A few quick thoughts on Fitbit’s new activity trackers, GPS watch (with optical heart rate!)

Fitbit New Products Image

(Update February 26th: I’ve published my Fitbit Surge GPS In-Depth Review here and my Fitbit Charge and Charge HR In-Depth Review here.  Go head over to those posts to get all the details!)

This morning Fitbit announced a bundle of new activity trackers, as well as forging into the GPS smartwatch market with their first sport-focused GPS product that will undoubtedly on spec at least challenge both fitness incumbents like Garmin at the entry level running watch end, as well as smart watch hopefuls like Apple and their upcoming Apple Watch.

Before we begin I should note that I don’t normally like to post about products until I’ve had them in-hand.  In this case, there’s a new FitBit Charge somewhere on an airplane to me (being in NZ this week made that a bit…complicated).  However, neither the Charge HR nor Surge were ready to send to me.  Nonetheless I’m going to still discuss it in this post, if for no other reason than to stem the tide of e-mails/tweets/carrier pigeons that people will be sending me asking for my opinion.  Well, that and I truly think the products are interesting and hugely relevant news in the industry.

The New Activity Tracker Models – Fitbit Charge and Charge HR:


To begin, FitBit unveiled two non-GPS models today, the Fitbit Charge & the Fitbit Charge HR.  The Charge is effectively a FitBit Force with new features.  Specifically it adds over the since-recalled Force:

– Automatic sleep detection
– Caller ID alerts for incoming calls
– Updated wristband with new clasp

And…that’s about it.  Surprisingly, it doesn’t actually feature all-out smartphone notifications.  Rather instead only caller ID alerts.  In an age were virtually all other activity trackers on the market are getting full text alerts from any app you choose, this does seem to be a bit of a surprise to be limited to just phone calls.  On the flipside, the display of the Force is heavily limited in what it can display given the small size.


Meanwhile, the Fitbit Charge HR adds in their so called “PurePulse” technology, known to the rest of the world as optical heart rate recognition.  It does this Basis-style with 24×7 monitoring using the optical sensor on the inside of the unit.  You can see the sensor in the below image with the two tiny LED emitting lights (yes, I know that’s redundant, but that’s just the way I roll).


At the same time the unit can track calories using heart rate (as opposed to estimating with just steps), so you’d get more accurate calorie burn metrics for activities like yoga or being in the weight room where steps aren’t terribly relevent.  Additionally, you’ll get workout summary information after the activity.


Of course, the big ticket item here is how accurate the heart rate readings will be.  The device will show your current heart, but it’s not clear just how detailed the export will be – or what the refresh rate will look like (Update: Fitbit says it’s at 1-second sampling and recording rate).  The key here will also be if any significant averaging is applied (virtually all devices apply some minor averaging, to what degree is what matters).


As regular readers here know – accuracy of optical sensors varies quite a bit depending on who makes the optical sensor portion, the watch/device that the sensor is placed into, and then the algorithms employed by the company to potentially compensate for said accuracy levels.

For example, we’ve seen great results in the sport/fitness arena from companies like Scosche and Mio, which are accurate for the vast majority of the population (Mio sensors are used in Adidas and TomTom products as well; and Valencell sensors are used in the Scosche and a few other products I’ve had good luck with).

When looking at non-fitness activities I’ve found good luck with the Basis B1 units.  On the flip side, the current non-Peak Basis unit is unable to track sports activities (something the upcoming Peak says it can handle).  And then you’ve got the Samsung Gear lineup of watches/trackers, which can’t really seem to track anything accurately.  Note that I can confirm that the Fitbit lineup does not use Mio sensors in it.


The piece that slightly concerns me about the Charge HR design is that there’s very little cover of darkness for the optical sensor.  Outside/bright light is the singular enemy for optical sensor accuracy, and the design as seen above does very little shielding against that due to the width of the band being as slim as it is.  Hence why I’m hesitant on just how accurate it will be in athletic endeavors.

The Fitbit Surge GPS Watch (with embedded HR):


Next up we’ve got the Fitbit Surge, which is an all-in-one GPS watch, activity tracker, optical HR sensor for both 24x heart rate tracking and workouts, as well as being a smartwatch.  Effectively, it’s what a lot of you have been asking for – and all for $250US.

The unit does everything the Charge HR does, but adds in a GPS chipset as well as a backlit screen that’s touch enabled.  The screen can display alert information from activities as well as textual information like text messages.  Additionally, it can control music on your phone (it doesn’t store music on the device however).  The unit contains a slew of sensors beyond the GPS and optical HR sensor, including a gyroscope, compass, 3-axis accelerometer and an ambient light sensor.  So yeah, it sounds pretty awesome.

Like most GPS watches on the market today it’ll leverage GPS for activity distance and pace while outdoors during a workout, as well as then offer maps afterwards.


It does that by connecting to your phone via Bluetooth Smart.  Fitbit is actually unique in the market in that they not only support Android and iOS, but also Windows Phone devices.  The Charge/Charge HR and Surge products all utilize the same app platform as previous Bluetooth Smart connected activity trackers from the company.

Interestingly, FitBit is also announcing today Windows Phone Cortana integration within the app itself.  This allows you to tell your phone (verbally) what you just ate or drank and it’ll automatically catalog it into your calories consumed for the day, from the database of some 350,000 foods.  Which, is pretty cool actually.


The unit works like the Charge HR in that it does both 24×7 activity and heart rate tracking, as well as that during activities (accompanied by GPS).  During normal activity tracking mode it’ll just use the internal accelerometer and not GPS (which saves battery life).  In the day to day mode it gets about 5 days of battery life.  Like the Charge HR though, we don’t really know how accurate the HR sensor will be however.  While the band is wider than the Charge HR, it’s still shaped in a tapered way that draws light to the underside of the unit which historically isn’t good for optical HR sensor accuracy.

It is notable though that all units are only listed as ‘Water Resistant’ and not fully waterproofed.  A specific waterproof rating has not been provided, which might not be ideal in sweat heavy environments.  We’ll have to see if those waterproof ratings get more clarity as they near release.


Speaking of release, while the non-HR Fitbit Charge will be available immediately, the Fitbit Charge HR and the Fitbit Surge won’t be available until “Early 2015”.  The devices come in the following colors and prices:

Fitbit Charge ($129 – Now): Black, slate, blue, and burgundy
Fitbit Charge HR ($149 – Early 2015): Black, plum, blue, and tangerine
Fitbit Surge ($249 – Early 2015): Black, blue, and tangerine

All three devices will be available in small, large, and extra large sizes.

It’ll be interesting to see how the strategy works of bridging over the holiday season without Charge HR/Surge product availability.  It’s almost unheard of to announce a product now for availability shortly after the incredibly busy holiday buying season.  Even more so in a segment that the first week of January is known for announcements of new devices (due to CES).  Said differently: 3+ months is an eternity in this market segment, especially when those three months cover a timespan known for being the epicenter of new product announcements.

My Initial Thoughts:


Overall both the Charge HR and Surge are quite interesting additions to the market landscape.  They break into new areas with optical HR technology that will hopefully set the stage for 2015 being full of optical HR devices from numerous companies.  I think the Surge offers the most compelling balance between a normal sized GPS watch and a standard smartwatch, and the addition of 24×7 activity and HR tracking to that (as well as workouts).  It may up the bar for companies like Garmin & Polar to respond to (if HR accuracy is there, among other features).  And at $250US for the Surge, it’s priced quite nicely and very competitively.

On the flip side however, I think that the regular Charge (non-HR) though is a belated misfire given how quickly the market has moved since the recall of the Force nearly a year ago.  They simply took too long to re-release the Force, and doing so almost a year later with virtually negligible difference to the original Force means they’re behind the game at this point against an onslaught of other activity trackers that offer more features at similar (or cheaper) price points.

Now, there is one little side nugget that’s worthy of discussion – which is Fitbit’s fairly recent ‘FU’ to Apple.  Specifically, their decision to not support Apple Health (HealthKit).  Apple has seemingly responded with removal of the Fitbit product line from their stores.  Now keep in mind this was a relationship that was featured in the first 8 seconds of Apple’s unveiling of Apple Health/HealthKit this past June.  So for it to fall so far from grace is certainly incredibly telling.

While there may be more to the story on the removal of products (such as the Apple Watch), the reality is that Fitbit’s decision to not support Apple Health will undoubtedly hurt Fitbit as a company.  Said differently: Very few companies survive a pissing match with Apple.  And by ‘few’, I mean…none.

