By Jazon Collado
Do I need another Fitbit device when I already have a Fitbit Charge HR? An upgrade perhaps? Will that upgrade worth the cost? Will the upgrade provide additional features that my Charge HR can’t do? I tried the Fitbit Blaze and will find out the answers to my questions.
Unboxing the Fitbit Blaze
The box contains the smart fitness watch and the charger. The box also contains the “Safety Instructions & Limited Warranty” manual and the “Let’s get started? card.
The model that I got had a stainless steel frame and black band.
The listed price of the Blaze at the Fitbit website is $199.95 for the blue, silver, and the plum-silver color variations. But if you prefer the black and gun-metal variant, it will set you back by $229.95. This is probably because of the stainless steel frame.
Just like the Fitbit Charge HR, the Blaze is made of flexible and durable elastic material with steel buckle and frame.
Compared to the Charge HR, the Fitbit Blaze has a wider band and a bigger monitor. The monitor can be detached from the frame. This is a good feature because you can charge it while cleaning the frame and band at the same time.
The band is also detachable from the frame, allowing thorough cleaning to be done. You could even replace the band from third party suppliers to match your mood — from a workout mode in the morning to the boardroom during office hours and loud colors during parties at night.
While the Fitbit Charge HR monitor is made of OLED, the Blaze monitor has a touch-screen color LCD (1.25-inch 16-color display).
Because the Blaze has a wider band, I was able to feel the air freely circulating in my wrist. There is also a gap between the stainless frame and the monitor that permitted the air to flow naturally.
The Blaze has three physical buttons: one button on the left side and two buttons on the right. The left button is the “back button”, while the right knobs can be used to increase and decrease volume when playing music or a podcast. The right buttons can also be used to pick an option for various functions provided by the Blaze.
What I like with the Fitbit Blaze is that you can immediately know the status of the battery as the battery icon appears constantly on the upper left side of the screen. With the Fitbit Charge HR, you have no idea on how much juice is left except when you check out the Fitbit dashboard.
The Fitbit Blaze has four clock faces to choose from. This translates to more freedom in terms of layout and colors, and what information you want to be displayed on the monitor.
Pop –?This function displays the time in a modern, funky, and colorful large numbers. There is a quick view of the three activities: steps, heart rate, and calories burned. Just tap the steps, you will immediately know your steps for the day, then another tap for your heart rate (BPM) and another more tap, your calories. Press the left button, it will bring you back to the clock face.
Zone –?This displays the time in a straight, no fuss manner, in large digital numbers. Below the time is the day at date (month – date format). The background color can also be changed. Just tap the monitor and you will know your current heart rate.
Original –?This displays the time in a conventional circular clock, with the hour and minute hand. On the inner lower portion of the clock, you could see the number of steps and if you just tap it, it will change the information shown: the month and date, heart rate, distance covered, calories burned, and floors climbed.
Flare –?This feature displays the time in numbers, illuminated by bright violet and blue colors. At the lower portion of the clock is the month and date.?Basically, the choices for the clock face are limited on what information (date, steps, calories, heart rate, distance, floors climbed) you want to be displayed in the monitor.
Whatever clock face you pick, you can swipe the monitor from top to bottom and it will show the notification (on or off) and the music options (play, forward, reverse). If you swipe from the bottom to the top, notifications (calls, texts messages, and calendar events) and the time will be displayed on the upper right side.
Screens and Functions
One of the nicest things about the Blaze are the various functions which can be displayed and activated just be swiping. We discuss each of these functions below:
Today ?– By swiping the monitor to the left, the Today screen will be displayed. A big Fitbit logo with the word Today will appear at the bottom, while the battery icon can be seen at the upper left side of the screen.?If you swipe the monitor from the bottom to the top, you can obtain the information on the following: steps, heart rate, distance covered, calories burned and floors climbed.?For the steps, distance covered, calories and floors climbed, there is a circle around each icon. This circle is illuminated by the light blue color, depending on your daily progress. Once you reach your goal for the day, the circle will be completely illuminated by the light blue color.
Exercise ?–?If one will tap the exercise screen, a number of functions ? run, bike, weights, treadmill, and elliptical ? are available depending on the direction of your swipe.?For the run and bike function, there is a settings icon on the lower left portion of the screen. This gives the user options to choose from such as run cues, use phone GPS, and secondary stat. The first two functions utilize the connected phone’s GPS.?What I like about this function is that the smart fitness watch will correctly monitor the steps, distance, calories burned, heart rate, pace, and the time consumed. This function, which is exclusive for the Fitbit Blaze, gathers information based on a specific exercise or activity.
Fitstar ?–?The monitor will display an animated demonstration of the correct postures of warm-up activities like cat and cows, reverse shoulder roll, inchworms, alternating knee raises, open hip squats, lunging calf stretches, standing pigeons, and toy soldiers. Afterwards, it will begin the session with the each activity being monitored by time. After the session, there is a report on the calories burned, heart rate, and time.
7-minute Workout –?The monitor will display an animated demonstration of the correct execution of each exercise: jumping jacks, wall squat hold, pushups, crunches, step ups, bodyweight squats, bench dips, elbow plank, high knees, lunges, side plank pushups, side plank (L), and side plank (R).?Just like the warm-up function, it will begin the session with each activity being monitored by time. And afterwards, a report is shown on calories burned, average heart beat, maximum heart beat and time.
