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Ello review: it’s not the ‘anti’ anything

You’ve probably seen Ello pop up on your RSS feed (or however you happen to keep up with information) over the past few days. The new social media site has been dubbed the “anti-Facebook”, due to its strikingly sparse interface and promise to not make you the product. To gauge how accurate that is, I went inside to discover what Ello is, and who it isn’t for.

To my mind, Ello is like any other bootstrap startup. It’s simple, pretty effective at one thing, and simple enough to grasp. Those who try to over-complicate Ello do it a disservice. It’s social, just a different take on what that is, and means.

For Ello, the goal is to feed you info on a macro scale. It’s like a warehouse full of people who somehow heard that there was a party there. A party may happen, but we’re all a bit early to the event. You know, if a party actually breaks out.

Posting is dead simple, and you can mention people you follow via the familiar “@” tag. Finding new users is easy via “discovery”. You can upload pics or GIFs to a post, too. That’s really about it. Being beta, there aren’t many bells and whistles yet.

Though simple, Ello might suffer from being a bit too open. It’s social without boundaries. You don’t have to use a real name, a picture, or even give any info about yourself. If you like vacationing in Ibiza, Ello will speak to you. They still ask for responsibility from users, but that’s self-regulation, and social media doesn’t lend itself to that.

That’s not to say Ello is void of reason or cause, though — it’s just different. Their ethos is that you aren’t the product, but that’s a bit obfuscated by a few facts. They’ve raised nearly half a million dollars in venture funding, and will charge for features down the line.

To their credit, backers say they’re fine with Ello’s current trajectory. Ello also doesn’t seem to be aiming for a big spend from users. Things like managing multiple accounts with one log-in will cost around $2. That’s not a lot, but could speak to the true aim, here.

Ello has a laundry list of to-do items, like the aforementioned log-in. Their list of features to be added doesn’t mention if you’ll need to pony up some cash to use them, though. The basic features are, and will likely remain, free. That strategy works for time-waster games on your iPad, but can a social site sustain that?

The rules clearly outline who is welcome to use Ello, with things like “Don’t threaten people” or “Don’t hate” prominently displayed. Still, the lack of a real name policy makes those rules easy to sidestep for the willing.

Ello won’t be for everyone, and it’s a weird little site right now. It’s like Tumblr in that it has GIFs, but also a lot like Medium in format and fit. Ello is social, but not as formal as Facebook. You get info, but not as quick or as much as Twitter.

Is Ello the anti-Facebook, as so many have put it? Not really. Ello is a fresh look at social, but it’s still social. You still need to know people, or get to know them. No social site is the anti-Facebook. That’s like saying Facebook was the anti-MySpace. It wasn’t, it was just different.

Ello is also different. It’s also beta (in so much that their search feature wasn’t working for me). Ello also isn’t for everyone, nor are they trying to be. It’s not an “anti-Facebook”, or “punk rock social”, or any of the other tags people give it.

It’s just Ello. Don’t label it, just try it.

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Ginger Grammar Checker Review: Is It Worth It In 2023?

Ginger Grammar Checker

Adrian Try

Effectiveness: Misses significant errors

Price: Premium plan $89.88/year

Ease of Use: Underlines errors, pops up corrections

Support: Help Center, video tutorials, web form

Why Trust Me for This Ginger Review?

I make my living writing. Although there are editors that find and remove errors I make, I prefer they don’t see any in the first place. Unfortunately, that’s rare, but I do my best. Part of my strategy is to run everything through a grammar checker—currently the free version of Grammarly—to pick up anything that my eyes and a normal spell check have missed.

I’ve been happy with the results, and have strongly considered subscribing to Grammarly’s Premium plan for some time. It’s a little expensive, though, and Ginger is almost half the price. I’m keen to find out if it’s a reasonable alternative, so I’ll run it through the same tests I used when evaluating Grammarly and ProWritingAid.

Ginger Grammar Checker: What’s In It for You?

Ginger Grammar Checker is all about helping you find and fix spelling and grammar mistakes. I’ll list its features in the following four sections. In each subsection, I’ll explore what the app offers and then share my take.

1. Ginger Checks Your Spelling and Grammar Online

Ginger Online will check your spelling and grammar in the text fields of most web pages, including services like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Significantly, it doesn’t work in Google Docs; you must either use their online editor or use a different grammar checker. Additionally, its browser extensions are only available for Chrome and Safari, leaving Windows users with a single browser choice.

Hovering over an error displays a corrected version of the whole line. Unlike other grammar checkers, suggestions are placed over the word rather than under it. Unlike Grammarly and ProWritingAid, Ginger doesn’t show an explanation of the error, just the correction.

So far, I’m quite disappointed with Ginger’s performance. I thought the Premium version might find more errors, so I subscribed. I tried again, but unfortunately, it made no difference at all.

Since I can’t test Ginger with a long document in Google Docs, I copied and pasted a 5,000-word article into its online editor. It took over five minutes for the entire document to be checked.

I also tested it in Gmail and was a lot happier with the result. Most errors were found, including contextual spelling and grammar. This time, corrections appeared below the word instead of above—not a big deal, but inconsistent all the same.

Unfortunately, it didn’t find all the errors. “I hop you are welle” is left as is, which is completely unacceptable.

My take: Ginger works online, but only if you use Chrome or Safari, and Google Docs isn’t supported. In my experience, Ginger identifies fewer grammar errors than Grammarly and ProWritingAid. I’m quite disappointed with the results; so far have no reason to choose Ginger over them.

2. Ginger Checks Your Spelling and Grammar in Microsoft Office for Windows

If you’re a Windows user, you can use Ginger on your desktop as well (Mac users are limited to the online experience.). A desktop app is available that works as both a standalone app and a plugin for Microsoft Office.

You won’t see an additional ribbon in Microsoft Office as you do when using ProWritingAid. Instead, Ginger replaces the default spell checker and provides live corrections as you type.

Rather than using the familiar Microsoft interface, Ginger’s interface is overlaid at the top of the screen. Instead of giving multiple alternative corrections, it provides just one, though in most cases, it’s the right one.

If you use a different word processor, you’ll have to copy and paste the text into Ginger’s desktop or online app to get corrections; the app doesn’t offer any way to open or save documents. Alternatively, you could type your text directly into the app using it as a primitive word processor.

You can’t format text from within the app. Any pasted formatting is retained, though, while any styles or images will be lost. A menu bar on the left allows you to access features to write, translate and define text, and shortcuts under “More” lead you to further resources online.

Ginger’s settings allow you to choose between US or UK English, set a hotkey to launch the app (the default is F2), select the font and font size used to display text, and whether to autostart the app with Windows and turn on Live Corrections.

As you type in the app, any errors are highlighted automatically. Hovering your mouse cursor over one of those words displays all of the recommended corrections for that line just as the online version does.

