Fitbit Blaze – not the fitness smartwatch I’m looking for

fitbit-blazeOvernight at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, Fitbit unveiled the Fitbit Blaze smart fitness watch . Although it bears a passing resemblance to the Apple Watch, it comes with Fitbit’s substantial fitness street cred.

So, why the heck doesn’t it have a built in GPS? While it boasts a five day battery life (well in excess of the Apple Watch’s 1.5 to 2 days that I get) there’s no chance I’d wear it out on a run where I depend on GPS tracking for accurate (well, within some limits – see Fellrnr’s review of GPS accuracy for running watches) distance and pace data.

I get that there are lots of people out there who don’t run or cycle and don’t rely on GPS for distance tracking. For them, a device like the Apple Watch, Fitbit Blaze or Charge HR, or any number of fitness trackers with heart rate monitoring fits the bill – able with less style than the Blaze or Apple Watch.

The one thing I’m surprised about is Fitbit’s decision to move in the fashion smartwatch direction. The Blaze doesn’t have – and will probably never have – the broad support of developers like Pebble, much less Apple. So, when Fitbit says “Curated to fit your life and focused on the features that make tracking your health and fitness easier” in their press release, I suspect they’re really saying “limited to what we think you want”.

Like the Apple Watch, the Blaze includes notifications for call, text and calendar alerts, and will be available with black, blue, and plum bands at introduction, along with a stylish collection of premium accessory bands and frames.

Pricing will be $329.95 AUD with retail availability starting in March 2016. Classic high-performance elastomer bands in black, blue and plum will cost $49.95 AUD when they’re available with Luxe genuine leather bands paired with stainless steel display frames available in black, mist grey and camel costing $169.95 AUD and Luxe stainless steel link band paired with a stainless steel display frame available in silver for $219.95 AUD.


That undercuts the Apple Watch by some margin and will work with Windows Phone, Android and iOS.

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