Fitbit's latest wearable bridges the gap between fitness bands and smartwatches.
When you think of Fitbit, chances are you're not imagining something that looks like a digital timepiece or a run-of-the-mill smartwatch. The company's latest wearable, the Fitbit Blaze, sees it advancing into new territory, with a product that's still very much fitness focused, but with more functionality for those wanting to keep track of notifications and alerts.
The Fitbit Blaze has a unique visual identity, a chunky stainless steel frame and angular lugs encompassing a central glass element. It's an unconventional look that won't appeal to all tastes, and there's no denying that this thing looks like a gadget rather than an analog wristwatch. At the center of the whole assembly, a color display lets you keep track of current and historical fitness data — as you'd expect from a Fitbit product — along with call alerts and other notifications from a paired smartphone. And under that there's an optical heart rate sensor, along with charging pins.
The fact that there are three main components of the Fitbit Blaze isn't accidental. Its design is modular, meaning you can swap out frames as well as straps to completely change up the look of the wearable with a minimal amount of effort. There's a fairly wide range of straps on offer for the Blaze, with leather bands and stainless steel straps, as well as "high-performance elastomer," which feels like the kind of rubber you'd get on a cheaper sports-focused smartwatch.
At a functional level, Fitbit Blaze's feature remains focused on tracking exercise patterns and health data, and helping you work out in a smarter way. The built-in personal trainer can guide your exercise along with images and instructions, while Fitbit's SmartTrack technology can automatically detect exercise types and add them towards your goals.
Battery life remains a pain point for many smartwatches, however the Blaze should be one of the more long-lasting smartwatches out there. You're looking at up to five days of battery life, which exceeds what you'll get from most Android Wear smartwatches, and even bests the Gear S2's two-to-three-day longevity.
Fitbit Blaze pre-orders go live today for $199.95, with straps selling for between $29.95 and $129.95