Snazzier Fitbits Sport Beefed-Up Feature Sets

30 Aug 2016

Fitbit on Monday announced two new fitness trackers with sleeker looks, more durable construction and greater data-gathering capabilities.

The Fitbit Charge 2, priced at US$149.95, features continuous heart-rate tracking. It uses the data to generate a cardio fitness score and provides guidance for improving it over time.

The Charge 2 displays real-time exercise stats, connects to the GPS in a smartphone, and has a set of advanced sensors that make it easier to track activity throughout a day.

Its Relax feature guides users through two- or three-minute deep breathing sessions.

The Fitbit Flex 2, which sells for $99.95, is 30 percent smaller than previous models and can be paired with bands in a variety of colors. Optional accessories include a bangle priced at $99.95 for gold or rose gold, or $89.95 for stainless steel. A pendant is available for $99.95 in gold or $79.95 in stainless steel.

Flex 2 is water-resistant to a depth of 50 meters and can collect data from swimming sessions, such as pool laps, duration and calories burned.

In addition, Flex 2 will track fitness stats from walks, runs and workouts. It will remind users to move when they've been stationary for too long a time.

A simplified LED uses color-coded lights to display daily progress toward fitness goals.

More Than a Step Counter

Fitbit isn't losing any time incorporating the latest tech advances into its fitness tracking line, suggested Ryan Martin, a senior analyst at ABI Research.

"Fitbit is not only reinvigorating its roots, but tapping into some more opportunities in the market that might be there because of better hardware," he told TechNewsWorld.

Fitbit's step-counting-only days appear to be behind it.

"With its new products, Fitbit continues to expand beyond step-tracking to a wide range of fitness-tracking activities," noted Ross Rubin, senior director for industry analysis at App Annie.

"Of particular interest is the move into lifestyle or mental well-being with breathing exercises. This offers the opportunity to expand the appeal of the device to an audience beyond step-counters," he told TechNewsWorld.

"The Charge 2, in particular, reflects increased competition with smartwatches," added Rubin. "Indeed, some of its features have appeared earlier in smartwatches."

By adding capabilities to its hardware, Fitbit also will boost the popularity of its mobile app, he said, which has been No. 1 for the past year in the health and fitness categories for both iOS and Android.

As device gathers more data, users need to check the status of that data more often.

"That provides more opportunities to drive usage of the app and increase loyalty," Rubin said.

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