First look: Fitbit Surge, a fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring 'super watch'

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2015
Fitbit's latest premium wearable fitness tracker, the Surge, has been dubbed a "super watch" by the company, thanks to its inclusion of a heart rate monitor, exercise tracker, GPS, monochrome touchscreen display, and up to seven days of battery life.




AppleInsider got its hands on the newly introduced $250 Fitbit Surge, and upon launching the device it's clear that the fitness-focused company hopes to cater to a different market than the upcoming Apple Watch.

For starters, the Fitbit Surge features a black-and-white display that isn't as suited for advanced apps. But sticking to a simple, power-sipping display allows the new wrist-worn Fitbit to offer up to seven days of battery life, compared to just one day expected with the Apple Watch.




And the Fitbit Surge's screen is always-on, as well. The device also includes a backlight for viewing in low-light situations, and the backlight can be set to automatically enable or always be on.

And unlike other black-and-white smartwatch displays, like on the popular Pebble, the new Fitbit Surge features a touchscreen that makes navigation much simpler. The hardware still features three physical buttons: A menu button on the left and two input options on the right.




While the Surge isn't going to win any design accolades, the hardware is comfortable enough for daily use, as well as while on a run. We found it to be a much better fit than the recently released Microsoft Band.

Like Microsoft's offering, the Fitbit Surge offers its own integrated GPS, which the Apple Watch will not feature in its first-generation version. That means a user will be able to run, bike, or engage in other activity and track their pace without the need to bring their costly phone along for the ride.




Using GPS does severely consume power, with Fitbit advertising five hours of uptime when GPS is enabled.

The Surge also includes what Fitbit has dubbed "PurePulse" heart rate monitoring, which measures automatically and continuously throughout the day. With the Surge, users can see their resting heart rate, elevated rates during workouts, target ranges, and more.

Of course, the Surge also tracks typical daily activity such as steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, floors climbed, and active minutes. It also serves as a sleep monitor and includes a silent alarm function with vibration for waking the user up.




Finally, the Surge also includes expected smartwatch functions such as call and text notifications on the wrist. Enabling a "classic" Bluetooth mode on the device also allows users to view, play and pause current music on their iPhone.

The Surge connects to Fitbit's official iOS application for iPhone, and data can also be uploaded to the company's website. However, Fitbit famously does not support Apple's HealthKit, though there are some third-party tools that help bridge the gap between the two.

AppleInsider will have a full, formal review of the Fitbit Surge once we've given it an adequate test. We also took a peek at the company's new Charge and Charge HR fitness monitors at CES earlier this month.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    It's ugly, hard to read, and cheap-looking.

    Apple's going to clean up with the ?Watch.

    I don't mind buying into the first version which will require that I have my iPhone with, as I ALWAYS have my iPhone with.

    I'll wear it proudly and I look forward to seeing how it as well as its apps can enhance my days.
  • Reply 2 of 28
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member

    So how do you download the GPS track?

    Is it only viewable in the Fitbit app/website?

    Is it a standard .gpx file?

    What info is available with the track? Heart rate, pace, time?

  • Reply 3 of 28
    I finally lost it with my PoS Fitbit. It would randomly lose time, and if you set the clock, it wiped your data for the day. Lost a step challenge for my team at work because of it. Horrible device.
  • Reply 4 of 28
    Their iPhone app has been a screwed up mess for moths now.
    https://community.fitbit.com/t5/iOS-App/Calories-left-appears-high/td-p/578027
  • Reply 5 of 28
    If Fitbit famously does not support Apple's HealthKit, why is it even discussed in Appleinsider. From other comments about their proprietary iOS app, sounds like it is pretty bad too. Get on board Fitbit.
  • Reply 6 of 28
    a1anga1ang Posts: 10member
    Log into the Fitbit website and read the help discussion about the Surge. Lots of problems. Big ones: heart rate monitor doesn't work during heavy exertion like weight training. Step counter doesn't work on step climbers or exercise bikes. GPS is not consistent. I would not buy one at this time. It makes me wonder how well the wrist heart rate technology will work in the Apple Watch. I will wait and see before buying one.

