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Introducing the Fitbit Blaze

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Smartwatches including basic fitness tracking (ie, steps taken) abilities these days are not much of a surprise. Then again, I would argue that many people simple do not have a need (or would truly make use of) a smartwatch. To that end, something like the just-announced Fitbit Blaze – a fitness tracker with some additional connected smarts – may be a better fit for some.

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As you might expect from a Fitbit device, there is a whole suite of fitness-related tracking, including steps taken, stairs climbed, your heart rate, sleep quality, and a whole slew of different exercise tracking (I’d recommend this TechCrunch article for more on that.) Where the Fitbit Blaze set itself apart is just how watch-like it looks.

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Ok, yes, the metal and plastic square slab styling may not be that of a traditional watch, but it certainly is in alignment with recent smart watches, not to mention digital watches of days gone by. Where things really take an interesting turn is that this was purposely built for swapping the main module in and out of different bands. The “base” plastic bands will run around $30 (one is included with your purchase), while you can get either a leather one (for $100) or steel bracelet (for $130). As we all know, changing out the strap on a watch can really change its looks. Unfortunately for the customizers amongst us, it looks like you really need the receiver that holds the main module, which will limit things to what Fitbit offers (at least at first).

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For those in to customizing, there should be plenty of that available with the face of the Fitbit Blaze, as it has a full-color (and touch-enabled) LCD screen (even with that screen and the various monitors, battery life is estimated to be 5 days) As the operating system is closed off, it will remain to be seen what sort of dials are available, but you should be able to mix things up; hopefully it will be somewhat widget-friendly (like the Garmin 920XT), allowing you to get the screen just right.

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Given how the Fitbit Blaze is styled, this is definitely a watch that many would consider wearing non-stop. Unfortunately for those folks, the Fitbit Blaze is only water-resistant. So that means no showering or swimming with it on. As a matter of fact, in reading through the tech specs, it seems like (at least with the plastic strap) they do not even really want you sweating in the thing; they advise that if you do, you dry the watch off thoroughly. This seems like an odd admonition for a fitness watch, but I have a feeling those prior recalls with people developing rashes had something to do with that.

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For me, I do not know if the Fitbit Blaze would be a good fit. I like carrying my Fitbit One for daily step counting, and wearing the Garmin 920XT while at the gym. Past that, to integrate the Fitbit Blaze into my life, I would need to consign myself to double-wristing it, as a traditional watch will normally be found on my left wrist. Should that not be an issue for you, you can get your pre-orders in right now for $199.95. fitbit.com

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3 COMMENTS

  1. The FitBit Blaze is not a SmartWatch. It’s a fitness watch, or an oversized fitness bracelet.

    It doesn’t get notifications from the phone – the most it does is display caller ID for an incoming call, just as smaller older FitBit bracelets do (hi there, Charge HR!)

    There are two types of fitness watch wearers – those who are already hardcore, and those who think they might want to be one day. FitBit is for the latter, Garmin for the former.

    You mention wearing a Garmin at the gym, so it’s a pretty sure bet that the FitBit is the wrong pick for you.

    Blaze attempts to bridge the fitness world to the more fashionable, through an odd case shape and different band options. I submit that they haven’t succeeded – it’s a little too much like a Qualcomm Toq in shape.

    A real question is, why would you buy this, when you could buy an Apple Watch or an Intel Basis (a proper fitness and smartwatch with notifications?) Sure, the $199 price point is lower than Apple’s, but you get so much less. You may as well wear the Alta for less money than the Blaze and carry on with the traditional watch on the other wrist.

    It’s just never been clear who the customer is for the top of the line FitBit fitness watch. Sure, President Obama wore the Surge, the predecessor to the Blaze, but beyond that, you almost never see these in the wild. They’re too much dosh for too little reward.

    • As it turns out, the combo is perfect for me. The Garmin gets me the HR (and caloric burn) data, and then the Fitbit (in this case a One) slips in to my pocket and tracks my activity the rest of the day. Fitting in a pocket -and being designed to ride there – is the key for me, as I don’t need to strap on a second device. As to an Apple Watch, those are all but useless to me, given I carry an Android phone. On the whole, I’ve been less than impressed with smart watches, as they just haven’t found a good use case for me in daily wear. The Fitbit, on the other hand, has an absolutely killer function – the silent alarm – that will keep me using it (or something like it) for a long time.

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