The eponymous fitness tracker company Fitbit has added a heart rate sensor and improved sleep tracking to the popular Alta model it first released last year. The new Fitbit Alta HR offers fully-featured fitness tracking in a more streamlined form factor than its smartwatch-like counterparts.

Heart rate sensors are found in many high-end fitness trackers and smartwatches. By tracking pulse, users learn more about their cardiovascular performance and can more accurately gauge calorie burn. However, many heart rate sensor-equipped devices are larger and more obtrusive than the Alta HR (which is 0.61 inches – less than 16 mm - wide) so it may be a strong option for those looking for a more understated wearable.

In addition to a heart rate sensor, the Alta HR has new sleep features: Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights. The Sleep Stages feature combines accelerometer and heart rate data to track how much time is spent each night in various stages of sleep. It tracks time spent in light sleep, deep sleep, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and awake time. (Previously Fitbits tracked deep sleep vs. restless sleep, so it sounds like REM tracking is the biggest addition.)

Through Sleep Insights, users can learn how their sleeping habits compare to others with their same age and gender, as well as receive custom feedback based on their activity. For example, you may receive a prompt if Fitbit notices you sleep better at certain times: "You sleep a bit better on nights after a run. It's subtle, but you spend 5 fewer minutes being restless/awake on those nights."

Fitbit will roll out Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights to more of its devices as well. Sleep Stages will work with trackers that include heart rate sensors – the Alta HR, Blaze and Charge 2 devices – starting in late March. Sleep Insights will be added to the Fitbit app and will work with all Fitbits except for the Zip (the only one without sleep-tracking features).

According to Fitbit, the Alta HR also has a longer-lasting battery over its previous generation, offering up to 7 days of battery life (individual results may vary, of course).

The Alta HR is available for pre-sale now for US$150, for shipping starting in early April. Standard color options include black, blue gray, fuchsia and coral; there are also special edition and designer collections available for a premium.

Source: Fitbit [1] [2]

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