We recently put the Microsoft Band and the Fitbit Charge HR head to head but, given the GPS capabilities of one of 2015's most anticipated wearables - the Fitbit Surge - we thought it was only right that we order another showdown.
The Microsoft Band went on sale earlier this year and, while consumer expectations are seemingly now as low as the stock levels (i.e. non existent) following a spate of below-par reviews, the Redmond giant's first fitness band still has enough impressive hardware packed in for it to be a viable option.
Wareable verdict: Fitbit Surge review
The Fitbit Surge has been released in limited quantities so far, with an official launch expected early in the new year. Like Microsoft's effort, it boasts an impressive spec-sheet.
But what one should you choose? Microsoft Band or Fitbit Surge? Read on to find out...
Fitbit Surge v Microsoft Band: Design
The Microsoft Band is a monstrosity. It's the beefiest activity tracker we’ve tried on and, honestly, if you think you’re going to be sleep tracking with this beast on your wrist, you can think again.
Its discomfort isn't a slow-burner, as with many fitness trackers, it’s uncomfortable from the moment you put it on. That’s because of the shape of the thing. The top part is completely flat, with not a curve in sight until you hit the straps. Have a look at the top of your wrist, it’s not flat is it?
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The Microsoft contender is available in three different sizes but just the one colour: black. It's constructed from a thermal plastic elastomer and the adjustable fit clasp is actually pretty solid. It is a pretty uninspiring design although the colour display does give it a bit of life.
Speaking of the display, it's a 1.4-inch TFT colour touchscreen and you'll find a Windows-esque UI on board.
The Surge’s display is a touchscreen, monochrome, 1.25-inch LCD one with a backlight on board for low light visibility. Fitbit is keeping quiet on the display resolution of the Surge at the moment though but whatever the pixel count, it's clear that Microsoft wins the screen battle.
With regards to design and comfort, however, the Surge is streets ahead. It comes in three sizes; with the smallest of which suitable for wrists sized 5.5 to 6.7 inches, the largest 7.8 to 9.1 inches.
The rubber strap, which comes in black, blue and tangerine is made of a flexible, durable elastomer material similar to that used in sports watches and it also has a surgical-grade stainless steel buckle.
Fitbit Surge v Microsoft Band: Hardware
Both the Fitbit Surge and the Microsoft Band pack in 24/7 heart rate monitoring.
Continuous heart rate monitoring technology is still in its infancy, but it enables users to track a wider range of sports, as well as gym work much more accurately. It's also crucial for working out accurate calorie burn and determining essential rest periods.
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The addition of GPS connectivity on both devices means that stats like pace, distance, elevation, split times, route history and workout summaries will be available to wearers, with a lot more accuracy than you'd traditionally get with a fitness tracker.
The Fitbit Surge can expect a five to seven day battery life from its Lithium-polymer battery, Microsoft's Band offers just two days - and that's with various functions turned off.
The Surge is IP68 certified and carries a water resistant rating of 5ATM, which means you’ll have no problems wearing it in the pool. The Band is splash and sweat proof, but not water resistant, so no swimming data can be recorded and you shouldn’t even wear it in the shower.
Fitbit Surge v Microsoft Band: Tracking
The Microsoft Band is platform agnostic - a clever move from the software specialist as it means that Android and iOS users can access the new Microsoft Health platform, there's no need to go out and buy a Windows Phone to get involved.
The Band boasts step and calorie burn recording, as well as sleep quality analysis. You can view your daily or weekly stats, set goals, and receive a virtual high-five when you hit them through the app, and there are also guided workouts on offer with programs from the likes of Gold's Gym, Shape and Men's Fitness all available directly from the device.
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The Fitbit app is available across Windows Phone, iOS and Android, and the data from your Surge will also sync with the info from your Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Scales. The app shows you your progress, lets you record workouts, map routes, share and compete with your friends, log your food intake and earn badges based on your activity achievements.
The Surge supports running, cross-training, biking, strength and cardio workouts and also offers the regular fitness tracking functions – so it will record your number of steps, floors climbed, distance travelled, calories burned and it also measure your sleep quality.
Fitbit Surge v Microsoft Band: Updates
With the Microsoft Band you can see incoming call alerts, text notifications, email and calendar updates and social media alerts from Facebook and Twitter. There’s no third-party support but you can turn on a ‘Notifications Center’ tile to have every single message relayed on your Band.
The Fitbit Surge will display smartwatch notifications such as incoming calls and texts, and it also has the ability to control your music but there's no third party app notification support at present.
An easy win for Microsoft on this front.
Fitbit Surge v Microsoft Band: Verdict
The Fitbit Surge will set you back £200 in the UK, $249 in the US. Microsoft's Band is only available in the States at the moment and costs $200.
While we've only had limited hands on time with the Fitbit Surge and its costlier price-tag may put some people off, we're pretty confident that the Surge is the better option.
Sure, its notification skills aren't on a par with the Microsoft device and the display is nowhere near as impressive but as an all-round fitness wearable, the Surge wins hands-down - with the primary reason being that it is, well, wearable.
The Microsoft Band is just too clunky and far too uncomfortable and, despite packing in some great hardware, fails on a fundamental level because of its levels of extreme discomfort.
However, be sure to also check out our super watch showdown, to see how the Fitbit Surge and the Apple Watch measure up.
How we test