Simplified and intuitive, the newest creation from Fitbit is the fitness tracker for everyone.
Fitbit is one of the leaders in fitness trackers. Everyone else plays for second when it comes to software and hardware maturity. And the latest Fitbit creation, the Inspire, is the best fitness experience you'll get this side of a smartwatch. It's life proof, which means it can take water, sweat, heat, cold and sleep – it handles all the life you can throw at it.
The Inspire is the newest base model in the Fitbit family – that is, it's the simplest and cheapest. It replaces the previous models like the Zip, Flex, One and Alta.
Each of these older models had different capabilities and different features. If you're not a gadget specialist, this can make choosing a fitness tracker confusing. But now, Fitbit has combined the capabilities of its previous base models into one device: the Inspire. Simplified but intuitive, you no longer need to compare four devices when hunting for a fitness tracker. There's just one base model and it does a little bit of everything. The key selling point for me is that this device is priced roughly the same as a Fitbit Flex (when it was first released, it has since become cheaper) and yet it does so much more.
There are two types of Inspire, the Inspire and the Inspire HR. The Inspire HR can track your heart rate, which means the HR has a few extra features that I'll outline below.
The quick verdict
What is it? The new Fitbit base model
Pros: Easy to use, increased functionality, affordable
Cons: No battery-life indicator on device, small fiddly charger
How much are they? $129.95 for the standard Inspire or $179.95 for the Inspire HR
Simple and sleek, the Inspire is an inoffensive and modest-looking fitness tracker. It's probably most similar in design to the Fitbit Alta, with a slim backlit screen display and a detachable band that comes in different colours. The Inspire has a slightly wider screen but is less chunky overall.
You can remove the wristband entirely and carry the Inspire in your pocket or wear it as a pendant in a similar way as the Fitbit One or the Fitbit Zip. Of course, if you choose to wear your Fitbit anywhere other than your wrist, it won't measure your heart rate.
The wristbands that come with the Fitbit Inspire are made from a flexible plastic-rubber. Although these lack sartorial elegance and can look a little cheap, they're very practical. The Fitbit Inspire is designed to be worn in the shower and while swimming so fabric or metal bands are out of the question for all-round use.
While I like the design overall, charging the Fitbit Inspire HR is a bit of a pain. Unfortunately, there is no battery-life display on the actual device, so you'll have to check your Fitbit app to see how much charge the Inspire has left. Also, the charger itself is a bit fiddly. I dream of a world with one charger for everything, but the Inspire comes with its own magnetic plate-style charger that you're almost definitely going to lose in the first 12 months. Keep a close eye on the little thing.
Functionality and key features
This is not my first experience with a Fitbit, but it certainly has been my best. The Inspire has become a part of my life in a way I didn't initially imagine it could, and it has certainly taught me a lot about my own body and lifestyle. Just like other Fitbits, all the tracked data is recorded and wirelessly synced to the Fitbit app available on iOS and Android.
I live by my step tracker, which until recently has been my phone, and am always chasing the elusive 10,000 steps per day. At the end of my day, I'd often be disappointed seeing that I'd only completed 5,000 or 6,000 steps. But the Fitbit Inspire counts your steps far more accurately than your phone. And as it turns out, I actually do roughly 10,000 steps on a normal day.
I've been wearing the Inspire for a month now and I hit between 9,000 and 11,000 steps nearly every day. I'll usually check my steps on the way home from work and seeing 9,200 definitely gives me that little bit of extra motivation to walk an extra block before walking in the door of my apartment. Whereas seeing numbers like 5,000 just made me want to give up for the day.
But of course this device is so much more than a step tracker. The heart rate tracking on the HR version of the Inspire allows you to optimise your workouts for fitness, fat burn or calorie burn. If you have a weight loss goal you're trying to hit, this is particularly handy. It means that you can accurately determine what exercise is going to put you in the right "zone". It also provides you with a reasonably accurate calorie-burn tracker and an estimated number of calories you should try and burn per day based on your height and weight. As it turns out, I often miss my calorie burn goal by 50-100 calories – which is how you gain weight slowly without noticing. So my Inspire has helped me become more aware of how an extra couple of kilos can just sneak up on you.
