On Wednesday, Fitbit announced their second new model in as many months. In late March, the Alta will be joining the Blaze as the newest members of the Fitbit lineup. Featuring an OLED display without color, SmartTrack workout recognition, and interchangeable bands, it brings the user all the features the Fitbit Charge currently offers with a facelift some people would argue it needed.
The Fitbit Alta
Priced at $130, which is the same price the Charge is currently selling for, it is very easy to see that the Alta is going to take its place on the Fitbit hierarchy. This is a very good thing for the company for a few reasons.
Fitbit is going to be taking a lot of risks with the Blaze. Considering all the new features the Blaze is rolling out, including the color screen and on-screen workouts, it is venturing into what has traditionally been a murky middle ground between fitness tracker and smartwatch. These hybrids tend not to be as successful because most people who want a fitness tracker don’t want to shell out a large sum of money (for those keeping score, the Blaze will run $200), and the people who want a smartwatch will want more “smart” features than what the Blaze will offer. It’s possible that Fitbit will be able to get past this roadblock by brand recognition alone, but it will need the proverbial safe play in case it is unsuccessful.
This is where the Alta comes into play. The goal for this new tracker was very simple: make it look good. Let’s be honest, the Fitbit models have succeeded in many aspects, and that’s why the company is worth over eight billion dollars. Looks have never exactly been one of those aspects. We’re used to the way they look, but come on. They’re ugly, and that’s why accessory bands for Fitbits alone have proven to be a successful way to make money for certain companies. Fitbit tackles this issue head-on with the Alta.
With all the customization options that will be available at launch, it is Fitbit’s goal to allow the consumer to make what works best for them. Speaking from personal experience selling Fitbits, this is going to be wonderful news for future customers. Most people buying fitness trackers want something that will look good on them. It’s why Fitbit put out different colors for each device. They’re just taking the next step with the Alta. Shoppers will be able to choose from leather, metal, or silicon bands in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Each of these bands will be interchangeable, so it is very possible (and surely very easy) to change bands depending on the outfit someone is wearing.
Now that looks are out of the way, let’s talk features. Honestly, it doesn’t derive much from what the Charge currently offers. One of the new things it brings to the table is a feature Fitbit calls SmartTrack. The device will automatically be able to recognize whatever exercise the user is performing and will track statistics accordingly. No longer will a user have to manually input each exercise they perform. Thanks to the larger screen the Alta will have, users will also be able to receive text messages and calendar notifications from their wrist.
Fitbit has not commented on future plans for the Charge after the Alta releases, but it is very clear that if they plan on continuing to produce the Charge, a price drop would have to happen. After all, who’s going to buy the old model at $130 whenever you can get the brand new thing for the same price? If this price drop happened, it would be a great thing for more budget-minded shoppers. The Charge is still a well-reviewed fitness tracker, but it is one that goes on sale so often that it’s almost pointless to pay full price for it. I do believe this price drop will happen, and I see the $100 price tag that it often goes on sale for becoming permanent.
Having said that, if you do plan on buying a Fitbit in the foreseeable future, I would recommend waiting until the late March release of the new models. While the Blaze and the Alta aren’t exactly paradigm shifting, I do believe they are going to be nice improvements over what is currently on the market.