Fitbit continues to enhance its line of fitness trackers to help monitor and encourage your activity and health.
You can start with small pocket trackers like the Fitbit Zip and One ($59 and $99) that track your walking steps, stair climbing, and even sleep activity.
Or wear a fitness wrist band like the Fitbit Flex 2 and Alta ($99 and $129) that also connect with your smartphone to display incoming texts and calls and calendar alerts (along with the time).
And there are fitness watches like the Fitbit Blaze and Surge ($199 and $299), with a larger watch face, deeper smartphone integration to control music playback, and even built-in GPS to track movement even when you do not have your smartphone.
The Fitbit Charge 2 ($149), kindly loaned by Verizon Wireless for my Holiday Tech coverage, is an interesting new addition -- It's still a relatively low-profile wristband (0.84" wide), but also adds an optical heart rate monitor.
The Charge 2 has a bright OLED display that automatically lights when you turn your wrist to show you the time (with your choice of clock faces). Or you can tap to cycle through displays of your fitness measurements. The bands are also interchangeable.
It also connects to your smartphone, to display call, text, and calendar alerts on your wrist.
As a fitness monitor, the Charge 2 tracks steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, and hourly activity. It also can encourage you to stay active by providing reminders to take at least 250 steps each hour.
It also tracks your sleep, reporting how long and how well you sleep so you can see your restless periods. And it has a silent vibrating alarm to wake you up peacefully.
But the big addition is heart rate monitoring, using LED lights on the back of the display to detect blood volume changes as your heart beats and your capillaries expand and contract. These are mapped into three heart rate workout zones: peak (high-intensity exercise), cardio (medium-to-high intensity), and fat burn (low-to-medium intensity). (Be aware that these devices are not scientific or medical devices, the precision of the readings is in dispute, and the reading depends on wearing the band correctly.)
With this data, the Fitbit app can help explain and guide your fitness level. For example, it can track different kinds of workouts, plan an interval workout with alternating periods of high-intensity exercise and recovery, and even provide calming guided breathing sessions. You also can link with your smartphone GPS to provide real-time stats like running pace and distance, and to record a map of your route.
The Charge 2 has local memory to save up to 7 days of motion data by minute, daily totals for 30 days, and heart rate data at 1 second intervals during exercise tracking and at 5 second intervals at other times. It also syncs wirelessly and automatically to iPhone, Android, and Windows devices using Bluetooth LE.
It is sweat, rain and splash proof, but it is not water proof for swimming or showering. It has up to a 5-day battery life, and recharges in 1 to 2 hours.
The Fitbit Charge 2 is available starting at $129, in different styles and sizes.
See Holiday Tech 2016 for more fun holiday ideas from the mobile digital revolution.
Find the Fitbit Charge 2 on Amazon.com