Fitbit is one of the most well-known names associated with activity tracking. There is a good reason for this as well; Fitbit trackers are not only simple to use, but also smart to look at and reliable. They provide the user with some fantastic statistics, all with the backing of an excellent app in the background to support them.
Two of the most popular fitness trackers in their range are the Fitbit Alta and the Fitbit Alta HR. The addition of the Fitbit Alta HR to the range made the decision of choosing the best Fitbit for your needs just that little bit harder. Similarly, they both have their merits with only a few key differences between the two models.
So let’s find out how the two models stack up against each other?
Who is Fitbit?
Formed in 2007, Fitbit is an American company with its headquarters in San Francisco. Since then it has won numerous industry awards, including being the TechCrunch50 runner-up 2008 and 2009 best in category for Health and Wellness at CES. Furthermore, in 2016, it was ranked 37th out of 50 most innovative companies.
The first Fitbit was the Fitbit tracker. Now there’s a range of products including the Fitbit Alta and Fitbit Alta HR wristband trackers, clip-on trackers such as the Fitbit Zip, and the recent Fitbit Charge 3. Fitbit also has a range of smartwatches.
At first glance, the Alta and Alta HR appear to be almost identical. However, on closer inspection, there are some design differences.
Most noticeable is the band on the Alta HR. This now features a buckle on the strap rather than a button. It is a simple change, but it does provide a more secure fit and allows the heart rate sensor to function correctly and give accurate results. The snug fit it brings is also needed for sleep tracking.
Under the hood of the HR, Fitbit has shrunk the chip in order to make room for a larger battery and sensor so that the cases of both look little different.
Firstly, the HR initials denote a heart rate sensor, the main functional difference between the two models. It keeps track of your heart rate throughout the day by measuring it in five-minute intervals. While the heart rate sensor is a great addition, it is worth remembering that it is best suited to light workouts or for tracking your resting heart rate. The Alta HR can track your sleep in stages. Consequently, giving you a more indicative idea of how you sleep and helping you to improve your sleep.
On both models you can track your steps, active time, distance and calories burnt. The Alta’s sleep tracker is more basic and does not offer a break down of sleep patterns.
Both models have SmartTrack so they will automatically detect the type of activity you are doing for logging purposes. However, the Alta HR gives you more detail thanks to its heart rate sensor.
The heart rate sensor does provide more activity data – such as improved calories burned calculations – but probably not enough for serious athletes. The Alta can track your steps, and calories burnt to a limited extent, but the absence of a heart rate sensor means these metrics are not going to be as accurate as the data from the Alta HR. Both models appear to be rather generous when it comes to step tracking so are best used as a guide only.
The Alta HR uses a combination of variable heart rate and accelerometer data in order to determine whether your sleep is light, deep or REM. This will give you a much better idea of how you are sleeping, and how to get a more restful night’s sleep.
The more that you use the tracker to monitor your sleep the more in tune with your sleep patterns it is likely to become, making it more helpful in the long term. The Alta tracks how long you have been sleeping, restlessness and awake time, however, you don’t get an indication of sleep stages.
Fitbit suggests the Alta HR has an approximate battery life of seven days, though some users have reported that it falls short of this. On the other hand, the Alta’s claimed five-day battery life may be an underestimate, possibly down to the lack of a heart rate monitor.
However, the difference in battery life really only boils down to the difference of a day or so, perhaps not a significant consideration .
As you would expect, the Fitbit Alta is the cheaper of the two models, retailing online for around £55 ($68).
The Fitbit Alta HR is a little more expensive with prices starting at around the £70 ($87) mark.
Because Fitbit has brought out a number of newer models, both of these trackers have dropped in price since they were launched. The Alta previously retailed for around £99 ($123) and the Alta HR for £129 ($160) for a regular version.
If you are looking for a basic fitness tracker that has all the usual functions and gives you a rough idea of your steps and calorie details, then the Alta has everything you need. If you want more accurate data, then the Alta HR, with its heart rate sensor, will improve your workout regime.
In terms of looks, there really is little to choose from between the two. Here’s a brief snapshot of the main differences between both models: the choice is yours!
|Fitbit Alta||Fitbit Alta HR|
|Design||Button Strap||Buckle Strap|
|Features||No HR sensor, basic tracking of steps, calories, distance.||HR sensor, tracks steps, calories, distance.|
|Fitness Tracking||Has SmartTrack||Has SmartTrack|
|Sleep Tracking||Basic tracking||HR sensor gives more descriptive sleep tracking data|
|Battery Life||Suggested 5 days, lasts a little longer||Suggested 7 days, lasts a little less|
|Price||68$ (£55) online for a standard version||$87 (£70) online for a standard version|