Review of "Fitbit Charge 2"

published 23/10/2017 | Pointress
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Pro Stylish, motivational, informative
Cons Not cheap
Value for money

"Charging ahead with the Fitbit Charge 2"

In the box

In the box

In the last 21 months, I’ve had 4 fitness trackers; not perhaps the best track record! My latest, bought in June this year is the Fitbit Charge 2.

~~~ Why a Fitbit? ~~~
There are a lot of fitness trackers on the market but for me it comes down to a choice between Jawbone and Fitbit, an Apple watch being beyond what I’m willing to pay.

When I first climbed aboard the fitness tracker bandwagon in December 2015 I went for a Fitbit Charge but didn’t have a good experience. I was unlucky I think; the battery life was abysmal and I found the email notifications meant to encourage me intensely annoying. I gave up on it and returned the darn thing whilst it was still under warranty.

Next came two Jawbones which I really loved but at the end of May this year I managed to lose the second of my Jawbones (a Jawbone UP2) despite having said in my review of it that it felt secure on my wrist. One of the selection criteria in going for the Jawbone at the time had been that I wanted something attractive and that looked more like a piece of jewellery than a watch. However, at about the same time that I lost the UP2, I managed to crack the screen of a well worn and trusted work watch. I was obviously going through a clumsy period!

So the criteria for choosing a fitness tracker was therefore different this time around. I wanted a display which would tell me the time as well as give me an up to date tally of the number of steps I had taken. The Jawbone does neither so was ruled out. I read all the reviews and the Fitbit seemed to be the best option and in an updated review (August 2017) Techradar still says “The Fitbit Charge 2 is currently the best Fitbit available for your money.”
~~~ The Spec ~~~

