Watch out: Fitness band gone smart! Fitbit just released the latest and greatest in tech, the Fitbit Surge Fitness Super Watch. This wristband has most of the features anyone could want in a wearable. It tracks movement, heart rate, sleep, and calories on a large backlit touchscreen display. It even has smartphone integration and a built-in GPS. It’s loaded up with features, but the best part is, it’s still a simple device with simple functionality.
The Surge looks just like a large watch with a digital face. The band is about an inch wide and the face is almost an inch and a half wide. As a guy with an average wrist it looks and feels very normal, but I love large watches. On a small wrist, it makes a much larger statement. It will come down to personal preference, but either way it’s very comfortable. The band is rubber and I barely feel it when working out or sleeping. Though large, it’s pretty light (especially if you’re used to a metal watch).
Surge has a beautiful black and white display with a 1.25 inch diagonal. The resolution is high and even small text renders clearly. If you’re used to using a smartphone, then you’ll be very comfortable with the touch capabilities. Touch is responsive and fluid. You’re mainly just swiping left and right to change views, but there’s more movement in settings and notifications.
Surge has an always-on display, and a button to turn on the backlight for a couple seconds. The face can display one of six default screens, and there’s different themes too. There’s date/time, distance, heartrate, steps, calories, and floors. All the screens and metrics update in real-time. There’s a feature to track different types of exercise. Surge gives you a brief exercise summary, but the app/webapp give you a slew of extra data and personal trends.
One of the best features on Surge is the sleep tracking. It logs your sleep and records when you’re restless or wake up. You never even have to tell it when you go to sleep or wake up. It can figure all that out. There’s silent alarms on Surge that wake you up with vibrations on your wrist. If you’re a heavy sleeper, you could sleep through it, but otherwise it’s a really pleasant way to wake up.
So what makes surge so “smart”? Surge displays all of your smartphone messages and phone calls. It gently notifies your arm with vibration, and it relays a caller ID and all of your text messages. In addition to notifications, Surge can also control music, which can be really convenient. The implementation is relatively basic, but we’re okay with that. We’re glad Fitbit didn’t try to over-complicate Surge with useless features, they stuck to the basics. On the other hand, the screen is so nice that some weather updates or extra notifications could have been nice.
There’s been some mixed feedback on Fitbit Surge, but mostly positive. As with all devices, it’s important to manage your expectations. The Surge does a lot, and with minimal effort. The pain points are battery power, size/fit, and heartbeat accuracy. The battery lasts for the better part of a week, luckily it’s a pretty quick charge. I never want to lose out of steps or sleep tracking, so I charge it during my shower time. It’s actually waterproof, but Fitbit doesn’t recommend showering with it. The charging cable is proprietary and different from the other Fitbits.
Fitbit Surge’s accuracy is pretty good across the board, as with other Fitbit products we’ve used. GPS was a really nice addition for accuracy outside. As previously noted with other Fitbit bands, the step counting can be a bit generous depending on your habits, but it should be used as a relative number. The accuracy of the heart rate monitor is a touchier subject. For the most accurate reading, the band needs to be tight and an inch or two up from your wrist. If you wear the band loosely you might find your daily heartrate trends to be inaccurate. I find it more-or-less accurate. For optimizing a workout by reporting your heartrate zone, it does the trick.
Fitness trackers can be a game changers. They all do a good job of getting you to think about living a more active lifestyle. Fitbit has always done a great job of pushing you to go 10,000 steps per day. They gamify activity through updates, badges, and social integration. The Fitbot webapp unlocks a slew of interesting information about yourself, and it’s laid out in a beautiful dashboard. That said, Surge is my favorite Fitbit to date. As an activity tracker, it can mostly do everything the Fitbit Charge HR can do, other than GPS. The main difference is the huge display and text messages/music control. Unlike most other smart watches, Fitbit figured out how to offer an always-on display and still maintain a battery life of more than a few days. If you don’t care about heartrate and prefer a more minimalistic design, the Fitbit Charge is also a great choice. It still offers automatic sleep tracking, silent alarms, and caller ID notifications.
Pricing in at $249.95 the Surge is pricey for a Fitbit, though it’s reasonable for a smartwatch. It’s currently available from Amazon.com.Buy it!
The Good: Vibrating notifications and alarms, Always-on touchscreen display with backlight, GPS, Automatic sleep tracking, Relays entire text messages, Wireless syncing, Smartphone integration with music control, Water resistant, Sleek design with fun color choices, Pretty good battery life for a smart watch
The Bad: Heartrate accuracy highly dependent on fit, Proprietary charging cable different from other Fitbits, Swiping through text messages is not so intuitive, sizing is on the large side for women with smaller wrists