Alternatively, by hovering over each suggestion, you get the opportunity to correct errors one by one.

My take: Using Ginger in Windows seems to be the best method with long-form text since there is a risk of losing your styles and images if you copy and paste the text from another word processor. Can Grammarly do the same thing? Yes. Grammarly’s interface feels a little bolted on, though.

3. Ginger Checks Your Spelling and Grammar on Mobile Devices

While it’s not the focus of this review, it’s good to know that you can use Ginger on your mobile devices. There’s an app for iOS and iPadOS, and a keyboard for Android.

My take: Ginger seems to be taking mobile platforms seriously and offers full functionality on its iOS and Android apps.

4. Ginger Suggests How to Improve Your Writing

Like many grammar editors, Ginger claims to go beyond correcting errors: they want to help you write content that is clearer and more readable. It does this by offering numerous tools and resources.

The next tool is unique: the sentence rephraser. It takes sentences from your text and displays, when possible, several different ways to phrase them, which is helpful when looking for a more precise way to express a thought. I was excited about the possibilities of this feature, but it does less than I hoped.

Here are some suggested ways to rephrase the sentence, “Most writers will receive significant help from a quality grammar checker.”

“Most writers will get significant help from a quality grammar checker.”

“Most writers will receive substantial help from a quality grammar checker.”

In this example, rather than rephrasing the entire sentence, just one word is being replaced by a synonym each time. Not earth-shattering, but potentially helpful. I tested tons of sentences; in each case, only one word was replaced or added.

Unfortunately, many rephrasings are not helpful at all. One sentence had a contextual spelling error that the app had missed, and Ginger chose a synonym for that wrong word, leading to nonsense.

“It’s the best grammar checker I’ve scene.”

“It’s the best grammar checker I’ve vista.”

Another sentence with a missed grammar error produced two alternatives with equivalent grammar errors:

“Mary and Jane finds the treasure.”

“Mary and Jane discovers the treasure.”

“Mary and Jane finds the gem.”

Finally, Ginger offers an online “personal trainer” at chúng tôi When I visit the page, I’m told that I have 135 items to practice, and Ginger has given my English skills a score of 41.

Unfortunately, both answers seem to be incorrect. Surely the correct wording is, “My son believed in Santa Clause until he was 8.” But I understand that Ginger wants me to select the correct spelling of “believes,” so I choose the second button. I went on to complete each question successfully.

I’m doubtful how helpful these resources will be to writers and professionals. They seem to be aimed at school students and adults who are learning English and may be of genuine help to that sort of user.

My take: Ginger’s coaching tools seem aimed at those who are still learning English and will be of limited use to writers wanting to improve their readability and style.

Reasons Behind My Ratings

Effectiveness: 3/5

Ginger will find a range of grammar and spelling issues, but in my experience, it also misses a lot of significant errors. I don’t feel I would have the same peace of mind using this app as I would its competitors. Moreover, the Personal Trainer seems aimed at those learning English rather than professional writers.

Price: 4/5

Ginger is almost half the price of Grammarly, and similar in cost to ProWritingAid, WhiteSmoke, and StyleWriter. However, it doesn’t offer the accuracy of some of those other apps.

Ease of Use: 4/5

Support: 4/5

The official website includes a searchable Help Center covering General, Android, iOS, and Desktop topics. These explain how the app works and answer queries relating to billing, subscriptions, privacy, and registration. Video tutorials show how to install and enable Ginger. You can contact the support team via a web form, but phone and chat support are not available.

Alternatives to Ginger Grammar Checker

Grammarly ($139.95/year) plugs into Google Docs and Microsoft Word via online and desktop apps to check your text for correctness, clarity, delivery, engagement, and plagiarism.

ProWritingAid ($79/year, $299 lifetime) is similar and also supports Scrivener (on Mac and Windows). It’s included with a SetApp subscription ($10/month).

WhiteSmoke ($79.95/year) detects grammar errors and plagiarism in Windows. A $59.95/year web version is also available, and a Mac app is in the works.

StyleWriter (Starter Edition $90, Standard Edition $150, Professional Edition $190) checks grammar in Microsoft Word.

Hemingway Editor is free on the web and shows how you can improve the readability of your text.

Hemingway Editor 3.0 ($19.95) is a new desktop version of Hemingway for Mac and Windows.

After the Deadline (free for personal use) offers suggestions about your writing and identifies potential errors.

Conclusion

There’s nothing more embarrassing than pressing “Send” on an important email just before you notice a spelling or grammar error. You’ve wasted your only opportunity to give a positive first impression. How do you prevent this? A quality grammar checker can help, and Ginger promises to make sure your text is clear and correct.

It works online (with Chrome and Safari), in Windows (but not Mac), and on your iOS or Android mobile device. It scans your emails or documents and displays any errors you missed.

You can use Ginger’s basic features online for free. You’ll need a premium subscription to use it on your Windows desktop, access unlimited grammar checks, and use the sentence rephraser, text reader, and personal trainer. This costs $20.97/month, or $89.88/year, or $159.84 biyearly.

There’s no trial period for the Premium plan, but there is a seven-day 100% refund for first-time purchasers. Ginger also offers significant discounts from time to time. A few days after I subscribed, I noticed that they had a 48-hour sale with 70% off all plans—so keep your eyes open.

How does Ginger Grammar Checker live up to its promises and compare with similar apps? The review above should have given you the answer. I don’t recommend Ginger. See the Alternatives section for better options.

Bp Doctor Pro Review: Pump It Up

Pros

Standout BP monitoring system

Surprisingly unobtrusive design

Easy to use

Cons

Limited exercise tracking

Dated software design

Temperamental

Our Verdict

The BP Doctor Pro brings an extremely rare and important feature to the smartwatch space by being able to measure your blood pressure. Unfortunately, the experience is patchy and the device struggles to match up to its rivals in all other areas.

The Apple Watch is generally considered the timepiece that sits atop the smartwatch throne these days, and the company has been keen to market the device not so much as an iPhone for your wrist but rather as a health tracking tool. Now, after a successful crowdfunding campaign, a new contender enters the arena with a unique feature that the even all-conquering Apple Watch doesn’t offer: blood pressure measurement.

This is a really interesting addition, as high blood pressure can be difficult to ascertain without tests and can lead to heart attacks or strokes. So, being able to monitor it on a regular basis could really be a matter of life or death. But, is the BP Doctor Pro a serious alternative to the competition or just a one-trick pony?

The BP Doctor Pro doesn’t quite have the elegance of Apple’s Watch, but the design is certainly pleasant enough. The main display area is enclosed in a pill-shaped glass-covered face that has a square 1.4in panel at its midpoint.

