AT A GLANCE: QUICK RATINGS
Heart Rate Functions
Fitness / Sport Features
Ease of Use
Where To Get It
A Deep Dive Into The Fitbit Blaze
This review is the result of several days testing with Fitbit’s first semi-smartwatch. It’s an attractive fitness tracker perfect for the person looking for a stylish product to help them keep fit and stay active throughout the day.
With 24/7 activity tracking (steps, distance, floors climbed and calories burnt), heart rate monitoring and sleep monitoring it won’t miss a beat, step or snore … syncing all your activity data to your smartphone.
Please note, it does NOT have an internal GPS, but it does connect to your smartphone GPS for accurate speed/distance data. The Fitbit Blaze has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic
Who Is It For?
The Fitbit Blaze is for the tech savvy user who wants a pseudo smartphone that can track their heart rate and activity 24/7. It provides essential smartphone notifications for incoming call, text and calendar events.
The Blaze not only counts steps, distance and calories burnt, it also gives feedback on the number of FLOORS climbed, another innovative and motivational goal metric. It has built-in optical heart rate sensors that we have found to be adequate, if not a little erratic at times.
A key attraction of the Blaze is obviously it’s STYLE. There aren’t many activity trackers that would beat the Blaze in a beauty contest. It not only looks great, but it’s very well constructed.
The Fitbit APP that supports the Blaze is a superb motivator with clear definition of goals, targets and rewards.
The FitStar exercise application is fun and motivational. In summary, if you want a 24/7 activity tracker that looks great and has all the essential fitness functions to keep you active and motivated throughout the day, then the Blaze could well be for you.
In this video we walk you through the main functions and features of the Blaze. The main aim of the video is to give the potential owner a clear appreciation of what the Blaze is, what it can do and what it is not. It’s an unedited, unscripted video so apologies in advance for the “ummms” & “errrs”
FitStar – how it works
This is one of my favourite features of the Blaze. I like it as it means people might be motivated to perform an ad hoc 7 minute all over body workout without having to reach for the lycra or jump on their bike.
The whole point about the Fitbit brand is to get people moving and more active. The FitStar feature does exactly that. If you don’t like a particular exercise activity, skip it, or do something else instead. I challenge you to NOT work up a sweat from giving the 7 minute plan your FULL effort!
First time I did it, I finished with cramp in my thighs and heart rate of 150 bpm … barefoot, in the kitchen, in my pyjamas while waiting for the dogs to finish their breakfast. Well done Fitbit – FitStar gets a big thumbs up from me.
What Is The Blaze?
The Fitbit Blaze is fundamentally a very stylish activity tracker / smartwatch that is as stylish as it is clever. It features Fitbit PurePulse that takes the heart rate directly off the wrist so no need for a traditional chest strap.
It has all the smart features you’d expect including music control (volume/tracks etc) and incoming text & call alert. It doesn’t have it’s own built-in GPS, it shares the GPS data from your smartphone. So, for those who want to go running WITHOUT their phone, please consider the Fitbit Surge or Garmin Forerunner 235 as alternatives.
- PurePulse > Heart Rate (no need for a chest strap, off the wrist monitoring)
- 24/7 Heart Rate Monitoring > Provides a graph (in the APP) of heart rate throughout the day and night
- Connected GPS > uses the GPS from your Smartphone .. very clever .. as long as you’re carrying it?
- On-Screen Workouts > using their own FitStar workout plan, you receive step-by-step instructions & coaching live to your wrist.
- Colour Touchscreen > high resolution colour screen that can be seen clearly in ALL light conditions.
- SmartTrack > logs any unplanned exercise automatically. The default is 15 minutes of continuous activity. You do NOT have to press start when going for an ad hoc dog walk, jog round the clock etc
- Multi-Sport – select your sport from the many popular modes like running, cycling and cardio. View real-time statistics on display and post-exercise in the Fitbit APP.
- Smartphone Notifications > Call, Text & Calendar Alerts
- All-Day Activity & Sleep – 24/7 measurement of steps taken, distance covered and calories burned, plus a daily total of active minutes
- Customisable > Accessory Bands & Frames sold separately
- Music Control > while exercising the Blaze can control the music tracks and volume in your smartphone
- 5 Day Battery Life – get up to 5 full days & nights from a single charge. I have found this claim to be 100% accurate.
Nice to Have features (hopefully coming soon)
- Inactivity Alerts > It’s something that I’m certain Fitbit will add to the Blaze, it’s a key feature in the Fitbit Alta motivating you to move 250 steps every hour. It’s already in the APP, so watch this space.
- Custom Apps > similar to the Garmin IQ Connect and Suunto Movescount Apps. I expect to see the Blaze supporting third party apps for features like weather forecast, custom clock faces, customisable data fields in Exercise Modes etc.
