Fitbit has updated its most popular line of fitness trackers to include GPS. I've been wearing the Charge 4 device for a week and am fairly pleased with it. Although the newly included GPS sucks the battery down a bit (to around three days per charge in my usage of it), you can now see where you've run or cycled.
I've also enjoyed getting reacquainted with its sleep measurement feature, which smart watches such as Apple's Watch don't yet have.
Unlike early Fitbits, the Charge 4 (and the Charge 3 before it) feels a bit like a halfway house between a straight fitness tracker and a full-on smartwatch.
That's because it has a one-inch touchscreen with menus and features to swipe through.
It also displays some apps you may already use, such as Spotify (but songs aren't stored on the watch, so you need to have your phone near you to use this particular app on the Charge 4).
That display isn't easy to see outdoors. I realise that it's a fine line between battery life and display brightness, but on a sunny or very bright day, the screen isn't much use. I understand why this is the case though; to make it any more vivid would sap battery life more, which would arguably be a worse outcome. (And there's not much room for a bigger battery in this slim form factor anyway.)
Switched on: The Fitbit Charge 4 is supported by a smartphone app
It doesn't wholly rely on the display, buzzing when you've reached a milestone or received a text message. For exercise, it has just the right amount of activity genres to choose from without getting too complicated.
You can pick from the likes of running, biking, walking, swimming, treadmill and workouts. You can ask it to automatically recognise when you get into those activities or manually tap them on and off.
You can also have GPS on or off for each activity, as well as your heart rate zone alert, a new feature.
And the Charge 4 lets you select whether or not to auto-pause during breaks, which can flatter your overall session times.
The Fitbit phone app is where you'll co-ordinate a lot of your settings, as well as review your overall activity.
It's a decent app with a lot of information, presented both in numbers and graphs.
The basic data, such as distance travelled, activity 'zone minutes' from your exercise (detected through elevated activity) and heart rate throughout the day, is presented cleanly. The zones break down into 'fat burn', 'cardio' and 'peak', and show you a timeline of when you achieved these minutes of intensity.
From all of this, it derives how many calories it estimates you've burned. This is also based on your volunteered profile information, including your height, weight and age. The sleep data it tracks is based loosely on your relative heart rate and movement during your sleeping hours.
On a good night at the weekend, I clocked in at nine hours, 22 minutes of sleep. This was further dissected to accord me two hours and 10 minutes of 'deep sleep and REM'.
It combines some factors to give you a sleep score for the night. On that particular night, I got an 88, which Fitbit tells me is 'good'.
I signed up for Fitbit Premium, mainly because it's a really long free trial period: three months. After that, it's €9 per month which I may or may not avail of. Premium gives you a lot of fitness videos within the app, although they're natively phone-sized only; Fitbit doesn't have an iPad app.
Battery life is only OK, if your range is between Garmin's 10 days and an Apple Watch's two days. I got around three days' use between charges, with my typical use including a run or a long walk during the day and wearing it to bed for sleep analysis at night. For comparison, my wife gets around five days from her Charge 3 model.
It's almost certain that the shorter battery life is down to the onboard GPS, although it might also be because I may use it a bit more than previous Fitbits, for example to control Spotify or to check incoming messages.
But whatever the reason, this is not a long life tracker. It takes one to two hours to recharge, although if you're sleeping with it on, it's a little awkward to find a natural time to do this. Fitbit provides a cable with its proprietary three-dot pin charging mechanism.
Other features worth mentioning include Fitbit Pay, which used only to be available on the 'special edition' of the previous Charge 3 model.
However, as my bank (Bank of Ireland) does not support mobile payments, I wouldn't get a chance to try this out anyway. And it's water-resistant to 50 metres too, meaning it's a good swimming aide.
In summary, this is quite an effective health-tracking gadget with a lot of data available on the free app.
But it's not a smartwatch, if that's what you're looking for; iPhone owners, in particular, are limited in what sort of alerts and messages they see. The display is designed as a basic indicator, rather than something to really interact with.
Yet for the money you're paying, this is still a very solid buy.