Reviewing the Fitbit Blaze a day before the Fitbit Ionic is released seems daft, but the Blaze does offer some indications as to the struggles Fitbit may face in building a ‘watch’.
I have only been using it for a couple of days and must say that I am 50% positive and 50% perplexed by the hardware and the software onboard. It feels just right in some areas and lacking in others which is maybe why many are concerned that the Ionic will be a miss when compared to the Apple Watch.
For me, the Fitbit software is the one hook that makes me use the hardware and that feels unlikely to change anytime soon. The good news is that I can buy a simple Fitbit tracker for under £100 or spend £300 on the Ionic from tomorrow so there is choice which is a good thing, but I know deep down that I will settle for a tracker and wear a real watch on the other wrist. For the Blaze, which is described as a watch, it needs to offer something special to take the left wrist space just as the Apple Watch does and any other device designed to help you check the time as well as do smart things.
I have written before about the variety in the Fitbit app and how it has helped me (57lbs lost in 4 months so far) and with this comes the need for hardware of which the Blaze is arguably the only watch Fitbit has released to date.
In use it is an oddity. The design is kind of nice and I personally like the angular nature of the form. It is noticeable and while some look at it and voice their lack of positivity towards it, I still kind of like the science fiction look which has been taken even further by the Ionic. Is the design lazy? Yes it is in terms of originality and the way it will need to be made in a factory, but it does retain some merit.
I am not so convinced by the large bezels which make the screen look smaller than it already is and the feel of the buttons. There is a sense throughout that this has been made to a price and that a lot more could have been done to validate the cost. In actual fact it feels like a Fitbit tracker with a bigger screen and in a different form, nothing more and nothing less.
It is very comfortable to wear thanks to the soft strap and the lightness of the case and the battery life claim of 4 days feels accurate. You could wear this and forget it is there which is the goal of any decent watch or fitness tracker.
Notifications come through without fail and everything works as it should, but the lack of a quality hardware finish remains strong and I do hope that the Ionic changes that because it is priced comparatively to the Apple Watch. Fitbit hardware has historically felt relatively cheap and just maybe it is time to stop that.
If you do not wear a watch and want a reliable and adequately priced fitness tracker the Blaze will suit. If you do not care how your watch looks or have a limited sense of style, the Blaze will suit. If, however, you simply need comprehensive fitness tracking and want to save some money, the Charge 2 may be a better option.