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Lifewire / Todd Braylor
Comfortable and low-profile
Fitbit app integration
Great for sleep monitoring
Limited GPS capabilities
The Fitbit Inspire HR is a sleek and low-profile fitness tracker that can help athletes of all levels achieve healthy results with personalized metrics and the calorie- and step-counting stats Fitbit is known for.
Whether you are a walker, runner, swimmer, cyclist, or a general health enthusiast, the Fitbit Inspire HR provides all the key insights you need to stay active and at the top of your game. It features the calorie- and step-counting functions that Fitbit is known for, and as a new feature, the Fitbit Inspire HR includes 24/7 heart rate tracking, which can help you assess your progress throughout training by charting your heart rate, workouts, and sleep quality.
We recently put the Inspire HR to the test to evaluate how the inclusion of heart rate functions augments Fitbit's core wellness model. We wore the Inspire HR continually for a week of daily training runs, day-to-day activities, and while sleeping to get a picture of how the fitness tracker can provide valuable perspectives for any training goal while remaining a budget-oriented fitness tracker.
No one wants to feel weighed down by a clunky fitness watch, and Fitbit has designed the Inspire HR to be super light and agile at only 0.64 ounces. It comes standard with two wristbands, one small and one large, measuring five inches and 6.25 inches long, respectively. The wristbands are a little over a half an inch wide and are made of a soft polymer material, making the Inspire HR very comfortable to wear to bed if you want to take advantage of the sleep monitoring capabilities.
The unit feels more like a bracelet than a watch—it’s so light and unobtrusive that you can easily forget you’re wearing it. And for a device that aims to deliver around-the-clock health data, this is a big advantage.
The unit feels more like a bracelet than a watch—it’s so light and unobtrusive that you can easily forget you’re wearing it.
The Inspire HR has all your health stats and apps available at the swipe of a finger. This is really a testament to the effectiveness of the fitness tracker's minimal but routine-oriented design. You can monitor your heart rate 24/7 without having to think about it, and you can also set up the Inspire HR to automatically detect when you start running without having to select the exercise app. It seems designed to keep your interactions with it to a minimum.
The backlit OLED touchscreen is very minimal, measuring about 1.5 inches tall and a little over a half an inch wide. It serves as a digital clock face with your current heart rate below as a default, and simple vertical and horizontal swipe commands will scroll you through the different features. In accordance with its slim dimensions, the touchscreen displays its main graphics as vertically-oriented elements.
The Fitbit Inspire HR is simple to set up. You’ll need to connect it to the Fitbit app, which is available on both iOS and Android platforms, and the pairing process is very straightforward.
The entire setup takes about ten minutes, and the Fitbit app will give you quick tips for using your fitness tracker. Then you are all ready to go.
The Fitbit Inspire HR has a host of different exercise apps for whatever activities you enjoy and features specific modes for running, biking, swimming, treadmill workouts, weight lifting, and interval training.
As you exercise, the touchscreen allows you to scroll through various metrics to receive mid-session feedback. In Run mode, for instance, the Inspire HR will show you elapsed time, the distance you've covered, current mile pace, average mile pace, current heart rate, calories burned, the number of steps during your workout, as well as the digital clock face.
Unlike more high-end fitness smartwatches, the Inspire HR does not have built-in GPS. It instead calculates your distance and approximate mile pace by measuring your stride length with its in-built step counting technology. To get the most accurate GPS data, you will need to use Fitbit's “connected GPS” feature. This requires you to take your smartphone along with you during your workout so the Inspire HR can access your phone's GPS signal.
Although the mid-workout metrics referenced above are great for real-time monitoring, the relatively small touchscreen can be a challenge to navigate and refer to when exercising. Sweaty fingers or water on the device makes scrolling through your stats a challenge, too. While testing the Run mode on a hot and sweaty afternoon, it often took us a few attempts to use the touch commands.
Although the mid-workout metrics are great for real-time monitoring, the relatively small touchscreen can be a challenge to navigate and refer to when exercising.
