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Fitbit Inspire HR review: the best sub-£100 fitness tracker?

fitbit inspire hr review

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Fitbit Inspire HR
Fitbit Inspire HR

Product Name: Fitbit Inspire HR

Price: £90

Availability: InStock

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  • Features
  • Design
  • Battery life

Verdict

Not 100% perfect, but still an excellent compromise between sleek design, usability and features

Overall
4.3

Pros

  • Excellent screen and intuitive controls
  • Sleek, comfortable design
  • Swimproof and waterproof

Cons

  • Battery life is decent but not great
  • Still expensive compared to the knock-offs
  • Need to carry a phone to accurately track runs

I’ve been using the Fitbit Inspire HR for a week, and if you want to know in an instant whether you should buy it then let me save you the bother of reading the rest of this review: yes, you should.

Why? Here are five handy reasons:

  • The screen is excellent – the best I’ve seen in a tracker this size
  • The controls are easy to understand… no annoying taps
  • It’s waterproof and swimproof
  • It’s comfortable and discreet enough to wear all the time
  • The price is right

Fitbit Inspire HR review: who is it for?

Who is the Fitbit Inspire HR for? Almost everyone. Sure, the fitness and stats obsessives (that is, me) will stick with their Garmin devices, but even they will get something from the Inspire HR: an entry into the friendly Fitbit universe.

At the other end you have the couch potatoes who know they need to step things up. Discretion is the key here. I’m quite happy wearing a chunky fitness watch, but the Inspire HR is more akin to a bracelet. Indeed, you can accessorise it almost endlessly with straps – albeit that these aren’t cheap at £20, minimum, a pop.

That leaves a swathe of middle ground, and even the Inspire HR can’t cover all of it. For instance, if you’re after a true smartwatch then you should probably consider Fitbit’s Versa (or the cheaper Versa Lite) or look for stylish alternatives such as the Apple Watch or Huawei Watch 2. (My fellow editor Barry is a fan of the Huawei Watch 2 Sport too).

But the Inspire HR covers almost everyone else. Occasional joggers, swimmers and cyclists will all appreciate the way the Versa HR automatically logs your activity, with its biggest drawback being the lack of GPS: you’ll need to bring your phone with you if you want to track exact distances.

Note that if you don’t bring your phone with you, it guesses at the distance run. And it can be wildly optimistic: on Sunday, it declared that I’d gone for a 3.5-mile run when in fact I’d jogged just over two miles (albeit with short strides, because I was pacing another runner).

Fitbit Inspire HR review: what is it, exactly?

The Inspire HR is a fitness tracker that either sits on your wrist, like a bracelet, or attaches to your clothing via a clip. (Sadly, a clip isn’t included in the box, and they’re likely to cost another £20.)

It comes in three colour choices – black, lilac and white – with two sizes of wrist band in the box. Note the bands are detachable, with Fitbit rather keen on you spending lots of money on accessories – for example, this stainless steel band for £60.

While you use the slick Fitbit app to set alarms and preferences, the Inspire HR’s bright display is designed to show key information. It’s worth emphasising that “bright”, because the Inspire literally outshines Fitbit’s current Alta range.

This is obvious indoors, but became even more so when I went for a run in the sunshine: I could barely read the Alta’s display, but the Inspire HR’s OLEDs shone clearly enough for me to see my heart rate.

Another great plus is that you can activate the display by pressing a physical button – the Alta relies on you tapping the display or recognising that you’ve lifted your arm. You then swipe up or down to flick between screens.

I haven’t had a chance to go swimming with the Inspire HR yet, but the good news is that it’s rated waterproof to 50m. It isn’t designed to track your swims, though. For that, you’ll need the Fitbit Charge 3.

Here’s a handy list of the other features you’ll find:

  • Over 15 goal-based exercises in the Fitbit Coach app (but note that many of its promoted exercises are only open to Fitbit Coach subscribers at £30 per year)
  • Guided breathing (for two minutes or five minutes)
  • Sleep tracking, including light, deep and REM sleep

Fitbit Inspire HR review: what don’t you get?

There are some features missing. There’s no altimeter, so it can’t track stairs climbed each day or feet gained during a run. It won’t give you a cardio fitness rating, either, because unlike the Charge 3 it doesn’t include a Relative Sp02 sensor.

Forget about NFC for wireless payments too, but right now that isn’t a huge loss. Fitbit is promoting its own Fitbit Pay system, and we currently have only four banks that support this in the UK.

Of all those features, the altimeter is the biggest loss.

Fitbit Inspire HR review: battery life

I only have one concern about the Inspire HR, and that’s whether Fitbit is over-egging things by claiming “up to five days” battery life. My experience suggests that vigorous exercisers will get around 3-4 days of use.

I’m also not impressed by the battery status in the app. It says “full” for two days, so you relax, then drops down to “medium” for perhaps a day, and before you know it an exclamation mark on the Inspire is telling you that you need to recharge.

As ever with Fitbit, this is done using a proprietary USB cable. That’s a pain – you must remember to pack it on trips – but the Inspire will be back fully charged within an hour or two.

Fitbit Inspire HR review: verdict

This is a great little device. There are reasons not to buy it – the lack of built-in GPS will be a killer for some people, and it has tempting low-cost rivals such as this £27 Yamay tracker – but it’s an excellent choice for anyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle.

Now read this: Garmin 5X high-end sports watch review

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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