10-minute Abs — ?Again, the monitor will show an animated demonstration of the correct execution of each exercise: bicycle kick, elbow plank, straight leg lifts, Russian twists, mountain climber, superman planks, side plank (L), windshield wipers, and side plank (R).?Just like the warm-up and the 7-minute workout function, it will begin the session with each activity being monitored by time. And afterwards, a report is shown on calories burned, heartbeat, maximum heart beat and time.
Fitstar — This is a personal trainer that shows how each exercise is properly executed for the user to follow. With the Fitstar being included in the Fitbit Blaze, the user can choose a variety of exercises.
Timer ?–?This function has a stopwatch as well as a countdown function.
Alarms ?–?The alarms screen shows the active alarms. Unlike in Fitbit Charge HR, you can cancel the silent alarm or reactive the cancelled silent alarm when using the Blazae screen.
The Fitbit App
I paired the Fitbit Blaze with the iPhone 5 running on iOS 9.3.3. I like the very informative dashboard because it shows your daily totals: steps, floors climbed, distance, calories burned and active minutes. It also monitors exercise, sleep, hours activity, heart rate, weight, water intake, and food. There is a graph and detailed information in each activity.
The Challenges screen will make every Fitbit user motivated in reaching their goals. Also, with the large community of Fitbit users, the Friends screen will encourage the user to focus on its goals as well as track progress and send encouragement to friends.
There are limited choices in the clock face. I prefer the pop clock face because you can see right away three important goals that need to monitored: steps, heart rate, and calories burned. Sometimes, I use the original clock face because the time and steps are already shown in the monitor and with a simple tap on the screen, I can get detailed information. In short, the more options, the better.
There is no new technical feature. Except the bigger screen of the Blaze, technically, the Charge HR has the same important features of Blaze. Even with a smaller screen and just a single button, all the crucial information is displayed in its relatively small screen.
There is no GPS. The Fitbit Blaze needs to be connected with the compatible phone’s GPS. Some might argue that this will increase the cost of the device and will eat up the battery?s power. Still, my opinion is that it would be better if it equipped with GPS.
If you wanted to go light, the Fitbit Charge HR (Heart Rate + Activity Wristband) is the wearable device that you need.
The detachable monitor. You can charge your Blaze and at the same time do some cleaning on the frame and bracelet. Without the frame and bracelet, the user can still use the monitor to track the user’s sleep quality. Purchase the Sleep Band and use it to “tract your night in comfort.”
The detachable (interchangeable) band. What a brilliant idea. The user can interchange bands to match his specific activity. From the road for the morning run, to the boardroom or to the bar at night, there is a band for every activity.
Gap in the frame for air circulation. This is very important during exercise. No more sweaty wrist.
The battery icon display. The battery is displayed in the screen except the clock face. With the help of the battery icon, the user can immediately got to the settings to adjust the brightness of the monitor or simply have the unit turned off to save battery. Before, I usually wait for an email from Fitbit telling me to Charge my HR. Many times, the HR would just run out of battery. It’s a guessing game. I usually count three days of usage before I charge my HR. With the Blaze, there is no more guessing game.
Longer battery life and shorter charging time. Under the same conditions and activity, the Blaze would outlast the HR for two days of battery life. The Blaze would go on for straight five days before I get to charge it. Also, charging the Blaze is a lot quicker and faster — it does not need a full hour to charge it fully.
The call, text message, and calendar event notification. I love the call notification function of the Charge HR. You’ll love the Blaze more with the added functionality of text message and calendar event notification. No more looking at your mobile phone during meetings or during exercise. A quick glance on the monitor will do.
The music control. I usually hook my mobile phone to the car?s audio system to play music or listen to a podcast. I have better control when I just tap my smart watch to play, stop, back to the previous song or podcast or forward to the next song or podcast. How safe and smart that is. Also, during an exercise, there is no need to fiddle with your mobile device for the music. Let your Blaze, with a gentle tap, control the music.
The Exercise function. It records the steps, heart rate, calories burned, distance covered on every specific exercise / activity that you would do. It would track: running, cycling, weight training and cardio workout. The Blaze will provide real time performance stats and workout summaries.
The Fitstar function. It is like having your personal trainer. The user just watches the video on this device and then follow it. It?s that simple. The Blaze would record your heart rate, calories burned, time, and distance covered. Just like in Exercise Function, the Blaze will provide real time performance stats and workout summaries.
The Settings function. The user can fine-tune his Blaze with the monitor. There is no need to go your laptop or your mobile phone just to adjust the settings. The monitor can do it. It’s all in your wrist.
If you are looking for a wearable device and it is your first time to buy, go with the Fitbit Blaze. The Fitbit Charge HR cost $149.95 while the Fitbit Blaze retails for $199.95. The $50 difference is worth the added functionality, bigger monitor screen, and detachable band of the Blaze.
If you already have a wearable device like the Fitbit Charge HR, I would highly suggest that you upgrade to the Fitbit Blaze. With the Blaze, the user has more control on his wrist than the Charge HR. You have music control, call, text messages and calendar event notifications; longer battery life and faster charging; exercise function and Fitstar function (with workout summaries). These features alone is worthy of an upgrade.
From an activity tracker like the Charge HR, you will feel that you are in full control of your wearable device. There is no need to check on your mobile device for notifications.
And these are the reason I think why I should buy myself a Fitbit Blaze.