By Ajay Joseph
Fitbit is an American company that was founded a little over a decade ago, specializing in wearable gadgets and fitness/activity tracking devices. Today we’re looking at the Fitbit Inspire HR, which serves as a replacement to the Fitbit Alta HR, one of their smallest, entry-level devices.
Design and Ergonomics
For those who have used Fitbit devices before, the design is pretty straightforward, with a narrow vertically aligned touchscreen at the center, and silicone straps that go around the wrist. The fit is just right and comfortable; it doesn’t slip but isn’t too tight either. The OLED screen is bright and has good visibility outdoors. The straps are changeable, with different colors being available for color matching with clothing.
Admittedly, the Inspire HR is an attractive device. Our test unit featured white straps and our test user Soleil frequently got compliments about her watch, how it looked good on her and went well with her clothes.
Being a wearable smart device, people seeing it as a fashion accessory is a good indicator of it being well-designed and suitable as a daily wear device, replacing a conventional watch.
The top surface is a touch-screen which can be tapped or swiped, while the main button is on the left side. During daily use, the main button was a little concerning, primarily because it didn’t feel solid, but at the same time, it didn’t seem cheap either. Worth noting that we never really encountered any problems with it.
Software and User Experience
If you are a new to such wearable devices, you’d be happy to know that the user interface is very intuitive. Even without referring to the manual, getting started and using the device is fairly simple.
The home screen displays the time and one of the other functions: date, heart rate, step count, calories burned, and distance. This is particularly useful if your focus is actively monitoring any of those parameters.
For example, during a triathlon, Soleil was keeping an eye on her heart rate, and the Inspire HR made it easy with it being on the devices front face.
To switch between the features, tapping on the screen cycles through the functions, while swiping up goes to detailed views of each of the features: steps per hour, active time, sleep monitor, water intake, etc.
Swiping down brings up the exercise tracker, timer, stopwatch, and such. Double tapping wakes the screen if it has turned off due to inactivity, but there are also motion gestures to activate the screen, such as the action of raising your arm, bringing your wrist closer to your face for viewing the screen.
The main button takes you to the home screen, while long pressing the same brings up the notifications menu.
Android Integration is hassle-free, and the data easily syncs with the Fitbit app on the phone. More detailed views and analysis of the data captured is possible through the app.
The usual complaint to do with operating a touch-screen when the device is wet or with wet fingers holds good, as navigation functionality is degraded. So don’t expect to be able to do much manually while swimming.
Features and Activity Tracking
Getting to the meat of the review, the device’s features include various routine tracking which is autonomous, in addition to specific activity tracking which can be both initiated manually as well as triggered automatically based on certain parameters.
Routine tracking includes activities such as step count, heart-rate monitoring, and sleep monitoring. While exercise recognition includes activities such as a swim session or going for a run. These can either be manually initiated or auto-triggered.
For a run to be triggered, you need to be continuously running for 10 minutes, and then the device considers the data as a run and starts tracking it as a run. In most cases, Soleil found that the Inspire HR always accurately tracked such activities without the push of a button, which was hassle free and great when working up a sweat.
In addition to all the activity tracking features, the device can also be used to display notifications such as incoming calls, SMS messages, and emails. Owing to the small screen reading long messages are not convenient, and similarly, calls cannot be answered from the Inspire HR.
From our testing, features, and functionality that stood out:
What stood out to Soleil were some of the finer details, that helped her both manage her workout routine more effectively, while also understanding her sleep patterns better. Additionally, having all this functionality in one device, versus using multiple apps to track it was great. Soleil’s usual go-to apps prior to the Fitbit Inspire HR were the Nike app for distance tracking, the Instant Heartrate app for Heartrate tracking, and a Generic Step Counter.
In terms of misses or fails, the device does seem to struggle with Swim tracking. On multiple tests the device captured the wrong swim distance, reporting 1150m versus the actual distance of 800m. Similarly, using the manual mode is also not advisable, as touchscreen response when wet is poor.
One comical oddity that came up during Soleil’s testing was an auto-triggered swim session, logged as 800m, or 16 laps in a 50m pool. Ironically this was registered while doing laundry. Hard to say, but perhaps the combination of dampness and repetitive arm motion triggered the activity.
Feature limitations include the inability to auto track some mat exercises, heart rate specific to periods of swimming, using the device to store music or control music playback on the phone, respond to notifications, or provide voice commands.
Specs and Performance
With such wearable devices, people seldom care about the hardware under the hood, as what matters is the user experience being snappy and seamless. To that end, the Inspire HR performs flawlessly with no noticeable lag in daily use.
That said, during Soleil’s time with the device, there was one instance when the screen stopped responding. While the initial fear was that the device might be broken, checking online led to various threads pointing to this bug.
The fixture was as simple as hooking up the device to the charger and long pressing the main button. Post restart the device was perfectly functional again, though data recorded during and just prior to the system freezing was lost.
Battery and Charging
As per the documentation, battery life is expected to last five days. Most reviews and reports confirm this, with the main dependency being how often you receive notifications. Like Soleil, if you turn-off notifications altogether, and use the device just for fitness and activity monitoring, the battery life is outstanding, going for about seven to nine days without needing to be charged.
Charging the device to 100% from near complete drain takes 2 hours, while quick top-up charging of 30 minutes affords you more than a whole day of use.
Included with the device is a magnetic base which the device attaches to for charging. The base in-turn connects to a standard USB port. The package does not include a dedicated charger, instead, there is a USB cable, as the expectation is that most users would hook them up to laptops or other chargers featuring USB connectivity.
Value and Competition
The Fitbit Inspire HR competes against the considerably cheaper Xiaomi Mi Band 3, and the slightly more expensive Garmin Vivosmart 4, and Fitbit’s own Charge 3. Given that there is no exactly price-matched competition, for a first-time wearable and fitness tracking gadget buyer, the Inspire HR offers a unique entry point.
Priced at P6,290, the Fitbit also affords users access to its impressive Fitbit app, and now massive Fitbit community.
In a nutshell, the Fitbit Inspire HR features a lot of product for the price. Seeing that the device is an incremental upgrade to the Alta in every way, sweetens the deal further. As a consumer, this is a great time to buy a wearable, given that it is superior in all aspects to the previous generation and priced competitively.