The Fitness Tracker for Less
Fitbit has always been a company that keeps a deep bench of products. Where other consumer tech businesses phase out older products to charge the newer editions at a premium, Fitbit has long kept practically all of their products in rotation. Until now. The Fitbit Inspire may as well be called the Fitbit Classic. It replaces three older models, folding a number of their acquired features into a single model and offering a budget alternative to Fitbit’s newer tech. But can it still hold its own in a market increasingly crowded by fitness trackers and smart watches? That’s what we’re here to find out.
Fitbit’s mission statement with the Inspire is etched right into its design. As more and more smart watches start to resemble more traditional timepieces, the Inspire is predicated on the notion that less is better. Standing 1.4 inches tall and .63 inches wide, it’s essentially a Zip attached to a wristband. But there’s a style to that minimalism. The face enjoys a glossy black surface that looks great against the wrist, and the bands come in black or sangria purple.
Of course, that means that the Inspire doesn’t have room to display a whole lot of information, but that’s kind of the point. It’s built to be utilitarian above all else. It’s a wearable designed for people who are looking for general fitness features without serving as a de facto replacement for their smartphone. The features then are broad, but not necessarily deep. With a battery life of almost five days, it’s not a fitness tracker you’ll have to worry about charging on the regular.
And despite the small size of the screen, the touch-based navigation is pretty breezy and responsive. Wireless syncing with your phone is a simple process, and the Inspire also comes with a number of default electronic watch faces you can configure on the fly.
The fitness functionalities on the Fitbit Inspire are straight into the point. All-day activity tracking automates the process of recording your steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned. And while there’s no heart rate monitor on the standard version, it does record your active minutes in case you’re looking to keep tabs on your extended exercise progress.
But the simplicity of the Inspire’s features can be deceptive. While the metrics accessible directly through the device’s screen may seem spartan and limited, they become much more robust when paired to the free Fitbit app. Accessible through your phone, it allows you to see how many calories you’ve burned in a given day, allowing you to integrate your exercise and nutritional goals together.
The Fitbit triangulates the information received from the pedometer to recognize when you’re engaged in high-stress exercise like running, bicycling, or swimming as well. That makes it easy to distinguish your everyday actions from your active fitness habits. The waterproof design means that you can comfortably wear it in the shower or the pool.
Nutrition and General Health Tracking
That all-day calorie burn feature becomes much more useful when you use it in conjunction with the built-in food logging. You can log your meals directly into the Fitbit interface and then get concrete and easily accessible comparisons between calorie intake and expenditure. The Inspire is built to be integrated into your daily life and provide the encouragement to get exercise done, and that’s why it offers reminders to move that coax you to engage in at least 250 steps an hour. It can also remind you to stay hydrated throughout the day.
One things separating Fitbit devices from many other fitness trackers are their inclusion of features focused on women’s health. That’s not absent on the Inspire. Female health tracking features allow you to record symptoms and track your cycle among other options.
Rounding out the health-focused components of the Inspire is the sleep tracking feature. It’s not the most robust choice on the market, but it fits comfortably with the more minimalist ethos of Fitbit’s tiny fitness tracker. The sleep tracking process is automated, and all gathered information is logged automatically to the phone app as long as its tethered. Gentle reminders can let you know when it’s bedtime, and the silent vibrating alarm function is a more peaceful but still effective alternative to more loud and intrusive wake-up alarms. The app itself displays a number of helpful tips you can use to make the most of your sleep and maximize the restfulness of your downtime.
Make no bones about it. Inspires aren’t smart watches in the conventional sense, but they aren’t simply fitness trackers either. They come with the more basic functions you’d expect from a smart watch. Phone syncing allows you to receive call, calendar, text, and app notifications directly on the face, and the on-screen dashboard neatly displays all the relevant information in a smartly intuitive way. Dedicated timers and stopwatches are a great choice for your fitness activities, but they can be equally as useful for managing the personal and professional demands of your everyday life.
Inspire HR Features
We’ve covered all the fundamentals of the base model Fitbit Inspire, but for $30 more, you can opt instead for the higher end Fitbit Inspire HR. It’s a modest price increase for some significant feature expansion. The most notable improvement, and one that anchors most of the features here, is the inclusion of a heart rate monitor. It can add a lot of depth to your workouts. 24/7 heart rate monitoring and resting heart rate monitoring can provide with a big picture understanding of your health, and you can make use of heart rate zones to maximize the potential of your exercise routines. Combine this with guided breathing sessions, and you’re left with a basic but effective virtual personal trainer.
The HR also comes with more in-depth sleep tracking that lets you identify your periods of light, deep, and REM sleep. Improvements are also made to the exercise interface. An included GPS provides you with more precise real-time tracking of your pace and distance, and the added capabilities of the HR has allowed Fitbit to squeeze in 15 different exercise modes that offer deeper metrics and goal tracking.
The Fitbit Inspire isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you want a fitness tracker that’s less a distraction and more a supplement to your daily activities, it’s a great fit. Simplicity here is a feature, not a bug. But if the core Inspire isn’t quite up to your standards, the HR packs in all of the features typical to fitness trackers at a price that’s still eminently affordable.