The chassis is stainless steel, with two buttons on the right side – one for navigation the other for power. The latter is a small circular design that can be stiff to use, this makes it uncomfortable to press and hold, something I needed to do a couple of times to reset the device when it locked up. 

At first glance, I was worried that the watch would look bulky on my slim wrists, but it actually sits quite nicely and feels comfortable to wear. This is aided by the thick silicon strap, which also houses the real innovation of this design. Inside is an inflating section that squeezes your wrist and allows the BP Doctor Pro to measure the pressure of the blood flowing through your veins arteries. It can be a little disconcerting at first, but this physical aspect of the approach means you should get accurate readings. More on that later.

Turning the device over reveals a collection of sensors that help with not only blood pressure but heart rate and blood oxygen levels too. There’s also an array of contacts used to charge the 180mAh LiPo battery when the BP Doctor Pro is placed in the accompanying charging dock.

In truth, it’s a bit of a struggle to get the watch out of the dock when it’s fully charged (that takes about 1.5 hours), as the snap-in nature of the design doesn’t provide a grip or release mechanism. You just have to pull it out with a bit of force. This will probably loosen up over time, but it does seem like the team at YHE didn’t give it too much thought amidst development. Still, it does the job and the watch certainly won’t slip out during the night, leaving you with an uncharged battery in the morning.

Features and performance

On-wrist blood pressure monitoring

Clean, simple app experience

Limited fitness tracking

The BP Doctor Pro has a range of features (mainly health focussed), as well as some of the more standard fare of smartwatch functions. Obviously, blood pressure is the main selling point, so I’ll deal with that first. 

Being able to monitor your blood pressure regularly is something that could help avoid serious health risks that might otherwise go undetected – like hypertension (consistently elevated blood pressure), kidney disease, stroke and more. So, this feature really is something of a game-changer in terms of how smartwatches transition into full-on health monitoring devices. 

The way blood pressure is analysed comes in the form of two measurements – Systolic and Diastolic  – that is displayed as, for example, 120/70. As defined by the NHS, the first number (Systolic) is “the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body”, while the Diastolic metric “is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.” The NHS has a dedicated Blood Pressure page outlining the various risks involved with this area, as well as a guide to what the numbers mean. 

As mentioned above, the BP Doctor Pro uses an inflating section within its strap, which constricts around the area just above your wrist. This allows the device to get a better picture of the pressure of your blood via its various sensors. 

While testing the BP Doctor Pro, I did find that opening the blood pressure app and starting the test usually ended with a failed attempt rather than a result. This could be for a variety of reasons. Either the strap isn’t tight enough, the elevation of the watch isn’t parallel with your heart or various other failure codes for which there are no explanations in the manual or on the website. This did become frustrating, as the idea of an easy way to monitor blood pressure levels became something that actually raised it due to annoyance on more than one occasion.

After a while though, I found a few poses that seemed to return results on a more consistent basis, and my measurements were recorded in the accompanying app so that I could see how they looked across a week or so. This is important, as individual readings can be affected by things like having eaten within 30 minutes of taking the test, drinking alcohol or even having a full bladder. So building up a picture of your blood pressure and how it changes over time should allow for a greater understanding of the state of your cardiovascular health.

For the sake of comparison, I also used a Salter Automatic Arm Blood Pressure Monitor, which you can buy for around £30/US$30 on Amazon. This uses the upper arm cuff as you’d find in a doctor’s surgery.

Results were interesting, in that the BP Doctor Pro often reported higher readings, in several cases by as much as 20 points, which can be the difference between healthy and hypertension. I think the Salter was more in line with the tests I’ve had by my doctor recently (I suffer from high cholesterol), but as with any consumer-level tracker, once you work out the normal disparity, you can then factor it into results. I’ve had several step trackers that are generous while others are stingy, but when you know that, you can calculate what the readings really mean. 

I wouldn’t rely on the BP Doctor Pro as a means of accurately telling you your exact blood pressure, but if you use it for a week or so, then visit your doctor and get a professional reading, it could be a good indicator of any fluctuations or build-ups, again which could be extremely useful. 

Aside from blood pressure readings, the BP Doctor Pro has a few other health monitoring features. These include current heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), blood oxygen levels, sleep tracking and, of course, your daily step count.

Most work happily in the background, with the HRV monitoring the consistency of your heart rate to spot any potentially dangerous variances, while sleep tracking records the quality of your slumbers. All the results are then transferred to the companion smartphone app; with extra detail supplied to give you some understanding of the data actually all means. 

The BP Doctor Pro does offer some basic exercise tracking, but feels a bit half-hearted (if you’ll pardon the thematic pun) when you consider what else is out there. You have three modes to choose between: Outdoor Walk, Indoor Running and Outdoor Running.

This paltry trio falls far short of the competition in the more mainstream activity tracker and smartwatch space; with entries like Huawei’s Watch 3 able to track more than 100 different activities, while the affordable new Amazfit GTS 3 pushes that figure to beyond 150.

There are different targets you can set for each exercise – time, distance and calories – so you can keep going until you hit your goal.

In practice though, the exercise modes were not the best. Several times I started the mode, only to find the countdown beginning again ten minutes into my walk. Data recording was also patchy, with the app not showing several sessions, and the most infuriating thing was not being able to leave the exercise app during a session without losing all the progress. If you want a fitness tracker, there are so many better options at a fraction of the price of the BP Doctor Pro. 

The BP Doctor Pro comes up short in this area too. To be fair, it doesn’t necessarily position itself as a smartwatch for general use, and that’s a good thing because it’s pretty poor in this regard.

You can’t send messages, control your Bluetooth devices, download apps or host any media on the device itself. You can receive messages – so long as you enable them in the app – but the notifications were hit and miss and you had no option to respond from the device (at least when paired with an iPhone).

There are alarms available, plus a weather app if you connect a compatible service, but it’s all very basic. In truth, I found the Amazfit GTS Mini 2 a much more refined experience, with plenty of health and exercise tracking features included, for about a quarter the price of the BP Doctor Pro. 

Software and interface

Easy-to-use UI

Middling watch face selection

Multiple means for watch face activation

YHE deploys its own software on the BP Doctor Pro, with mixed results. The main screen acts as the watch face and there are several to choose from via the app. Unfortunately, most are emulations of analogue watches and don’t suit the Pro’s contemporary aesthetics at all.

The metrics being tracked are relegated to small windows that are hard to read, with the designs all looking as if they’d been lifted from the early days of Wear OS.

Swiping down from the watch face opens the quick settings menu while swiping up shows the notifications page. Left and right swipes give you access to your step count or the blood pressure, heart rate or blood oxygen tests.

To access the other features you’ll need to press the long button on the side of the casing, then select the mode (mostly health tracking) from the scrollable menu. 

