Fitbit adds heart rate tracking to Alta, its slimmest fitness tracker

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Speaking about the new device, Fitbit CEO James Park said: "Alta HR and these powerful new sleep features demonstrate our continued focus on evolving our innovative technology to deliver deeper, more actionable insights to help our users improve their health". Since it uses PurePulse, it can measure your heart rate to tell when you're in light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep stages, along with when your awake periods occur.

In case you hadn't gathered so already, it's a Fitbit Alta with a heart rate sensor snuck in. You'll also be able to view personalized guidance and insights based on data captured by the device.

Fitbit doesn't quit. The reigning maker of fitness-tracking bands has a new band, the ultra-slim heart rate-monitoring Alta HR, and I got a chance to put it to the test during a spin class at a Midtown Manhattan fitness studio last week. Sleep Stages will be available on the Fitbit Charge 2, Blaze and the new Alta HR. If you're interested in picking up the Alta HR, you can preorder now from Fitbit's website or wait until April and pick yours up in store or online. It still includes all-day activity tracking, automatic exercise recognition with SmartTrack, as well as call, text and calendar notifications. For instance, if you're sleeping a lot more on the weekend, the app will question whether you're getting enough sleep on weekdays, and advise you on how to balance the numbers. Sleep Stages will come out this spring and work with ALL Fitbit devices that track sleep, not just ones with heart rate monitors like Sleep Stages.

The Alta HR's feature stop there, while the Charge 2 adds a couple more, marking the biggest differences between these two trackers aside from their size.

Which Fitbit is right for you?

Notably, there's no mention of Connected GPS support (the Charge 2 can get GPS data from your phone).

A cautious or sensible approach?

. Fitbit's year-over-year growth declined 22.7 percent in Q4 2016, according to IDC (a sibling company to CIO). If you simply Googled "Fitbit" and looked at the news results, you'll find no shortage of headlines like this one from Barron's: "Fitbit Needs New Steps to Restore Health". You might wonder when, or if, Fitbit will make a bold leap and truly take wearables to the next level. Turns out Fitbit did have something up its sleeve - but it's less of a "new" product and more an update to an old one. The company excels at offering an ever-wider variety of activity tracker choices at differing price points, supported by an easy-to-use app and a large ecosystem of compatible apps. "If you just roll out more metrics but don't really inform the user how to interpret it, you're not really helping the user", he says.

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