On the flip side, Fitbit is consciously making a decision that many other health/fitness platform companies in the industry haven’t really thought through.  By effectively enabling users to move data from platforms like MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness, and Garmin Connect – to Apple Health, these companies are giving up the very data and platform stickiness to what is and will rapidly become their core competitor.  Of course, consumers are demanding it (which is great btw), but I get the feeling that some of these non-device companies haven’t actually thought through their long term business models in a scenario whereby Apple takes both the platform…and the device.  In the activity tracker world, the phone is increasingly being able to very much replace a traditional activity monitor, and that’s before we even talk about the Apple Watch itself.

Still, definitely interesting times ahead!  I’ll do some form of review of the Charge/Surge products once available and in my hands.  I haven’t yet decided if I’ll do a full in-depth review of just the regular Fitbit Charge though, we’ll see there.

With that – feel free to drop any questions below and I can try and round-up answers.  Thanks for reading!


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  1. Camp Murphy

    Thanks for taking the time to update us with your thoughts on these. Hearing a respected expert’s take on these announcements vs. the reporting on various tech blogs is a breath of fresh air.

    The Surge certainly looks great on paper. If Fitbit get it right the established GPS watch companies had better be quick with an answer.

    • Tim

      Does anyone know if the FItBit GPS will be using TomTom GPS or Garmin’s GPS? I my opinion Garmin has the most accurate GPS. I have been using a Garmin 405 since 2006 and comparing it to others in my running club who have used other GPS like Nike, TomTom or Timex they all seem to fall short of expectations.

    • Patrick Myers

      I have to laugh at this a little because the accuracy (or lack thereof) of recent Garmin watches is the subject of dozens and dozens and DOZENS of pages of text on the Internet. Go check out the comments on Ray’s Fenix 2 review or go to the Garmin forums for the 620 or Fenix 2.

      I’m not adding to it – my Fenix is good enough for me (though off ~0.03 to 0.05 for each mile, which adds up), I’m just saying your 405, being older than the last couple years, is probably not a great indicator of recent efforts by Garmin.

    • Like other companies, Garmin depends on various GPS chipset makers for their watches. So the Fitbit won’t use a Garmin GPS, but instead something from a different company such as Mediatek, CSR, or others.

      In general, most folks overestimate how much influence a given GPS chipset has. There are far more important factors on a watch, including the antenna and placement of it within the watch, the GPS chipset software, and then the GPS watch firmware/software. And and all of these can impact the end resultant very significantly.

    • Ed F

      I am not a “professional” runner. Just got my SURGE on Tuesday. I’ve been addicted to carrying a FITBIT ONE in my pocket and (on my runs – well, actually my “speedwalks”) wearing a Garmin Forerunner 620. I am not a runneer but simply a 68 yr old guy who recently lost 100 lbs and exercises 6 days a week for the last 2 years by walking & jogging 5 mies a day. It has become an addiction. Anyway, my comments:

      Had no “real” need for the Garmin 620 or the Fitbit Surge other than to see my daily stats of which all are pretty much identical. 2.5 miles to Starbucks, Get my cup of coffee and 2.5 milles back home.
      Surge vs. Garmin IMO: Surge looks more like a real watch and I can wear it all day without looking silly (IMO). Surge does heartrate, Garmin needs a separate device. Surge feels much lighter.

      Garmin does a lot more if you’re a “real” runner. Many more features for the runner. The only thing I miss is the ability to display split time on the Surge. I wanted to watch my 1/4 mi splits which I can’t do with the Surge.

      Garmin locks on GPS sats a bit faster and the distances recorded on my “jaunt” were within 1/10 of a mile between the 2. Hearrate is very close to my chest strap on my treadmill +- 3-4 BPM.

      Step count within 150 steps between the SURGE on my wrist and the FITBIT in my pocket.

      Couple t hings (cosmetic) I don’t like on the Surge is that the backlight doesn’t stay on long enough to look at what you want. Almost instantly shuts off. Also screen is VERY touch sensitive. Just brushing my shirt on it activates it. When I sleep with it it keeps changing the screen because i sleep with my arm under my pillow. They need a way to lock the screen and to extend the backlight just a bit.

      All in all, as strictly a health monitoring user I prefer the SURGE. If I was a professional runner the 620 will win by a longshot.

    • Moe

      I have a few questions about the surge. While running can you look to see your current pace time. Is there away to also see your split paces at every mile during your run or any notification when you run a mile? These are few things I am wondering about the surge. I am super interested been wanting a running watch that I can wear for everyday use.

    • Ed F

      You can’t see split time (which is what I miss from my FR620) but you can see pace. I like it because (as you say) it is a “running watch I can wear everyday” but if you are a pro-runner looking for all the features of something like a Garmin 620, it won’t make you happy. It is (IMO) basically a fitness watch, For me (just an old guy who likes to walk/run 5 miles a day) I prefer it over the Garmin I had.

  2. Ayush Gupta

    I just recently bought an M400 :/

  3. JB

    Is’nt Surge just a Tomtom Cardio with 24/7 counter ?
    I can’t see the difference.

    • Differences (or, things the Cardio doesn’t have):

      1) 24×7 activity tracker
      2) 24×7 heart rate monitoring (Cardio is activity only)
      3) Smartphone notifications (calls/texts/etc…)
      4) Windows Phone support (might matter to some)

      There’s also the Fitbit platform from a daily health/wellness standpoint is far beyond what TomTom delivers when it comes to the sports side (which is pretty limited).

    • Jon

      Fitbit isnt the greatest about detailed activity tracking and actually knowing which kind of activity youre doing. My Flex is darn near useless for cycling…which is why I have a Tom Tom Multisport.

    • Paul Frylink

      4) Windows Phone support (might matter to some)

      This matters to me :-) You got my attention when you mentioned that. Love my Windows phone, but always feel like the forgotten cousin when it comes to connectivity with other devices. – I know, market share etc.., but its nice when a company supports windows phone.

    • Alex

      “always feel like the forgotten cousin when it comes to connectivity with other devices”

      Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone out there, I just bought a Polar M400 which doesn’t sync to android (market share???) and doesn’t connect to any third party app…

    • jose

      What about the Epson pulsense (the band)I have mine since yesterday and it work very nice. I have done two quick 5k and the heart rate is very accurate compare to my garmin any different at all.it offer heart rate continuous.

    • Wes

      To add to 24/7 stuff (which is rad), I believe the surge will have enough smart phone integration to control music. That’s a pretty big positive for me.

      My TomTom is great for running but God help me if I come across a long song that i’m sick of hearing.

    • Ryan

      I am interested in the Surge for the GPS option. However will the GPS mode work during hiking (hunting is what I will really be doing) to show me where I hunted if I free walk the woods?

  4. Graham Rose

    I cant see it in any releases or on their limited website detail, but any word on sensor support on the Surge? IE Bike sensors, or a HR Strap?

    • raven

      No sensor support announced. Fitbit would say they don’t need to support HR straps, as the Surge provides HR data. I’m more interested in footpad for cadence as I run indoor track often where GPS isn’t useful, but I don’t think they will support footpads either. If sensors do get added, I’ll be happily surprised.

  5. Dr_LHA

    I suspect that the Surge will fall between two stools: Too linked to Fitbit’s own software and too limited in connectivity (i.e. for stuff like ANT+/BLE sensors for cyclists) for the hardcore, and too expensive for the casual fitness market that Fitbit currently owns. My guess is that the idea is to move those casual fitness tracking people who are into Fitbit’s current tracking into a more detailed tracking, rather than aim at the people who make up the core audience of this site.

    It’s just a shame that they couldn’t a least get the ChargeHR on the market for Xmas. All day calorie tracking with a HR monitor for a reasonable price is a killer app for Fitbit IMHO.

  6. Anthony

    Hi Ray, looks like the Surge will make an interesting comparison with myBasis Peak.

    Peak lacks GPS, but has better sleep tracking(?)
    myBasis also seems to be open to the idea of an API to export data, and seems to be a partner of the Google fit platform, though the API seems to be taking forever to be released.

    Can the Surge or Peak replace HRM like Rythmn+/Mio Link for use with other Apps like Runkeeper/Wahoo fitness?

    Hope to be able to see an in-depth review of these devices soon.

    • Matt B

      “Can the Surge or Peak replace HRM like Rythmn+/Mio Link for use with other Apps like Runkeeper/Wahoo fitness?”

