on September 14, 2016
Ok, so at first I was really, REALLY hesitant about buying the Charge 2 because you never know what problems can arise with new, hot off the press tech. However, I've had wonderful experiences with Fitbit customer service in the past (as in "Hey, my thing stopped working" and they were all like "Sorry about that, here's a new thing- no charge!"), so I feel confident that if anything does go awry, Fitbit will take care of their customers. So, I took the plunge and ordered it.
It came today in the mail and I scurried off with it like Gollum and his ring...
Oh where to begin! Let's see- well it came in lovely, easy to open packaging. Opening up the box felt like I was arousing my Charge 2 from his slumber in his comfy, plastic bed. I immediately noticed that the teal color was more vibrant than its predecessor, and the larger screen gave it an all around sleeker look. The band is now longer, so if the large size from the old Charge was a bit big for you- go for the small with the Charge 2; I have tiny wrists myself, and I'm two notches away from the last ring on the inside! EDIT: I just realized my review was placed under the large size...my Charge 2 is a small. But large or small, only the band is different in length, NOT the screen!
The charger was completely redesigned; the days of not having your Charge, well, CHARGE due to it slipping out are dead and gone. The new, blissfully longer charger clips onto the Charge itself, and as long as you align the hole in the charger with the button on the side of the Charge, you're good to go (see picture for reference)! Just make sure you clip it from underneath, and not over the screen or else it won't charge...not that I uh, made a silly mistake like that or anything. *cough*
Setup could not have been easier. The entire process from taking it out of the box to having it fully synced and functional was less than ten minutes. Whoa. I was setting it up using the app on my Android phone, and I was expecting that it would need to be charged first but nope! It sprung to life and was ready to go! After it was all synced I checked the battery and saw it was at medium power- right out of the freaking box!
Onto features...do you like lots of features? I like lots of features and the Charge 2 has ALL the flipping features you could possibly want.
I feel like Fitbit has been personally keeping tabs on me and my current interests. I just recently got into breathing meditation and interval training, and when I heard that the Charge 2 was going to include both these features I was pretty much like, "Shut up and take my money!"
After playing with the Charge 2 for about 30 seconds, I came to realize that when you want to choose a feature, for example the breathing exercise, after pushing the button on the side to get to that function, you then hold the button for a second to choose to start it. With the breathing exercise, it allows you to choose between a 2 or 5 minute breathing session. It works by having you breath in rhythm with a ring that expands and contracts on the screen, and it shows your breathing in and out at the bottom with a continuous little graph (see picture to clarify if this sounds wonky to you.) If it comes across as confusing don't worry- Charge 2 guides you through it...it's much more talkative (err, textative?) than the old Charge, and I like it!
So for once I was actually excited to hit the hall of pain- uh, I mean the gym, so I could test out my new buddy here. First thing I did was the elliptical; in the past I avoided it because my old charge wouldn't count it as steps. Now all you have to do is select the elliptical option from the workout menu on your charge 2, hold the button on the side and voila! Elliptical steps are now counted!
Next I tried out the interval workout option! What's extra awesome about this feature is that it's customizable; the folks of Fitbit really outdid themselves with this one in my opinion. By going onto the app on my phone, I was able to set the intervals to one minute of workout, and two minutes of rest for a total of five sets. Then while I was on the treadmill, I went to the workout menu, chose interval training, and it started right away. Once the minute was up, Charge 2 gave me two little buzzes to let me know to switch to rest mode, and after two minutes gave me another two buzzes to pick it up again. The buzzes aren't very strong, but I still felt them just fine.
Then I went onto strength training, and selected weights from the menu (this is all via the charge 2, not the app on the phone). Now the way I strength train is 3 sets of 12 reps, and then a minute of rest in-between. I'm honestly not sure if that minute of rest affects the readings or not, but my guess is no- that Charge 2 calculates everything based on pulse readings. And speaking of pulse readings, it feels like they've improved the technology in that department as well!
FYI- I have pretty low blood pressure due to hypothyroidism, so the readings below may seem off, but they're accurate in my case. My resting heart rate is usually between 61 and 66 bpm (beats per minute)
So that concluded my gym session. Upon looking at my readings later on, it was kind of neat to compare them. Now the weight training session showed that in 27 minutes I burned 99 calories and had 110 average of bpm. Now with the elliptical, I only did it for 10 minutes, burned 62 calories, and had a 130 average bpm going at a fast pace continuously. With the interval training on the treadmill (here's where it gets interesting folks) for 15 minutes I burned 122 calories with a 148 average bpm. Despite having two minute rest periods several times, I still burned more calories and had a higher heart rate than the continuous workout on the elliptical. Interval training all the way! Although...I wonder if you could do interval training on the elliptical and still have the steps count. I'll have to experiment with that... *EDIT* Yes you can in fact do interval training on the eliptical and have steps count!
