Last month, Fitbit released the Blaze, a beefed-up wearable meant to challenge the Apple Watch. But, keeping in mind that not everyone needs all that functionality and might not want to spend so much money ($200), the company smartly went back to it roots with the new Alta (announced Wednesday). The stylish and more affordable device ($130) dials back the Blaze’s metrics, but provides more data and a better user interface than the company’s most basic offerings.
Most importantly, the Alta still automatically tracks exercise, but now recognizes a lot more than step counts. New categories it will track include walking, running, outdoor biking, elliptical use, aerobic workouts—from dancing to kickboxing—and ball sports, such as basketball, tennis, and soccer. (The Blaze offers this as well.) It also nudges you to move if you’ve been sitting too long (like the Apple Watch), tracks sleep, and, unlike its more powerful competitors, promises an enormously long five days of battery life.
As for message forwarding from a phone, you’ll get notifications on the black and white display, but you won't be able to reply. You can tab through your data as well, but if you really want to analyze your workouts or set goals you’ll need to use the accompanying app. Because of the mid-range positioning, there’s no heart-rate tracking and no way to manually input exercises outside of the sports it recognizes (like your spin class).
Knowing that look is important, too, Fitbit will offer a rubberized band as well as silver and gold “bangles.”
We haven’t gotten our hands on an Alta yet, but will begin testing one soon and post a more in-depth review then.