Clodagh Dooley reviews the Fitbit Versa 2 with Amazon Alexa Special Edition
I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fitness fanatic around. And I’m definitely not a gym goer. But I do enjoy going for the occasional 40-minute walk in the great outdoors and I have done some hikes in the past, as well as a mini marathon (probably one of the biggest achievements of my life!). However, I’ve never really been one to stick to an exercise schedule every week and track my steps, heart rate or amount of calories burned. I just go for walks when it suits me, and I usually fit a bit of walking time into my working day, going to and from the office to my bus stop 20 minutes away.
Now that I am working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve become a bit more conscious about how long I’m sitting in front of my computer screen. The hours can roll into one, and before you know it, the entire day can be gone with little movement. And we all know how important it is to incorporate exercise into our daily lives. Research shows that regular exercise not only helps to control your weight and strengthen bones and muscles, but it may also improve your mental health and mood.
So for the past two weeks or so, I’ve finally been putting the Fitbit Versa 2 Special Edition that I got for Christmas to good use. But, as a first-time user of the Fitbit, was it enough to motivate me? And what’s so special about the special edition?
Pros and cons
+ Easy to set up
+ Looks very slick, with a navy and pink woven band and rose gold display
+ Battery lasts at least four days without charge
+ New features like Amazon Alexa functionality are handy as reminders to do exercise!
-The woven band isn’t waterproof, so has to be taken off while swimming or washing dishes at home!
-Doesn’t appear to be much different features-wise to the original Versa 2
Before I started wearing the Fitbit Versa 2, I had actually read an article which said the Versa 2 is “aimed at users keen on fitness, rather than those seeking productivity from a wearable”. But I disagree with that. Of course, someone who has absolutely no interest whatsoever in fitness may not necessarily be inclined to buy a Fitbit. However, I found that it really did keep me motivated and encouraged me to get moving more. Particularly now that I am doing some work at home full-time. So, I’ll take you through some of the features of the Fitbit Versa 2, and what’s so special about the Special Edition…
Clear display, slick design
The first thing that impressed me about this Versa 2 Special Edition was how stylish and eye-catching it was! The woven navy and blush-pink strap has a rose-gold buckle and the display screen also has rose gold around the edges and on its back. It looks very slick, I absolutely loved the design. However, I did feel that the sensation of the fabric strap against my wrist was a little uncomfortable at times. This was the reason that I had a tendency to take the Versa 2 off at night. It meant I very rarely tracked my sleeping habits, which is one of the great features on the smartwatch.
Another thing is that, while the Versa 2 Special Edition is said to be waterproof like the original version, the woven fabric of the strap is not. You can’t wear it swimming. And I had to keep taking it off every time I showered and washed the dishes (which was a lot because unfortunately I don’t own a dishwasher!). Of course, you can change the band and there’s plenty of water-resistant ones to buy online. But I loved the colour and pattern on the strap. It’s what makes this edition so unique!
The Versa 2 Special Edition display screen has been updated and has a larger screen than the original Versa 1. Compared to my friend’s original Versa, it does appear to be larger and is very clear. In addition, the set-up at the beginning was simple. It’s just a matter of downloading the Fitbit app to your phone and typing in some general information about yourself.
According to the National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Fitbit starts everyone off with a 10,000-step goal. The site says “this adds up to about five miles each day for most people, which includes about 30 minutes of daily exercise”. This satisfies the National Guidelines. However, you can change the goal, depending on your needs. For example, if your goal is to lose weight or for general fitness gains.
Because I was never tracking my steps before using the Fitbit, I’m not sure if I was even meeting the National Guidelines. And being at home the whole time, it’s easy to recognise that more. It was getting too easy for me to spend a day sitting at my laptop, and then just move to the couch for the night. But research shows that sitting for long periods of time may bring about a higher risk of health issues, like obesity. So it’s important to move for a few minutes every hour. Hence, the hourly reminders from Fitbit. When I feel the vibration on my wrist, it’s enough to make me get up and do a quick walk around the house. Or, get some cleaning done to keep my body moving (multi-tasking at its best!).
While I’m not hard on myself if I don’t meet the daily 10,000-step goal, anywhere near to this number and I’m happy. It’s surprising how motivated you can feel when you see the steps counter rise. I can now achieve about 4,000-5,000 steps in approximately one hour, because of the lunchtime walk I do around the countryside near my house. Then, whatever other activities I do around the house brings this number up even more!
