty Cents Candy Shop Style!

Luckily these faux paus forms of exercise like sex and drinking caffeine can be customized, as the Fitbit Charge HR can be taught to distinguish an adrenalin high from an endorphin.

Whenever it indicated you are in these zones after you’ve perused the synched data from the Fitbit Charge HR on your smartphone, you can adjust the “Fat Burn” zone formula of 220 minus your age, as apparently you’re a lot younger than your physical age implies.

Still, it’s good to remember that the Fitbit Charge HR is just a Fitness Tracker on your wrist, not as Medical-tested Heart monitor, so don’t expect it to be accurate, especially when measuring elevate heart rate levels can really mean bedroom settings.

Fitbit Charge HR Five Day Challenge – Gamefication makes this a winner despite poor menu

Most Doctors will tell you that Fitness Trackers like Fitbit drop off in accuracy the higher your heart rate gets, as really, they are just motivational exercise toys.

This seems to be bolstered by the design, which doesn’t make frequent heart-rate checking possible, as you have to tap multiple times and scroll through a time, step count, and other reading before your heart rate reading comes up.

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When does, the little LED Screen doesn’t give you as much information as the graphs on the Fitbit App, which works on practically every smartphone, including Windows Phone. Also the screen isn’t glanceable to see your performance; it’s always off to conserve on battery life.

That’s the next thing which is a plus though; the Fitbit Charge HR lives up to its name with five (5) solid days of performance on a single charge using the proprietary USB charging cable.

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That said, try not to lose said cable, as it’s not like the ones use on the Fitbit Charge or the Fitbit Force and you can’t just buy a magnetically connected cable.

So should you as a Caribbean national get this Fitness Tracker? If you’re a serious exercise buff looking for accurate heart reading, get a Polar or Garmin chest-strap heart-rate monitor.

If, however, you like the idea of outcompeting your friends in terms of how often you can burn fat via running marathons or having sex with you Trinidadian vixen, which is a form of exercise, then I’d say at US$150, the price is right for the No. 1 Wearable in the US of A.

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.