The Fitbit Blaze fitness watch is now on sale, and leads the line of fitness trackers in the company's formidable line-up.
Update: We've now completed our super in-depth Fitbit Blaze review where we get our hands dirty with every aspect of the new fitness watch. So head there for a proper detailed evaluation of what it can and can't do.
But while you're here, here's an at-a-glance guide to everything you need to know about the Fitbit Blaze.
Fitbit Blaze: Design
The Blaze seems a lot like the Fitbit Surge with a sleeker, more desirable design that's trying to give the Apple Watch a run for its money in the looks department. We called it bold and it's actually a fairly unisex design.
Fitbit is sticking with the same elastomer band though, which could be an issue for anyone that's suffered the kind of skin irritation issues that many of our Wareable forum users have reported.
Thankfully, there's some room for customisation here with metal, leather and classic bands and stainless steel frames also up for grabs. Bands can be removed using quick release spring bars while the tracker module simply pops out a bit like it does on the TomTom Spark watch.
Here's a video to show you how to remove the frame on the Fitbit Blaze:
The Fitbit Blaze is available with either a black, blue or plum strap in small, medium or large sizes. In terms of pricing for the additional bands, there's a Luxe Collection with metal links and steel frame for $129.95, while the Luxe Collection with a leather band and steel frame (available in three colours) is $99.95. The Classic Band is also available in three different colours and costs $29.95.
Fitbit Blaze: Hardware
At the heart of the Blaze is a 1.66-inch, 240 x 180 pixel, colour touchscreen LCD, which gives you more screen estate than the Surge to play with and view stats on, while around the back is Fitbit's own PurePulse heart rate sensor technology to deliver continuous bpm (beats per minute) heart rate readings.
The screen is covered in Gorilla Glass 3.
Disappointingly, there's no GPS on board, so you'll have to piggyback off your phone's GPS to to view routes and record runs. It's also not waterproof, so don't take it anywhere near a swimming pool, although it's fine to get a little wet in the rain or during a sweaty workout.
For activity and automatic sleep tracking, it uses pretty much the same motion sensors we've seen in previous Fitbits. There's a 3-axis accelerometer and gyroscope along with an altimeter to track elevation. There's also an ambient light sensor to help screen visibility and a vibration motor to take advantage of the silent alarms and incoming notifications.
When it comes to the all-important battery life, the Blaze can last up to five days and can be fully charged in around two hours.
Fitbit Blaze: Software
As far as software features go, there are dedicated modes for tracking your running, cycling, cross training and weight training sessions. The Blaze also benefits from the recently introduced SmartTrack software to automatically recognise and record exercises.
One of the interesting new (but certainly not unique) features is the on-screen workout mode, which takes a leaf out of the Microsoft Band 2's book and will take you through exercises step-by-step. As normal, all of your data can be viewed on the Fitbit companion app or web portal.
The Fitbit app is available on Android, iOS and Windows 10 Mobile. Interestingly, it's been revealed that call and text notification support for phones running Microsoft's more unified operating system have not been verified yet. Hopefully it'll be sorted by launch though.
Fitbit Blaze: Smartwatch features
Fitbit says the Blaze isn't a smartwatch, but that doesn't mean it won't play nice with your phone at all. For notifications, it's only advertised to work with native notifications from your phone like calls, texts and calendar alerts.
However, Within the Android Fitbit app there is an option to turn on notifications for WhatsApp, Skype and Google Hangout messages within the 'Text notifications' settings screen.
The Blaze also includes music control playback though and there's a collection of different clock faces to choose from.
Fitbit Blaze: How it compares to the Surge
Inevitably, if you're looking at the Blaze, you're probably wondering what you're missing out on by not spending an extra $50 on the Fitbit Surge.
Price difference aside, there's a significantly different look for starters. The Surge is undeniably a sports watch (or super fitness watch as Fitbit calls it) with its rugged, rubber elastomer body. It also has a monochrome LCD touchscreen display, where the Blaze has a colour one.
One of the biggest omissions from the Blaze is the built-in GPS, which you do get on the Surge. If you care about heading out without your phone and still being able to track runs or rides, then that's a big deal.
Battery life is an interesting topic. As we've already mentioned, the Blaze promises up to five days, while the Surge can manage up to seven. This will have a lot to do with the fact that the Surge doesn't have a colour screen to power, but having the GPS in regular use will no doubt reduce the Surge's stamina over a week as well.
Fitbit Blaze: Price and release date
The Fitbit Blaze smart fitness watch is available to pre-order for $249.95 and the Charge HR is $149.95, so it sits somewhere in between those two Fitbit trackers.
Expect the Blaze to ship in March, although Fitbit hasn't nailed down a precise date. You can find out more details and pick out your Blaze model over on the Fitbit website.
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