Fitbit Charge 5 And Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige
August Man SG|Issue 174
As technology improves, we become increasingly able to quantify the things that matter in something as simple as a Fitbit Charge 5 and Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige
Jonathan Ho
Fitbit Charge 5

As I unboxed the Fitbit Charge 5, the missus chimed in with a question, “In a world of Apple watches, does one still need a Fitbit?” In a world measured by increasing computing power in more and more compact cases, the question seems rhetorical. However, there was once a time when the Apple Watch was a rather high-end (read: expensive) smartwatch and Fitbit enjoyed a reputation for being a simple, no-frills, modestly priced activity band.

With Fitbit adding apps and touchscreens to its trackers, and Apple adding more health features to its Watch, boundaries became blurred. Furthermore, you can now get an Apple Watch (albeit older models) for less than $300, and a top-of-the-line Fitbit for more than $280. Simply put, the Fitbit has a more expansive product lineup than Apple with products in two categories: activity bands and smartwatches. Its latest Charge 5 is the latter, albeit a waterproof one disguised as an activity tracker.

Offering new ECG (Electrocardiogram) and EDA (Electrodermal Activity) scans, Fitbit Charge 5 is Fitbit’s most advanced tracker. For years, fitness trackers and smartwatches have offered us a wealth of data gathered from our wrists for years, but the reality was that unless you had medical training, these numbers and their interpretation were not particularly meaningful for most people beyond the “benchmark” numbers. The Charge 5 is the first to answer the question of these numbers in the context of good sleep, stress, heart-rate variability.

Keeping track of your heart health with a compatible ECG app that assesses your heart for atrial fibrillation aka heart rhythm irregularity - and share the results with your doctor, and using the on-wrist EDA Scan app to detect electrodermal activity - tiny changes in your skin’s sweat level which may indicate your body’s response to stress, plus daily readiness scores (with a premium subscription a little cheaper than your monthly Netflix bill and well worth it), the Fitbit app will tell you if you’re ready to work out with personalised activity goals, or take it slow with meditation sessions based on your metrics, making it a real boon for those “tough it out” folks who overtrain at the risk of serious self-injury, the Charge 5 is basically you at your most optimal.

These scans create a stress management score out of 100 that also takes into account activity and sleep. Basically, the higher that score, the better your body is dealing with stress. You can see how your exercise routine, mindfulness practice and sleep help to manage your stress levels and then optimise your lifestyle according to these insights. I don’t know whether it’s a boon or bane but owned by Google, one suspects that over time, these devices will become even more insightful with the trove of analytics data, the sum of human experience collected by Google.

Sleep tracking follows you in great detail as you slumber: from sleep stages, to restlessness, to heart and breathing rates during sleep; finally, it takes stock of the metrics and gives a sleep score out of 100 so you can see at a glance how good (or how bad) your night’s rest really was.

With Fitbit Premium, you get deeper, personalised health insights where the software connects the data points of your activity, heart rate and sleep and how they impact one another across a 90-day Health Metrics dashboard. If you bother to log your meals and ingredients, additional data sets are generated to allow you to better understand your blood glucose trends for a more revealing personal Wellness Report.

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