Fitbit’s Latest Activity Trackers Feature Heart Monitoring, Smartwatch Functions

Meet Fitbit’s latest: The Charge, Charge HR, and the Surge. These activity trackers will sit atop the brand’s masthead going into 2015 and beyond. But don’t look for most of these products this holiday season. Only the $130 Charge will be available this year. The $150 Charge HR and $250 Surge hit stores in early 2015.

Fitbit had a tough 2014. After launching the flagship Fitbit Force in late 2013, the company trudged through a public recall of the product in the first quarter of 2014. Yet Fitbit pushed forward sans a true flagship product but managed to retain a dominating position in the growing activity tracking market.

The Charge is the rebirth of the Force. This time around, though, the wrist band is slightly different and textured. Unlike the Force before it, the Charge can display caller ID information from a connected smartphone.

The Charge HR packs all the goods as the Charge, but also includes a heart-rate monitor. Because of this addition, the battery life is only five days instead of the seven found in the Charge.

The Surge is big addition for Fibit. It’s more smartwatch than activity tracker and is clearly designed to appeal to fitness fanatics. The Surge also has a heart-rate monitor and built-in GPS capabilities that can track pace, distance, and elevation.

The watch’s large LCD face is customizable and can display Caller ID, text alerts and media playback. But at $249, Fitbit is competing with a different set of players including Samsung and Garmin. While Fitbit might rule the inexpensive activity tracker field, the brand could face hesitation from buyers looking for a premium product.

For some reason, Fitbit is not launching the high-end Charge HR and Surge until next year. Apparently it feels confident in its aging lineup to carry it through the 2014 holiday season. Yet in 2015, Fitbit will no doubt face stiffer competition as next year is shaping up to be the beginning of the smartwatch era.