Fitbit Alta HR v Misfit Ray: Battle of the fashion-conscious fitness trackers

Which stylish fitness band is for you?
Fitbit Alta HR v Misfit Ray

There are plenty of fitness trackers that focus on hardcore tracking rather than looks, but what if you're fashion conscious and you want something that fits in both at the gym and on a night out?

Two of the better options are the Fitbit Alta HR and the Misfit Ray, stylish fitness trackers that can mix and match with practically any wardrobe. Both of them are squarely focused on people who just want to track steps and make sure they're staying active, rather than training for a marathon.

In-depth: Fitbit Alta HR review | Misfit Ray review

So how do the Ray and Alta HR compare? Let's take a look.

Fitbit Alta HR v Misfit Ray: Design

Fitbit Alta HR v Misfit Ray: The battle of the fashion-conscious fitness trackers

Both the Alta HR and Ray are designed to get out of your way by blending into your fashion choices. Basically, neither one wants to be the reason your outfit of the day isn't working, or to prove a distraction for people you talk to.

While the Alta HR is slim and lightweight, it's not too different from the Alta's design. It's customizable and cute, but most of the big design improvements are on the inside, where Fitbit has been able to add features like a heart rate tracker without making the device bigger or more bulky. The Ray, on the other hand, is small and cylindrical. You actually wouldn't be able to tell it was a wearable if not for a little light on the device.

Fitbit Alta HR v Misfit Ray: The battle of the fashion-conscious fitness trackers

While both have good customizable options, the Ray is continually getting updated with season-based looks, and thusly feels like it could fit in better with other things on your wrist. You could pair it with a smartwatch of your choice, or let it live alongside a gaggle of other bands. You can even wear it as a necklace. It's not as easy to do that with the Alta HR, which can only commands attention on your wrist at 15mm wide, compared to the Ray's 12mm.

The largest difference between the two, however, is the presence of a display. The Alta HR has one, which you can tap to navigate the menu and check in on the time and statistics. The Ray does not, leaving all of that up to your phone. In that way, the Ray feels more like an accessory and less like a piece of tech on your wrist.

Fitbit Alta HR v Misfit Ray: Tracking

Fitbit Alta HR v Misfit Ray: The battle of the fashion-conscious fitness trackers

If you're looking to compare pure step tracking, the Misfit Ray has a little bit of an edge over Fitbit, which isn't too much of a surprise considering most Misfit devices tend to be very accurate as step trackers. In testing we found that the Alta HR tended to add a few hundred extra steps each day - not a huge amount, and while it's nice to feel like we've been more active, we find Misfit's algorithms a little more in line with the truth.

Both devices can automatically track workouts, but the Alta HR can differentiate between running, biking and elliptical exercises. While the Ray will accurately stop and start when you do, it won't categorize your workouts like the Alta HR can. You'll have to do that for yourself in the companion app later on.

One tracking advantage the Ray does have is that you can track swimming since it's waterproof to 50m. The Alta HR, on the other hand, is just sweat proof, but it does have that heart rate sensor which it uses to get a more accurate reading of your day-to-day wellness. While the heart rate sensor isn't the best choice if you're looking for a dedicated running device (it falls down a bit during higher intensity), it does a pretty worthwhile job for day-to-day tracking.

Essential reading:Why sleep is Fitbit's new obsession

Sleep Tracking is another thing both of these devices do, and while the Ray used to have the edge over the old Alta, it has lost the advantage to the HR, which was the device to debut Fitbit's new sleep features. We found both devices to be solid sleep trackers, with the Ray especially being good at differentiating between sleeping and just watching Netflix in bed. However, the Alta HR uses its heart rate data to determine whether you're in light, deep or REM sleep, going beyond the Ray's light or deep sleep.

Misfit Ray
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Amazon

The Alta HR will also serve up Sleep Insights, which are actionable pieces of guidance that tell you how to get better sleep. It'll also give you facts about how the rest of the Fitbit community is faring. So if sleep tracking is very important to you, the Alta HR might be the one.

Fitbit Alta HR v Misfit Ray: Features

Fitbit Alta HR v Misfit Ray: The battle of the fashion-conscious fitness trackers

Speaking of community, the Fitbit excels here. Not only is Fitbit's app is easier to jump into for beginners, it has a pretty extensive community tab that lets you stay motivated by joining groups and getting motivation from your peers. Plus, there's an entire ecosystem of third-party services that can plug into Fitbit's app, so you can keep track of food and water and such things.

While the Alta HR has a screen it can use to display notifications, we don't always find these useful, even though notifications from third parties like Facebook and WhatsApp are now available. They take a little while to scroll across, and it might even be quicker to pull out your phone and take a look there. Plus, you it's always slanted because of the orientation of the display.

The Ray, on the other hand, uses a combination of vibrations and colored lights to alert you to notifications. It's subtle and it works, but there is no support for third party notifications yet. They're also color coded, so if you forget what color is what notification you may just end up more confused.

Fitbit Alta HR
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Amazon

And oh, the Ray can also use an additional Link app that turns the device into a smart home button. You can use it to control music and smart bulbs from your wrist. It's nifty, but it's not too extensive - only one smart home thing at a time!

Fitbit Alta HR v Misfit Ray: Battery Life

There couldn't be a more varied story between these two devices than battery life. While the Alta HR adds a heart-rate sensor that tracks throughout the day, it was able to get about a week of battery life in our tests, which is impressive.

The Ray, however, has six months of battery life. We used it for a couple of weeks and it didn't budge from "fully charged" status in the companion app. The Alta HR, of course, is rechargeable while the Ray will need you to replace its two button cell batteries when they do eventually die.

Fitbit Alta HR v Misfit Ray: Price

Fitbit Alta HR v Misfit Ray: The battle of the fashion-conscious fitness trackers

The Alta HR is £129.99 while the Ray is a good deal cheaper at £79.99. Ray accessories are also cheaper, with high-end bands, necklaces and three-packs of bands going for £29.99 while Alta HR accessories go for between £39.99 and £69.99 depending on material.

Verdict

If you're looking for something more fitness orientated, you'd be better off with the Alta HR. Same goes for whether you're looking for a motivational community to help you achieve your goal or fairly extensive sleep tracking capabilities.

If you want something more fashionable at a more affordable price, the Misfit Ray is your best choice. That's also true if you're into swimming, since the Ray outdoes the Alta HR in that regard. But whichever you go for, both of these trackers are sure to slip into your everyday life.


Shop for recommended fitness trackers on Amazon

Fitbit Charge 2
Fitbit Charge 2
£109.70
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
£143.41
Withings Steel HR
Withings Steel HR
£169.95
Moov Now
Moov Now
£51.52

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3 Comments

  • XavierAlmeida says:

    For shift workers: remember than none of the two allow to change the reset time. Both reset automatically at midnight. Quoting Misfit costumer service "Misfit Ray only support auto-sleep tracking which works when you sleep at night. If you sleep during daytime, the Ray will not track your session"

  • Shiny says:

    my misfit ray takes 3 button cell batteries!

  • mckillio says:

    No mention of the difference in dimensions?  Thickness is a major purchasing factor for me. 

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