It doesn’t take long to get used to the layout, and with the limited range of features, you’ll be zipping around in no time. Pressing the long button instantly returns you to the Home screen if you get lost. 

Delving into the settings allows you to enable/disable the raise-to-wake or always-on display options, albeit with a small hit to the battery life. There’s no way to simply tap the screen to show the time though, so it’s either possible using the side button or by relying on the aforementioned settings.

Raising my wrist (to check the time, not my blood pressure) was another frustration, as the display often didn’t register the motion or did it so slowly that I was putting my arm down again by the time the watch face eventually popped onto the screen. Hopefully, this can be tweaked via subsequent software updates, as it became a real bugbear during my time with the device. 

The layout of the user experience is, at least, clean though; with information generally easy to read. It’s also bright enough in the sunshine, thanks to the quality of the AMOLED display. 

I found that I got just over two days from a single charge when I had the raise-to-wake setting enabled while checking my blood pressure every other day.

You could no doubt extend this by turning off the wake feature, but it seemed the best compromise for performance and usability. Thankfully, it doesn’t take that long to get the BP Doctor Pro back up to a full charge, with an hour and half in its dock doing the trick. 

You can order the BP Doctor Pro smartwatch directly from YHE for £290/US$399/€340. 

This puts it in the same ballpark as the Apple Watch SE – which goes for £269/US$279 and the Fitbit Sense – which retails at £279/US$299; although neither of these can measure your blood pressure.

For that, there’s always the Salter Automatic Arm Blood Pressure Monitor mentioned earlier, for £25.99 on Amazon UK (along with several other similarly priced options for customers in the US and other territories), as a standalone solution.

If you’re dead-set on a smartwatch alternative with such functionality though, Samsung’s latest Galaxy Watch 4 series (priced from £249/€269/US$249.99) is probably your best bet.

The caveat with the Galaxy Watch is that – while it trumps the Apple Watch and other direct rivals in terms of being able to offer blood pressure monitoring at all – it doesn’t use the BP Doctor Pro’s signature inflatable cuff solution; instead relying on its array of sensors and some AI algorithms to extrapolate your blood pressure, based on something called ‘pulse transit time.’

This method is both considered less reliable and is only really good at representing changes to the wearer’s blood pressure over time, making it an imperfect alternative to the approach used by the BP Doctor Pro or, better yet, what you’d find at an actual medical facility.

There’s also the small wrinkle of the feature being completely unavailable to users in some markets, including the US, where it awaits FDA approval.

The BP Doctor Pro is an important product. Being able to track blood pressure – rather than just heart rate or blood oxygen saturation – is a metric that carries more weight when it comes to offering genuine life-saving potential; so having it on a wearable device is something of a landmark ( Omron’s HeartGuide [which costs almost twice as much] notwithstanding).

The inflating band is clever and achieves the surprising feat of also being comfortable to wear. The problem is that while the BP Doctor Pro is important, it also shows the classic signs that it’s early in its development.

The health metrics are a strong seller, but many of these are available on other products, including the aforementioned Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch. Crucially though, the tentpole feature of being able to measure blood pressure is inconsistent and at times infuriating. 

The sad truth is that buying an Apple Watch Series 3 for £199/US$199 and pairing it with the Salter desktop blood pressure monitor mentioned earlier, will provide an infinitely better experience and probably more accurate results, for less money.

Android users can also take their pick of any fitness tracker or smartwatch, then pair it with the likes of the Salter to get the best of both worlds. I really wanted to love the BP Doctor Pro and YHE deserves much credit for helping to push this technology into the smartwatch space, but at this point in time, with the market as competitive as it is, it just doesn’t stand up to its rivals.

Specs YHE BP Doctor Pro: Specs

1.4in AMOLED Display with 320×360 resolution

208MHz MTK CPU

PPG Heart Rate sensor

Triaxial Accelerometer

Gyroscope

Pressure sensor

Bluetooth 4.2 30mm, Inflating silicon strap for Blood Pressure measurement

Stainless steel chassis

180mAh battery

54x38x12.9mm

60g

Charging dock

Grammarly Review: Is It Really Worth Using In 2023?

Grammarly

Adrian Try

Effectiveness: Picks up most errors

Price: Premium plan starting $12 per month

Ease of Use: Pop-up suggestions, color-coded alerts

Support: Knowledgebase, ticketing system

Why Trust Me for This Grammarly Review?

I’ve always been good at proofreading, and when I was a student, I’d often submit a list of errors in the training manuals so they could be corrected for future classes. I worked as an editor for five years and never felt like I needed any help from an app.

But I’m highly aware that when reviewing my own work, I can allow mistakes to slip through more frequently. Perhaps that’s because I know what I meant to say. There’s also the issue of Australian spelling differing from US spelling.

When I started writing for SoftwareHow, I was always impressed with how many small errors J.P. picked up when editing my work. It turns out he was using Grammarly. He’s a good editor without the program, but even better with it.

So about a year ago, I started to use the free version of Grammarly. I don’t use it as I write—worrying about little mistakes at that stage will stall my momentum. Instead, I leave it until the final stage of my writing process, just before I submit my work.

I’ve been evaluating grammar checkers since the 1980s and never found them very helpful. Grammarly is the first one that I discovered that I actually find useful. Until now, I’ve only used the free version, but now that I’ve tasted the premium version while writing this review, I’m seriously considering subscribing.

Grammarly Review: What’s In It for You?

Grammarly is all about correcting and improving your writing, and I’ll list its features in the following six sections. In each subsection, I’ll explore what the app offers and then share my personal take.

1. Check Spelling and Grammar Online

It’s been quite stable for me over the last year. There were a few weeks when it would crash Google Docs (thankfully without data loss), but that problem has been resolved.

I generally write in US English, but quite often, my Australian spelling slips through anyway. Grammarly helps me pick up on this.

Better still is when Grammarly picks up spelling errors based on the context that other spell checkers may miss. Both “some” and “one” are in the English dictionary, but Grammarly understands that the right word for this sentence is “someone.”

The same with “scene.” It’s a valid word, but incorrect in context.

But not all of its suggestions are correct. Here it suggests I replace “plug in” with the noun “plugin.” But the original verb was actually right.

Grammarly’s real strength is identifying grammatical errors. In the following example, it realizes I’ve used the wrong case. “Jane finds the treasure” would be right, but the app realizes that “Mary and Jane” is plural, so I should use the word “find.”

I appreciate it when the app picks up more subtle errors, for example, using “less” when “fewer” is correct.

The app helps with punctuation, too. For example, it will tell me when I’ve used a comma that shouldn’t be there.

It tells me when I’ve missed a comma, too.

I know that not everyone uses the “Oxford” comma at the end of a list, but I’m glad the app made the suggestion. Grammarly can be quite opinionated! Just take the alerts as suggestions.