• What's Included in the box: Fitbit Charge 2 tracker, Charge 2 classic wristband and charging cable
• Sensors & Components ; Optical heart rate tracker, 3-axis accelerometer, Altimeter and vibration motor (used to analyze your sleep pattern)
• OLED display
• Battery type: Lithium-polymer
• Charge time: One to two hours
• Radio transceiver: Bluetooth 4.0
~~~ The looks ~~~
The tracker comes in various colours. The elastomer (rubber for all intents and purposes) strap comes in light blue, dark blue, black or purple and I’ve seen leather straps now advertised on the Fitbit website. I actually went for one of two ‘special editions’ - lavender/rose gold and black/gunmetal. At the time, the special edition were on a deal at Curry’s and were the same price as the ‘regular’ versions so I decided to splash out and go for the lavender strap and the rose gold trim – a 22k rose gold plated stainless steel buckle and tracker frame.

I’ve had a number of compliments on the tracker, so I’m very pleased with my choice. Wearing the tracker all the time, means that it does get a little grubby so it gets the once over with a wipe every now and again which keeps it looking pretty much as it did out of the box.

One of the features of this tracker is the possibility to swap straps. Given my record with trackers, forking out for additional straps seems a somewhat risky investment so I haven’t done so but for anyone who wants to match their tracker strap to their outfit might find this option appealing. The straps do come in various sizes:

The small fits wrists 14 cm - 17 cm in circumference, the large 17 cm – 20.6 cm and the XL20.6 cm – 23.6 cm.

I was in two minds as to whether to go for the small or large but settled on the large. I have it fastened on the second notch which gives a loose but comfortable fit.
~~~ £££ ~~~
I paid £139.99 against the usual special edition price of £159.99. Definitely the most I have ever paid for a fitness tracker but I convinced myself that as I was getting a tracker and a watch, it was a justified expenditure!
~~~ Using the tracker ~~~
Set up
The first thing you need to do is to get the app and versions are available for phones, tables and computers. When the app is installed, it will guided you through the process of creating a Fitbit account and pairing your Fitbit to your phone or tablet. It’s all pretty straight forward and I had no problem in my case reactivating and updating my account and getting my shiny new Charge 2 working.

I’ve set my app to sync continuously although every now and then I seem to have to give it a bit of a nudge but I’ve had no real problem in getting the latest stats.

Fitbit recommend plugging your charging cable into a USB port on your computer or other low-energy device. If necessary, you can use a UL-certified USB wall charger shouldn’t use a USB hub or battery pack. They also say to only use the charging cable that came with your device. I’m not sure what else you would use as the charger is specially made to fit around the tracker mechanism.

The screen
Both the app and the tracker itself will give you a nudge if the battery is low. I reckon a full charge will last about 5 days which isn’t bad.
The OLED screen is black and white bt it clear and easy to read. The default is a blank black screen that can be ‘woken’ up in a number of ways:
1) It is a touchscreen so with a light double tap you can get to the home/watch screen and then tap through all the other information. You can customise the watch screen including the time format. I’ve gone for time, date and number of steps.
2) There’s a button on the left-had side of the tracker that will take you through the menu and holding down the button will activate some of the features – for example the stopwatch and relaxation programme.
3) Rotating your wrist towards the light will also illuminate the screen but for me this is the most frustrating feature. I can’t always get it to respond when I want it to and worse, it will light up when I don’t want it too! I’m very conscious that if I move in a certain way while watching something in a darkened cinema or theatre, the watch will suddenly light up.

The menu options on the screen do tell me give me most of the data I need – number of steps taken, BPM etc. This means that I use the app far less frequently than I did with my Jawbone.

The app
I really liked the Jawbone Smartcoach app which was always going to be a hard act to follow. The Fitbit app is good but for me doesn’t quite measure up. It almost tries to give you too much information which makes the screen home crowded although again you can customise what is displayed.

I mainly look at the app to see how I’ve slept but I’m not totally convinced about the sleep tracking particularly compared to the Jawbone which did seem to record my sleep pretty accurately.

You can set a weekly sleep goal, create bedtime reminders and wake targets, and of course review your sleep trends over time. The app does give you a fancy graph showing the breakdown of your night’s sleep – colour coded to show the time spent awake, in light sleep (this apparently usually makes up half your night and is good for memory and learning), deep sleep (important for the immune system) and REM which I’ve always associated with dreaming and according to Fitbit typically occurs when you’re coming out of deep sleep and helps with mental restoration.

While it gives a general impression of whether or not you’ve had a good night’s sleep, it’s not something that I’m going to get hung up about. Sometimes when I feel I’ve had a very good night’s sleep, the app would say otherwise and vice versa so I take it with a good pinch of salt.

Activity & Workouts
On the other hand the steps do seem to be reasonably accurate and I do find it myself wanting to reach that magic 10000 step target. If I’m close but haven’t quite got there by the end of the day, I will do a bit of exercise to get me there. I’m then rewarded by a starburst on the tracker to let me know that I’ve achieved my daily goal making it all worthwhile!

To be honest the tracker has far more functionality than I use. In addition to tracking pace, time and distance of runs (or walks in my case), you can track over exercise and workouts.

The heart monitor will also kick in and show you what zone you are in:
Fat Burn – described as a moderate intensity zone that boosts basic endurance and teaches the body to use fat as fuel. Common during walking, pilates & yoga
Cardio – a medium-intensity zone is great for increasing cardio fitness and muscle strength and common during running, dance & elliptical
and I have to confess I’ve never noticed myself being in the Peak zone - maximum intensity zone meant for short, intense training bursts aimed at improving performance.

Notifications and sharing
Notifications will pop up on your smartphone to give you a gentle push in the right direction and keep you moving towards your goal. You can also earn badges whenever you hit a milestone or crush a goal. This aspect of my first encounter with Fitbit was a real turn off but this time round I find it okay. It’s not just that I’ve got used to the whole fitness tracker way, the notifications seem more manageable and I don’t feel bombarded. In fact the ones I do receive, I find quite encouraging. Not that I’ve got as far as sharing any my achievements with friends and family but for those who like that sort of thing, you can of course share via social media and even set up a leaderboard with friends.

Weight and Nutrition
This is another area that I’m aware but haven’t really used. However you can record your weight and set up a weight loss goal, log your water intake to make sure you stay properly hydrated throughout the day and record your calorie intake using a barcode scanner and quick calorie estimator.

~~~ The overall verdict ~~~
This is by far the most expensive of my 4 fitness trackers. I would really like a tracker that was waterproof rather than just splashproof but that feature would come at an even greater premium. Was it worth it? I do feel it was an extravagance but despite a few little weakness as described above but generally I do rather like my Charge 2. I like the way it looks and it does what I need it to do – it tells the time, it counts my steps and activity and tells me how well I’ve slept. 4 out of 5.

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Product Information : Fitbit Charge 2

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Manufacturer: Fitbit

Cellular / Type: Activity tracker

EAN: 0816137020244; 0816137020251; 0816137020275; 0816137020282; 0816137020305; 0816137020312; 0816137020329; 0816137020596; 0816137020602; 0816137020732; 0816137020749; 0816137020299; 8507754212502; 8507754212526; 8507754212533; 8507754212540; 8507754212557



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