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Fitbit Alta review: My favorite Fitbit by far

Caitlin McGarry | June 10, 2016
By focusing on style and nailing the basics, Fitbit has a winner with the new Alta fitness band.

Fitbit’s lineup of activity-tracking bands runs the gamut, from the totally basic $60 Zip to the powerful cardio companion, the $250 Surge. The new Fitbit Alta is a sleeker, more stylish fitness band than the company has attempted before, and with its launch, the wearables market leader has hit the sweet spot. The Alta is a slim, affordable, versatile fitness band that you can take from the gym to the office to after-work drinks without looking like an overzealous weirdo. If that’s important to you, read on.

The $130 Alta is one of two new Fitbits released this spring. The Fitbit Blaze is more fully-featured (and more expensive) than its little sibling, but it might be overkill for people who don’t care about on-screen workouts and text message notifications. Those people may want a subtle but useful band that nails the basics: accurate activity- and sleep-tracking and positive reinforcement to meet their fitness goals in a stylish package that doesn’t scream, “LOOK AT THIS GIANT FITNESS TRACKER ON MY WRIST.”

That’s where the Alta comes in.

Looks aren’t everything

fitbit alta app
Fitbit's app is a solid dashboard for all your data, plus you can compete against friends and family in weekly challenges.

The Alta doesn’t have a heart rate sensor like the Blaze does, so athletes may want to spring for a more powerful fitness watch. But if you just want to quantify your daily activity and maybe see how much you toss and turn at night, the Alta gets the job done (and looks far more attractive while doing so). I often see executives around New York sporting the Fitbit Charge, which, no offense to Fitbit or the executives, is pretty ugly. The Alta has many similarities to the Charge, like accurate activity-tracking, automatic sleep-tracking, call notifications from your phone, and an OLED display that shows your daily progress. The Charge still wins on battery life at an impressive 7–10 days, but the Alta isn’t far behind at five days on a single charge. (And the Alta’s charger isn’t an abomination like the Blaze’s, so that’s an extra point in its favor.)

Fitbit put the SmartTrack technology from the Surge and Charge HR in both of its new bands, which means I don’t have to open the app or press a button to begin a workout. The Alta automatically logs my morning miles in the app, no extra work required. The band accurately recognizes walking, running, outdoor biking, elliptical training, and two general categories, sport and aerobic workout (which includes cardio-intensive movement like dancing) and syncs that data to the Fitbit app seamlessly.

 

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