      This is the question I am wondering as well. Being able to use the Basis Peak as my HRM for a GPS watch would be an absolutely SLAM DUNK, in my opinion.

  7. Robert K

    The Charge looks really good, but I am not giving Fitbit a cent after the HealthKit fiasco. There are many legit ways to compete with the apple watch, locking your data and screw up your customer is not one of them. I plan to get rid of my Fibit Aria too. No point to use a Wifi scale with which I can’t conveniently track my data and progress.

    • Matthew

      I’ve got to agree here. Deciding to not play nicely with Apple was misstep #1. I’m not going to switch my smartphone to Windows Phone for an activity tracker.

      I’m also not so optimistic about the likelihood of seeing export of .gpx files to Strava given FitBit’s previous insularity over users’ data. That’ll be misstep #2. Pretty maps are only the tiniest tip of the iceberg when it comes to GPS data. I need segment and course comparison, and I don’t see FitBit giving it to me…

      Last, I’m not pleased with the Aria either. Bought one for my parents (both are FitBit users), and I’m reconfiguring it to the network or reconnecting it to their accounts practically every time I visit.

    • Allyson W.

      Well, if you sell your Aria, I’m willing to buy it lol

    • Matthew

      Nice try. But it’s more likely to get thrown out of a third story bedroom window than sold.

      Do yourself a favor and just buy the Withings scale. Buy nice, or buy twice.

    • Matthew

      Nice try. But it’s more likely to get thrown out of a third story bedroom window than sold. Do yourself a favor and just buy the Withings scale. Buy nice, or buy twice.

    • Matthew

      Nice try. But it’s more likely to get thrown out of a third story bedroom window than sold. Do yourself a favor and just buy the Withings scale.

    • Michael Glasgow

      I’ve had the Aria for about 2 months now and it’s great. I’ve only had one day where it didn’t connect. Had to reconnect to the WiFi. I think that was my router resetting and not the Aria. My router does that sometimes and all the clients have to reconnect. Other than that, it works great. My wife uses it too and it tracks the two of us separately.

    • Andrew

      My bet is that Fitbit will soon be bought by Microsoft. Would make a good fit.

      Why else support Windows phone and ditch Apple HealthKit?

  8. Tim

    Should the heading above the GPS Watch be “Fitbit Surge GPS Watch” rather than “Fitbit Charge GPS Watch”?

    It just took me a little to straighten out the product names and caused me to read that heading and surrounding sections a few times to get myself straight :)

    Secondly, am I reading the battery life estimate right (for the Surge)? 5 days in day-to-day mode… includes activity tracking and 24/7 HR (at some update rate)? If that holds true I’d be really impressed — given things like the LINK (which never worked reliably for me) and Rhythm+ being < 10 hrs battery on a full charge.

    Thanks for the preview and thoughts, It seems like it could be a really nice fit for the average gym / health club user.

  9. Kris

    When or is there already, got to be a product that doesn’t need to connect to a phone and give a live athlete tracker. Hate caring my phone on runs but would be nice for safety reasons if my GPS watch could provide live tracking for family/friends as I’m out training.

    • Eli

      That requires a cell radio which is not a very simple thing to add do to lots of regulations from cell phone companies. Timex and bia are the only ones to do that right now I think

    • Kris

      I knew it would require a cell tower I’m just surprised Garmin (contract with Verizon) hasn’t come out with a product that could, as well as give you alerts from your smart phone non-bluetooth but through your carriers account. That’s the product I’m looking for, hope your listening verizon/Garmin.

    • David

      I keep waiting for Ray to discover the Android watches that include a SIM slot and 2G data/voice. It would be great if he could try out something like the ZGPAX S8 and let us know if the Wahoo app and Garmin Connect with LiveTrack works. That watch in particular has Android 4.4 and Bluetooth 4.0 which is what’s required for LiveTrack, right?

      I too am getting tired of dragging around the new big phones when all I need is a data connection.

    • Allyn Crowe

      The Bia ( http://store.bia-sport.com ) does that. Live tracking, SOS alerts, etc. I love mine!

      And with it being a small company they are open with what they are working on and where they are at with it!

    • Some Android watches, but not all (for example, the Moto 360 doesn’t).

      However, you’d still need an actual app (and one that would run on the device). There are some apps like Runkeeper, but I’m unsure if that’d run on it.

      Unless you’re referring to running the Garmin Connect app on the watch itself and then pairing to that. Might be interesting, though, it’s still wearing two watches. Nonetheless, interesting thinking.

    • Kris

      So spoke with a Samsung guy, the new galaxy gear 2 watch will have its own 3G and will be linked to service account/phone, with the right app provide active tracking. It will also act like your phone but on you wrist, so star trek. Should be out sometime this year, DC Rain, if you can get your hands on one and review, that would be awesome. Hopefully Garmin will follow and create there own.

    • I would hope IpBike would work. (Live tracking via the Runkeeper back end) I got it going on the TrueSmart which was the same screen size with just a couple of minor tweaks. The ZGPAX S8 looks like it may have more usable buttons but the issue with these devices is in the rain. The TrueSmart because unusable via the touch screen and you have to use the lock feature in Ipbike to stop it going crazy but that just leaves you with the hard buttons and to use them needed rooting and some exposed framework mods to map them onto app accessible functions instead of Power and Home which are no use for standard apps as Google don’t expose them as a security issue.

    • Kris

      Dose the bia have an active tracker so during triathlon events family friends can watch me and know where I am? Can they at any point during training/event look to see where I’m at, or only if I use the safety alert?

    • Yes, Bia is rolling that out currently.

    • Paul Frylink

      ifor, you are correct about the omate truesmart. I have used IpBike on mine for some runs – through no fault of yours, I have to turn the screen off to prevent the watch going crazy when I sweat on it :-( Which makes it kind of pointless for a running watch…

    • You can lock the screen from in IpBike but to unlock you really need the buttons mapped to buttons that apps can use. Tthere is support for physical tap detection but I could not get that working well with the watch on the bars of a bike to many false triggers…

      These devices need real buttons that can be accessed by the apps. It’s my big tune-off with all the Android Were devices I see coming and the one thing I really like about the iWatch spec is the buttons and the knob…

    • Bryan

      People say not to keep a cell phone next to one’s head all day or in a pocket due to the whatever-whatever it gives off. Not sure I would want a powerful antenna embedded in a device I wear 24/7. Think I’ll stick with bluetooth only for now and airplane mode.

    • Jack

      Its actually the Samsung Gear S that has the built in 3G and phone. Its fantastic in concept but it sounds like its going to be a nightmare with service providers. Its basically a stand alone phone/device and only verizon has the support set up currently to handle small mobile item additions like this to your plan.

      I have a feeling it will be much like the Samsung Gear 2 where they try to combine too much together so that everything “kind of” works but does not work well. Knowing Samsung, by the time the Gear S is released, they will already be building the next watch to replace it and barely support it. I wouldnt get my hopes up there.

  10. keV.s

    Agreed that it looks promising. As always accuracy of the optical hr monitor and battery life will be the make or break…

  11. Thomas

    I use Strava on my phone + a Withins Pulse and I am just starting to be interested by a GPS smartwatch so I definitely don’t know well this market. You say that you are looking forward to the response from Garmin & Polar, what about Suunto? Aren’t they playing in the same category?

    • No, I don’t see Suunto at this point as playing in this space. They’re focused on too high end of devices, and even at that aren’t really doing proper activity tracking even in those devices. The price of the Suunto options are twice that of Polar/Garmin’s (more than twice actually).

    • Mike Parsons

      Ray – I’d hit the LIKE button but don’t see it here. The fitness tracker market (and your detailed, unbiased l, inconsiderate reviews) will be fun to watch evolve over the next several years. Mike

  12. Israel

    For me, not being waterproof is a total dealbreaker.

    BTW, about a year ago you said you would review the Misfit Shine. What happened? Is it so bad?

    • I guess I just don’t get all the hype, I’ve used it, and to me it’s just kinda…blah. It doesn’t give me the information on my wrist that I want in a way that I find either compelling or informative. I also find the little pod easily slips out.

    • raven

      After using a Fitbit One for some time, and annoyed at Fitbit’s positioning against Apple’s HealthKit, I picked up a new Misfit Flash to experiment for my 24/7 stuff (with the Garmin 910xt for workouts), and it is decent for $49.