Besides Google Docs, the other place I most value Grammarly when I’m online is composing emails in a web interface such as Gmail. Not all emails need Grammarly—you don’t need perfect grammar in an informal email. But some emails are particularly important, and I appreciate that Grammarly is there when I need it.

My personal take: My primary use of Grammarly so far has been online: checking documents in Google Docs and emails in Gmail. Even when using the free plan, I’ve found the app incredibly helpful. When you subscribe to the Premium plan, the extra features will automatically appear, and we’ll explore those below.

2. Check Spelling and Grammar in Microsoft Office

You can use Grammarly in your desktop word processor, too, as long as you use Microsoft Office, and as long as you run Windows. Fortunately, that’s an app that a lot of people use, but I hope that they improve support for other desktop apps in the future. Mac support would be appreciated, as would support for other word processors like Pages and chúng tôi and writing apps like Scrivener and Ulysses.

Grammarly’s Office plugin allows you to use the app in Word documents and Outlook email. Grammarly icons will be available in the ribbon, and you will see suggestions at the right of the screen.

Image: Grammarly

If you use a different word processor, you’ll have to paste or import your text into Grammarly. You can use the web interface at chúng tôi or their Editor app for Windows or Mac (see below). Rich text is supported, so you won’t lose your formatting.

My personal take: Many people choose Microsoft Word as their word processor. If that’s you, and you’re a Windows user, you can use Grammarly from within the app. Unfortunately, if you use a different app, you’ll have to find a workaround. Typically, that involves copying or importing your text into Grammarly manually.

3. Check Spelling and Grammar on Mobile Devices

Grammarly is available as a keyboard on both iOS and Android. It’s not as pleasant an experience as with Grammarly’s other interfaces, but it’s not bad.

I find this the most convenient way to use Grammarly with Ulysses, my favorite writing app. I can’t use it from within the Mac version of the app, but all of my work is available synced to my iPad where I can use the Grammarly keyboard.

I copied the test document I used in Section 1 (above) from Google Docs into Ulysses and used the iOS Grammarly keyboard to check it. The keyboard section of my iPad displays a series of cards explaining each error and allowing me to make the correction with a single tap. I can swipe left or right to navigate the cards.

Like the web version, it identifies spelling mistakes based on context.

It recognizes a large number of proper nouns, including company names.

It identifies incorrect grammar.

It also identifies problems with punctuation.

If I use the Grammarly keyboard to type the document, it will make suggestions in real-time.

My personal take: By providing a mobile keyboard, Grammarly can work with all of your mobile apps, whether on iOS or Android.

4. Provide a Basic Word Processor

It seems that many users don’t just use Grammarly to check their writing, they use it to do their writing as well. Grammarly’s web and desktop apps offer basic word processing features. You need to be connected to the web to use the apps—they don’t have an offline mode at this time.

I’ve never used Grammarly’s editor before, so I downloaded it and installed it on my iMac, then logged into a premium account. It’s the first time I’ve tried the premium features, too. It’s a basic word processor that offers all of Grammarly’s features as you type. Rich text formatting is available, including bold, italics, underline, two levels of headings, links, and ordered and unordered lists.

The language can be easily switched between American, British, Canadian, and Australian English.

One unique feature is its goals. Writing apps like Scrivener and Ulysses help you track word count goals and deadlines, but Grammarly is different. It wants to know about the type of audience you are writing for, how formal the document should be, and its tone and intent. The app can then give you input on how to more effectively communicate your purpose to your intended audience.

The rest of the app’s features focus on Grammarly’s core strengths of correcting and improving your writing, and we’ll look at those below.

My personal take: Grammarly’s editor offers enough editing and formatting functionality for most writers. But the real reason to use the app is Grammarly’s unique correction and suggestion features, which we’ll look at next.

5. Suggest How to Improving Your Writing Style

I’m interested in Grammarly’s premium features, particularly those that promise to improve the readability of my writing. The app splits its suggestions (alerts) into four categories:

Correctness, marked in red,

Clarity, marked in blue,

Engagement, marked in green,

Delivery, marked in purple.

There are 88 red “Correctness” alerts for my document, indicating problems with spelling, grammar, and punctuation as we looked at in Section 1 above.

I receive high scores for “Clarity” and “Delivery,” but not “Engagement.” Grammarly finds the article “a bit bland.” I’m curious to see how it recommends I spice up the content, so I scroll down looking for suggestions marked in green.

The same goes for the word “normal,” though the suggested alternatives don’t seem any more engaging.

Grammarly doesn’t just look for words that are overused in general, it also considers words that are used repeatedly in the current document. It identifies that I’ve used “rating” frequently, and suggests using an alternative.

When checking for clarity, the app shows me where something can be said more simply, using fewer words.

It also warns when a sentence may be too long for the intended audience. It suggests that any unnecessary words be removed, or that you split the sentence in two.

My personal take: This has been my first real look at Grammarly’s premium features. I appreciate that it evaluates my document in several ways, and uses different colors to differentiate between the different types of suggestions. I found many of its recommendations useful. For example, when writing a lengthy article you may not notice that you’ve used a word too frequently, but Grammarly will let you know.

6. Check for Plagiarism

Grammarly detects plagiarism by comparing your document with billions of web pages and ProQuest’s academic databases. You get an alert when your text matches one of these sources. The feature was designed for students but is useful for any writer who wants to make sure their work is original. That’s especially important when publishing to the web, where takedown notices are a real risk.

To test this feature, I imported two long Word documents, one that contains several quotes, and one that doesn’t contain any. In both cases, the plagiarism check took less than half a minute. For the second document, I received a clean bill of health.

The other document had major plagiarism issues. It was found to be virtually identical to an article found on the web, but that turned out to be where my article was published on SoftwareHow. It’s not 100% identical because some changes were made before it was published.

Grammarly also correctly identified the sources of all seven quotes found in the article. Checking for plagiarism isn’t foolproof, however. I experimented by blatantly copying and pasting text directly from some websites, and Grammarly sometimes incorrectly assured me that my work was 100% original.

My personal take: In our current climate of copyright concerns and takedown notices, Grammarly’s plagiarism checker is an invaluable tool. While not foolproof, it will correctly identify most copyright infringements contained in the text.

Reasons Behind My Ratings

Here’s why I gave Grammarly the ratings as shown above.

Effectiveness: 4.5/5

Grammarly brings together a spell checker, grammar checker, writing coach, and plagiarism checker in one helpful app. Most of its suggestions are useful, accurate, and go beyond pointing out errors to improving your style and readability. However, I wish that more word processors and writing apps were supported.

Price: 3.5/5

Grammarly is a subscription service and an expensive one at that. While the free version is quite useful, writers who want to access all of its features need to pay $139.95/year. Some other grammar checkers are similarly priced, but this cost is more than a Microsoft Office 365 Business subscription. Many potential users may find that excessive.

