Fitbit Blaze is a whole workout in a wearable

Fitbit Blaze is a $199 fitness tracker available for purchase starting today and it comes with quite a few fun features to help get you moving.

A lot of Fitbit’s family of fitness trackers do pretty much the same thing — track steps, mileage and calories burned — and the Blaze is not much different here. But you can click through the color touchscreen to start working out with FitStar (a video fitness startup Fitbit bought for about $25 million last year in a cash and stock deal), and Blaze comes with the ability to select activities like running, biking, or the elliptical machine to check for performance.

The Blaze isn’t for limit pushing like Fitbit Surge, but like other Fitbit devices, it will automatically track your steps, heart rate, and calories burned in a day as well as give you a run down of your sleep behavior – something missing in other fitness trackers.

Fitbit plans to market the Blaze to the kind of person who works out maybe two or 3 days a week and wants something to help them know how they are doing.

The device looks a bit like a large-faced cousin of the Apple Watch but cuts out some other typical smartwatch functions and just focuses on fitness.

The Blaze is also water-resistant to a degree. It’s safe to go running with it in the rain, but not recommended for swimming. While a nice dive in the pool might short circuit the device, but the battery is plenty powerful in other ways. It runs on a single charge for up to five days so you can continuously wear it and even sleep with it to find out if you are restless during the night.

Fitbit’s Blaze is a modular design and the display easily pops out from the band frame to recharge or switch to a different band. There are three buttons on the side of the frame. The one on the left turns the display on and lets you toggle to different sections. The other two do the same thing but provide easy access while working out, depending on if you are left- or right-handed.

One really cool thing about this fitness watch is you can take it on a workout without your phone and it will record your steps, floors climbed and how far you went. You simply sync it up with the app on your smartphone after. You will need your phone with you for playing music and getting notifications, however.

Note that syncing the music on your phone with the Blaze is kind of confusing and, in my opinion, makes more sense to just use your phone with the music already on it anyway.

I’d give the Blaze 4 out of 5 stars overall. The additional sleep-tracking and ability to see how many calories I’ve burned throughout the day are a plus. I also found the heart rate monitor to be accurate when comparing it to other heart rate monitors or apps on my iPhone. But the steps tracker can be misleading if you tend to fidget. The steps were always more than my Apple Healthkit steps or steps measured on the Moves app – on some days, this was by more than 1,000 steps.

What’s to love:

  • Built-in heart rate monitor
  • Ability to track miles, calories and steps (though steps is a bit wonky)
  • Sleep-tracking capability
  • Ability to leave your phone behind for a nice walk or jog
  • Fitstar workouts
  • Badges for accomplishments (might not be your thing but I found it encouraging)
  • Bluetooth connection for getting texts, appointment reminders, and other notifications or switching songs on your phone
  • Up to 5 days of battery life
  • Bang for the buck – $199 for Blaze vs. (starting) $349 for Apple Watch Sport

What’s not so much:

  • Steps were off – sometimes by as much as 1,000 steps in a day
  • Can’t go swimming with it (but can run in the rain)
  • Clunky design – wider face rather than streamlined
  • The device is sometimes hard to reattach to the band after charging

Want to see the Blaze in action (and how out of shape I am)? I took it out for a test run in Golden Gate Park to show you how it works. You can see all that in the video above.

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