After the fiasco of Fitbit Force, noted fitness tracker manufacturer, Fitbit has released a new series of smartwear wristband device. The Fitbit Force was deemed as the best fitness tracker and was recalled after some users complained of skin rash which was due to the reaction of nickel content found in the stainless steel material of the device. It is to be noted that the range of Fitness Force went on to gather critical as well as users’ acclaim after it was launched but the recall of the device was seen as a major blow to the reputation of the device maker.
However, with the new extension of its product line, Fitbit has tried to make a comeback and how! If you ask us, we are of opinion that this is the closest to the perfection a smartwear fitness-oriented wrist device by Fitbit has ever come till date and hopefully, this will shadow the failure of Fitbit Force too.
As speculated, Fitbit has introduced three devices to its product portfolio which go by the name of Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge. Fitbit Charge is the rehash, new and improved version of Fitbit Charge. The Fitbit Charge HR monitors heart beat and Fitbit Surge is designed keeping serious runners in mind and is touted as the ‘superwatch’ by the company. It is an ideal blend of smartwatch capabilities and fitness band. It features corresponding apps of Windows, Android and Apple phones and is available in three sizes which are small, large and extra-large. Fitbit Surge also has smartphone notification capability and can alert you when you receive calls or text messages.
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This San Francisco based company is into fitness-oriented and health-focused wrist devices and does not have any plans to take on the likes of Samsung and Apple. As its co-founder and CEO James Park has reportedly said that the purpose of smartwatches is unclear at this moment and he is not convinced with the idea of fully-functional smartwatches.
Availability and Price of Fitbit Flagship Devices, Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge
Fitbit devices rely highly on customer satisfaction and user experience. This is necessary too because at their best, Fitbit devices can be taken as the connecting link between basic fitness devices and fully-functional smartwatches. It is a market segment that lies in between and needs constant innovation as well as evolution to gain traction and attract fence-sitters.
Unlike many device makers which are in rush and kind of have a different competition to get their devices to the retail counters in this festive season, Park is no hurry to roll out new flagship models of Fitbit bands. He has accepted that everything might not be ready within a few weeks and they will only launch the fitness bands once they are through the tests. Coming from the CEO, this reply could be a pleasant surprise for many of us out there too. And no wonder this emphasis on user experience makes the company one of the largest shareholders in the wearable segment. With 69% of market share, this company has never adhered to the timelines but the quality and user experience.
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According to Park, the company has taken the recall issue very seriously and has increased the stringent protocols. Now, Fitbit products are tested at independent labs to ensure the quality parameters and of course, this process can be time-consuming.
So, as far as we know that Fitbit Surge won’t be rolled for public till next year. Fitbit Charge will be launched at $129.95 by mid-November. The smartband will be available in black and plum color initially and color options like blue and tangerine will be available only next year.
Since Fitbit Charge HR comes with heart rate tracker, it comes with an additional cost of $20 ($149.95) and will be available in black and slate colors this year. Burgundy and Blue color options will be added to it in next year.
As stated earlier, the Fitbit Surge will see a release in early 2015 and will cost around $249.95, in color options blue, black and tangerine.
Fitbit Charge can work about seven days on a single charge. Fitbit Charge HR can give you tracking for about 5 days on a single push. Similarly on a single charge, Fitbit Surge aka Superwatch can give rigorous trainers and gym goers a battery life of 7 days.
This can be déjà vu for users who have used Fitness Force because there is strikingly similarity between the two when it comes to the aesthetics. However, if you observe it deeply, you will find it to be more textured. The small ridges on the edge make a subtle pattern. The clasp is tweaked for easy grasp and does not let the device fall off, a complaint users have reported in the past too. The device is lightweight and looks trendy.
As far as tracking is concerned, it tracks the calories burned, monitors the time of exercise and steps taken. You do not need to put the device on sleep mode because it takes cue from your movements. It partially acts like smartwatch and shows you real-time alert of received calls. This feature is beneficial when you cannot reach your phone and should know if the call can be averted. This feature was about to be rolled for Fitbit Force too but could not see the light of day due to the recall of the device.
Now, you can define the workouts and track the calories burned within a specific period. There is also a possibility of launching a feature called ‘Challenges’ which let you involve in fitness regimen more actively as you can coordinate with your friends on a weekly basis and accept or give them challenges to attain the fitness goals.
As fitness goals depend highly on motivation, this app can push you further to be about 27% more active with your goals.
Fitbit Charge HR
It is every bit the Fitbit Charge but comes with a heart rate monitor and this is how it gets the suffix of ‘HR.’ The company has dubbed this heart monitoring technology as PurePulse which track the heartbeats of users throughout the day, even during the sleep or when they are taking rest. This is what makes the Fitbit Charge HR a class apart from the rest of fitness device as you can rarely find a device in the market that tracks heart rate during sleep or while resting. This monitoring can help you to create information for medical intervention and timely aid.
This “Superwatch” rolls up eight sensors, compass, GPS, a touch screen display backlit by LCD, ambient light sensor and gyroscope under-the-hood. The OLED display is rectangle-shaped and also alerts you of text messages and incoming calls. You can also change the display of watch face and control the music player of connected device via the band.
Though, that is it for its smartwatch capability as it is a device that is exclusively meant for people who follow a running-centric regimen but with calories and heart rate monitoring in mind. People who are into marathons or are running for competition would consider much cheaper Garmin Vivofit available for $130 but 7-day battery time and sleek design may give the Surge an edge over other fitness bands.
Do not mistake Fitbit bands as smartwatches at all. In its core, it is a pure delight for fitness enthusiasts. The Fitbit wrist devices can be your one-stop device to track your fitness regimen. From steps taken to calories burned, heart rate monitoring and sending out alert notification for received calls or SMS; these do it all but you cannot respond to these or interact with them to check mail, send a reply or watch videos.
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In our opinion, the lying in-between strategy could be very risky for significant players like Fitbit. As the arena of smartwatches is coming-of-the-age, survival of the fittest is gaining new definition day-by-day. Users will definitely go for the device which offers them most features and is value-for-money. Nike has already announced the wrap-up of its Fuelband division and is now working on software enhancement and its integration with upcoming Apple Watch. So, how Fitbit will survive in this evolving landscape will be an exciting scenario to watch. As of now, the company has maintained its stand to invest into and enhance hardware as well as software aspects to give its users the best.
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While its counterparts like Jawbone has affiliated with Apple HealthKit, Fitbit is evaluating the platform for its pros and cons which has made Apple to block its presence in its retail stores across the world but as per the Fitbit spokesperson, the company is least affected by this move as the brand already has a very strong retail presence.