      Unlike the Shine, the device is unlikely to pop out of either the watch or clasp provided as it fits in the bottom. However, the material of both looks a bit cheap on close inspection; from a distance it seems ok though but not as nice as one might like. I believe more accessories will come for the Flash later, and I’d hope Misfit would provide better accessories for the Shine as well as I’ve heard many reports of Shine’s coming out so improvement is needed there.

      The Flash solves another problem I’ve heard with the Shine in that sometimes tapping on it doesn’t “take” the first time and one needs to try a few times to get it to show data or go in activity mode. On the Flash there’s a hidden button. You press easily and time/status appear. Press and hold and activity mode turns on. Simple and works every time.

      Waterproofing on the Flash is only 3 ATM rather than 5 ATM but i’ve swam with it three times in the last week and it recorded each time and no problems to report on that front, other than I look weird with the Flash on one arm and the 910 on the other. :)

      Data you get with either Flash or Shine is Steps / Distance / Estimated Calories along with “Misfit Points” which is their own way of measuring effort (like NikeFuel). You can record weight manually, but I have it imported in from myfitnesspal which gets it from my Fitbit Aria. Sleep data looks more interesting on Misfit than Fitbit but that’s more a curiosity for me and I haven’t looked closely at the data.

      Syncing with my iPhone is fine and the iOS is decent and gives all the info I want. In some ways I like it better than Fitbit’s setup even though I can see my data on a web site and with Misfit I have to use the app. Misfit gives little “achievement badges” if you “pull up” on the day’s data and keeps track of streaks (number of days you’ve hit your goal in a row) and some other little things, like it will put in meal data from MyFitnessPal.

      I think if Misfit seems interesting at all, the Flash is a cheap way to try it out, and their app supports swapping trackers easily, so one could later get a Shine and change things up as one likes. I do think cheaper under $50 devices is a good area to have a device in but mostly for people new to getting data. For myself I’d like to have a device like the Surge with optical HR, but I’m waiting for the Basis, Surge, Apple Watch, and whatever else might be coming to be released and will work at it then.

    • Rexall

      Let me translate Ray:

      They don’t sell on clever training or kiss Ray’s behind like other companies. It’s easy to get on his non-review list. Plus I wondef if he has agreements with the big boys.

    • A few minor things…

      First, just because you apparently aren’t good at the Internets, they do actually sell on Clever Training, as well as Amazon. But that doesn’t matter, because I review and post about all sorts of things that don’t sell on either.

      Second, I don’t have a non-review list for products/companies. I do have many products that I’m not planning on writing a review on. I have an entire closet full of them. I can’t review everything in the world, despite how often people want me to. You pick either quality reviews, or uselessly thin reviews. There’s only one of me (with a full time job working 12-13 hours days as has been the case this past week for example). In the exceedingly rare event that a company is a dick to me, then they certainly aren’t about to get a post fast tracked anywhere.

      Third, if I look at companies that attempt to kiss my ass, Misfit has more than tried. They’ve setup calls with their CEO and engineering teams well before release, we’ve talked a bunch, they overnight stuff to me in France for me to poke at. So it’s not for their lack of trying to be friendly. But, as any company that’s tried to kiss me ass will tell you, I don’t buy into that whole game. In fact, I kinda hate it. I despise the wining and dining that goes on, especially in the bike industry for example.

      Fourth, I have no agreements with anyone. That’s just stupid.

      Fifth, if you’re unsure how I select which products to review, start here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Sixth, it’s not so much that I’m never going to review the Misfit Shine or the Flash, it’s simply that I wasn’t terribly impressed with the Shine on a number of fronts, and when I look at all the other cool products sitting to be reviewed, I shift to focus on that. Writing thousands of words on a product that’s boring to me, is boring.

      That is all.

    • Joel Mulligan

      I think people forget that you do this as a hobby rather than as a source of income/career. No sense wasting precious daylight on something boring, that’s what work is for! A victim of your own success Ray!

    • Phil B

      That was a really great response.

    • Bruce Burkhalter

      Rexall – Why the animosity towards Ray?

    • Jeremy

      It’s just the way of the internet. Lots of trolls.

    • Tempest

      You seriously need a LIKE button. I liew of a LIKE button.


      I cannot tell you how incredibly valuable your reviews are. It important for people to realize this is not your full time job and you do fit a certain subset of people. Not everyone has the same needs. So not everyone would be happy with the same item. Your reviews are so incredibly detailed, it is easy to pick out which product would best fit an individuals needs.

      One thing that WOULD be more helpful is if you REGULARLY had The Girl try on the items you review. I have a super tiny wrist (I’m a girl) and many of the things you review just won’t work on me because I’m so small.

  13. Matt B

    From the Fitbit website (link to fitbit.com):

    For the Surge:

    “Battery life: up to 5 days”

    “Tracks 7 days of detailed motion data – minute by minute.
    Tracks daily totals for past 30 days
    Stores heart rate data at 1 second intervals during exercise tracking and at 5 second intervals all other times
    Sample rate for GPS is 1 Hz”

    I’m assuming the up to 5 days means without no GPS and some amount of 1Hz (activity) HR tracking.

    Realistically, probably 3 days would be a safe bet if you’re doing a lot of physical activity.

  14. When I phone interviewed with FitBit, I talked to the R&D lead and said I can see how he is about to grab the ball right out from under Garmin. He denied it, but we see it here today. I really hope that somewhere between this, the new Polar M400, or something we are going to see from Suunto ends up being what I am looking for. I need more accurate pacing. The SurfSTAR IV chipset (in the Suunto) will take accelerator inputs into account for better accuracy, but I haven’t tried one yet. I’m breaking into the local elite level and find it is hard to do race specific training and race without accurate pacing feedback. My foot pod calibration varies wildly between runs. we’re still a few years out from millimeter accurate GPS in cell phones (it is coming. Just wait.)

    • Marrero J

      lets hope GPS tracking gets better on phones because right now iphone5 and htc m7 tell me i have ran 2 miles at the 1.5, 1.6 mile mark because their data has me zig-zagging left and right 5 or 6 feet, that’s why i switched to GPS watches the few i have tried are of by only a couple feet after a 2 or 5 mile run on a track or trail.

    • Hmm, that’s honestly a bit high for even phones. The iPhone 5 is usually quite good with respect to GPS tracking these days in most cases.

  15. Mariano

    It would be interesting if the Surge or the Basis B1 would transmit HR during workouts using BTLE to apps like Strava. That would combine the best of both worlds.

  16. Eli

    They didn’t really have an option about fighting with Apple. They saw the writing on the wall and saw Apple going after their market. They want to start to fight back before Apple just says “we don’t need you any more, bye”

    what should they have done? Integrate perfectly into the Apple ecosystem so Apple can tell their high end users to swap to the iwatch by just changing devices as the users backend status the same? Wait for the iPod shuffle version of the watch to come in a year or two (I.e. the cheap one) and Apple get all the low end users too?

    For all those who thought Microsoft was the 800 pounds gorilla wiping out competition, Apple is way worse.

    • raven

      People can do things like record medication intake with HealthKit and it is a read/write system, so Fitbit (or others) shouldn’t look at it as just a way to give Apple data but as a way to promote customer support and there’s ways to work with it. This is no different than previous things talked about here like sending Garmin watch data to Strava, etc.

      You compete with Apple by being better. The Surge has built in GPS; the Apple Watch does not and requires carrying an iPhone too which is a non-starter for me. The Apple Watch will need to be charged daily it seems from the little information that is out there. If you are a runner than goes out after work, and you wear the Apple Watch all day, it might be out of juice right as you start a workout! Waterproofing is another area not addressed with the Apple Watch; one won’t wear it swimming.

      Perhaps those issues will be addressed in second generation hardware, but that will be 12-18 months at least from whenever the watch comes out, so 2016? 2017?

      Then there’s software. Fitbit has a decent community site and online viewing of stats on a web page. Apple traditionally has not been good with social networks nor web based tools like this. Apple has had a partnership with Nike for past iPod fitness stuff, and it is not yet announced whether that will continue with Apple Watch or not.

      I’m not saying Apple’s entry is not a challenge; it is. But choosing to have data lock-in for current customers is not the way to meet the challenge.

    • I disagree here. This is all about the Data. Companies pay big bucks to get Data on consumers and FitBit wants to keep the data that they themselves obtained via their own products, services, ect… This is big business and its about money. It always is.

