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Fitbit Alta Review

The Fitbit Alta.
Price:   $130 List | $128.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Small, minimalistic, comfortable
Cons:  Touchscreen is finicky, no heart rate monitoring, limited features
Bottom line:  One of the most discreet wrist mounted models available and has great online resources
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Fitbit

Our Verdict

The Fitbit Alta is a simple, wrist-mounted fitness tracker that is small and easy to use. This thin tracker offers plenty of features in a tiny form factor, as well as customizable bands to match your style. While this model did perform about average in our test, the next model up, the Fitbit Charge 2 has a whole host of additional features for only a couple bucks more.

Updated Version: Fitbit Alta HR
The Fitbit Alta HR.
Fitbit has released an update to this model of fitness tracker, the Fitbit Alta HR, adding more refined sleep tracking metrics, continuous heart rate monitoring, and the list price to $150. However, this wouldn't completely offset the Alta's overall mediocre performance in our test, keeping it from winning an award. This model might be something to consider if you want the slimmest possible item that will measure your heart rate.


RELATED REVIEW: Best Fitness Trackers and Activity Monitors of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
David Wise


Last Updated:
Wednesday
January 11, 2017

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The Alta is a minimal fitness tracker that can track your sleep automatically, remind you to get up and be active, and deliver call or text alerts. This model scored well in our test, earning an overall score of 62 out of 100, but was just narrowly edged out by the award winners. This model is focused more towards the casual user — someone who primarily walks or runs — and is great if you don't care about heart rate monitoring or tracking other activities.


Performance Comparison


The Alta was one of the smaller  more discreet models we looked at.
The Alta was one of the smaller, more discreet models we looked at.

Fitness Impact


The Alta did decent in our fitness impact test, earning a 6 out of 10. This model offers an acceptable level of accuracy when it came to step counts, has some basic tracking abilities when it come to other physical exercises, but has a fantastic level of community compare.

We manually counted out the steps for a mile walk with a crowd counter, and then compared it to the number produced by the tracker. The Alta averaged about 3% off with a slight tendency to overestimate the step count. This model could also be tricked relatively easily into recording false steps.

The Alta shows your current progress towards the daily goal at the bottom of the screen  as well as the step count.
The Alta shows your current progress towards the daily goal at the bottom of the screen, as well as the step count.

This model will supposedly auto-detect and track an activity after 15 minutes, but we found it to be a little sluggish and off by 7-9 minutes in our tests. However, the Alta does allow you to participate in the Fitbit online community. This community offers summaries of your progress, as well as offers competitive and non-competitive challenges to help you get active.

A competitive challenge with the Fitbit app to help you get up and get active.
Taking a virtual "Adventure" to Vernal Falls with the Fitbit app.
 

Health Impact


The Alta continued its solid performance into our health impact category, earning a 6 out of 10. The only real pitfall for this product that we found was the lack of heart rate monitoring, present on most other trackers.

This tracker will track your sleep automatically, though our testers noted that it wasn't the most comfortable to wear at night when compared to other models. This model does have a vibration alarm to wake you up, without waking up your partner.

This model, like the other fitness trackers from Fitbit, does an excellent job at aiding you in dieting, through its companion app. This all allows you to search for food, or scan the barcode and the relevant information will automatically populate if the item is in Fitbit's database.

The Fitbit app allows you to scan the barcode of food to automatically log the calories consumed.
The Fitbit app allows you to scan the barcode of food to automatically log the calories consumed.

You can also track your water consumption in the app to ensure that you are remaining properly hydrated. The Alta also did a spot on job of calculating our tester's resting Metabolic rate (rMr), based on a generic calculator using his height and weight. This model also offers alarms 10 minutes before the hour, reminding you to get up and move if you have not taken at least 250 steps in that time. The main display also shows your current goal progress with a quick glance, as well as the current time.

The Alta uses a simple dot display to chart your step progress throughout the day.
The Alta uses a simple dot display to chart your step progress throughout the day.

Ease of Use


The Alta is easy to use, and consequently scored well in this set of tests, earning a 7 out of 10, putting it in a tie for the second highest score. This model lasts for up to 5 days in a charge, per the manufacturer's claim, and utilizes a proprietary charger. When depleted, it takes about 1-2 hours to completely re-charge.

The Alta uses a specific USB charger that clips on the underside of the device.
The Alta uses a specific USB charger that clips on the underside of the device.

The Alta does sync extremely quickly with the app, only taking about 2-10 seconds. We found the app to be intuitive, where we could easily check our previous progress.

The basic fitness stats captured by the tracker and displayed on the app.
Sleep data captured on the Fitbit app.
 

It was a little finicky to navigate through the menus on the device, as the touch screen wasn't the most responsive. This model isn't waterproof, but it is sweat, rain, and splash proof. It took a little effort to tighten the wrist strap, but still was doable to fasten smoothly.

The clasp on the Alta gave us some difficulties when putting it on.
The clasp on the Alta gave us some difficulties when putting it on.

Ergonomics


The Alta continued its trend of doing well in our ergonomics test. Our testers felt that it was relatively comfortable to wear on the wrist, and its small, low-profile design wasn't prone to catching on other objects.

The Alta was one of the smaller wrist-mounted trackers.
The Alta was one of the smaller wrist-mounted trackers.

Display


Scoring a 7 out of 10, the Fitbit Alta did well in our display evaluation. This model very clearly shows the current time on the home screen, and does offer some degree of personalization.

The Alta display was easy on the eyes  but the touchscreen can be a source of frustration to new users.
The Alta display was easy on the eyes, but the touchscreen can be a source of frustration to new users.

This model did have a strong enough backlight to be super visible in the most direct sunlight, but did fine in lower light conditions. We found it took a little bit of experience with this tracker to reliably wake up the device, but can definitely be very frustrating for new users. The Alta offers text, call, and calendar notifications as well.

Value


This model is an alright value, but some of the other models we tested performed well enough to win an award and were only marginally more expensive. This model would be an excellent value if found on sale.

Conclusion


The Fitbit Alta is a good fitness tracker, but could very easily be supplanted by newer models that are rapidly becoming available. This model's main merits are its smaller size and slightly less expensive price, but at the cost of a few features.
David Wise and Austin Palmer

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