Welcome back Fitness DJ Justin Kanoya, a leader in industry! Last month he shared with us his top tips for creating a playlist for a yoga session and this month he’s got an incredibly comprehensive Fitbit Device Review for you! And he’s not just a talented DJ, he’s also a techy and an active recreational athlete. Because he is the DJ for some of FitBit’s largest group events, he’s got the 411 on all the new FitBit devices and he’s sharing his insight with us today! So if you’ve been wondering which wearable device you should pick up, or if you’re looking to upgrade, Justin’s insight will be oh-so-valuable for you.
Fitbit Device Review: Which one is right for you?
Earlier this year, Fitbit, the company that creates those wearable fitness trackers that nearly everyone in the world is wearing on their wrists, released two new products – Blaze and Alta. The new releases, very different from previous devices, came at a time when it seemed many were either looking to purchase a Fitbit device or looking to upgrade/change from a device they’ve been wearing for a while.
As a DJ for Fitbit events — including at the launch of Alta in New York City — I’ve been a resource for friends, often asking my advice on what device they should get. Most of the queries have been about three devices, the aforementioned Blaze and Alta, as well as the company’s flagship device, Surge.
The most common question: “Which one should I get?” And my answer to that question is always a question: “what features do you need in a fitness device.”
It seems everyone wants to count those 10,000 steps per day, and all of these devices do that. But beyond that, each has their own set of unique feature. Understanding those elements are essential to deciding exactly which one is right for you.
Features available in all three devices:
- Wireless connectivity
- Automatic syncing to a computer or smartphone
- Smart notifications (text messages and call notifications pop up and can be read directly on the device)
- Step counting
- Sleep tracking
Now, here’s a look at each as well as my hands-on experience. I’ll specifically address the differences in the three devices.
Sizes: S, M, XL
Wristband Colors: Black, Blue, Tangerine
Description: Surge is truly an all around device, advanced enough for serious runners and exercise enthusiasts or people just wanting an everyday wear, “meaty” looking watch that has the basic functions of a wearable.
The most important feature that sets it apart from the other three is the built-in GPS tracking. This calculates distance, pace and elevation gain climbed. It’s also multi-sport, so users can record running, cross training and cardio workouts.
Need to monitor your heart rate? Surge has PUREPULSE technology, which tracks your heart rate via LED lights reflecting off the skin to detect changes in blood volume. This allows users to track heart rate throughout the day as well as during workouts.
DJ Kanoya’s Take: This is the watch I regularly wear throughout the day, as well as during different types of workout and runs. I like the look of the watch regardless of what I am doing, working out or a night out on the town. However, while it may be fine for a workout, it might seem a bit too large and unrefined for most woman to want to wear as an everyday or more dressy watch.
As a regular runner, I always monitor my heart rate and pace during my runs. The one shortfall on Surge is only being able to see one additional data field (other than your elapsed run time) on the screen. Users choose to view pace, average pace, heart rate, etc. It is not possible to see multiple data fields in one view, so you’ll have to swipe through fields until you find what you are looking for. This can be a bit cumbersome while running, especially those that are used to other devices that can display multiple data fields on one screen.
Lastly, for those that enjoy listening to music or podcasts during those long runs, you can control music apps on your smartphone using controls on Surge.
Sizes: S, M, XL
Wristband Colors: Black, Blue, Plum
Device Colors: Gunmetal, Silver
Description: Think of Blaze as Surge’s more sophisticated sibling. It essentially has all of the same features as Surge, but looks better while doing its thing. One of the first attributes I notice about Blaze is how much it looks like a “real watch.” And since the device itself is removable and can be inserted into a multitude of other watch bands, it can look dressy or sporty.
Another noticeable difference from Surge is the vibrant, high-res color touchscreen with multiple clock faces to choose from. As I mentioned, it has most of the same performance features as Surge such as music control, heart rate monitoring, multi-sport tracking and all-day activity tracking. It also has as GPS feature, but not exactly in the same way Surge has.
The GPS functionality on Blaze is called “connected GPS.” Users can map running routes and see real-time information such as pace and distance. However, it is using the GPS functions of a nearby smartphone to transmit the data. This means if you want to track traditional GPS data, you must carry a smartphone along. This may not be an issue for the many that do carry their phones on runs.
DJ Kanoya’s Take: I like the look of Blaze and have always been a sucker for a good “statement” watch. With automatic exercise recognition, I like that it can identify if I happen to go for an unplanned run or cardio workout. It records that data and counts toward fitness goals I’ve established.
However, I’m not one of those that runs with my phone. So Blaze would never be a “primary” fitness device for me.
Sizes: S, M, XL
Standard Wristband Colors: Black, Blue, Plum, Teal
Description: Alta has been accessorizing wrists since March and is Fitbit’s newest product. I used the word “accessorize” because it really is just that. A slim, sleek fitness device that not only tracks all the key data users look for in such a product, but can be personalized to fit their style. It is the perfect wearable for those that want to continue tracking step counts, calories burned and other pieces of data, but do not want to deal with a large “running” watch.
While unisex in nature, Alta has definitely been very popular with woman who either do not want to wear a clunky fitness watch all day, or just didn’t like the casual look of such devices. After all, wearing a rubber wristband with LED dots on it isn’t the most refined look at a wedding.
“Fitbit Alta will turn heads as our most fashionable device yet,” said James Park, CEO and Co-Founder of Fitbit. “It fits seamlessly into daily life – from the gym to the office to a night out.”
In terms of features and performance, Alta is probably best compared to other Fitbit devices such as Charge and Flex. Both of those devices, including Alta, do not have GPS capability. But that is where the similarities end. Alta has a customizable clock face, smartphone notifications and automatic exercise recognition. So while it won’t be able to tell how far you’ve walked or run, it does identify certain exercise types and logs that into your profile.
DJ Kanoya’s Take: If I’m not planning on going for a run, or just need a small lightweight tracker on my wrist, then Alta is just right. Although, to be honest, I have not worn it much since I came home with it from the launch event. Not because I prefer something else, but because my wife has essentially made Alta her everyday wear device.
Earlier I mentioned having to answer the question “which one should I get?” When answering this for yourself, consider what your fitness and fashion lifestyle is. Personally, the ideal scenario would be to have two complementary devices.
Since you can register multiple devices to a single Fitbit account, it’s possible to switch throughout the day and still have a cumulative total of your daily movement.
For runners and avid sweat enthusiasts, Surge is the perfect option. Just based on the fact it has onboard GPS and heart rate monitoring. Pair that up with a Blaze or Alta and it’s the perfect alternative to swapping out when you’re headed to the office or a cocktail party.
If you just want a fitness tracker for accountability and to get you moving more often, any of the three would work great. But if GPS is not a necessity, then save a little money and go with Blaze or Alta
Regardless of what you choose, you’ll look great and you’ll start to feel great too.
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