Amazon Alexa functionality
The Versa 2 Special Edition has Alexa voice control and you don’t need an Alexa device or anything, just an Amazon account to set it up. With Alexa voice control, you can set handy reminders to go for a walk or jog at a certain time, check the weather or your calendar. The Versa 2 also allows you to create voice messages to respond to text messages. I thought this to be a handy function if you’re in the middle of a run and can’t take your phone out of your pocket or simply don’t have your phone with you.
However, the downfall is that your phone actually needs to be nearby for Alexa to work. Alexa uses the Bluetooth connection between the phone and the Versa 2. Sometimes, I like to leave my phone at home when I head out for a walk so there’s no distractions. It was too good to be true, thinking that I would be able to just use my smartwatch as a replacement. That wasn’t the case. I would have to carry my phone with me if I wanted to use this feature, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Users of Fitbit can also sign up to Fitbit Premium. This is a paid-for membership service that uses your Fitbit data to deliver personalised guidance and coaching to help achieve your health and fitness goals. It’s designed for users to get more out of their experience. It’s about €10/£8 a month (or you can choose the annual option) and available through the Fitbit app on your phone. You get access to guided programmes, different workout videos, challenges, health tips and a mindfulness meditation library. In response to the COVID-19 lockdowns, Fitbit is actually giving users a three-month free trial. So, this was a perfect opportunity for me to check it out before buying.
There’s a variety of workout videos to choose from, focused on targeting different body parts and ranging from easy to medium to hard. I tried a 15-minute cardio workout and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s a fun way to start the day with a quick workout. I felt full of energy afterwards. I also tried out some mindfulness exercises to help me relax and get ready for the working day ahead. I’m definitely going to try to add this to my daily routine from now on.
Fitbit also has a series of guided fitness programmes, which they advise consulting with a healthcare professional before beginning. I’m yet to try any of these, but I’m definitely going to make use of having access to the 3-week ‘Tone & Lift Your Butt’ one! While there’s a lot of good programmes and workouts on Fitbit Premium, I’m not sure I will keep my membership going when the free trial runs out. I think it’s for people who are more serious about building better habits or losing weight. I feel that if I really want to do a workout video (which isn’t too often!) or a meditation session, I’ll just find something on YouTube.
Battery, music and other
Other features I loved on the Versa 2 include the long-lasting battery (it can last for at least four or five days unlike my iPhone which lasts about 2 hours!) and the music experience. You can sync your Spotify or Deezer playlist to the Versa 2, but you can also sync songs from your computer. I did have to Google a step-by-step on how to do this, but it’s actually very simple to follow. Over 300 songs can be stored on the Versa 2. And I loved the fact that I didn’t need to carry my phone with me to sync the playlist. The songs are all stored on the Fitbit, all you need is wireless Bluetooth headphones to connect to
For women, there’s also a Female Health option which allows you to keep track of when your next period is due. I found this very convenient – being someone who always loses track of my cycle! I liked the fact that I could keep track of my heart rate, food and daily water intake, because I’m trying to keep my hydration levels up more these days.
All-in-all, I’m glad the Fitbit Versa 2 Special Edition has come into my life. I honestly can’t remember myself without it now. It really has encouraged me to get up off my ass more! I’m a lot more active than I have been in the past few months. The Special Edition Woven Strap (Navy and Pink) version can be purchased from a variety of tech stores online.
On Currys.ie, it’s currently €219/£219. However, the regular Fitbit Versa 2 is €199/£199 on the same site. Judging by its features, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot different to this. The only difference seems to be that you get a woven strap with the special edition. So I wouldn’t necessarily say that the Special Edition is a game changer. The regular Versa 2 may actually be a better investment as the strap is water-resistant. You’ll save a couple of Euro if you planned on buying a water-resistant strap for the Special Edition Fitbit further down the line.
I’m still learning and discovering a lot about the Fitbit Versa 2 Special Edition. But I would advise anyone considering investing in one to not hesitate anymore, go ahead and buy one! I was going to buy a new watch recently, but I’m actually glad I didn’t in the end. Because now I have a stylish Fitbit on my wrist which provides the time, keeps me motivated to move, lets me access my music, tracks my period cycle, gives me reminders on the hour and much more. A simple watch can’t do all that!
I would give the Fitbit Versa 2 Special Edition a FOUR out of five-star rating.
You can see the product on their website fitbit.com/ie/home
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