By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
The Nation Weekend
CHARGE, a popular fitness tracker from Fitbit, is now better, with the third in the series, Fitbit Charge 3, showing several improvements.
The new design makes the fitness tracker lighter and thus more comfortable to wear. It’s now waterproof to 50 metres, so you can use it while diving.
Also added is Fitbit Pay for use with a credit card and a crisp touch-screen display that’s larger and brighter than its predecessor, offering a more intuitive experience with easy access to your most important information.
The touch button comes in an “induction” design so it fits seamlessly.
Another improvement is that it can now display alerts from your phone and can use some apps that run on Fitbit smartwatches. And its battery is longer lasting, allowing you to use the gadget for up to seven days on one charge.
All these improvements make Charge 3 highly recommended for Charge fans and those seeking a good fitness tracker to stay fit and healthy.
Fitbit said initial pre-order sales indicated strong adoption among both new and existing consumers. It said 54 per cent of Fitbit.com pre-orders are from loyal and engaged customers who owned two or more devices before ordering Charge 3.
This initial consumer demand is supported by IDC estimates, which predict shipments of fitness trackers will continue to drive a significant portion of the overall wearables category for the next several years.
The Charge 3 is crafted from lightweight materials, including an aerospace-grade aluminium case and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 display for a slimmer, modern silhouette, increased durability and more comfortable fit.
The Charge 3 is 0.83 inch wide and 1.41 inches long. The display is 1.57 inches diagonally. It has two strap-band sizes to choose from – the small band is for a 140-180mm wrist and the larger for a 180-220mm wrist. Both are easily swapped with the press of a button.
During the test, I found that Charge 3 was really comfort to wear, especially for tracking sleep.
The large back-lit display is easy to read. The display automatically adjusts to lighting conditions. You can also change the brightness of the screen by choosing from dim, normal and auto brightness.
Charge 3 is easy to use. You can swipe up from clock face to access the on-device dashboard and swipe down to access smart notifications. You can also swipe left from clock face to access on device apps. The inductive button on the left side is used to return to the previous screen by quickly pressing it.
To start using Charge 3, you need to register an account with Fitbit.com to use its cloud storage to record and track your fitness statistics and of course the heart rate info that may be handy one day if your doctor needs it in case of irregular beat detected. The cloud service also sends email to sum up your status and progress on a weekly basis.
The stats recorded by Charge 3 will be synced to your account through Fitbit app installed on your smartphone.
The Charge 3 uses enhanced 24/7 PurePulse heart-rate technology that delivers greater accuracy than Charge 2 during popular exercise activities such as running, jogging, spinning and interval training, plus a better measure of calorie burn and resting heart rate to help you optimise workouts and uncover health trends.
It monitors your heart rate all day and all night to record and reveal your resting heart rate trends over time and follow your progress.
As a fitness tracker, Charge 3 tracks activities like steps, distance, floors climbed, active minutes and calories burned to show how every part of your day impacts your goals.
For me, it recorded more than 13,000 steps in one day, translating into about 9.4 kilometres. And it’s good that Charge 3 also counts floors climbed. It reported that on that day I climbed 18 floors.
Fitbit Charge 3 also automatically recognises exercises like runs, swims, elliptical, sports and more and records them for you in the Fitbit app. It automatically records exercise lasting 15 minutes. You can customise the automatic recognition with the Fitbit app.
After Charge 3 is connected to your phone, the tracker can use the phone’s GPS to give accurate real-time pace and distance for outdoor runs and bicycle riding. I tested this feature for a short five-kilometre walk by using the “Run” sport on Charge 3 and it worked fine.
Charge 3 also has Female Health Tracking function that comes up automatically when you register your account as a woman. It lets women track menstrual periods, record symptoms and see a predicted ovulation calendar.
If you love to swim, you’ll be happy that Charge 3 can now track that too. You need first to set your pool length. Charge 3 lets you see real-time duration in the water on your wrist. You can later sync to the Fitbit app to see laps, distance and pace.
The Swim mode is one of six exercise modes available on Charge 3 at the default setting. Other modes are Run, Bike, Treadmill, Weights an Interval Workout. Actually, there are over 15 modes to choose from.
You need to use Fitbit app on your phone to change the exercise modes on Charge 3. You must first remove some pre-installed ones and select new ones. Other modes include Golf, Tennis, Yoga, Hike, Kickboxing, Circuit Training, Martial Arts, Stairclimber, Spinning and Walk.
A nice feature of Charge 3 is that it lets you stay connected with smart notifications from your phone for calls, texts and calendar alerts. You can also choose which of your favourite apps you want to receive notifications on your wrist.
The Charge 3 comes preinstalled with three phone apps – Alarms, Weather and Timers. Fitbit says a Calendar app will be released soon.
The Charge 3 has Fitbit Pay that lets you record your credit card data, like the card number, expiry date, name and security code. You can then pay at shops that accept contactless NFC payments. Fitbit says Fitbit Pay is supported by Kasikorn Bank, KTC and Siam Commercial Bank in Thailand.
There are two versions of Charge 3 – normal and special edition – and both are available in a graphite aluminium case or blue grey with a rose-gold aluminium case.
In some countries, Fitbit Pay is available only on the special edition, but in Thailand, Fitbit Pay is available for both normal and special editions.
I got to test the special edition, which also has an additional Black Classic Band apart from a Frost White Sport band for the graphite body and a Lavender Woven ban for Rose Gold body, while the normal edition provides only Classic Band in two sizes, small and large.
Fitbit Charge 3 normal edition retails for Bt6,490 and special editor for Bt6,990. Accessories range from Bt990 to Bt1,890. Charge 3 is available at retail partner stores, including B2S, Life, King Power, Powerbuy, VMart and Lazada.
>> Dimensions: 0.89x.141 inch
>> Band sizes: Small, 5.5-7.1 inch, large, 7.1-8.7 inch
>> Sensors & Components: |3-axis accelerometer, Optical heart rate monitor, Altimeter, Vibration motor, Relative SpO2 sensor, NFC
>> Display: 1.57-inch |touch-screen greyscale OLED
>> Memory: Saves seven days of detailed motion data minute by minute; saves daily totals for past 30 days
>> Water Resistance: To 50 meters.
>> Radio transceiver: Bluetooth 4.0
>> Battery: Lithium-polymer, two-hour charge time, up to seven days. Battery life and charge cycles vary with use, settings and other factors