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Thursday, November 10, 2016

FitBit Blaze - Review

First of all, I had the FitBit Surge before this and I loved it.  However, the band started to wear badly after about 8 or 9 months of hard use so when I fell and the screen got scratched, I decided to use my extra warrantee and trade it in.

I went in to Best Buy planning on simply exchanging it for another Surge and I had been happy with it so I had not done any research into the other products on the market at that time.  When I got there, I needed someone to unlock the display to get the new Surge out and they started telling me about the Blaze.  I liked the look (more watch-like, less sport-tracker) and the associate assured me that it also had GPS and I could use it to track my runs without my phone. Turns out that is not true. I don't know if he was mis-informed or just mis-represented the product, but that is the only thing I had been unhappy with and that is not anyone's fault but mine for not looking into the product a bit more.

So I've been using the Blaze for about 5 months now and other than the GPS feature have been pretty  happy with it.  I've had some cases where it stopped alerting me for incoming calls and texts, but after updating the firmware, that was almost completely resolved.  I also like some changes they have made in the latest version.  One feature in particular is to alert me when I have not moved a certain number of steps during the hour.  This helps me avoid getting so caught up in things that I forget to get up and stretch my legs once in a while.

The accuracy of the tracker when synced with my phone (currently Samsung Galaxy S5) is among the most reliable I have had experience with.  The only downside as I mentioned is I need to bring my phone with me.  That is not a big deal most of the time since I usually bring my phone with anyway, but the problem is when I travel outside of the country, I do not have international data on my personal phone so I am not able to track my international runs with my Blaze. MapMyFitness on my work phone fills in admirably though so at least I get an international map of my run.

The heart rate feature of my FitBits has been one of my favorite features.  I've found my Blaze to be fairly reliable, recording my heart rate nearly 100% of the time, regardless of where I wear the watch, how tight the strap is or how sweaty I get.  Yesterday however, a few hours after a run, it suddenly stopped reading my hear rate.  The green LED's on the back are still lit up but no hear rate.  I googled it and found several excellent troubleshooting articles on the FitBit site, but unfortunately they didn't get it working again.  Everything else still worked, my step counter was working, notifications were working, but no hear rate.

Today I went to the FitBit help site and started a chat support session.  In just a few minutes, the agent had determined that the troubleshooting I had done based on the articles online was sufficient and didn't make me go through it again.  They asked for my shipping address and said a new one was on its way and should arrive in 5-7 business days.  Hopefully I will update this blog post in a few days and say "It worked!" but till then, I will probably dig out one of my other fitness devices to track my heart rate while I work out.

UPDATE:  I received my replacement Blaze in less than the promised window. I was able to get it up and running quickly and easily. I've used it for about a week now and the heart rate seems to be tracking consistently, although when comparing to my Timex Ironman GPS watch, it seems to read my heart rate about 15-20 beats per minute slower.  This means I will probably be using my Timex for my high intensity workouts. Now I will wait and see if this replacement unit lasts a bit better than the first one.

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