      HealthKit or actually the Health App is not even really a “thing” yet. The concept is great, but I don’t see it being big for personal use, more so for commercial use, and that won’t be for a couple years.

      For example large cooperations with 1000s of employees will utilize the Health App to generate info on employees in order to structure appropiate health insurance coverage and premiums.

    • Except they can’t do that – it’s an impossibility. There is no Apple Health online platform. It doesn’t exist. It’s only stored in your phone, secured to that device. Nothing is uploaded to a web site/database anywhere.

    • Eli

      Apps can be written to run on the phone to give them access to the data

    • No doubt (apps already do so today), but that won’t just magically happen by corporations buying up your data without you knowing about.

  17. dezz

    i’m looking for a heart rate monitor/watch type of device that would be activity tracker form-factor without all the additional bs. Just hear rate band that can send info to Fenix/smartphone?

    Any suggestions?

    • Sounds like you want the Mio Link: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Or, the Mio Fuse: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • James

      Regarding this question, can you actually use Mio Link as a activity tracker for heart rate? I did some search online, I don’t believe that there is an iOS app out there that would track your heart rate 24/7 without having to press the record button to start some sort of activity.

      Is there a device that is currently available (not Basis Peak), that is similar to the Mio Link in size but you can use connect to a iOS device and it will start to connect and continuously 24/7 record my heart rate? I’m okay if the device is more for daily activity and worst at tracking heart rate during exercise. I think the Charge HR looks most promising right now in terms of that I need.

    • Not without pressing the start button. I’ve done it with the Wahoo App to get long-form HR recording, but that lacks the other goodness of course.

  18. Harald

    regarding FitBit and Apple: interesting to see, that Fitbit and Microsoft seem to cooperate for quite a while now, bringing the FitBit app up and running on Windows Phone 8.x

    and now updated on the day they announce the new stuff
    read more here: link to windowscentral.com

  19. meara

    Oh man, I just (finally) decided to give in and get a refund for my Force, and was contemplating the Garmin Vivofit. Now I have to decide…

  20. Buzz Lightyear

    Surge looks interesting, would have been a natural upgrade after Fitbit promptly refunded me on Force recall a couple of months ago. However my experience with Fitbit this summer hasn’t been all positive. They added MobileRun in late June, using phone’s GPS for mapping walk/run/hike (no biking). However instead of using tracker’s accurate step count and GPS distance, they toss out tracker steps and estimate steps using static stride entered into your profile. And those estimated steps don’t count toward badges and challenges. I’m left wondering about new trackers if they can’t get MobileRun integrated into Fitbit over 4 months later. Also had a lot of issues with Active Minutes miscalculation, along with a lot of others on their support forums. Final straw is HealthKit kerfluffle, although Wristband Manager app is syncing my Aria scale weigh-ins to Health app (and weight/steps for last year).

  21. Dennis

    Can I use the Fitbit Charge with my Forerunner 620 like the Scosche?

  22. Greg S

    You should comment on the upcoming Nike SmartWatch 3 coming out this Friday. It has GPS, step tracking, Bluetooth and can be used for fitness activities. No internal HR, but thats why I have a MIO Link.

    Honestly, I was going to get a 920xt, but now the android wear watches have GPS, basic mapping and now offline music support (no phone required) for half of the price of a 920 (250$), it makes the 920 much less appealing unless you really need the swim mode.

    Personally, I think Garmins days are numbered once these big boys really get the fitness apps figured out.

    • Greg S

      It is the “Sony SmartWatch 3” not Nike! Sorry

    • I was going to say… ;)

      I’ll keep an eye on the Sony watch. My experience thus far is that many of these phone hardware vendors just don’t ‘get it’ when it comes to the full activity tracker/sport watch experience. But, they’re iterating fast enough that eventually they’ll get it right.

    • Greg

      If they open it to other apps though like runtastic or strava, it doesnt matter what the phone guys think as the fitness players have their act together

  23. Wayne

    You mentioned Polar. Are you aware of Polar has any plans to update its Loop? It’s a great product but it’s now fallen way behind.

    • I wouldn’t say it’s fallen ‘way behind’, but, perhaps a little behind with lack of smartphone notifications. I’d say it’s a better product that the Fitbit Charge (base) though.

    • Wayne

      I definitely think Polar needs to add vibration alerts, a better display & notifications. I believe Polar has a better software/app experience for an athlete that is not just into running/cycling. I lift weights, cycle, & play baseball. The Loop is the only fitness tracker I have found that properly credits me with my activity towards a daily goal, especially when using a HR monitor. I also have the vivosmart but Garmin’s software leaves a lot to be desired.
      PS I’ve also owned the UP/UP24, Fuelband/SE, Fitbit One, Flex, Force, LG Lifeband Touch & the Striiv Touch.

  24. Neil

    Battery life will be interesting. With Optical heart rate at 5sec sampling all day, GPS, 7 days storage of motion data, 30 days of daily totals memory, phone notifications – “Up to 5 days” seems very ambitious. Will wait and see.

    • raven

      My Fitbit One only gets two days between charges now after having it 10 months or so.

    • Graham Rose

      you should contact their support – i have had mine well over a year (almost 2) and i get close to 2 weeks on mine, and that includes 4 silent alarms every day at different points.

    • Alex

      Same here, had it for two months and only had to charge it 3 times. You should turn off the background syncing.

  25. kayla

    This is a very interesting bit of news. Look forward to hearing how it might compare with the vivosmart which I am contemplating getting for christmas (matched with my bran’ spanking new TickrX)

  26. Juro

    The issue I have with Surge (which otherwise looks great) is that I do not necessarily want to wear the same watch 24×7. I love having my fitbit in my pocket and have whatever watch on my wrist. Currently unless fitbit starts allowing to sync multiple trackers to one account this can be a show-stopper. Charge HR looks most interesting from this angle.

  27. Ray – thanks for taking the time, as always.

    Here’s my thoughts on these products based on what Fitbit’s telling us with their pricing. Ray, I think you are right on the competitive situation of the Charge. But try this on for size, they launched it and they don’t really want anyone to buy it. They want to use it to drive you, for an ‘extra’ $20 to the Charge HR. So it just is out there, it’s profitable, but not really where they want you to be as a customer.

    Here’s my problem with this, and it’s sprinkled throughout your review…where’s the Ant+ or BLE broadcast? Nowhere because Fitbit wants the data flowing through their app. This is a big mistake. After your positive review I’ve moved 100% to the scosche rhythm for HR tracking on the bike. I’ll wear the Garmin RUN to be sure to get the added data from the 620. And the comfort issue of a chest versus arm strap is significant. But so is not having to remember your strap because your fitness tracker is taking care of that. But I simply don’t believe that the TOP part of the wrist is the best place to take readings – much better on the underside, where the buckle is on this. With the Scosche rhythm you can move it where you like and, oh yeah, link to whatever device you want.

    that’s going to be the killer feature. for now I’ll stick to the Vivosmart (coming) and hopefully take advantage of all my data living with Garmin. I agree that these will meet the needs of many – but mostly at the very basic data collection side. Seems to me that the Tickr X has a lot more usability and is cheaper by a ton…combine some of the visual/watch/arm band features with the Tickr X offline modality and you’re talking. But as Ray often says, give me my data on my platform (where ever that may be) and don’t restrict me to your site, Fitbit.

    Where’s the broadcast love? (or am I missing something here?)

  28. trickycoolj

    My Fitbit One is definitely on its last legs. It’s the second replacement after the first one died from sweat while clipped to my sports bra per their instructions during a very sunny STP training ride. The second one died on day 2 of the STP. I managed to revive it but the battery life has suffered tremendously. I’m skeptical of any of their water resistant claims now. After getting a Garmin 500 for my bike (finally!) I’m leaning towards a mid-range Forerunner for my new running goals. I’m also in the iphone ecosystem and Fitbit’s pissing match is yet another reason they have me looking at other trackers to replace my One eventually. Unfortunately it seems the days of the clip-on easily hidden tracker are over. It’s all about wrist bands. It used to be there weren’t many trackers and devices that communicated with MFP but there’s lots of choices, hopefully my One will make it through the end of the year to see if anything else compelling is announced at CES.

    • raven

      I killed a Fitbit Zip running with it. Fitbit replaced it but I ended up selling it to a friend and upgrading to the One, but I leave it at home when I am running as I know my sweat would kill it too.