There's still so much to try! The connected GPS looks like a pretty neat feature, and it's a nice extra to include! I'm not much of a runner myself being bite sized, but you can still track location for other things like walking, biking and hiking. Then there's call, text, and calendar notifications (adding the calendar was a great idea). You can also change bands now, so if you wear out your current band (like I did with my old Charge- bubbling issues anyone?) or just want a different look, you can switch them whenever your little heart so desires. Oh! And there's lots of screen options that you can choose from like a dial watch, extra bold print, and having time/date/steps/heart rate all together (which is what I ended up choosing)- and that's just to name a few!
*EDIT* So they added a feature which shows your fitness level by going into the heart rate section of the app and then swiping left to get to that screen. I originally thought it was fitness test type thing, but I misunderstood. The app already calculates your fitness level for you based on several factors (resting heart rate, your bpm during exercises, and other information collected from your profile). So sorry for any confusion! No tests for you.
Alas, there is but one problem I have encountered so far. I was walking while holding my phone in the hand that my charge 2 was on, and noticed that it didn't count my steps. So after experimenting for a bit (holding up my hands like I was pushing an invisible grocery cart, though it probably looked more like I was pretending to be A zombie) I came to the conclusion that if your hand is held up flat (palm up or palm down) in midair, like when holding a phone...the charge 2 doesn't register steps. However, it should be noted that when I put the charge 2 in workout mode, it DID count some of the steps, even when holding my phone, but it didn't seem to accurately count them all. I guess the solution is don't play on your phone while you walk? Or at least leave the hand with the Charge 2 on it by your side when playing Pokemon Go- you can play with one hand, right?
Everything considered, this is truly an amazing piece of technology that is priced extremely fairly for all that it offers, including the best fitness app that is included at no extra charge. Thanks good guy Fitbit!
This is the one fitness tracker...TO RULE THEM ALL!
Yes yes, I know what you're all thinking- how could I possibly make this exceedingly long review even better? MAKE IT LONGER!
Battery lasted from Wednesday afternoon (after fully charging it) to Monday night. It should be called Fitbit doesn't need to Charge all that often, amiright? Eh?
Motivation Man! Every hour (just day hours, or you can customize which hours and days you want in the app) you don't move (or hardly move), Charge 2 gives you a friendly little buzz, and the animated little Motivation Man (as I like to call him) says something cute on the screen like "Take me for a stroll?" or "97 more steps!" (to reach 250). Do it. Don't let Motivation Man down.
With the Fitness level tracker, my original score was placed in the good category and I was all happy that I was fitter than I thought. Well, the app suggests that if you want a more accurate reading, that you should go for a ten minute run outside with your Charge 2 synced to your phone for GPS tracking. So although I hate running more than kids who kick your seat continuously on a long flight, I did it. Upon looking at my fitness level thinking that my score was going to shoot up, it dropped down to fair, which is right after poor. Ouch. I mean in all fairness it's accurate but still...ouch. Went from feeling fitter to bitter.
What's not accurate, however, is if you're at the gym and your Charge 2 syncs with your phone app for gps tracking. A few times while I was on the treadmill or elliptical, the GPS kicked in and gave me crazy readings. Now don' get me wrong- my step count wasn't affected in any way, the app just showed me a map of the wacky, non-existent trail that went though multiple buildings and over a river. You can just delete it of course, orrrrrr you could show it off to your friends and make stuff up...like I always teleport over rivers when I work out, doesn't everyone?
The Fitbit app added a seriously impressive fitness game called Adventure challenge (it's in the challenges section) where your step count is shown on an actual map, like Yosemite Vernal falls to start off with, and the more you walk, the more you travel along the trail. Along the way you come across markers, and when you reach them, it shows you where you are on the trail with gorgeous panoramic pictures (hold up your phone, slowly turn left and right, and the picture pans out either way). There are also random "gems" on the map, and when you click them they either have a fun fact, a health multiple choice quiz, or a health challenge (like do tricep dips on a chair for a minute). You can collect them and earn a badge...or not-completely optional. However, I personally am having a blast with it, and I'm sort of stunned that they're including it in the app for free! It's like having an expensive dinner with Fitbit and when the check comes, Fitbit is all like, "Hey, it's cool. I got this,"...you sure do Fitbit. You sure do.