Even though 2016 is not typically thought of as the year of wearables, these have made significant advances both in features and what they have to offer for consumers. While wearables have not reached full maturity yet, they are now finally becoming things that we can wear and forget about – to an extent. As an industry leader, Fitbit has not stood still as more and more companies start taking jabs at the health and fitness industry they have spearheaded so far. Even Apple has completely repositioned the Apple Watch as a fitness device. Back in February, Fitbit released the Fitbit Alta featuring interchangeable bands, smart notifications, and over 200+ compatible apps on both iOS and Android. Fast-forward to October, are these features still worth your hard-earned money? Here are our thoughts on the Fitbit Alta Fitness Wristband.
The Alta has a very clever design. The interchangeable bands are a breeze to change. While we have not reviewed any Apple Watch, the process looks more about the same. Press the clamps located on each side on the bottom of the Alta and both bands slide right off. It’s a painless process that doesn’t require aligning, screws, or any other extra tools. This makes it extremely easy to swap out bands according to the occasion, clothing, or mood. The bands themselves, on the other hand, are a bit more expensive for what they really are. The Classic Editions are $29, the Leather Editions are $69, and the Special Editions go for up to $130. The big advantage, however, is that you can get similar third-party bands on Amazon like this Classic Red one for around $6.
On the other hand, actually putting on the band can sometimes get frustrating. While the band fits really snug after securing it with the hexagonal double clasp, getting the clasp to get into the band’s holes can sometimes take some effort. After securing it properly, the Alta never pops open. The double clasps do a really great job keeping the band secure to your wrist.
Notifications on the Alta are somewhat very hit or miss. While call notifications are extremely useful and handy, texts notifications do not really make sense on the Alta’s tiny screen. Text messages scroll horizontally, and it’s always easier to just pull out your phone instead of waiting for the entire text to scroll through. Sedentary notifications also let you know when it’s time to move around after sitting for long periods of time. Moreover, the vibrating digital fireworks animation always gave us a sense of accomplishment after reaching our recommended step goal for the day.
Another great area where the Alta shines is when it comes to charging. The provided clamp charging cable along with the magnetic connection makes charging effortless. In our time with the Alta, it always tended to last from a full charge on Sunday to late Friday afternoon and sometimes even stretching well into Saturday. While the 5-day battery life claim is true, we do have to provide the following disclaimer. Since the Alta is a fully standalone device, we did not have it tethered to our iPhone all day via Bluetooth. This might or might not enhance our battery usage test, and it is something to keep in mind when reading this review. The Alta can be worn like any other bracelet or watch, and later be synced to a computer via the charging cable if so desired. In addition to this, our Fitbit Alta refused to sync whenever Wi-Fi was not available despite being connected via Bluetooth to an iPhone. This could very well be a problem with our review unit (store-bought not provided or sponsored), but it was a small annoyance we did not deem a deal breaker.
The Fitbit Alta also offers smart alarms and sleep tracking. While the sleep tracking is great at knowing when you really woke up, and overall tracking your sleep, the smart alarms fell short of our expectations. Unlike similar wearables, the Alta only offers a one-time vibration for each alarm you set as opposed to other trackers that analyze when is the best time to wake you up depending on your sleeping state.
Lastly, while apps like FitStar, MyFitnessPal, Waterlogged, RunKeeper, and MapMyRun are compatible with the Alta, we have yet to test this portion of the device’s claims. The Alta’s software provided a well- rounded information regarding workouts that we did not see any incentives in connecting apps. This, however, can vary depending on your needs and the types of activities you are looking to track with the Alta.
All in all, the Fitbit Alta is a very good fitness tracker. With a 5 day battery minimum, it does what a fitness tracker should do. You can just put it on and forget about it until the end of the week where you can charge it without it interfering in your daily routine. Physical fitness and sleep tracking are exceptional on the Alta, and its strengths outweigh the small annoyances (easily fixable with a software update). The only thing it does not excel at is when it comes to text message notifications. The screen is too small, and it is annoying to have your text messages scroll endlessly when you can just pull out your phone. The small annoyances, however, are by no means deal breakers. It is because of this that the Fitbit Alta is the first-ever product to receive the YAT Seal of Approval. If you are looking for a stylish and well-rounded fitness tracker, the Fitbit Alta is exactly what you are looking for.