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(Long, In Depth Review) Great Device, Build Quality Way Better Than Original Charge (HR)
on September 7, 2016
As a Blaze and original Charge HR owner, figured I'd try my hand at the newest Fitbit Charge 2. Preordered from Fitbit (as well as one from Amazon). Fitbit direct order arrived yesterday, 9/6/16.
Breaking the review into two parts:
Part One: If you've never owned a Fitbit
This is the mid tier product for Fitbit. It replaces the original best selling Charge & Charge HR. Steps, Flights, Heart Rate, Calories Burned, Connected GPS (shows a little map post workout when tied to your phone, and yes, you need to bring your phone with you on walks/runs), and notifications (as of now, just texts, calendar alerts, and displays phone number of incoming calls). Great intro watch/tracker to be your first Fitbit. Does pretty much everything. Yes there are other trackers out there, and some cheaper (in some you get what you pay for). What separates Fitbit is the software and social functions. You won't find a better app with ease of use, not to mention with the largest userbase of trackers it's much easier to find friends and families to participate in challenges. Read on if you want to know some of the features.
Part Two: If You've Owned A Charge/Charge HR, and should you upgrade?
The Charge watch has been the workhorse of the fitbit line. Worth getting a Charge 2? In a word: YES. Since you're familiar with the Charge already, let's go over some of the issues you may have experienced and highlights/common questions answered:
1) Build Quality: The Charge 2 is a far far superior quality than the original Charge. Right out of the box, you'll notice how much sturdier and thicker the band feels.
2) Swapping out bands is relatively easy. Once you figure out how to press on the band on each side to release, it's fairly painless. I could see someone elderly struggling with it at first. **If you had problems with your original Charge band bubbling, the ability to swap bands and how the tracker is connected to the bands should eliminate the issues you have experienced ** Obviously way too early to make a call on how the device will hold up, but given my experience with Blaze & Alta, this feels similar in build quality, if not better, and neither of those devices have suffered from bands falling apart on a wide scale.
3) Width of the device is nearly identical to the original Charge/HR. The button on the left side of the device is much more pronounced (good thing). You can give it a nice firm click, and it doesn't feel loose or cheap as some of the Charge buttons were prone to.
4) SIZING: The band itself is much longer than the original. I have always worn small in fitbit products, and found myself almost on the last hole. Something to keep in mind if you think you are on the cusp of small/large. Small likely the way to go.
5) Display is nice, 4x larger than the original Charge. The font is displayed crystal clear, and is very bright. Can see it extremely well, even in bright sunlight. It is NOT a color screen. The font is a bright offwhite, as opposed to the original Charge that had a soft almost blue to it. Texts when incoming scroll across the screen.
6) Overall look is sharp. Much better looking than the original. Very sleek and elegant. Actually looks better than the Blaze given thinner profile.
7) Has a breathing/relaxation function. Have only dabbled with this. It actually monitors as you inhale and exhale and prompts you when to take deep breaths, etc. More of a gimmick to me, but some may find this useful.
8) Navigation is relatively easy. When selecting specific workouts (you can customize the list in app), you hit the button on the side to get to the workout screen, then tap to cycle through them (run, weights, treadmill, elliptical, etc). Hold the button and your workout starts. During the workout you can cycle through metrics specific to your activity such as calories burned, heart rate, etc. Some activities will display steps, pace,calories burned, etc.
9) Menu items start with your clock face, then by pressing the button will display Heart Rate, Exercise, Stopwatch, Relax, and Alarm.
10) Clock Faces: There are seven to choose from. Some display day & date, and most have option to where when you tap the display it will cycle through stats (may display heart rate, date, steps taken, how far you are in your goals, your hourly movement reminders, etc). BUT DOES IT HAVE SECONDS? Yes, two of the watch faces are digital (numbers display, not hands) and have seconds displayed. There is only one "classic" watch face with the hands, and no that one does not display a second hand.
11) Notifications: You get basic texts (no pictures of course), both SMS & iMessage. Incoming calls will display the contact and/or phone number. And you get calendar alerts. There is no 3rd party support at this time such as facebook, instagram, etc (The Blaze watch will be offering these soon in next software upgrade, so I guess there is hope the Charge 2 will get those as well).
12) Reminders to Move: Sit on your butt too long and it will thump you with a vibe (250 steps per hour).
Today I put it through its first paces with a workout. I use it mostly for light cardio and weights. Heart rate was spot on as it usually was with original Charge HR & my Blaze. No issues with step counting on the elliptical I used to warm it up. I have not used the watch for 24 hours yet, so have not been able to judge the VOX/Cardio Fitness Level rating new to this device.
- It is worth upgrading alone from the Charge/HR simply due to build quality. Pictures do not do it justice. As another poster on a forum where we discuss fitbit devices said, it has that "Apple" quality feel to it. It no longer feels like a cheap rubber tracker. The ability to swap to leather, metal, or other colored bands means you can wear this unit for any occasion if style is your thing. It really does look great.
- Monitoring of heart rate using optical sensors has never been a problem for me, and this one seems to be no different. Obviously some folks have trouble with them due to body hair and whatnot, but the sensors on Charge HR, Blaze, and now Charge 2 seem to be spot on. An issue I had with the original Charge was it getting "lost" when I hit higher cardio levels. This doesn't appear to be as much of an issue this time around. That said, this isn't a medical device, so I expect it to not be 100% all of the time. Use it as a tool in your overall fitness profile.
- The charger itself is a new clip style (looks like a staple remover), and fits over the sides of the tracker. Fits nice and snug and snaps in. It won't fall out of the charge (actually think that's impossible given the design). No more worrying about it not snapping on and falling off or getting it just right. Big improvement.
- vibration is notably weaker than the original Charge. May be an issue for some using it as an alarm if you're a heavy sleeper. That said, I wore it very tight to bed last night, and it was able to wake me this morning (something I've had problems with on the Blaze from time to time).
- text notifications are neat if you've never had them. However I have a Blaze, where you can see the whole message at once. The Charge HR slowly scrolls texts and notifications to you, which can be annoying if you're used to the Blaze. They serve their purpose well though, and I can't ding it for this as it's a step up from the original Charge.
I reviewed it as if I were upgrading from the Charge/HR to this device. It is a no-brainer if you've held on to your Charge/HR and not upgraded yet to the Alta or Blaze for whatever reason. I'd rank the Charge 2 ahead of the Alta. If money is no object, spend the extra $50 to get the Blaze simply due to the color display and easier navigation (not to mention ability to see full texts as they come in). Otherwise, for $150, you'll be very happy to have move up from other Fitbit products. The Blaze is their high end product at the moment, but the Charge 2 is a very close second.
I'll happily answer questions as I did for when I originally reviewed the Blaze out of the gate, and edit this review to reflect common questions or any issues I face as I put the device through its paces in the coming days.