Ease of Use: 4.5/5

Support: 4/5

Grammarly’s Support Page offers a comprehensive, searchable knowledge base that deals with billing and accounts, troubleshooting, and the use of the app. If further help is needed, you can submit a ticket. Phone and chat support are not available.

Conclusion

How many times have you pressed Send on an email or Publish on a blog post, and immediately noticed a mistake? Why couldn’t you see it earlier? Grammarly promises a fresh pair of eyes to look over your document and pick up on things you may have missed.

It’s much more than a basic spell-check. It will check for a range of English grammar and punctuation errors, taking context into consideration. For example, it will suggest you change “less errors” to “fewer errors,” pick up misspellings of company names and suggest readability improvements. It’s not perfect, but it is incredibly helpful. And you get much of that for free.

A premium version that’s even more helpful is available for $139.95/year (or $150/year/user for businesses). Here’s how the free and premium plans differ in five significant areas:

Correctness: The free plan corrects grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The premium plan also checks for consistency and fluency.

Clarity: The free plan checks for conciseness. The premium plan also checks readability.

Delivery: The free plan detects tone. The premium plan also detects confident writing, politeness, formality level, and inclusive writing.

Engagement: isn’t included in the free plan, but the premium plan checks for compelling vocabulary and lively sentence structure.

Plagiarism: is only checked for with the premium plan.

Unfortunately, Grammarly isn’t available everywhere you write. Still, most people will find a way of bringing it into their writing workflow. It runs in your web browser and works with Google Docs. It works with Microsoft Office on Windows (but not Mac), and Grammarly Editor apps are available for both Mac and Windows. Finally, a Grammarly keyboard for iOS and Android allows you to use it with all of your mobile apps.

It certainly won’t replace a human editor, and not all of its suggestions will be correct. But it’s likely to pick up errors you missed and make useful tips to improve your writing.

So, what’s your thought on this Grammarly review? Let us know.

Dell Xps Tower Special Edition Review: It’s Faster Than It Looks

This gaming PC might not give you a rush each time you look at it, but it gets the job done quietly and without any drama.

Back in the day, Dell’s XPS desktops were fire-breathing gaming machines. They could take on the best from Falcon Northwest, Alienware, Origin, and the rest of the “money is no object” boutique builders.

Judging by the redesigned XPS Tower Special Edition, Dell remains committed to that division between its brands. Instead of an all-out battlestation, this refreshed XPS offers a rock-solid gaming experience that runs coolly and quietly in an extremely understated design.

Chassis and ports

The big news with the XPS Tower Special Edition is its retooled chassis. The frame is now 27 percent smaller than the previous one, measuring just 15 inches tall and 14 inches deep. Dell’s achieved this shrinkage by moving some of the drive bays and putting the power supply over the CPU area.

Alaina Yee

Despite the tight design and single case fan—a 120mm spinner that sits atop the system at the back—airflow doesn’t seem to be an issue. (Skip ahead to the “Acoustics and thermals” section for how the machine performs during stress testing.) Tinkering with the system’s hardware is easy, too. When you pop off the side door via an easy-to-pull hinge on the back of the system, you can see two things: the power supply assembly and the GPU. If you pull on two more latches, you can release the power supply, which is attached to an arm that swings out from left to right. Getting access to the CPU is as simple as moving the PSU and its metal assembly out of the way.

For later expansion, you get just two empty 3.5-inch drive trays: one on the bottom of the chassis, and one that attaches where you’d normally expect a front intake fan. There’s also M.2 slot on the motherboard that supports PCI Express.

Alaina Yee

In exchange for the limited number of bays, the system can handle up to 10.5-inch GPUs—or nearly every high-end video card available. A notable exception would be the Titan X Pascal, but given that the included power supply is 460W, you wouldn’t be able to support one on the included PSU anyway. The 225W limit for the GPU via its dual six-pin PCIe power connectors is enough for a GTX 1080 (which has a TDP of 180W), but it’s not enough for a Titan X (TDP rating of 250W).

The hardware

Two versions of this computer exist: the XPS Tower and the XPS Tower Special Edition. The two models look the same visually aside from the color of the diamond-cut faceplate: The standard version’s is piano-black, while the Special Edition’s is gray. 

Monica Lee

Our review unit is the base configuration with a GPU upgrade. This config starts at $1,000 for a Core i5-6400, Radeon RX 480 GPU, 8GB of DDR4/2133 RAM, 1TB 7200rom hard-disk drive, and support for 802.11ac wireless. This variant with a GTX 1070 Founders Edition card bumps up the price to $1,250. That’s a reasonable figure, though of course you could build a similar system for less if you did some careful deal-hunting. (You won’t be able to replicate the precise, compact layout of Dell’s tower, though.)

Performance

With a mid-range Core i5 CPU and GTX 1070, the Dell XPS Tower Special Edition is a decent gaming machine (especially given its price). Its hardware does have some limitations, however, which are especially noticeable when compared to PCs with Core i7 chips. Overall, though, it still provides a mighty fine experience. Let’s dig in.

3Dmark Fire Strike

Because the XPS Tower Special Edition is meant for gaming, we hauled out 3DMark’s Fire Strike as our first benchmark. It’s a synthetic test that everyone knows and loves because it scales well and does an excellent job of replicating real-world results. It also takes into account both CPU and GPU power, which reflects clearly in this Dell desktop’s results.

PCWorld

Though the XPS Tower has a stock GTX 1070, it didn’t perform quite as well as the other GTX 1070 systems we’ve seen. Its mid-range Core i5 processor constrains overall performance—relative to the top dog in our comparison, which paired a swift Core i7-6700K with a GTX 1070, the XPS Tower was 22 percent slower. Even AVA Direct’s Avant Tower, which uses a mini version of the GTX 1070, outperforms this Dell desktop thanks to its speedier CPU.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor 4K

PCWorld

In this particular game and at this particular resolution, the XPS Tower Special Edition’s Core i5 chip doesn’t play as much of a role as during 3DMark’s Fire Strike test. Dell’s tower sits right in the same pocket as the Avant Tower—slightly behind the Cerise, but roughly in the same neighborhood. We did see a slightly bigger gap open up in our 1920×1080 benchmark, with a 11 percent drop in performance between the Dell and the Cerise. (The Cerise ran at 132.08 fps vs. the Dell’s 116.57 fps.)

That said, the XPS Tower still delivers a great gaming experience at either resolution. For context, our PCWorld Zero Point machine’s GTX 980 just managed to hit the golden minimum of 60 fps at 2560×1600, while the Alienware X51 (a more space-constrained desktop) eked out just over 30 fps.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

To ramp up the pressure a little more (and to see how the XPS Tower would do in a different game), we next fired up Rise of the Tomb Raider. This game’s a little over a year old at this point, but still gorgeous and plenty rough on a GPU.