- Daily Alarm Time Set on watch > Yes, I know it’s a smartwatch, meaning it works in conjunction with a smartphone … but as I can turn my daily alarm ON/OFF from the watch itself it would also be nice to be able to CHANGE the alarm time without having to connect to the APP on the phone? Maybe I’m being picky here?
Home Screen Display
The following 6 images show the default home screen of the Blaze. The OUTER circle is a goal progress meter. As you get closer to meeting your daily goal, the circular indicator changes colour and fills in. The user sets the primary goal metric from the APP.
Either, steps, floors, distance or calories burnt. The small “foot prints” at the 12 o’clock position shows that I have selected STEPS as my primary goal. Simply TAP the display to see the other metrics > heart rate > distance > calories burnt > floors climbed > steps taken > date. Please watch our video review to get a real feel for the Blaze
Who’s it NOT for?
If you don’t always carry your phone on you, but you demand GPS accurate speed and distance data then STOP now. The Blaze is not for you. Consider something like the Fitbit Surge, Garmin Forerunner 235 or TomTom Runner 2.
The Blaze includes sports profiles covering running, weights, biking, treadmill, elliptical and a generic workout. The user can configure a secondary data view in the Bike and Run mode, but that’s all. It’s NOT a multisport enthusiasts watch like the TomTom Runner 2 or the Polar V800 or even the Garmin Forerunner 235.
It doesn’t do intervals, give heart rate recovery advice or provide an indication to the training effect of a session… as such, it may not be suitable for the purist, more serious / competitive exerciser.
Fitbit Blaze Exercise Mode Options
The Blaze has sports profiles for several popular activities. The purpose of these profiles is to identify the time you have trained at specific sports in your Fitbit APP. They do NOT have user customisable data fields like a true multisport watch like the Forerunner 920XT or Polar V800, that’s not what the Blaze is all about.
You choose the profile before you start training and that session is filed away under that specific sport. At the end of the week you can see how much time you have spent RUNNING, CYCLING, WEIGHTS etc. If it’s an outdoor sport like RUNNING, then the Blaze will attempt to connect to your smartphone to share it’s GPS.
Comparison – Fitbit Surge, Blaze & Charge HR
The Fitbit Surge and Blaze offer quite similar functionality. The Surge is a more discrete fitness watch with it’s OWN built-in GPS. The Blaze uses the GPS from your connected Smartphone and has a more customisable smartwatch appearance.
What is Fitbit FitStar?
FitStar is an innovative function that comes installed on the Blaze as standard. It’s actually an online service that Fitbit sell themselves online, a kind of online personal trainer with training plans from top experts in specific fields like Yoga and Football.
Initially it was designed as a training plan that you subscribe to then follow your daily prescription of exercise on your tablet or laptop.
They have plans for all levels, experiences and personal training goals including those that help you to >> Get Strong, Get Lean, Daily Dose or Get Moving… So, back to the Fitbit Blaze.
The Blaze comes equipped with 3 x FitStar Programmes – Warm it Up, 7 Minute Workout and a 10 minute Abs workout. For more details then please take a minute to watch the FitStar video review
If you want to see it in operation, then please take a minute to watch the FitStar Video review above.
Customisable Styles and Designs
The Blaze is what you want it to look like. If you want a classic soft leather strap, then that’s what you can have. If you’d prefer and all metal chrome finish case, it’s yours. You will find a selection of Blaze cases and accessories here.
Quality of Sleep – nearly as important as daily training
The Blaze will give valuable feedback on the quality and duration of your sleeping patterns. Set a nightly goal and the Blaze will give you graphical feedback on average sleep time and overall quality, restlessness of your sleep.
Want to buy one?
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Get the RIGHT wrist size
The Blaze comes in THREE sizes, small, medium and large. Check the circumference of your wrist with a piece of cotton or measure from existing watch’s buckle to hole on strap
Product Marketing Videos
Next Model UP
CardioCritic recommends the Ionic for those wanting built-in GPS.
Next Model DOWN
The model below the FitBit Blaze is the FitBit Charge 2 which has more discrete activity trackers / traditional fitness bands, however it still features the same built-in heart rate sensors as the Blaze.
The original Charge HR is now discontinued, as such we’d recommend the Charge 2.
The Fitbit Blaze is a stunning fitness watch. I enjoy reviewing products, good or bad, but this was a pleasure from start to finish.
Everything about the Blaze shouts out quality and design innovation, features like the Fitstar training program and the easy to use iPhone / Android app. There is little to criticise about the Fitbit Blaze, for me that fact that it does NOT have a built-in GPS is an issue, but it’s not aimed at that market.
If you generally train with your smartphone and want notifications and alerts, music control, activity tracking and the daily challenge of the Fitstar program the Blaze is ideal. In summary, I’ve awarded the Blaze a rating of 4.5/5 stars as one of the standout new releases of 2016.
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