After years of dominating the U.S. market with straightforward, purpose-built fitness trackers, Fitbit is shouldering its way into the smart watch space with the newly unveiled Blaze. Billed as a “smart fitness watch,” the Blaze is essentially Fitbit’s answer to smart watches from Apple and Samsung; it bridges the stylish versatility of an all-purpose smart watch with the sweat-friendly functionality of Fitbit’s industry-leading tech. And with an initial MSRP of $199, the Blaze is far more budget-conscious than big-ticket smart watches, and even the flagship Fitbit Surge.
"One of the first things we learned in this industry is that fitness is personal, and if something isn’t your style, you won’t wear it,” said James Park, CEO and Co-Founder of Fitbit, in a press release. “With Fitbit Blaze, we pushed the boundaries of what’s possible to create a beautiful, versatile device that can be customized to fit your personal style—while packing a powerful fitness punch to help you reach your goals.”
Though the Blaze includes Fitbit’s high-end tracking systems, like its PurePulse heart rate tech and GPS compatibility, the company is clearly angling the Blaze as something that stays on a person’s wrist long after a morning workout. Its color touchscreen interface—the first ever from Fitbit—is fairly intuitive, and helps you sort relevant health information (heart rate, namely) in the gym or in the office.
The body of the Blaze—that is, the part with the screen and the computing guts—is pretty easy to detach from its band, meaning that the tracker can dress up or down as you do. Planning a long, sweaty run? Switch in one of the elastomer “classic bands.” Big meeting afterwards? Trade up for the leather band or the heavy-duty steel band.
3. It Packs Its Own Routines
The Blaze comes with Fitbit’s FitStar app, which includes a selection of guided workouts like “7-Minute Workout” and “10-Minute Abs.” It’s not a huge selection, but they do provide some inspiration if you’re trying to squeeze a workout in without wanting to think too hard about what HIIT exercises to do.
4. It Gets to Know Your Workouts
If you’re more of a freestyle exerciser, the Blaze can handle that too—Fitbit’s SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition keys into “continuous movement activities” like cardio, aerobic workouts, and sports. There’s also multi-sport mode, which not only tracks your real-time performance but also ups the sensitivity of the PurePulse tech, helping you keep detailed stats on your progress. Hauling ass in the morning to catch your train? Count it toward your daily workout.
As a smart watch, the Blaze connects to your phone via Bluetooth and delivers notifications about calls, texts, and calendar events. (Unlike a fully integrated smartwatch, however, the Blaze doesn’t let you reply to those notifications.) And with a battery life of up to five days—less if you’re using all the features at full blast—you shouldn’t have to worry about it conking out in the middle of your Sunday long run.