PCWorld

Cinebench R15

PCWorld

Looking at the results makes us want to call an ambulance for the XPS Tower. Nobody was expecting it to pull off miracle performance, but even the Haswell i7 processor in our zero-point machine gave that i5-6400 (which is two generations newer) a good wallop. Overall, the XPS Tower will handle day-to-day tasks fine, but if you’re going to task it with heavier work that taps all of the CPU cores—it’s not going to outperform even older Core i7 chips. That point is also pressed in our next test.

Handbrake Encoding

For an idea of how a system will perform during longer CPU-intensive tasks, we turn to Handbrake. It’s a free encoding program that relies entirely on the CPU and scales well with core count.

PCWorld

While the Core i5-6400 can run at a boost speed of 3.3GHz when it means business, it hummed along at a steady 3GHz for this test. For context, that’s 1GHz slower than the Core i7-6700K in the Cerise build, and that CPU also has four additional logical cores. The difference in time between the two systems ended up being 26 minutes, which is substantial since the XPS took 64 minutes to complete the test.

Acoustics and Thermals

I have to admit, when I looked at this tower after opening it up, it seemed ill-designed for thermals. Air flow seemed restricted, and that huge power supply sits directly over the CPU. (It also seems to block the case’s only exhaust fan.) I was sure this puppy would run nuclear-hot if I pushed it hard enough…but I was wrong.

I should note that this system does sport a 65W CPU, so it shouldn’t get that hot in the first place. Still, the air-cooler Dell installed worked quite well.

On the GPU front, the GTX 1070 climbed to a maximum temperature of 82 degrees Celsius when we looped Unigine’s Heaven 4.0 benchmark for a few hours. It ran at a steady 1,784MHz the whole time, too, which is above Nvidia’s listed boost clock for the stock version of this particular GPU.

Final thoughts

The XPS Tower Special Edition may not look like much, but if you’re looking for a no-hassle machine that’s VR-capable, upgradeable, and both quiet and stable from day one, it fits the bill.

Overall, the XPS Tower Special Edition is a bit like a Honda Accord. It might not give you a rush each time you look at it, but it gets the job done quietly and without any drama. About the only thing that would improve it is the option of an SSD for all configurations, not just the most expensive, but luckily, you can always upgrade the storage yourself.

Fitbit Charge 5 Review: A Great Fitness Tracker But Is It The Best?

Fitbit Charge 5: $149.95 / €179.95 / £169.99

With all of this, Fitbit somehow made the Charge 5 physically smaller than the Charge 4. It’s still bigger than the too-small Luxe, but it is slimmer, curvier, and more elegant than 2023’s tracker. This makes it one of the most unobtrusive fitness trackers I’ve used.

The default strap that came with my unit is very similar to the one that came with my Sense. It’s an all-silicone affair with a slot to store the excess strap when buckled. In the box, there’s a larger strap so people with thicker wrists can swap it out. Unfortunately, the revamped design of the Charge 5 means that straps for older models — including the Charge 4 — are not compatible with the Charge 5. Looks like you’re going to need to buy new favorite Fitbit Charge 5 bands.

The updated design is great, but you will need to buy all-new bands for the Charge 5.

Do note that the color display and smaller form factor result in weaker overall battery life. I maxed out the settings of the Charge 5 (always-on display turned on, brightness and vibrations set to maximum, etc.) and got through 72 hours of use with about 10% left to spare. That included sleep tracking, three workouts, multiple bike rides, and setting the odd alarm/timer here and there. Battery life isn’t great, and it’s considerably poor for a tracker at this price point, especially when you consider the full-color Xiaomi Mi Band 7 can get through just over a week with all its features turned on.

Finally, Fitbit also did away with the cumbersome clip-style charger that came with the Charge 4. Instead, it has a proprietary magnetic charger not unlike what we saw on the Luxe, Sense, and Versa lineups. This magnetic charging cable is included in the box, but there is no wall adapter included. Unfortunately, the Charge 5 does not support any manner of wireless charging.

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

The Fitbit Charge 5 is a fitness tracker, so it quite obviously has a ton of fitness features. It also tracks your steps, sleep, and stress, and has onboard GPS for any distance-based workouts. Here’s how everything measures up.

Fitness tracking

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

As with the Charge 4, there are 20 workouts you can track, including running, swimming, cycling, yoga, and more. However, also like the Charge 4, you can only choose six of these workouts to appear as options on the Charge 5 at any one time. If there are more than six workouts you regularly track, you’ll need to manually swap some out when necessary using the Fitbit app on your smartphone, which could be quite tedious. The Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Versa 3 do not have this limitation.

Despite being able to track the same number of workouts as its more expensive smartwatch siblings, the Charge 5 is missing two significant features. The first is the previously mentioned lack of an altimeter. Without this hardware feature, the Charge 5 can’t record your ascended floors and will not be as accurate when it comes to tracking elevation-based workouts, such as hiking. This is a curious omission, especially when you consider the Charge 4 has this feature.

The second tracking feature missing is the ability to record real-time laps in your workouts. On the Fitbit Sense and Versa 3, a lap button appears on the display during certain workouts if you choose for it to be there. The Charge 5, though, doesn’t have this feature. Granted, you can always manually add laps after the fact in your Fitbit app, and it should be noted that the Charge 4 also lacks this feature. However, for a device focused solely on fitness, this seems like something you’d want to have.

Heart rate tracking

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

The accuracy of the all-day heart rate tracking on the Charge 5 is on par with what we’ve seen from previous Fitbit devices. My average resting heart rate recorded by the tracker matched what I saw from a finger clip pulse oximeter.

However, during workouts, I faced a weird issue with heart rates. When I first started some workouts, my recorded heart rate would begin much higher than it actually was. Even if I was just sitting at my desk with a resting heart rate of ~50BPM, the tracker would start with a heart rate much higher, sometimes breaking past 100BPM. After a minute or two, the tracker would slowly drop down closer to my actual heart rate. Obviously, this created some inaccurate workout data.

Step tracking

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Fitbit is notorious for over-counting steps with its devices. I spent some days wearing it on my right (dominant) wrist with the Fitbit Sense on my left wrist. Each day, the Charge 5 recorded several hundred more steps than the Sense. This likely has to do with the choice of wrist for each device, but it still proves that step tracking with a Fitbit isn’t going to be as accurate as a dedicated pedometer. That said, it’s probably close enough for most people’s needs.

