Quantified health is the new norm. The new age of health and fitness has given rise to a wave of devices and services designed to gather data. More than ever, consumers are tracking exercise, calories and more in an attempt to reach peak health. Fitness trackers were designed and marketed to track data all of the time, even while users sleep. While fitness trackers remain popular, the category has begun to merge with smartwatches.
Fitbit’s Blaze fitness watch is the result of that mingling. The Blaze is a fitness watch that bears remarkable similarities to a smartwatch, but with a serious fitness focus. The Blaze is quite attractive when it’s geared up in its case and strap. We were sent a model with a black strap and silver metal casing. All assembled, the Blaze is stylish, yet subtle. The simple design allows it to work with nearly any outfit, regardless of formality. It’s also quite comfortable, with plenty of room for adjustment. Once you get it dialed in, it’s far more comfortable than many smartwatches due to the rounded square shape of the bottom of the Blaze.
Popping the Blaze out of its casing reveals a bland design. It’s simply a small black square. That’s acceptable, however, as the only time you’ll need to pop it out is to charge it, which is done with pins on the back of the Blaze. Simply pop it into the charging cradle and you’re good to go.
Battery life is more than acceptable with the Blaze, with our unit lasting an average of four and a half days on a single charge, quite good for a watch that’s tracking day and night. And when the battery does run out, the device recharges quite quickly, allowing you to get back to business in just a short matter of time.
Fitbit ships the Blaze with an elastomer band that’s water resistant, as is the watch itself. Inquiring about water resistance led us to find out that it is splash, rain and sweat resistant, but you won’t want to immerse the Blaze into water. While that’s slightly disappointing, it’s also not unexpected, as there’s only a handful of fitness and smartwatches that are fully waterproof.
The Blaze is primarily designed to track everyday activity and land exercise. The device collects quite a bit of data, including your heart rate, steps, calories burned, distance covered and floors walked, and that’s all available on the watch itself. Opening the Fitbit app reveals a wealth of information compiled from what the Blaze’s sensors have collected and what you have manually entered.
Sleep tracking is an important feature of the Blaze, as the device uses movement and heart rate sensing to determine your sleep cycle. Fitbit then uses the data collected to determine when you were asleep, when you were restless and when you were awake. Is it 100% accurate? No, but it helps to create a larger picture of your overall health and can indicate what adds and detracts from your sleep quality.
Users can also track food and water intake through the Fitbit app. While many people use apps like MyFitnessPal, using the Fitbit app allows users to quantify and consolidate their health data into a single hub. Surpisingly, however, the Fitbit app doesn’t allow you to sync in data from other apps, making it less useful. With that hindrance, it makes it easier to connect the Fitbit app to MyFitnessPal and log food and water within that service, while logging fitness and sleep data in the Fitbit.
As for tracking on the Blaze itself, it’s quite accurate and useful, particularly when performing non-exercise activities that still require physical exertion. For hiking or running, the Blaze is a dream, as it will essentially track the exercise on its own, even it’s not officially logged as exercise. For other activities, you’ll need to manually begin tracking on the Blaze and manually end it when you finish your exercise.
An interesting feature of the Blaze is the addition of Fitbit’s FitStar program, which offers three quick bodyweight workouts right on the Blaze. These include a warm-up session, a classic 7-minute HIIT workout and a 10-minute abs workout, which is the most intense of all three, but is also focused on just one major muscle group. Nonetheless, these are great when you have a bit of extra time and want a quick workout without having to head all the way to the gym.
The Blaze can be used to set alarms, vibrating when the selected time strikes. It can also be used as a stopwatch or timer, which is handy for workouts and everyday life. When connected to a phone via Bluetooth, the Blaze will pull in notifications for texts, phone calls and calendar events, but other notifications are confined to your phone. The Blaze can also be used to control the music on a phone while connected.
The fact of the matter is that the Blaze is a great fitness watch. It keeps its goals in check and doesn’t try to do more than it needs to. The point is simple: It’s a fitness watch, not a smartwatch. The Fitbit Blaze is filling a surprising gap in the market, and because of its excellence in its abilities, the Blaze has quickly become my favorite wearable. If you’re looking for a straightforward fitness watch, the Fitbit Blaze could just be the perfect device for you.