And because you wear the Fitbit all the time, the HR gives you a much better indication of your all-important resting heart rate too. The HR measures it almost constantly to give you a better picture of your overall heart health rather than just a spot check during an exercise routine.
Another key feature is the sleep tracking and this one has been particularly useful for me. I try to get into bed before 11:00pm so I can snag seven to eight hours of sleep depending on the day. And yet, I'm still always tired. But as it turns out, just because you're in bed, doesn't mean you're asleep. The Inspire's sleep tracking has shown that while I'm in bed for seven and a half hours, I wake up a lot during the night – about 90 minutes all in all. So my total amount of sleep is usually around six to six and a half hours. Which, I guess explains why I'm always tired. It's helped me learn that I need to be in bed for 10 hours to try and get eight hours of sleep.
Automatic exercise recognition and swim-proof fitness tracking
I live near the beach, and in summer, I spend a lot of time in the water. Sometimes I clamour out of the water back onto the sand exhausted and feeling as though I've run a marathon. But, I was never able to tell whether standing and paddling in the ocean was a form of legitimate exercise and how many calories it actually burns. But since I've been able to wear my Inspire in the water, it turns out that paddling the waves is a form of cardio - and this is recorded by the automatic exercise recognition function. You don't have to tell it your're exercising, it can tell by your movements and will record it as exercise accordingly. Last time I went for a dip, I closed my exercise ring. It made my summer a lot more enjoyable knowing I could skip the gym in favour of a swim in the waves.
Additional functional features
In addition to the fitness tracking features like step counting and automatic exercise recognition, you can also use your Fitbit Inspire to set alarms, timers, start specific kinds of exercise or undertake guided breathing sessions. I've used the guided breathing function, called relax, a few times right before bed. It's been really helpful in aiding your body to wind and ensuring you get to sleep quickly.
Inspire vs Inspire HR
The Inspire HR has the ability to track your heart rate, but the standard Inspire does not. This extra capability yields a number of extra features and will cost you an extra $50. The Inspire is $129.95 and the HR is $179.95.
But is it worth it? Yes, I think it is. With the additional heart rate tracking, your device can more accurately track calorie burn. It's also what allows you to optimise your workouts for different goals whether they be fitness, calorie or fat burn goals.
And it's also what allows you to assess your sleep stages and see just how much light, deep and REM sleep you get per night. I really think it's worth the extra $50 to get the Inspire HR.
You can see a breakdown of the features in the table below.
|Features on the Fitbit Inspire||Additional features only on the Inspire HR|
How is it different to the Fitbit Charge and the Fitbit Versa
The key differences between the Inspire and the Charge or the Versa are more about the extras than the basics of fitness tracking. The Charge, deemed by Fitbit as the "most advanced tracker ever", has a better touch screen, more battery life, an app dashboard and Fitbit Pay. To me, these are nice-to-haves but not something that's worth spending $229.95 on. The only real fitness edge the Charge has over the Inspire HR is the "Cardio Fitness Level" feature, which gives you a better understanding of your fitness levels and ways to improve over time. That, and the design looks a little more premium.
There are more differences when comparing the Inspire and the Versa. The Versa is Fitbit's smartwatch. It's got a sleeker and more fashionable design and behaves a lot more like a watch than a wearable tracker. The big selling point here is that it allows you to pay at checkout with your bank or credit cards using just your watch face. Provided you're with a participating bank that is. It also can store 300 songs and features your key apps like news or transport apps. But once again, when it comes to tracking your fitness stats, the Versa has roughly the same functionality as the Inspire HR.
Basic specs, price and where to buy
Here are some of the key specs you should know about the Fitbit Inspire and the Inspire HR before buying:
- Intuitive touchscreen backlit OLED display
- Up to five days of battery
- On-screen dashboard including tracked steps and calories burned
- Interchangeable bands and other customisable accessories