Fitbit Blaze Review: A Fitness Tracker Worth Buying

Sep 14th 2016

The Fitbit Blaze is a respectable competitor to the Apple Watch, especially for those that care most about quantifying their fitness. If you are a runner, you might prefer the Fitbit Surge, which is less attractive and not in color, but includes GPS on the device itself. But for other fitness enthusiasts, you should strongly consider buying the Fitbit Blaze.

In a prior article, we reviewed the Fitbit One, which we still recommend . We prefer the Blaze between the two, but the Fitbit One has features that some might prefer over the Blaze, which we discuss below.

Do you want to know the best way to increase the number of steps you take during the day?

Keep track.

That is the essence of fitness trackers and the quantified life that society has entered, each of us walking along at our own pace .

“What gets measured gets improved.” Business legend Peter Drucker is credited with that quote (along with some other good ones you can read at this link) .

The point is that if you measure your steps, or your heart rate, or your calories burned, or your sleep, you will likely see improvement for each of these. You will begin to notice correlations between and among certain actions and what you are measuring. These connections will build in your mind and you will, subconsciously or more, engage them to improve your numbers.

In addition, keeping track of these statistics puts you in a “game” mode, where the object is to improve your numbers. It is only natural for your inner child to convince you to play the game.

Finally, the raw numbers create accountability so at the end of the day, week, or month, you know whether you reached your goals.

So whether you have a Fitbit Blaze, Fitbit One, Apple Watch , Jawbone, Garmin, or something else entirely, you have ascended the crucial first step of quantifying your activity.

The next step is to determine what Fitness Tracker is best for you .

The Fitbit One v. the Fitbit Blaze

One option is the Fitbit One, which we review here . If you want better accuracy and prefer to wear the Tracker on your core rather than your wrist, the Fitbit One might be for you. We recommend it.

One point on accuracy: I used the Fitbit One for several years and from what I could tell, it was quite accurate. My impressions aren’t scientific, but I did periodically count steps, then check the tracker. I didn’t notice any missteps.

When I switched to the Fitbit Blaze, I noticed that my daily steps were about 10% less than when I had the Fitbit One, without a change in workouts, lifestyle, or anything I thought would make a difference. Again, this isn’t scientific, but I keep track very closely. Others have complained about the Fitbit Blaze missing steps .

I am not, however, particularly concerned if the Fitbit Blaze systematically undercounts because what matters to me are relative numbers: How one day compares to my prior days. By paying attention day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month, I have a good sense of my typical activity levels and whether I had a good activity day or not.

The raw numbers are less meaningful to me than the relative numbers. So when I switched to the Fitbit Blaze, after the initial adjustment, the slight under-counting (if my impressions are correct) is not a problem.

The Fitbit Blaze Has a Heart-Rate Monitor

If following your heart rate is important to you and you want your tracker on your wrist, we highly recommend the Fitbit Blaze.

I am a Fitbit One user that moved to the Fitbit Blaze, and I am happy I did. I will probably try out the Fitbit Ionic next.

First, as someone that enjoys statistics, including my own, I get value out of following and understanding my heart-rate variations, both during relative rest and during activity. I wear the Fitbit Blaze during exercise and find myself checking my heart rate at different points during my activity—from the peak of a spin class to the depths of a CrossFit workout to the calm of a yoga class

Second, the Fitbit Blaze uses your heart rate as part of the algorithm to determine your calories burned. Again, like with the steps, I don’t assume that Fitbit is necessarily accurately telling me the calories that I burn each day. They couldn’t, because that number depends on factors that Fitbit doesn’t and can’t incorporate into their calculations.

But the Fitbit calorie calculation does give me a relative sense of activity level each day that goes beyond just steps or mileage. By incorporating my heart rate, it adds intensity to the equation. So when I do an intense CrossFit workout and my heart rate goes sky high for a few minutes, the calorie count goes up even if I am only taking a few steps.

The Fitbit Blaze Workouts

You can put your Fitbit Blaze into a mode that tracks particular types of workouts, like cycling, weightlifting, running, treadmill, etc. This will record the workout under that label (and possibly better calculate calories burned, etc. based upon your movements and that activity).

For activities like tennis or skiing, for example, you can put it into the generic "workout" mode and it will track your heart-rate, steps, etc. to help come up with your statistics. 

The app that comes with Fitbit is excellent and allows you to view your prior activity for various time periods in an easy to read style.

There are also on-screen workouts that walk you through pre-loaded workouts. I don’t use them myself, but they are an option.

The Fitbit Blaze Sleep-Tracker

You can track your sleep with a Fitbit One, but it requires an extra step that I never found myself doing—moving the Fitbit One into something that you put around your wrist.

The Fitbit Blaze is a watch, so you fall asleep with it. Then you wake up in the morning, click on the Fitbit App and you can see how long you slept, how restless you were, and when and whether you woke up during the night (and for how long). Like anything else, tracking my sleep has caused me to try to get more and better sleep.

Other Fitbit Blaze Features

The Fitbit Blaze, like the Apple Watch, provides notifications from your smartphone to your watch. I personally don’t use that, but you might find it useful. You might also enjoy the ability to control your music and podcasts from your watch (with your phone nearby).

The battery life is decent—better than the Apple Watch. But if you use the heart-rate monitor, you will find yourself charging it every couple of days.

The Fitbit Blaze is water resistant, which doesn’t mean swimming, but don’t worry about splashes, rain, or your sweat.

Overall

If you want a watch that best imitates having a phone on your wrist, the Apple Watch is probably a better choice. If you don’t like wearing watches and don’t care about following your heart rate, you should consider the Fitbit One.

But if you want to effortlessly track your activity level in an effective way, we highly recommend the Fitbit Blaze.

And it can’t hurt that the Fitbit Blaze has an attractive screen that is in color and is comfortable to wear.