We did not have a new activity tracker from Fitbit last year. Fitbit CEO James Park had been dropping hints about what Fitbit has in store for 2016: advanced sensors, coaching and fashion partnerships were all mentioned at one point or another.
Essential reading: Choosing the right Fitbit tracker
It was widely expected that Fitbit would announce a new wearable at CES 2016. This is precisely what happened and Fitbit’s CEO announced a new $200 smart fitness watch called Fitbit Blaze – “a device that is more motivating, smarter and more stylish than ever before”.
Here is all you need to about Fitbit’s new fitness tracker.
The Fitbit Blaze looks a lot like Apple Watch, but puts fitness first. It fits somewhere between the Charge HR and a sports watch.
This is Fitbit’s first wearable with a color touch screen that displays the time and other details about your movement for the day. The device has a hexagonal face with with stainless steel casing and an elastomer band. The screen, which is made of Gorilla Glass 3, pops out and interchangeable band and frames and customizable clock faces let you personalize your style.
The Blaze has a fairly unisex design, that may be slightly popular with men due to the size of the device. It measures: 8.6 x 1.7 x 0.4 inches.
You can swipe on screen to move through the menu, select workouts, view notifications, or use the music app. There is a button on the left side that functions as a home and back command. The two buttons on the right that can be used for volume control, and can also be used to select exercise options. This can be useful if, for example, your hands are wet so are not registering on the touchscreen.
The Fitbit Blaze comes in a bunch of colours and is designed with a satin finish, stainless steel body. There is a range of bands of different colors and materials, like elastomer, leather, or stainless steel. Bands can be removed using quick release spring bars while the tracker module simply pops out.
- Classic ($30) in Black, Blue and Plum. The classic Fitbit Blaze wristband is made of a flexible, durable elastomer material similar to that used in many sports watches, and includes a surgical-grade stainless steel buckle. Classic accessory bands have been tested up to 5 ATM meaning they are sweat, rain and splash proof, but not swim proof. The bands comes in three sizes – small, large and extra large.
- Leather ($100) in Black, Camel and Mist Gray. The leather band is made of soft, genuine leather and includes a stainless steel clasp. Leather bands are not intended for high intensity workouts as they are not sweat or water-resistant. They come in two sizes – small and large.
- Metal ($130). The metal band is made from premium stainless steel. Metal bands are also not sweat or water-resistant. Fitbit recommends limited or no contact with moisture to reduce tarnishing or damage. And there is only one size – small/medium.
The device uses pretty much the same motion sensors we’ve seen in previous Fitbits. This means that the Blaze features the company’s PurePulse continuous, wrist-based heart rate sensor which allows you to see simplified heart rate zones for quickly checking exercise intensity during workouts.
The full list of sensors is as follows: 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, Optical heart rate monitor, Altimeter, Ambient light sensor and Vibration motor. The Blaze is sweat, rain and splash proof (depending on the type of band), but is not swim proof.
As mentioned, the Blaze has ‘Connected GPS’, which is a fancy way of saying that it doesn’t have built-in GPS but will pull GPS data from smartphones. Its optical heart rate sensors will take a heart rate reading every five seconds during the day and every second during workout sessions. This should, in theory, give wearers relatively accurate heart rate readings. The device will have a 5 day battery life, no doubt helped by the lack of GPS.
The full feature-set is as follows:
- All-day activity: Tracks steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed & active minutes.
- PurePulse heart rate: Get continuous, automatic, wrist-based heart rate & simplified heart rate zones.
- SmartTrack: Automatically recognizes and records continuous movement activities including walking, running, outdoor biking, elliptical, as well as general categories of aerobic workouts (such as dance classes and cardio-kickboxing) and sports (including basketball, soccer and tennis).
- Workout summaries: See detailed workout summaries on your wrist and your improvements over time.
- On screen workouts: Get FitStar workouts right on your wrist, with step-by-step instructions that coach you through each move.
- Multi-Sport: Record running, cycling, cross training, weights and other workouts.
- Auto sleep tracking & silent alarms: Monitors your sleep automatically & features a silent alarm.
- Smart notifications: Using Bluetooth Smart connectivity, Fitbit delivers call, text and calendar notifications right on your wrist when your phone is nearby through on-screen messages and a gentle vibrating alert.
- Music Control: Adjust your volume, and play, pause and skip songs from your mobile playlist
- 5 day battery life: on a single charge.
- Water resistant: Sweat, rain and splash proof (depending on the band).
- Syncs wirelessly: Sync stats wirelessly & automatically to leading smartphones and computers
As with the recently released Alta, with the Blaze Fitbit is styling up what it already offers. There is no ground-breaking new technology on board. But if you’re looking for a stylish fitness tracker that does the essentials from a recognised brand, this could be the device for you. One of the biggest omissions from the Blaze is the built-in GPS. If you are an avid runner, the Fitbit Surge may be a better option for you.
Expect the Blaze to ship in March, although a precise date hasn’t been nailed down yet. You can pre-order now from Amazon.
This is the official video.