    • Fitbit don’t seem to have the best waterproofing for a device that by its nature is going to be sweaty a lot of the time. Then again, I’ve had two Garmin Forerunner 210s go to pieces on me, so they haven’t been that robust either. (I’m hoping that’s due to design flaws on the 210 that have been rectified by the better strap – body interface on the newer watches, otherwise I’ll have probably drowned my 620 before it gets to a year old.)

    • Gunnar

      I’ve lost track of the times my Zip has gone through the wash. I just open the battery cover and put it under a light bulb for heat to dry it out and backing action. Tough little bugger.

  29. Kenn

    The biggest question I have so far from Fitbit, is whether they are going to support standard workout data files. i.e. fit or gpx files. I do not want another isolated data garden for my workouts!! Judging by their increasing tendency to lock data in the Fitbit data garden (jail?) with no Apple Health support, no sleep data export, etc, I am not too optimistic…

    • I sent a note over a bit ago asking about that, I’ll post back once I hear the details on that.

    • raven

      Fitbit currently has a Premium service where you pay extra money per year and one of the benefits is data export. Unless they radically change direction, which I don’t expect after their un-support of HealthKit, my guess they will not support fit or gfx files. I suspect they think their customers wouldn’t even know what that was.

  30. Jim

    Will Fitbit once again include the “Rash” feature? It was a hit with the Force, and coming back as “retro” on the Flex it seems.

    Is it true that all new fitbits now come with a disclaimer if someone gets a rash? See here:

    link to engadget.com

  31. Pedro

    Hi Ray!

    Those activity monitors with optical heart rate does not contemplate we folks that train with kettlebell. Just imagine a heavy iron ball smashing the device on your wrist :) It is possible an alternative heart rate strap for these occasions?


  32. Duane

    The Surge looks very interesting but I am still thinking the Basis Peak will be more my preference. They both claim to have Windows Phone apps which is critical to me. The Surge’s GPS is interesting, but for me, I will always prefer running with a true running watch like my Garmin 620, thus GPS is very nice but not a killer feature for me. HR accuracy is very important and I hope both of these units can nail it, but I would put more faith in the Peak to pull it off. The Peak also seems to have the best sleep metrics and is waterproof. Neither of these watches are beautiful but I think the Surge is quite ugly and the Peak is much nicer looking. Lastly, the release date is very critical to me….I am on work assignment in China and will be home over Christmas and need to pick one up then or wait until next Christmas!

    • Bryan

      Where do you see the Basis Peak supports Windows phone? Scroll down on the website below and it says only IOS and Android. link to mybasis.com

    • Duane

      Bryan, you are correct that at release the Basis Peak will not support Windows Phone, however, in their forums they have said it is a commonly requested app and they are developing it and plan to have it available soon after introduction. Of course, we all know to trust vaporware only after it has arrived.

    • Bryan

      Awesome, well I hope they do! Thanks for that information and we’ll keep our fingers crossed.

  33. Jose

    Hey Ray thanks for the review.
    What about R-R is it going to work?

  34. Meredith

    I pre-ordered the M400 from Clever so I can hardly wait for you to test the Surge! Are you leaning toward one or the other at this point?

    • Far too early to tell to be honest. The devil is in the details on the Surge – things like exportability, features, etc… The M400 has a very compelling featureset today, that will only continue to improve over the next few months – whereas the Surge will be starting from scratch sometime early next year.

    • Bora

      My two cents, I can’t imagine any of the non-Suunto, non-Polar or non-Garmin “previously only activity tracker” brands to really compete with a running or multi-sport watch from one of these brands, at least not in the short term. Besides that it won’t be out before sometime in 2015 so you’ll lose a couple of months to wait for it.
      If I were you, I’d stick to the pre-order and if this surge becomes the next big thing, you can always sell it on ebay.
      I am super happy with my M400 and Rhythm+ Combo and have my first 10K event behind me.

    • Meredith

      Will you be reviewing the Basis Peak? I’m interested in how well HR is tracked during workouts. I’d like to see you compare it to the Surge and the M400. I really like the 24/7 HR/activity tracking, phone notifications, GPS, and silent alarm features so I think the Surge may be the way to go if you don’t discover any major issues with it.

    • Meredith

      Awesome! Thank you for all the time and effort you put into your reviews. They’re very helpful. Now, last question… Any idea when you’ll be able to get your hands on these other two? I might cancel my M400 pre-order so I don’t have to deal with return shipping.

    • My guess is probably not till CES (early January). Generally speaking if companies don’t have media units at product announcement, then they won’t usually send out units until just a week or two prior to product availability. I could see them using CES though to announce product availability specifics.

  35. I like the ChargeHR, if it would be available now.

    It would also nice if it could broadcast HR at least via BLE.

    So maybe I just get the Charge now as a small upgrade to my Flex, some of the new features do look appealing.
    At the time of the ChargeHR release there will be lots of other choices.

  36. Milt MacFarlane

    Thanks Ray…welcome to an Australianism [or so I thought] “Win a pissing competition with Apple” a classic thankyou again

  37. JakiChan

    Seeing these makes me wonder what’s happening with Jawbone’s acquisition of BodyMedia. Having a more advanced tracker would be nice. What I *really* want is a smartband with good notifications, HR tracking like the charge HR, and ANT+ exercise bike support (so I can easily record my spin class). I also want a pony.

    That being said, I’m eagerly awaiting reviews of the Jaybird Reign. They also seem to do some sort of heart rate tracking.

    • Michele

      I have a Bodymedia and it seems like that won’t last long against some of these newer trackers. For one, you don’t have to wear them on your upper arm so they don’t look as bad and there is no subscription. If they make it so it is no longer subscription based, I’d continue to use mine after it is up. The support seems to have also diminished since Jawbone’s acquisition. I’d be hesitant to renew a subscription not knowing how long they will support it. I’m waiting for the Basis Peak review or the Charge HR.

  38. Mike

    Ray, do you have any comment on the trend towards larger phones when it comes to connected sports watches.

    Basically, some features (e.g. live tracking) only make sense if you have your phone with you. But it’s starting to be a struggle to find a current phone that’s under 5″.

    I’ve recently upgraded to a Moto G second-gen and it’s really bulky and awkward to take out on a run.

    • Yeah, I suspect we’ll see the split remain about where it is now as far as two categories (like the iPhone 6/Plus). I can’t imagine the majority of the population will slide towards the Plus sized phones.

  39. Alex S

    Question about the optical HR tracking functionality. We know now that the sensors in both LINK and RHYTHM+ do not work when worn on wrists – these bands have to be moved up the arm somewhere closer to the elbow to pick up the bloodflow rate reliably. Does this watch need to be worn in the same way – i.e. not on the wrist directly? Or did FitBit come up with a better laser tech to pick up the HR from the wrist?

    • Joshua Parks

      Alex – yes, this was my comment.
      it’s unlikely that Fitbit is a better sensor (and by better I mean more accurate) relative to the Rhythm+ due to two things I can see from the web – the location, as you mention and the third light of different wavelength, noted in Ray’s review of the Rhythm+.

      Of course it may be that Fitbit has built a better sensor (or that Apple’s may be better too) – however physics is physics and everybody has to deal with design limitations.

      The OUTSIDE of the wrist, especially on men with hairy forearms, simply has to be one of the more difficult locations to obtain optical readings.

      My guess is that the standard Fitbit wearer (given the current market dynamics) won’t care/notice/know.

    • Bryan

      The RHYTHM+ works on my wrist where I’d have a watch, although I’ve only tried the optical sensor on the underside.

    • Barrie Gibson

      To get my Mio Link to work consistently and reliably I cover it with an Adidas wrist sweatband. It does 3 things : presses the Mio Link against the skin helping get a better contact; stops light getting under the strap because the sweat band, being wider, overlaps the edge and blocks the outside light; stops people wondering why I am wearing two watch-like things on the same wrist.
      And Ray, I also want to say thank you for all the hard work you put in. You must live in a world where there are 48 hours every day to do the amount of things you do.

    • Bryan

      True I actually wear the RHYTHM+ strap direclty under my v800 watch strap when swimming. 1) I know the RYTHYM won’t fall off that way. 2) The close positioning allows the signal to travel through water easily. 3) It just looks like I’m wearing a watch and nothing more. 4) It may be more accurate being pressed tighter against the skin.

  40. Thanks for the thoughtful review so close to the press release from Fitbit. I agree with most of what you have to say regarding the pros and cons of the Fitbit releases and the business strategy that Fitbit is playing currently.

