Fitbit Charge 2 – Smaller is Better

Fitbit wearables have been used and reviewed here at Tarn Aeluin for a number of years. Last year I got the big Surge HR to replace my original Charge. After a year with the Surge HR, I’ve gone back to the Charge device, the new Fitbit Charge 2 actually. Fitbit’s Charge 2 has a number of advantages over Surge, but is smaller better? Read on!

A Year with the Fitbit Surge HR

I got the Fitbit Surge HR almost exactly one year ago. The device pretty much lived up to its promise. It worked well as a general stepper and it did work pretty well identifying different kinds of exercise, but not always. Mowing the lawn or snow blowing the driveway were often identified as cycling. Overall:

Pros:

  • Identified most exercise types correctly
  • GPS feature is great for getting mileage exactly correct. Very helpful when running away from home/your normal routes (traveling/vacations/etc).
  • Battery life was pretty good when not using GPS.
  • Could turn off the backlight so that when you move at night you don’t get the screen turning on. So the screen was still on too during the day.

Cons:

  • Its a fairly large device, especially the thickness.
  • Bizarre charging cable and plug means you need to get extras. Very “Apple-ish”.
  • Fragile strap. I knew the strap would break/tear and it did right where I predicted.
  • Had to run off the backlight so that you are not constantly blinded at night if you move your arm.
  • The HR lights are really annoying when sleeping. Eventually I gave up on the sleep tracking because of this.

A Week with the Fitbit Charge 2

There are a number of immediate benefits to the Fitbit Charge 2. First is price and the second is the size and weight. A considerable difference on both counts – like 50% less for each compared to Surge HR. The device is much more comfortable to wear. It is thinner, lighter weight, and the shape conforms to the shape of your arm better than the Surge did.

You can get a decent sense of the size of the device in the images above. I’ve just started using the device so a few things are still up in the air, like battery life. However I can already list out a few things as pros/cons of Charge 2:

Pros:

  • Size and weight goes straight to fit and comfort
  • Cost – the device is a pretty good deal for the sensors and things it measures
  • Simple to use tap interface
  • Prompts you to get off your butt and move around
  • The Fitbit community is great once you get some friends to do challenges.
  • The band is easily replaceable

Cons:

  • I’m worried about battery life; after two days it is down to 50%
  • Another funky charge (no pun intended) cable means that you have to either carry it everywhere or buy extras
  • Does not have the function to auto-id the kind of workout you are doing
  • No integrated GPS
  • Quick view sounds cool, but is really annoying. You can turn off Quick View, but then the display is off unless tapped, which is not great when working out. Since the device knows when I’m not sleeping it would be cool if quick view only worked when awake or during normal daylight hours
  • Tap, tap, tap, tap-crazy. I find the tapping annoying. Buttons on the Surge were better.

Finishing Thoughts on the Fitbit Charge 2

Its a decent device and I’ll be wearing it regularly. I still have my Surge HR and I may trade off and use that one for workouts or distance running. The main reason I’m sticking with Fitbit however is not the device, its the community and challenges with friends. There are better pure devices on the market (Polar has some really nice ones), but those are mostly for people that are training for something specific (like a marathon/triathalon). This is a decent device for the “casual” exerciser like me.

Of course I’ll be at CES again this year and just like last year I’ll probably get device envy. They should move CES to November 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Beren Erchamion (Post author)

    Following up – battery life is pretty decent. The strap and getting the device on and off is another matter – PITA. Why Fitbit can’t design a decent strap is beyond me.

    Reply

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