One of the more advanced features of the Inspire HR is its combination of continuous heart rate monitoring and sleep monitoring. This fitness tracker has an optical heart rate monitor that uses photoplethysmography (PPG) technology to measure your pulse and gauge your heart rate, shining a rapidly-pulsating LED into your skin and measuring how your blood flow affects the dispersion of light. The Inspire HR is continually tracking your heart rate this way.
Sleep monitoring is another insightful feature that the Inspire HR offers. When synced with the Fitbit app, it can provide you with data on how long you spend in the different stages of sleep as a way to gauge the quality of your rest. This is especially useful for rigorous exercise training, such as training to race a marathon or set a PR.
If you simply wear the Inspire HR to bed, it will automatically detect when you are asleep through a combined lack of movement and changes in your heart rate patterns, known as heart rate variability (HRV). It will be able to tell how much time you spend in light, deep, and REM stages, and give you a more accurate chart of your resting heart rate. The value of sleep data for athletic performance makes sleep monitoring an accessible and highly beneficial entry point to gain in-depth insights into your body's recovery and performance physiology.
The extended battery life of the Inspire HR makes for a true 24/7 wellness monitoring experience. You can wear the Inspire HR for several days of activity on end.
Fitbit claims the Inspire HR battery will last up to five days with a full charge. We found this to be true—the unit we tested lasted a little over five full days before draining down to zero. Charging the Inspire HR took only about two hours before it was back at 100% again.
The extended battery life of the Inspire HR makes for a true 24/7 wellness monitoring experience.
The Inspire HR delivers all the key features that Fitbit has built its brand name around, but beyond the exercise apps, the software capabilities of the model are limited. One of the only extra features it has is the ability to show you call and text notifications when in Bluetooth range of your smartphone.
This fitness tracker is centered around displaying Fitbit's core stats and exercise apps in combination with its heart rate functions. Integration with the Fitbit app is the best way to review your metrics in expanded categories, such as how many days out of the week you have elevated your heart rate enough for the Fitbit to log an exercise session (Fitbit refers to this as “active minutes”).
You can also set weekly goals for yourself with the Fitbit app, like aiming to hit a certain number of steps, and the Inspire HR will let you know how you're doing and encourage you to move with notifications.
At a reasonable $99.95 MSRP, the Fitbit Inspire HR can help anyone find the motivation to be more active. There are more budget-friendly fitness trackers out there, including several cheaper models from Fitbit. But the addition of heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking of the Fitbit Inspire HR—combined with the numerous exercise apps—means you get a really good amount of functionality for $100.
One of the main competitors to Fitbit in the active wearables market is Garmin. The Garmin vívosport activity tracker is a competitor to the Fitbit Inspire HR and mimics its slim wristband design.
The vívosport features optical heart rate monitoring capabilities and has some extra features oriented specifically towards runners that the Fitbit Inspire HR does not include. The Garmin has full GPS, a VO2 max meter, and an altimeter for ascent and descent tracking. The Garmin Vivosport has a more expensive retail price of $169.99, but you can often find it on sale for around $120. Whether or not an extra chunk of change is worth the extra features is, of course, up to you and your fitness needs.
These additional features are staples of Garmin’s more advanced GPS watches that typically target a slightly different demographic than Fitbit. In this respect, one of the biggest selling points for the Fitbit Inspire HR is the integration of the brand's popular and straightforward wellness model within its exercise apps. For example, the Run mode will calculate how many steps you took during your workout in addition to heart rate, duration, and distance metrics, making the accomplishment of total step count goals for any given day more accessible.
A motivating and wallet-friendly way to achieve wellness and performance goals.
With the addition of continuous heart rate monitoring, the Fitbit Inspire HR turns the Fitbit app and its motivational metrics into a successful formula for a healthy lifestyle that any athlete can appreciate. Despite having a small display, the Inspire HR has a ton of training potential, and at a reasonable price.