Tech review: Fitbit Inspire HR light on the wrist and the wallet

The Fitbit Inspire HR comes in the form of a small wristband with a minimalist design, consisting of a rectangular plastic module with detachable silicone straps.
The Fitbit Inspire HR comes in the form of a small wristband with a minimalist design, consisting of a rectangular plastic module with detachable silicone straps.PHOTO: FITBIT

The Fitbit Inspire HR feels so comfortable and, at a mere 17g, so light, that I often forget it is strapped to my wrist during this review.

This fitness tracker is also light on the wallet at $158 and one to consider if you are looking for a simple, affordable and lightweight fitness tracker.

It comes in the form of a small wristband with a minimalist design. It consists of a rectangular plastic module with detachable silicone straps.

The module has a monochrome vertical Oled touchscreen display in front and a button on its left. The display is small, but it is easy to read even under bright sunlight. You can swipe through the menu interface easily. It can also be worn while swimming or showering.

Pair it with your smartphone and it can show notifications though you cannot reply to them. The notifications are also not stored, meaning you cannot go back and browse through them like you can with a smartwatch. The tracker also lacks Near Field Communication - hence, there is no Fitbit Pay contactless payment.

The Inspire HR tracks your daily physical activities, such as steps taken, active minutes, calories burned, sleep and heart rate. It cannot track stairs climbed or swimming laps, unlike the higher-end Fitbit Charge 3 fitness tracker.

But it can automatically track most exercises such as runs and walks.

  • FOR

    • Tiny and lightweight

    • Affordable

    • Accurately tracks steps and sleep

    AGAINST

    • Notifications not stored

    • No Near Field Communication

    • Proprietary charging cable too short

    SPECS

    PRICE: $158

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 17g (with silicone straps)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

There is no built-in GPS. Instead, it uses your smartphone's GPS, or connected GPS, to measure the distance you run. Using connected GPS, it was spot-on in tracking my runs on my usual 5km jogging route. But when I don't have my smartphone with me, it tracks a further 1km more on the same route.

When it comes to step tracking though, the Inspire HR is highly accurate even before calibration. Its readings differed from my calibrated Apple Watch Series 4 by an almost negligible 1.2 per cent.

Sleep tracking has been Fitbit's biggest forte. And the Inspire HR is no different. It automatically tracks the amount of time you spent in light, deep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycles, as well as the time you are awake.

From the Fitbit app, you can compare how you fare, in terms of the percentage of the different sleep stages, against the typical range for your age-group, to see whether you are sleeping well.

Battery life is rated at five days on a full charge. At the end of four days of use that included a 5km jog, a 20-minute walk and wearing it nightly to sleep, I found it left with 15 per cent of battery life.

On the downside, Fitbit uses another proprietary charging cable for the Inspire HR. The cable's short length (15cm) is also an issue for me. When I try to charge the tracker using the USB port on my desktop PC, the cable and tracker dangle in the air as the USB port sits higher than 15cm. This caused the tracker not to stay attached to the cable's magnetic connector, as it lacks a clip mechanism.