    However, I do think they will survive this pissing match with Apple. Why? Because many corporate wellness programs are using Fitbit as their go-to source. These wellness programs have invested lots of money into the Fitbit enterprise and many users (such as myself) will continue to use their products in order to maintain our insurance premium “discounts” (or rather, don’t have to pay for the “catastrophic” insurance rates with lower deductibles).

    The Surge does look promising to replace my Garmin 910XT on my “no watch”/easy runs (while still getting distance tracking for my log) and if safe/reliable, the HR monitoring is really intriguing. May actually encourage me to upgrade from my “free” Fitbit Zip.

    The other wild card is how long it will last with GPS mode enabled. If it is significantly longer than the Garmin 910XT, it may be a good option for longer 100 mile+ ultramarathons! Time will tell…

    • Matt B

      According to the CNet article ~5 hours in GPS mode, so definitely not Earth shattering or comparable to the 910XT/920XT.

    • No doubt corporate wellness programs are growing, and companies are less likely to switch.

      But, that same argument was used by Blackberry in the enterprise space – and we know how that panned out.

    • David

      This also means that the idea of a “7 day” batter life pretty much is out if you use this to track daily runs with GPS. Not a big deal IMHO but for active runners who decide to use this as a 24/7 solution it will likely need to be charged every couple of days.

  41. Alan Hawse

    You say “two tiny LED emitting lights (yes, I know that’s redundant, but that’s just the way I roll).”

    I suppose to be accurate as well as completely (instead of partially) redundant you would have said “LIGHT Emitting Diodes” :-)

  42. I got a chance to put my hands on these yesterday when a fitbit employee brought them in. Kind of fun seeing gadgets as they are announced.

    link to lloydchiro.com

  43. BillM

    Ok, waterproofing likely not up to open water swimming means I stay with my 910xt and mio link while I wait for garmin to put optical hr into one of their higher end multisport watches.

  44. Bryan

    I like the Windows Phone support. I really wish it had waterproofing. Optical scanners like the RYTHYM+ can read under water so its shame the charge won’t be open to water based activities.

  45. alainquimarche

    2015 will be interesting : Google Fit. Time to wait and see…

  46. Carianne Stinson

    Will the surge require your phone to access GPS, like the Echo, or does it have its own gps?

  47. Jake G

    Will i need to take my smart phone with me on my runs for the gps to work on the fitbit surge? or can i leave it at home and the gps still do everything properly? I haven’t really looked into the GPS activity trackers so a helpful reply would be great, thanks.

  48. Jose

    Is this the only full day activity tracker with optical hr, in the market?

  49. Rexall

    So you get all bent out of shape when folks use your photos with attribution. But it’s okay for you to do it. And don’t give me it’s a PR photo. Most news sources credit those photos. also I think you’d want to separate your work from others.

    Now call me names again Kermit.

    • They’re all PR photos, that’s the point whole point of them. Anyway, I made that fairly clear upfront: “Before we begin I should note that I don’t normally like to post about products until I’ve had them in-hand.” Thus, obviously they’re PR photos/videos since I don’t have a unit and don’t copy other photos.

    • eli

      Rexall, you know if you lost the last line I might have taken your post seriously

    • Ted

      Haha kermit, had to look that one up, gotta love a good troll.

  50. David

    My thoughts…

    The Surge is compelling if only because the combination of optical HR, smart watch like functions, GPS tracking, and day to day activity tracking at $250 means that a new price to feature bar has been set for Garmin and the like.

    The Charge HR looks really cool BUT (and for me this is a big thing) as an activity tracker it screams last year. First off it is huge. This is no smaller than the Force and the Force was the largest fitness band from any company looking even larger than the Nike Fuelbands. It was by far the “ugliest” band I ever owned and I have had a lot. With bands like the Vivosmart being not just smaller, but WAY smaller, and far better looking this for me is significant. When you combine the fact the Vivosmart also has a far superior screen and does a much more extensive set of smart watch like functions and suddenly the Charge HR looks really dated. The big thing of course is the 24/7 HR tracking. I truly wonder about the accuracy and if you need to wear it uncomfortably tight to ensure it as most of my fitness bands I wear loose enough they slide a bit. I also wonder just how good the calorie to HR accuracy is versus the “wag” of trying to figure out calories via steps. It could be a great thing or fairly useless depending on how Fitbit implements the alogorthims. I would love to know my daily resting heart rate and have more accurate calorie burn numbers but at the expense of these ugly trackers or something uncomfortable on my wrist… undecided.

    • Juro

      Re. the “huge” size: “All three devices will be available in small, large, and extra large sizes.”

    • David Corsi

      Juro, I’m referring to the width of the band and thickness. I know they will have many sizes to fit various wrists but the bands always look better, more stylish, and less distracting with a wardrobe if they are thin like the rubber “live strong” style bands that are popular. The new Fitbit Charge HR and now the new Microsoft Band are a huge move in the wider/thicker/uglier direction but of course with increased functionality so I see the tradeoff, just not if it is worth it.

  51. Bora

    The Basis Peak will be soon in the market. Forgive me if you already told this and I missed it but do you have any idea, when/if you will be reviewing Basis Peak, too?

  52. I think I have a totally different opinion than most on here. I think the Surge would do (provided it works as promised) everything I would want in a tracker. I could ditch my Fitbit one and my garmin 305 and just wear one thing. I’ve encountered the fitbit customer service on several occasions and have always been very impressed, I don’t use my phone to track anything and don’t have any interest in the Apple Health. I’ve been debating on the Garmin 620 but not wanting to wear the heart rate strap negates all the extras that drew me in to the product. Having GPS HRM and a general fitness tracker all at a price point I think is absolutely reasonable. I think this is great for the general fitness/health/wellness/running crowd not for the elites or those into biking as their main sport. My issue is why bring it out in the beginning of 2015? I think your review is right in questioning not putting it out in the next month for the holiday season and in doing so increasing sales exponentially.

    • eli

      Seems like you are assuming it can do heart rate during exercise which may not be a valid assumption

    • Meredith

      It’s advertised as a “Fitness Super Watch,” of course it CAN do heart rate during exercise. Whether it’s accurate or not is the issue we’ll get an answer to once Ray has a chance to try in out in the next month or two or three.

      link to fitbit.com

  53. Dan

    Do you think FB will offer an “upgrade” from the Flex to some of the newer models? Just bought a Flex a few weeks ago to replace one that I lost and would like to get a wrist-based FB model with visible steps.

    • It’s funny, yesterday they sent out an e-mail to former (or current) Fitbit Force users offering them “15% off our newest models”. Except, it was only valid on the Charge (not HR), plus their older models. Not the Charge HR nor the Surge. Kinda silly.

    • Jackie

      “This is a single-use discount that may be applied to the purchase of a single full-price One, Zip, Flex, Charge, or other Fitbit activity tracker.”
      As I read it you can use it for the HR & Surge once they become available. It stated “or other Fitbit activity tracker.”
      *Valid through 11:59pm PST on June 30, 2015.”
      Please let me know if I’m misreading the fine print.

    • David Corsi

      But Ray in theory the 100% refund offer on the Force is still in place, a less scrupulous user could take their trusty 1 year old Force, return it for a full refund, and buy the Charge HR.

    • I was mostly pointing at the silly fact that you couldn’t actually order the Charge HR or Surge…

  54. Alex

    Having used a Fitbit One in addition to LoseIt over the past year and a half, I was initially put-off by Fitbit’s refusal / reluctance to work with Apple HealthKit, but I don’t really care anymore.

    The Health App is basically useless at this point, and only seems to be a collection point for data from other apps. Why would I need the Health App to show me the same Data I can already manage in a more practical and easy to understand manner in the LoseIt & Fitbit Apps?

    • I see the goal of HealthKit and similar as combining in data from non-partnered apps. For example, I can pull in data from the Beddit device into Apple Health, while also grabbing data from Garmin. Neither partner directly with each other, but they both dump into Health KIt.

  55. Chase

    “The Charge is effectively a FitBit Force with new features. Specifically it adds over the since-recalled Force: …
    – Updated wristband with new clasp”

    Judging by the pics on fitbit.com, the Charge has the same clasp while the Charge HR will have a new design. I personally had problems with the old clasp, so that alone eliminates the Charge for me.

