As the most powerful company in the activity tracking space (they are estimated to own 70 percent of that market), it was a bit of a surprise that we didn’t see something sooner from Fitbit after the unfortunate Fitbit Force fiasco in February that lead them to recall that device. While I was quite pleased with the Flex when I reviewed it back in May, the lack of a screen was one of my few complaints, something that the recalled Force had addressed.
Thankfully, all three of the new additions to the lineup address this concern and expand the capabilities of the Fitbit line extensively.
The first new product in the lineup, and the only one that is available for purchase today, is the Fitbit Charge. It is described as the Fitbit Force “reinvented” and it is certainly very reminiscent of the Force design that it is worth mentioning was extremely popular despite the recall. Beyond the standard activity tracking (steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed) the Charge offers an OLED display that will show you the time, your current stats and caller ID. This all of course is shared with the Fitbit app that offers a thorough breakdown of all your data. The Charge is water resistant and will offer up to seven days of battery life on a charge. It is available for purchase today through Fitbit for $129.95.
Fitbit Charge HR
You probably have already guessed that the “HR” stands for “Heart Rate” and that is the one additional feature that the HR brings to the table versus the standard Charge. To be clear, that is a big feature for a lot of fitness buffs, and the fact that it tracks your heart rate automatically and continuously is a significant step up from the feature being offered on some smartwatches today, which have to be activated and can only be used when not in motion. This means much more accurate information about calories burned along with associating your heart rate with all of the other standard activity tracking. That continuous heart rate monitoring does cause a slight ding to battery life, dropping it from seven days to five. The Charge HR is due out in early 2015 and will cost $149.95.
Finally we come to Fitbit’s smartwatch, the Surge. Fitbit refers to it as a “Fitness Super Watch,” which reminds me of the pitch for the MOTO ACTV back in 2012. But we have come a long way in wearables since then, and it looks like the Surge is going to deliver far better on that promise than the ACTV ever did. The Surge naturally offers all of the functionality of the Charge and Charge HR, but also brings to the table a backlit touchscreen LCD and a bevy of sensors (3-axis accelerometers, gyroscope, compass, ambient light sensor, GPS and heart rate). GPS in particular allows for superior activity tracking and the addition of features like route tracking. As for its more smartwatch-oriented features, the Surge offers caller ID, text alerts and music controls. There are also customizable watch faces that can keep you apprised of your stats at all times. Like the Charge, the Surge will last for seven days on a charge. It is also due out in early 2015 and will be $249.95.
I’m guessing most of you fall more into the Android Wear camp, but I can see these devices having mainstream appeal. They bring at least rudimentary smartwatch functionality while providing the health data that an increasingly large population seems to want. And five to seven days of battery life is also a big step up from the one to three days that most Android Wear watches are able to offer.
Are any of the three new Fitbit devices piquing your interest?