Yay: lightweight, reliable tracking, interchangeable straps
Nay: Responsivity issues, Non-waterproof, lack of GPS
If you’re still on the fence about the new Fitbit Blaze, perhaps this review can tip you one way or the other. Essentially, the Fitbit Blaze is the company’s first foray into the world of stylish smartwatches. While Fitbit’s products like the Charge HR and the Surge have been known to be pretty reliable, they leave a lot to be desired in the aesthetics department. To be honest, you’ll find it difficult to match either of these devices with any outfit other than your workout clothes. However, the band options that are available on the Fitbit Blaze may just make it a fitness smartwatch you can wear all day. I’ve worn and messed around with it for a while now and the important question is: Will it be my go-to fitness smartwatch? For now, it probably will be.
The first thing I noticed about the Blaze when I took it out of the box is that it is wide. Wider than I expected because the picture on the box features the watch at an angle. Nonetheless, it is still a good size for a smartwatch. As you can see, it fits decently on my tiny wrist. For a 240 x 180- pixel colour screen, the display is sharp and vibrant.
The 1.2 inch screen that you see is detachable from its metal frame and rubber strap. While they are not available in-stores yet, Fitbit will be releasing interchangeable bands that will come in various materials, like leather and stainless steel. These will be essential for you discerning gentlemen.
The Blaze is also incredibly light and slim. It feels ever so slight on your wrist so running with it is extremely comfortable. I was able to run about 8 kilometres and barely notice the weight of the watch. Those of you who have run with more clunky watches like the Nike+ Sportwatch will be able to appreciate how important this is. The flexible strap also makes it really easy to rotate your wrist, pretty handy for those playing racquet sports. Overall, I’m quite impressed with the design of the Blaze. The only thing I’d change is the width of the face.
As a pretty basic user, I found that the Fitbit Blaze checked most of my boxes. I had it on while on holiday in Melbourne, where I walked pretty much everywhere I went, so I was glad that the three-axis accelerometer was able to track my steps accurately. It also alerted me (by buzzing violently and displaying a colourful congratulatory message) when I hit my target for the day, which I have to admit was rather satisfying. While this may seem like a very trivial feature, an absence of this violent buzzing served as a reminder that I had been sedentary too much that day. Considering it usually ended up with me getting up and moving about more, I think it serves its purpose.
I was also very impressed with the Blaze’s workout modes. According to Fitbit, the Blaze is able to record various types of sports, including running and biking. I usually run about three times a week so the real-time stats provided by the Blaze helped me optimize my workout. You can set it to alert you at intervals so you can adjust your pace accordingly. If you’re getting more serious about your workouts, you can sync your watch to your phone via Bluetooth to view a more in-depth analysis (graphs and tables) of your workouts.
Of course, like everything else, this watch isn’t perfect.
The main issue I encountered with this watch when I was running was its responsivity. Or lack thereof. To look at your real-time stats Fitbit says all you have to do is raise it up and face it towards yourself, like you would with a normal watch. Unfortunately, this isn’t as seamless as Fitbit says it is. I found myself having to repeat the motion a few times before the face would light up. Of course another way to wake the watch is by tapping it, but after running several kilometres you’ll want to minimize any unnecessary movements.
Other issues that may pose problems to some users include its non-waterproof nature (so no showering or swimming with your Blaze), and its need to sync with a smartphone for GPS.
The responsivity issue aside, I think this is a pretty decent fitness smartwatch to own. It’s currently retailing at S$318, so I’d say it still lies on the reasonable side of the price spectrum for smartwatches. However if you’re concerned about not being able to wear the Blaze with a suit, you may want to wait until the leather and stainless steel bands are available before making your purchase.