Fitbit just unveiled its new Fitbit Blaze at an event during the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Blaze is a “fitness smart watch” that promises five days of battery life and interchangeable bands that are supposed to make it seamless to go from morning workouts to the office to late-night happy hours while tracking your activity.
Former NFL superstar turned CBS analyst Tony Gonzalez was the celebrity star of the Tuesday morning press conference, praising the new device’s style, functionality, and on-screen workout illustrations from the three most popular FitStar workouts that provide coaching right from the wrist.
The Blaze’s square, colored watch face with basic black, blue, and plum, leather, and stainless steel bands look remarkably similar to the Apple Watch. But Fitbit’s watch is meant for people who want to use their watch mostly for exercise.
You can track your heart rate through optical technology directly on your wrist, and multiple sport modes for things like yoga, running, bootcamp and biking automatically begin tracking your exercise when you engage in the activity. Fitbit Blaze also has automatic sleep tracking when you wear your device to bed.
For all its focus on exercise, the Fitbit Blaze is still missing one key feature athletes are looking for—the device has no built-in GPS. You’ll still need to run with your phone to get the GPS tracking features that appear on the Blaze.
It’s understandable why the company would avoid implementing GPS tracking—more hardware means poorer battery life and a bulkier design, and it wouldn’t be a device that transitions from daytime to evening had they put even more computing power inside it.
However, for a smartwatch that’s supposedly all about fitness, neglecting to include built-in GPS seems like a glaring omission.
During your workout, the Fitbit Blaze provides workout statistics in real-time so you can see data like how many calories you’ve burned, how far you’ve run, and your average mile splits. It pairs with Fitbit’s mobile app to provide an activity overview similar to the company’s other devices.
It’s “smart” in that it lets you receive notifications regarding texts, calls, and calendar alerts that you receive on your phone. You can also control your music from the watch face. But if you’re already carrying your phone around on your workout anyway, these additional features may not be all that appealing, especially if you already have one of the company’s fitness trackers.
The style of the device itself is on par with the rest of the smartwatches on the market, and while there are a number of colors and styles available, there is only one square face option. And for people with smaller wrists, the design looks rather bulky.
Personally, it’s not something I would ever wear to a cocktail party in a fancy dress, despite what the company says about the versatility of the Blaze.
The Fitbit Blaze will join the Fitbit lineup in May for $199.
Photo via Selena Larson