Fitbit blends fitness and full smartwatch features with new Blaze
If you've been following CES, you'll know wearables have featured heavily. Gaming specialist Razer has waded into the game with its fitness-focused Nabu, while Casio has gotten involved with an Android Wear watch. Now Fitbit is taking its fitness-first approach to the smartwatch game with Blaze, which is priced to take the fight to more established smartwatch players.
Fitbit's previous offerings have had an obvious focus on fitness, but the Blaze loses the slim, activity-friendly wristband designs of the Flex and Charge for a more traditional watch face that is far more practical for smartwatch notifications.
Those smartwatch notifications still don't go as far as the features offered by the latest Android Wear offerings. The Blaze gives users notifications for calls, text messages and calendar updates, as well as offering music control on its color touchscreen.
What it won't do is allow you to download applications, nor will it respond to simple voice commands like some higher end smartwatches.
It's not just Android Wear users that Fitbit is trying to poach with its latest offering. Thanks to GPS functionality and on-screen workouts, as well as an optical heart rate monitor, the Blaze is a more capable workout companion than models like the Charge HR, instead putting it in a similar league to TomTom or Garmin's sports watches.
The watch caters for multi-sport users too, with options for running, swimming and cycling – although it remains to be seen whether the heart rate tracking is reliable as you're splashing away in the pool.
Of course, if you're not into training the Blaze still does the same step and sleep tracking as Fitbit's other models, as well as keeping track of your sleep and offering silent alarms for people who want to get up early without disturbing their partners. Believe us, that feature alone can be a lifesaver when one side of the relationship is an early riser and the other likes to sleep in ...
With all of this is mind, the Blaze sounds like a pretty well-rounded wearable. To complete the package, it will be priced from just $US200, undercutting Huawei, Motorola and LG's Android offerings, not to mention the Apple Watch.
While it might not offer the functionality of some smartwatches, the Blaze still looks a good alternative for fitness-focused buyers with an eye on the budget.