WE REVIEWS- Fitbit, Sleep Trackers, Sports Tracker

Fitbit Inspire HR Review: Powerful Activity Device.

Namrata Sona

6 June, 2020 - 9 MINUTES READ

Gadgetmatch fitbit inspire

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One of the best value fitness trackers you can put on your wrist The Fitbit Inspire HR has taken its place as the most affordable fitness band from the Fitbit stable, replacing earlier favourites from the company — the Alta and Alta HR bands.

It is now an important fitness tracker in Fitbit’s product timeline, and because it offers a clip-on design, it finally kills off the Flex, Zip and One. With a price tag of 10,000 INR, the Inspire HR sits below Fitbit’s advanced Charge 4, which is a better choice for the dedicated fitness enthusiasts since it offers more data and advanced metrics.

The price point also comes across as a bid to counteract the Chinese tech companies, whose bands like the Xiaomi Mi Band 4 have started to eat into Fitbit’s pie with their wallet-friendly and feature-rich trackers. However, Fitbit’s response has not been to pack every feature it could find into its device.

It has worked to build a value-for-money product that sticks to the tried and tested formula of the company that is one of the biggest brands in wearables. But has the plan worked with the Inspire HR? Let’s find out.

Fitbit Inspire HR: Design, comfort and getting around

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The wider screen means you get the same degree of customisation as the earlier bands but on a display that is much less cramped. The Inspire HR has gone for a sportier look; but in doing that it has lost one of Alta HR’s most appealing features. Alta had a certain elegance to it, and could convincingly look like a fashion accessory.

For those who like to be discreet about their fitness wearable, the Alta HR was a great choice. Hence, the sportier Inspire is bound to divide opinions. The increase in size may be marginal, but if you had an Alta HR earlier, you’ll be very aware of the change.

It’s very light and is a truly 24/7 wearable, having added waterproofing to the design. The OLED screen is brighter, and more vibrant than the Alta.

It also provides better visibility than the earlier model even though the noticeable bezel is still there. It has a very responsive touchscreen as well. You can swipe and tap with no lag showing.

The band also has a physical button that allows you to sift through the various screens. It is on the side of the band and can be used to turn on the screen, or switch it off. It also provides access to various settings including battery life, which can be seen when the button is held down.

The new physical button and touchscreen facility means that navigation in the Inspire is quite different from the earlier models. The parts of the band can be removed by using a simple pin mechanism.

For the material, you’ve got a choice of classic silicone, printed silicone, horween leather wristbands, horween leather bracelets, and mesh bracelets. The Inspire HR is intended to replace Fitbit’s clip-on trackers like the Zip and the One.

That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since these models were getting rather outdated. According to Fitbit, there are many people who still opt to clip the tracker on the belt or elsewhere rather than wear it on the wrist. Inspire can be both — you can wear it on the wrist or you can use the main body of the tracker separately as a clip-on.

There is a setting for switching between the wrist mode and clip-on mode. You have to pay extra to use the tracker as a clip-on since the clip — available in black and pink — is not part of the bundle of two bands that you purchase. Fitbit was aiming for simplicity with the Inspire HR and it largely achieves that even after adding a button and a more fully functioning screen.

Fitbit Inspire HR: Fitness tracking and sports tracking

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While its most basic function is as an activity tracker, Inspire has features that take it to the next level for gym-goers and weekend warriors. While it covers all the basic functions that you expect from a Fitbit like tracking your steps, distance covered, active minutes and calories burned, it is missing the altimeter.

This means that you can’t track your climbing activities. The tracker will also show how close you are to achieving Fitbits recommended target of 250 steps an hour. The Inspire doesn’t do much in terms of inspiring the user to exercise, other than the hourly reminders to move and prompts to achieve your daily goals.

Something on the lines of the adaptive step goals in Garmin’s trackers would have gone a long way in encouraging more activity in a subtle way. Fitbit should put some more thought into the motivational features that it puts into its devices.

Sleep tracking

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It is after all the day-time tracking is done that we get to one of Fitbit’s strongest features: sleep monitoring. Fitbit has the most impressive approach to sleep among wearables. Accuracy is not an issue and Fitbit has put some effort into offering insights on improving sleep quality.

