Stylish? One of Fitbit’s better looking devices. Smart? Well…
Fitbit Blaze Review – Not as revolutionary as Fitbit wants you to believe
Today we’re going to do a review on one of Fitbit’s newest device, the Blaze fitness watch that according to Fitbit is as stylish as it is smart. Stylish, we can mildly agree with, especially when compared to the Fitbit Surge but smart? Well…there was only one feature that impressed us.
We’ve put this device through three weeks of usage, and we do have to say that it’s better than the Surge. It looks better, has a better touchscreen but in the grand scheme of Fitbit’s products, the Blaze is a Charge HR with a touchscreen.
For our Fitbit Blaze review, we’ve given it a score of 4 Eh’s out of 5 which is higher than the Fitbit Surge at 3.70 but doesn’t score has high as the Apple Watch and the Microsoft Band 2.
We personally think that if you’re looking for a fitness device and you’re a weight lifter, this might not be the product for you. If you love running and doing endurance exercises then the Fitbit Blaze is going to be one of the better choices. If you want to see how we’ve rated each product that we’ve reviewed, check out the comparison tool.
(out of 5)
|Top Buy Buttons|
- Better than the Charge HR and Surge
- Doesn't get caught on clothing
- 5-day battery
- Looks decent
- Swappable bands
- Automatic exercise tracking works(and is nice!)
- Nothing special
- PurePulse Heartrate doesn't work well at the gym
- No smart sleep alarms
|Potential Problems||Potential Problems:|
- None that we found
- Fairly comfortable to wear
- Watch holds up to daily use
- Unique way of swapping bands
|Battery Life||Battery Life (4/5):|
- 5 day battery
- Water resistant
- Scratch resistant against keys and coins
- Syncs with both iPhones and Android phones
- Web interface
- No app store
- Touch enabled
- Buttons are fairly easy to use
- Viewable in direct sunlight
|Information Display||UI (3.5/5):|
- Simple notifications
- Navigation is simple
- Able to choose different watch faces
- Watch face goes to sleep (may be an issue during workouts)
- No GPS
- PurePulse HR tracking doesn't work well at the gym
- Useful but not habit changing
- Get only if you need a fitness tracker
|Bottom Buy Buttons|
Design – Takes a page from Apple swappable bands
In terms of design, the Blaze is quite light and doesn’t get in the way as much as the Surge and Charge HR but doesn’t come close to the sleekness of the Apple Watch. The face of the Blaze doesn’t have an ounce of rubber that causes your arm to get caught on clothing (a problem we faced with the Surge).
The stylish portion of the Blaze comes from the ability to swap out bands. On their site, they’ve got leather and metallic bands that are fancier than the classic bands that shipped with the unit we reviewed. The ability to add a bit of a style to the Blaze is a welcome addition since the Fitbit Surge seemed real out of place for people who have to wear suits to work.
Charging the unit is a little different as you have to remove the central core and fit the unit inside a cradle. We were a little surprised at this design element, but it offers a lot of flexibility when swapping out bands. The frame that the Blaze sits in is made of metal and went unscathed during our three week usage period.
The Blaze has a five-day battery which is two days short of the Surge’s. From our review period, you could easily get the five days worth of usage, a couple of workouts and sleep tracking before having to charge the unit.
The Blaze has three buttons but unlike the Surge, you’re not overly reliant on them. The central button you would use is the single button on the left side as that is the only way to go back/up in the menu system. The touchscreen is quite responsive which is something we can’t say for the Surge and the screen is easy to read in all light conditions.
We will add that you will occasionally interact with the touchscreen during a workout so be careful. The only gripe with the screen is that it turns off during workouts so having to activate the screen during a plank exercise is quite annoying.
The most action that you will get on the touchscreen of the Blaze will occur when you reach your step goals where the Blaze celebrates your step goal by performing a wild light show, consisting of a blazing array of colors on the screen. We think that with the blocky animations, Fitbit should have included some 8-bit celebratory music during this visual masquerade of hitting 10,000 steps.
Fitness – Great for anything endurance. Sucks for the gym.
When it comes to fitness, the Blaze isn’t any better than the Charge HR or the Surge. In fact, the same complaints we had for those devices is the odd place Fitbit recommends that the device sits on your wrist during a workout. Two finger lengths above the wrist bone are easily accomplished if you’re running but one pushup at the gym will put the device out of the optimum placement.
We’re also not sold on PurePulse Heartrate tracking because we feel it doesn’t accurately track heart rates for interval type training. For Aaron, he spends most of his time at the gym doing super sets and intervals and the Fitbit Blaze cannot read the peak heart rates at the end of each set/interval. This portion’s hard to explain so if this is an issue, check out the explanation in the review video.
This means that the Fitbit Blaze is constantly underestimating our workouts which seem silly. And annoying because that’s pretty much the only job it has and it doesn’t do it well. This heart rate tracking issue is why we say that this isn’t a recommended fitness device for a weight lifter. A chest strap or the Lifebeam hat might be better or if you want something on the wrist or if you wish to have something on your wrist, a Microsoft Band 2.
The Blaze has FitStar integrated into the device so if you like working out by yourself, or ever feel the need to do a workout at that very moment; you can. If you’re unfamiliar with FitStar, it provides you a set of exercises, and there are little animations to show you what to do.
The Blaze doesn’t have GPS in the watch but during a run session, it will use the GPS on your device to calculate pace and duration.
When it comes to sleep tracking, the Blaze doesn’t need to be told that you’re about to go to sleep. It just knows which is pretty remarkable. That’s pretty revolutionary, right? It would be, but we’d be happy if Fitbit implemented smart alarms because the automated sleep tracking means nothing when the Blaze wakes you up in the middle of a deep sleep REM cycle.
The most impressive feature on the Fitbit Blaze was SmartTrack, which is an automatic exercise detection feature. We initially thought that this might be marketing fluff on steroids but a quick test at the gym with showed us that it works.
But is it revolutionary? Not really.
Everyday use – Nothing smart here…
When it comes to usage during everyday life, the only thing that the Blaze offers are “smart” notifications which are notifications that mirror your tethered devices call, text and calendar notifications.
The Fitbit Blaze also lets you control the music from your tethered device. That’s pretty revolutionary.
Again, for our Fitbit Blaze ReviewReview, we gave this fitness band a score of 4 Eh’s out of 5. It’s a decent fitness band that doesn’t look terrible but its not as smart as we’d like it to be.