Fitbit is expanding their range, encroaching on the smartwatch market with their all new Fitbit Blaze. Unlike many smartwatches which try to be all things to all people, the Blaze is sticking to their focus on fitness and activity.
Out of the box and set up
The Blaze comes with a charging cable and one line instruction card directing you to fitbit.com/setup so you can configure the device.
In reality, all you need is the Fitbit app as all the set up happens there. Interesting;y, although the Blaze is a very new device that’s only been on the market for a few days, it required a firmware update out of the box. This only took a few minutes.
My Blaze arrived with about half a charge so i connected it to its charger.
The Fitbit app lets you customise the watch face and what you see on the display.
You can also turn off call, message and calendar notifications separately.
My first impression of the Blaze’s charging system is that it sucks – big time.
For starters, if you have any other Fitbit devices – I have a Charge HR and a Surge – Fitbit has designed the Blaze to use a completely different charger.
To charge the Blaze, you need to pop the watch’s body out of the bezel and place it in a cradle – a very inelegant solution for what is, otherwise, an attractive watch.
Comfort and look
After a couple of hours of wearing, on a pretty warm day, the Blaze feel conformable. I chose a blue band but there are also black and plum bands if you’re into coloured bands. there are also leather and stainless steel options so you can change the look of the Blaze for different occasions.
The benefit of the Blaze’s snap-in/snap-out design is that switching bands is trivially easy. And I’m already seeing eBay listings for aftermarket bands that significantly undercut Fitbit’s offical offerings.
The Blaze is very much like an amped up version of the Charge HR in my view. If you took a Charge HR and gave it a prettier interface, you’d get close to the Blaze. The Blaze’s colour screen is very nice and does make accessing different activity information clearer.
The lack of integrated GPS means it will never be a replacement for a running watch although I can use my iPhone with it to accomplish a similar effect – much like the Apple Watch.
Battery life is rated at five days – that puts the Apple Watch to shame although the Blaze doesn’t do as much. For example, the Apple Watch can receive notifications from a massive array of apps. The Blaze is limited to calls, text and calendar.
At AU$329.95 (I saw the Blaze at Target in the US last week at US$200, proving the Australia tax is alive and well in some markets) it’s not cheap but it does undercut the Apple Watch and, in my view, does a better job – mainly through the smartphone app – of delivering activity information.