About Fitbit Alta

By HighYa Research Team
Published on: Jul 13, 2016

If you’re in the market for a fitness tracker, there’s certainly no shortage of options. To distinguish itself from the competition, the new Fitbit Alta claims to feature a slim wristband design, tap display, and the ability to track everything from sleep to running.

With the Alta, we’re told that you’ll also find call, text, and calendar notifications; friendly reminders to be active; SmartTracking technology that automatically recognizes when you’re working; and long battery life (up to 5 full days, depending on use, settings, and other factors). What’s more, Fitbit claims the Alta features interchangeable metal, leather, and classic accessory bands, along with automatic smartphone syncing and the ability to compete with your friends via a leaderboard.

Together, the company claims Alta can help you “find the motivation you need to make the most of your routine.” Even if this is true, does this make the Fitbit Alta a solid value? Are there other options you might consider? We’ll explore all the important aspects in this review.

To kick things off, let’s take a look at Alta’s specifications.

How Does the Fitbit Alta Work?

On Fitbit Alta’s exterior, you’ll find an OLED tap display, which allows you to choose different clock faces and vertical or horizontal layouts. The display is sweat, rain, and splash-proof, but it’s not completely water resistant, so you won’t be able to wear it in the pool or while showering.

Attached to each end of Alta’s face is a 15mm (about 3/5 of an inch) band made of a durable elastomer material, with a surgical-grade stainless steel clasp. These bands are interchangeable, and while only basic colors are currently available, the company claims designer collections are in the works.

Fitbit Alta Wrist BandThe new Fitbit Alta fitness tracker with a blue elastomer band. Image Credit: Fitbit

Inside Fitbit Alta, you’ll find a 3-axis accelerometer, lithium-polymer battery, and a Bluetooth 4.0 radio transceiver. Together, this powers 3 of Alta’s core technologies:

  • SmartTrack & All-Day Activity – Automatically tracks steps, total distance, calories burned, active minutes, and stationary time, which can be viewed in hourly segments. And you’ll never have to push a button to do it!
  • Reminders to Move – If you’ve been inactive for a bit, Alta will send you friendly reminders and then “celebrate” when you do.

Fitbit claims this Alta can track up to 5 days of detailed motion data (minute-by-minute), along with daily totals for the past 30 days. You can also track how long and how well you sleep, and even use the vibration motor and Silent Alarm to wake you peacefully. Charge time is 1-2 hours.

Once Alta has gathered all this data, it can by synced wirelessly (or via a USB port) to computers and more than 200 different devices, giving you the ability to “log food, record workouts, explore your trends and connect with friends.”

While the Alta might gather your data, the reality is that most of the heavy lifting for Fitbit’s trackers (Alta included) is handled by their app.

What You’ll Find In the Fitbit Alta App

Alta’s app is currently available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone versions, which takes the information provided by the device and translates it into meaningful information (we’ll come back to this concept later). We just talked about sleep, so let’s start there:

Inside Alta’s app, you’ll be able to do things like set a weekly sleep goal, create bedtime reminders, review your sleep trends, as well as wake targets.

When you’re awake, MobileTrack allows you to track activity like steps, distance, and calories burned, while MobileRun allows you to track pace, time and distance. You can even control your music and voice cues!

It’s not just about activity though, since Alta’s app can also log food and measure hydration. You’ll even be able to gain “nutritional insights” using the barcode scanner, quick calorie estimator, and meal shortcuts features. Having trouble balancing calories? The Calorie Coaching feature claims to help “on your calorie in vs. out.”

Over time, you’ll be able to view all of these stats, see if you’re improving your performance, find out if you’re losing weight (note: unless you own a Aria® Wi-Fi Smart Scale, this information will have to be input manually), and more.

Fitbit Alta AppAn example of Alta app’s home page, showing total steps, miles, calories, active minutes, and more.

Don’t have your Alta handy? The good news is that you can still manually enter almost any of this data to make sure you’re on your way to reaching your weight loss goals.

From a social standpoint, using Alta’s app, you’ll be able to challenge family and friends on the leaderboard or through Challenges, as well as earn badges for reaching milestones and goals.

Whew! That seems like a whole lot of features packed into a small package! Will it cost you an arm and a leg?

How Much Does Fitbit Alta Cost?