Keep in mind that Fitbit, its competitors, and health professionals in general, are trying to downplay step tracking as a useful health metric on its own. Fitbit is pushing Active Zone Minutes and its Daily Readiness Score as better alternatives to things like steps and heart rate info. We’ll cover this a bit more in the Fitbit app section below. Notably, thanks to a June 2023 update, users can now access their Daily Readiness Score onscreen making the Charge 5 a more effective tool.

Sleep, SpO2, and skin temperature tracking

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Fitbits are some of the best sleep trackers on the market. Unsurprisingly, the sleep tracking data from the Fitbit Charge 5 is accurate, easy to understand, and useful. You get a sleep score each day that gives you a roundabout idea of how well you slept the previous evening. In general, my sleep scores accurately reflected how rested I felt the next day. As of June 2023, Charge 5 users can also access Fitbit’s Sleep Profile program which offers long-term insights into your sleep patterns and bedtime behavior.

Unfortunately, though Fitbit made headlines for tracking snoring, this feature is not available on the Charge 5. It is reserved for the brand’s smartwatch lines, at least for now. Considering there is no microphone on the Charge 5 (which is necessary for the snoring score), the Charge 5 will almost certainly not get this feature.

The Charge 5 can, however, track SpO2, otherwise known as your blood-oxygen level. The closer this number is to 100, the better off you are. The tracker takes SpO2 measurements periodically throughout the day and you can always check your average level on the tracker itself. I found SpO2 readings to be very accurate as compared to a dedicated pulse oximeter.

Although it does not have dedicated hardware for the purpose, the Fitbit Charge 5 can also track skin temperature. It only tracks this while you are asleep, though, and cannot be manually triggered. It would still be useful info, however, as extreme fluctuations in your average skin temperature could be an early warning sign that you are getting sick.

Stress/EDA tracking

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

The Fitbit Sense introduced electrodermal activity (EDA) sensors to the Fitbit line. The Fitbit Luxe also has this feature, and the Fitbit Charge 5 lifts the Luxe’s system beat-for-beat. On the sides of the Charge 5, you’ll find two thin metal strips. When you start an EDA scan, you’ll lightly press both strips with your thumb and index finger. During the next few minutes, the tracker will monitor how your sweat activity changes over time. By performing multiple scans each day at different levels of energy (pre-workout, post-workout, before bed, etc.), you’ll start to get a good idea of your normal and elevated stress levels.

On its own, a single piece of this data is only slightly helpful. You can probably tell if you are currently stressed or not without an app telling you. However, over time, lots of these readings could give you an idea of when you are most/least stressed. For example, if your stress readings are always high on Monday mornings, that would be interesting information that could cause you to alter how you approach those days.

GPS tracking

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Charge 5

Unlike the Fitbit Luxe, the Fitbit Charge 5 has onboard GPS. This allows you to track GPS metrics without needing to bring your smartphone along. However, onboard GPS is a battery-hogging feature, so the Charge 5 also offers connected GPS, in which your smartphone’s GPS does the work and just transmits that data to the tracker. You can choose one of these two types of GPS tracking for all your workouts. Conversely, you can choose to use Dynamic GPS, which allows the tracker to bounce between its own sensor and your phone’s whenever one connection is stronger than the other.

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Fitbit GPS tracking has always been pretty good, and the Charge 5 doesn’t disappoint. When compared to the GPS of a Wahoo Tickr X chest strap, the Charge 5 turned in nearly identical results. The maps, above, show various times when both trackers fumbled with GPS, especially in areas with high tree coverage. I feel like the Wahoo Tickr X wins the day, but not by so much that the Fitbit Charge 5 doesn’t hold its own.

I will note, though, that the Charge 5 took quite a while to connect to GPS at the start of the ride. This happens often with wrist trackers since they are so much smaller than smartphones and chest straps. Fitbit also improved GPS battery life with a July 2023 update, especially when using GPS-enabled exercises. The bottom line here is that, if you’re a big fan of GPS tracking, you’ll be happy enough with the Fitbit Charge 5.

Fitbit app: Big promises

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

If you’ve owned a Fitbit device over the past few years, you won’t be surprised by much in the Fitbit app. Overall, the company hasn’t changed how the app looks or works much, but it has removed some tools. In late March 2023, Fitbit discontinued Community features including Challenges, Adventures, and open groups. This means you can no longer compete with other users in fitness challenges.

Beyond those changes, the Fitbit companion app remains one of our favorite platforms. Since we have many reviews of Fitbit products, I won’t rehash the app much here. Overall, it’s a very well-designed experience with everything organized intuitively. Data is presented in a macro, easy-to-understand format. With a tap, you can dive progressively deeper into details as you need.

Daily Readiness Score and ECG

Fitbit Charge 5 specs

Fitbit Charge 5 review: The verdict

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

The Fitbit Charge 5 is an excellent fitness tracker. The device has features that most other trackers don’t have, such as an EDA scanner. It also has features reserved strictly for premium trackers, such as NFC payments support. Finally, it boasts a bright, full-color OLED display, which immediately makes it aesthetically and functionally better than its predecessor.

However, its $30 price hike at launch over the Charge 4’s MSRP didn’t necessarily give you a better overall fitness tracker. Yes, the color display is objectively better than the monochrome one, but you need to sacrifice battery life and an altimeter for it. The EDA scanner is a cool touch, but how much will this metric matter to the average person? Thankfully the Charge 5 often goes on sale and is now a lot cheaper than its MSRP.

The Fitbit Charge 5 is a great fitness tracker. But it sits in an awkward position and isn’t the perfect tracker it could (and perhaps should) have been.

That said, even for around $150, the Fitbit Charge 5 should be the best fitness tracker ever. It should have all the fitness-focused features one would need to track workouts. It should have an altimeter, track laps and be able to have all 20 (or more) available workouts on the device at all times. Even its battery life should be much better.

If you’re going to spend the full $150 on a good fitness tracker, you should definitely consider spending a little more and getting a solid smartwatch. If that doesn’t work for you, you can spend much less for a Xiaomi Mi Band. The Charge 5 exists in this weird in-between zone. However, if you’re a Fitbit fanatic or want the very best fitness tracker in a traditional band form factor, no matter the cost, this is it. Provided you can get it for the right price, the Charge 5 offers a ton of upgrades from its predecessor, it’s just not as great as it could (and perhaps should) be.

Top Fitbit Charge 5 questions and answers

If you want most of the fitness tracking features of the Fitbit Sense but don’t want to break the bank, the Fitbit Charge 5 is well worth it.

The lack of an altimeter and the comparatively poor battery life are two Fitbit Charge 5 weaknesses.

You can accept or reject calls on your phone using your Charge 5. You cannot place or take calls through your tracker alone.

The Fitbit Charge 5 features a 5ATM water resistance rating.

You do not need to pay for a subscription to use the Fitbit Charge 5. However, a Fitbit Premium membership will give you access to a few more features and deeper health insights.

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