Like all other wearables from the Fitbit stable, the Inspire HR starts tracking your sleep automatically. Even after the increase in size from the Alta HR, it’s still light and comfortable to wear in bed.

Two misses are the lack of an SpO2 sensor, which would have made the tracker ready for future technological developments; and Fitbit’s new Sleep Score feature, which could help detect signs of sleep apnea, a sleeping disorder.

The sleep data can be viewed on the smartphone app and not on the device itself. The app gives you a breakdown of your sleep with light, deep, and REM sleep times, along with the time you spent awake. The Sleep Stages graph makes it easy to find when you’ve slept well or badly.

It also allows comparison with other Fitbit users in the same age group. As the device starts getting more and more of your sleep data, it starts giving you more actionable insights to improve sleep quality. It’s this easy-to-understand presentation of great data points that makes Fitbit’s approach to sleep the one to beat.

Sports tracking

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The Inspire HR includes some of the sports tracking features of costlier Fitbit devices. It has the goal-based exercise modes that came with the Charge 3, and can track running, cycling and yoga from the wrist.

It is waterproof and can track swimming; however, it does not recognise strokes, and will only track the duration and not distance covered. That’s a let-down since the Inspire is taking the place of the Flex 2, which has better swim data. Inspire does not have built-in GPS but you can link to your phone’s GPS to see real-time pace and distance data for running, hikes and bike rides.

Fitbit’s SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition tech is available in the Inspire. It’s one of Fitbit’s most impressive features, when it works.

Heart rate accuracy

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Heart rate monitoring is available in the Inspire HR, and not in the cheaper Inspire. The heart rate monitor enables 24/7 heart rate monitoring, gives resting heart rate data, recognises your heart rate training zones, and scores your cardio fitness level.

It also enables better sleep quality analysis and Fitbit’s guided breathing feature. Fitbit’s heart rate tech delivers reliable resting and continuous heart rate data, and it’s certainly true with the Inspire HR also. It falters a bit when the activity is ramped up – which is common across optical trackers.

Notifications and extras

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Fitbit has kept only the minimum smartwatch features in the Inspire HR. Like the Alta HR, it supports notifications for calls, texts, emails, calendar and third-party apps when your phone is nearby. However, you can’t respond to these notifications; you can view, and then close them.

The notifications appear on the Inspire at the same time as they pop up on your phone. There are notifications based on the activities that are being tracked by the wearable. You’ll be prompted to ‘feed’ your tracker when you haven’t walked enough steps for the hour or when you’re nearing your daily goal. Thankfully, these notifications are not irritatingly frequent, but are enough to keep nudging you on. You can also turn them off.

You can change the watch faces to show more data, or less. This can be done only from the app, with nine watch faces to choose from. Once the choice is made on the phone, it will sync with the wearable to show the new face. It would be nice if a couple of the faces were stored on the device itself.

Battery life

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Fitbit claims that the Inspire HR has five days of battery life, which is two days shorter than the claimed battery life of the Charge 3 and of the now-retired Alta HR.

This proved true in our experience, even with all the features turned on. Like other Fitbit devices, the Inspire will flash up when you’re running low on battery, and it will also send an email to your linked account to alert you to charge. It’s likely that the all-day heart rate monitoring (which you can’t turn off) and notification support (which can be deactivated) are the biggest battery drains; exercise tracking will drain it further.

But it holds up well for five days. You can charge it for a couple of hours to get back the five days’ worth of tracking time.

Summary

With a price tag of 10,000 INR, the Inspire HR sits below Fitbit’s advanced Charge 4, which is a better choice for the dedicated fitness enthusiasts since it offers more data and advanced metrics. It’s very light and is a truly 24/7 wearable, having added waterproofing to the design. The Inspire HR includes some of the sports tracking features of costlier Fitbit devices. One of the best value fitness trackers you can put on your wrist The Fitbit Inspire HR has taken its place as the most affordable fitness band from the Fitbit stable, replacing earlier favorites from the company — the Alta and Alta HR bands.

Gadgetmatch fitbit inspire
  • It provides 24/7 heart rate monitoring.
  • Most affordable fitness band.
  • Most impressive approach to sleep monitoring.
Gadgetmatch fitbit inspire
  • Doesn't do much in inspiring the user to exercise.
  • Lack of SpO2 sensor, which would have made it easy for future developments.