    Alan
  • Reply 7 of 28
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    The difference between this watch and the Apple Watch is that the Apple Watch is a full computer (albeit a relatively underpowered one) with a full operating system, and this is more of a fixed function device. In the long term the former will beat the later because it can adapt at the speed of software updates instead of hardware updates.

  • Reply 8 of 28

    I think Bixby Snyder said it best... "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

     

    No, seriously, that's the most money that ugly thing and it's crappy pixelated display is worth. Good fucking lord, what did FitBIt do anyhow? Lease a warehouse in san Jose for a fitbit paintball jazzercise party, and found a bunch of dusty boxes full of languishing digital watches made by some obscure startup back the in 1980s that went bust before it could put anything on sale, and the retarded FitBit CEO thought that they could shoehorn their shitty fitness software into it?

  • Reply 9 of 28
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,992member

    That thing is spectacularly ugly and clunky looking. It looks like they put zero thought into the design aesthetics. I guess for "sports" use it would be okay if you're into the "chubby puck" look, but I just can't imagine wearing it to work or with a long sleeved shirt. The band material actually reminds me of the tread material from rubber flip flops. At least it comes with a cute mini terrarium that you can repurpose for family enjoyment. Oh well, just more technocrap that will drive buyer remorse unless you're smart and not too lazy to send it back for a refund during the return period. I got burned by the Jawbone UP, total waste of money for something that lasted less than 6 months. I just wish they'd quit charging real money for this whole category of wearable technocrap.

  • Reply 10 of 28
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    danielsw wrote: »
    It's ugly, hard to read, and cheap-looking.

    Apple's going to clean up with the ?Watch.

    I don't mind buying into the first version which will require that I have my iPhone with, as I ALWAYS have my iPhone with.

    I'll wear it proudly and I look forward to seeing how it as well as its apps can enhance my days.

    Incorrect, you don't always need to keep an iPhone with the Watch. It can track fitness and play music and be used for apple pay. It can't map routes via GPS or run third party apps without having the iPhone.
  • Reply 11 of 28
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,581member
    How big is your wrist? Either you have very slender wrists or that is a massive bit of plastic. Frankly it just looks terrible.
  • Reply 12 of 28
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    I hate that, but I am still leaning toward the FitBit Charge HR over ?Watch at this time.
  • Reply 13 of 28
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,399member
    I think the guy in the first three pictures needs to get that mole checked ...
  • Reply 14 of 28
    I got one. It light. Comfortable. Accurate from what I have seen. My only concern is the advertised battery life. Without using Gps I'm at two and a half days and might need to charge today. I'll likely be in for a gen 2 ? watch. Gen 1 stuff is usually limited until they make their second iteration.
  • Reply 15 of 28

    please educate me: how many steps do you take when you stationary bike?

  • Reply 16 of 28

    All you crazy apple fan boys with your heads so far up Steve Jobs' ass still are absolutely ridiculous. You do realize that nothing you say about other companies' products has any credibility, right? Or do you know that and that's why you stay in your little circle jerk here instead?

     

    Holy Toledo, get a grasp on reality before you leave the house next time, or should I say not leave the house and just sit on your over-priced, worthless computers all day?

  • Reply 17 of 28
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    mac_128 wrote: »
    I think the guy in the first three pictures needs to get that mole checked ...

    They are fine.
  • Reply 18 of 28

    All you crazy apple fan boys with your heads so far up Steve Jobs' ass still are absolutely ridiculous. You do realize that nothing you say about other companies' products has any credibility, right? Or do you know that and that's why you stay in your little circle jerk here instead?

     

    Holy Toledo, get a grasp on reality before you leave the house next time, or should I say not leave the house and just sit on your over-priced, worthless computers all day?

  • Reply 19 of 28
    Amazing how much technology they can fit into a strip of rubber matting.
  • Reply 20 of 28
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Landcruiser View Post

    If Fitbit famously does not support Apple's HealthKit, why is it even discussed in Appleinsider. From other comments about their proprietary iOS app,

    Which iOS apps from anyone are not proprietary?

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