The Fitbit Alta comes in small and large sizes (depending on the circumference of your wrist), and is priced at $129.95. For this price, you’ll receive:

  • Removable Fitbit Alta tracker
  • Classic wristband in your choice of 4 colors
  • Charging cable
  • Wireless sync dongle

If purchased directly through Fitbit, all orders over $50 come with free shipping. You’ll also receive a 45-day money back guarantee, less S&H—as long as the product is in good physical condition and includes all accessories—as well as a 1 year limited warranty against defects in materials and workmanship under normal use.

The Fitbit Alta is available through a wide variety of third-party retailers, including Amazon, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and many others, which means your price and refund policy may vary. Speaking of Amazon, let’s find out what Alta’s customers are saying.

Is the Fitbit Alta Garnering Good Reviews?

Alta’s Media Reviews

Due to its small size and feature-packed design, the Fitbit Alta has received quite a bit of attention from high-profile online publications, including Warable, Macworld, CNET, Gizmodo, PC Mag, and many others.

In general, the Alta received high ratings from these sources, who seemed to like the stylish design, notifications and alerts, ease of use, and unobtrusive wearability. However, it wasn’t perfect. Here are some of their common complaints for the Alta:

  • While Alta seemed to provide a lot to features in a stylish package, most agreed that it doesn’t do anything groundbreaking. Warable specifically stated that it’s “far less sophisticated functionally than its predecessors.”
  • The display was difficult to see in direct sunlight, and the screen often took several taps to get it to work. Gizmodo went so far as to call it “one of the most unreliable features I’ve ever seen in a consumer electronic device.”
  • Initial app setup might be frustrating and require several restarts of your phone.
  • Again, it might be small and stylish, but most media outlets weren’t exactly raving over Alta’s price-to-features ratio. Specifically, they wished Alta would have provided GPS (although this appears to be offered independently through MobileRun), an optical heart rate monitor, and stair climbing tracking capability.
  • As far as accuracy, some found the Alta to be spot on, while Warable found that it tracked up to 1,000 more steps than a popular competitor. Also, sleep tracking was noted to be “finicky.”

Fitbit Alta Consumer Reviews

From a consumer perspective, Alta had a 4-star rating on Amazon based on 3,200+ reviews, and a similar 3.8-star rating on QVC. Most compliments seemed to reference Alta’s slim design, ease of use, tracking accuracy, and motivating notifications.

On the other hand, most complaints referenced (again) problems getting the screen to function when tapping, poor tracking accuracy, difficulty closing the band, and limited functionality.

Pro tip: To avoid the screen-tapping issue, one Amazon reviewer recommends:

“It's easy to figure out the pressure you need to tap with and the rhythm and it works every time. I think people are getting frustrated and tapping REALLY hard, only for it not to work, thus getting more frustrated and more erratic tapping!!! It's an even "tap... tap..." about a half second apart. It's important to use that rhythm because that's how it designed to function. This tapping feature works exactly like my Charge HR.”

Alta’s App Reviews

Fitbit’s app (which isn’t specific to Alta) had a 4-star rating on both iTunes and Google Play, while the Windows Phone version came in lower at 3 stars. What did everyone say?

Overall, like Alta itself, most users seemed to like the data tracking, ease of use, and motivating notifications. However, many didn’t seem to like the new dashboard.

We’ve covered a lot of territory here, so you probably have a fairly decent idea of where you stand on the Fitbit Alta already. Now, let’s go ahead and connect all the dots so you can come to a final conclusion.

Who Should By a Fitbit Alta?

Whether you’re hunting for real estate or buying a car, shopping for any product invariably involves tradeoffs. Referencing Alta, this means that, while you’ll certainly get a relatively stylish device, you also won’t get the full feature set found in many of Fitbit’s other trackers.

Given this, we think Alta might be ideal for someone who wants bare-bones tracking ability (but not necessarily the most features for the money), and is focused primarily on form over function. Ultimately, this might make Alta a solid option for the average person, but probably not athletes who likely require more robust features—especially direct GPS tracking.

Important note: Just remember that Alta isn’t a surefire solution for improving your health. After all, it just tracks your movements and compiles the data—what you ultimately decide to do with this data (if anything) is up to you.

So, should you hand over $130 of your hard-earned money for the Fitbit Alta? Ultimately, that’s a question only you can answer. But as long as you understand its limitations, based on the device’s online feedback and customer reviews, it seems like you’ll probably be pleased with your purchase.

How do you use your Fitbit Alta? What do you feel are some of its pros and cons? Give us the inside scoop by writing your review below!

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