The Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate and Fitness Wrist Band is the latest in a line of tech gadgets that aim to help us adopt a healthier lifestyle and set fitness goals in order to rollback the effects of our modern sedentary lifestyles. The original FitBit Charge HR raked up quite a fan following because it could track not just steps, but also your heart rate. A year on, FitBit is here with the Charge 2 that offers more than its predecessor in terms of features.
The Fitbit Charge 2 is the same size as the original Charge HR, but it has a much bigger display which means it can offer much more in terms of detail and information. It also tries to fix one of the biggest complaints with the earlier version by offering straps that can be changed easily.
Tapping on the display let’s you cycle through the multiple functions and parameters. The companion smartphone app (for iOS and Android) which is a crucial part of any fitness device, is also much improved now.
The FitBit Charge 2 comes in a variety of colours and the easily changeable wrist band now means that it can be customised easily to whatever you want. Fitbit has improved the materials used in its straps dramatically and the new version was significantly more comfortable and durable than previous models.
The Charge 2 has a sleek minimalist design and will not look out of place wether wearing it in the gym or office. It isn’t waterproof like the Fitbit Flex 2, but it is water-resistant, meaning it can handle a few splashes while you do the washing up, or sweat when you’re exercising.
The Charge 2 tracks heart-rate in real-time and gives you a good idea about stress levels. Using the accompanying app you can monitor how your beats per minute (bpm) is coping with the rigours of your professional and personal life. The results can be interesting and will help you make changes and set goals for a healthier lifestyle.
Another great new feature of the Charge 2 is one that tries to improve your mindfulness. There is a breathing coach that can be switched on with a tap. You can train yourself to breath steadily and correctly and is an excellent way to relax and de-stress within a couple of minutes in the middle of a busy work day.
The Fitbit Charge 2 also gives your regular personalised alerts to stand up and clock a few steps if you have been sitting or been idle for too long. The notifications and alerts are now richer using the extra screen real estate. Plus, it is now intelligent enough to recognise what you are doing thanks to the real-time heartbeat readings extrapolated to the data from the millions of bands Fitbit has live across the world.
The smartphone app adds an extra layer of functionality. So while it helps you keep track of steps, calories burnt and active minutes along with the band, there are additional features that can log what you are eating and drinking. However, this does require quite a lot of discipline. Also for those who feel the need for extra motivation, there is the new Adventures feature that plots your steps on popular trekking paths to map progress, and incentivise you when you complete challenges.
Having tested a number of fitness bands and activity trackers we found the Charge 2 to be among the best in terms of registering activity accurately. There were a few occasions when the HRM function did not work as accurately as the Suunto Ambit 3 we used as a control. But for a sub £150 activity tracker it was within tolerances and more accurate than both the Miband 2 and the Jawbone UP3.
The charger is good and has an interesting design where you push the band in the clip, but it is another charger to deal with. And it does not work with earlier Fitbit bands.
The Fitbit Charge 2 is about the best midrange fitness band in the market. It is particularly useful for people like me who need that additional data to put our lives in order to set realistic fitness goals and gradually reduce stress. With the additions of VO2 Max, breathing training and the slick design the Charge 2 is arguably Fitbit’s most complete fitness band yet and definitely worth the money if like me you struggle to motivate yourself to get off the couch.