- Easy to use software, shows everything you need on the watch
- Good performance, no stuttering during fitness activities
The Fitbit Blaze runs Fitbit's own software, rather than Android Wear or Tizen, and that means it's pretty limited in what it can actually do. If you buy an Android Wear watch or Apple Watch you'll be able to download custom-designed apps from the respective stores, but here you're restricted to the functionality that's on offer out of the box.
When you turn on the Blaze you'll be greeted with the watch face. There are four to choose from, all with simple and uncluttered designs – my favorite includes a little monitor for your heart rate, step count and flights of stairs climbed.
The other options are even simpler, showing just the time, and sometimes the date with a different little animation. Watch faces can't be personalized – I hope that's something Fitbit will look into in the future, or that it will at least expand its collection of default faces.
If you swipe left on the screen it'll take you through your pre-loaded apps. First up is a feature called Today, which will show you your steps, heart rate and your resting beat throughout the day, miles walked, calories burnt and flights of stairs climbed.
If you want more you can boot up the app on your phone to see how your stats compare with past days.
The next app choice is Exercise, and most Fitbit users will find this section the most useful. Here's where you monitor the exercises you're doing, and you have the choice of run, bike, weights, treadmill, elliptical and workout.
When you start one of these it's simple to keep track of the time you've been working out, and you'll get your heart rate on the screen as well. Everything here is simple, which is what you need when you're focused on completing that last mile of a run.
One of the most interesting features on the Blaze is something called Fitstar, which gives you workout suggestions and tests how well you've done at a particular exercise. It includes options such as Warm It Up, 7 Minute Workout and 10 Minute Abs.
I found some of the routines pretty challenging – but that's likely my problem rather than an issue with the Blaze. It's something a little different to what the competition is offering, and if you're stuck for ideas in the gym, just boot this up and it'll give you some ideas.
At the end of the day, when you're finished living a suddenly more active life in order to meet your goals, this activity tracker transitions into a sleep tracker. It automatically begins tracking how long you sleep every night and notes your restlessness on a minute-by-minute timeline.
It's not always accurate, but automatic sleep tracking kicks in at the right time most of the time. I also found the app's timeline to be easier to read compared previous versions of the app and there are new sleep features for setting reminders and goals to help you make sense of the data.
Unchanged is the silent alarm feature that buzzes your wrist every morning to wake you up without disturbing your partner. It can be a relationship saver, even if you're not shedding the extra weight during the rest of the day.
Other useful non-fitness features on the watch include alarms, a timer and the settings menu. You can also control the music on your phone by pulling down on the main menu. You can pause and skip tracks within Spotify, Apple Music or your phone's own music player, which is particularly useful mid-workout when you don't want to get your phone out of your pocket.
But that's about all the Fitbit Blaze can do as a smartwatch. It will give you notifications, but I found that functionality limited. Texts and phone call alerts will come through to your watch, as well as calendar notifications.
This means third-party apps, such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, can't send notifications through to your wrist. If you're looking for a smartwatch that will enable you to keep in touch wherever you are and whatever you're doing, this isn't it.
The Blaze is all about the fitness – after all, Fitbit does call this a 'smart fitness watch'.