  56. Wendy

    Hi DC,

    I am just about to by a fitness tracker and really can’t decide. i thought that the new iteration of the fitbit might be great for me – I really want the pedometer, altimeter, the activity and steps right there on the device (which is why I have not opted for the jawbone or the fitbit flex) and of course the usable software. I am not a fitness fanatic, but I run regularly and really want to ensure that I am moving every day between runs. I wanted the Fitbit Charge then read your review which essentially said that there are better devices out there already and probably cheaper. Could anyone recommend “the one”? I would be really appreciative for any thoughts.

    • For sub-$129US (the Charge’s price), you’ve got a few options that I feel are better. First is either the Vivofit ($99) or Polar Loop ($109). They allow you to connect to a HR strap, so you can do that, plus you get all the usual activity monitor stuff. The Vivofit is nice in that the battery lasts a year, versus the Charge’s 1-week. Both Vivofit & Loop have activity alerts, so that’ll keep you moving throughout the day.

      You do get dinged slightly though on 3rd party platform integration for step-data, which lacks on both Garmin and Polar.

    • Wendy

      Thanks a heap for this and for your great review. I will take a closer look at the vivofit and polar loop. I am also considering the fitbit one as well, just because it can be concealed. If anyone has any experience with any of these and wants to comment I’d appreciate it.

  57. Jodi

    Per fitbit’s specs on their site, water resistant as follows:

    Fitbit Charge – 1 ATM
    Fitbit HR – 1 ATM
    Fitbit Surge – 5 ATM

    I am tempted by Surge to have the GPS features included but thinking since this is something I would wear all the time, may be better off with Fitbit HR as it is small enough to wear all the time but still has the new watch clasp.

  58. Juro

    Now this came a bit unexpected:
    link to windowscentral.com

    – HR
    – UV measurement
    – stress tracking
    – GPS
    – Myfitnesspal integration etc

  59. Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft Band. Discuss. :)

    • Cliff

      Haha, I just came here to look for the same thing.
      I’m interested in this new Microsoft Band (and ordered it to try out) vs the Fitbit Surge (will most likely get that also in 2015 — wife may kill me though haha). I know it’s hard to compare something not out yet, but hoping there is enough confirmed information to make semi-decent comparisons.

    • Dave S

      This looks amazing! Finally, a cross-platform product. I’ve grown sick and tired of my extremely buggy Garmin Fenix 2 and had already decided to simplify my life by replacing it with something that just works and it’s not an ongoing hassle to deal with.

      My change of heart came after calling Garmin support with my deep frustration with ongoing horrible GPS accuracy and pure unreliability and hearing back from them that this was the first they heard of this when their own forums are littered with others having the same issues as myself.

      Received my second brand new fenix2, and same crap of issues. I’ve had it with so much complexity in my life, I bought my fenix to help me not frustrate me!

      Was pretty stoked by the new fitbit as a potential replacement, but this new microsoft band looks to fit my life goals way better, as long as it just works and is not plagued with tons of bugs like Garmin.

      Ray, please do a quick preview as I’m dying to order it. Will it be available via Clever Training?

    • John

      I think the Microsoft Band and Sony Smartwatch 3 represent the start of a new attack wave on the dedicated device companies like Garmin, yes it may not be very significant until the “Band 3” or Smartwatch 5 but they will get there in the end. Just as Garmin’s navigation sales were hit by smartphones their fitness products are the new target. They will need to either drastically reduce prices or become even more specialized – I’d guess their tri and military markets are pretty safe for a while.

  60. Fitbit fell flat

    How can this NOT have an idle alarm? That is the single best thing that was so easy to add. Wanted to get one, but not without an idle alarm. :-(

  61. Which one

    DC… For one with and idle alert or indicator, which is the best unit? … And why do U recommend vivofit vs vivosmart? Seems like jawbone not showing up to the holiday party?

  62. Ed

    My head is spinning with all the new fitness/health/multi-functional wearables. I remember paying $400 for a Timex GPS watch in 2003. The GPS receiver for the device (which hardly ever worked in an urban setting) had to be strapped to my arm or ankle. This market has come along way in a short amount of time.

    As DC rainmaker suggested, the data platform where the data is stored has become more and more important, I look to streamline my performance analysis and make the data more robust. That’s why I’m finally interested in an activity tracker to go along with my older Garmin Forerunner and Garmin 810.

    For simplicity, channeling all of my fitness metrics through Garmin Connect, with most activities then being exported to Strava, via CopyMySports, and (next season) Training Peaks for more sophisticated feedback. The compatibility with Garmin Connect is now is now my number one health technology requirement. I use ifit for indoor training– and they do not allow my data to transfer to Garmin Connect, which is SO ANNOYING! So I’m getting a Garmin Vector so I can transfer it between indoor/outdoor bikes. The hassle is worth it IMO.

    So DC Rainmaker my question is (sorry for the long intro): Do you think Garmin will develop an iwatch app that will function as high level activity tracker AND allow that data to be stored in Garmin Connect?

    Keep up the good work, and please let me know what you think.

  63. Patrick Myers

    I’m really on the fence about the Charge HR. I have a Fenix2 for my dedicated training, but I would love something that

    A) does reliable optical HR tracking throughout the day

    B) automatic sleep detection/monitoring and

    C) is waterproof so I’m not worried about it in the shower or if I go swimming (which I do a couple times a week).

    I’m not even concerned about A when I do C – I don’t really need HR tracking while in the pool, I just don’t want to have to worry about the device if I forget to take it off and dive in. Their current labeling as “water resistant” makes me think I can keep it on my wrist when I wash my hands, but not much beyond that.

  64. Ranjith

    Ray, Any chance Garmin 920XT can read data from any of these always-on devices to figure out recovery?

  65. Ish

    Will you be doing a review or thoughts on the Microsoft Band released today?

  66. Kompoj

    Dear Ray
    Pls review the Microsoft Band
    It has all funtion that athletes want.

  67. Love your take on this. I found myself crazy excited for the addition of the Surge especially, because it seems silly to wear your Fitbit at the same time that you’re wearing your gps.

    Honestly, the bit about Fitbit not joining forces with Apple is the most interesting however, and it makes me want to engineer (and by that I mean have my husband engineer) a wristband/activity tracker that WILL integrate with Apple’s products. Cha-ching!

  68. Bart Bouse

    I’m interested in the Microsoft Band also. It’s easy to hate Microsoft but they sure beat Apple and Fitbit to the punch on this. It could mean millions to them. Sort of like the Lifeproof iphone 6 case which still doesn’t exist. You’ve gotta think heads are rolling at Lifeproof when it was the most popular waterproof/tough case for iphone 4 and iphone 5 and they can’t get there crap together and bring it to market on time for the 6. Then, Apple sells 10 million iphone 6’s in a week. Wow! How much did Lifeproof lose on that because everyone is going to get some case for their expensive new iphone 6 case. The Band is going to seriously cut into Fitbit’s market simply because it’s available now and before the holidays. Somebody at Apple an Fitbit are crying a little right now.

    • Michael Richie

      I’m not sure. We’ll have to see how it all works out. The Band looks pretty clunky for a full time device. The hardware tech looks good (at least on paper) but what really matters is how the software and algorithms work in real life. For instance, the Basis seems to provide amazing sleep and 24/7 non-activity data, but doesn’t work for activity tracking, while the best optical activity HR monitors don’t seem to get the sleep right. Also, none of these new players, Samsung, Apple, Fitbit or MS seem to think that reading external sensors is important.

      That being said, MS will license the sensor technology and has a new sdk for their cross platform software, so I expect them to be a major player. (I wonder if Garmin is looking at this) The Band itself looks like it might be a 1.0 product, though. Windows didn’t take off until 3.1. I was going to stop by a MS store to take a look at one, but can’t until this weekend. Has anybody else seen it yet?

    • JS VT

      Since I am one of the 1% – 3% that use a windows phone I wanted to check this out even though I just got the M400. So…

      The Band is not as big as I had anticipated from some early comments but I am not small at 6′ 2″ so that may be relative. One nice feature is that the strap is adjustable while on your wrist so you can wear it a bit looser while doing your 9 to 5 and tighten up during runs/rides/workouts.

      The set up was pretty easy with a bit of issue pairing but I got through to tech support in 5 minutes and “Patrick” got me up and going in 10 (and it was my mistake not the hardware or software).

      So far the GPS seems as accurate or very at least very close to the M400 with a similar lock time. The HRM also seems pretty accurate but I will be matching it against a chest strap tomorrow morning to see what the variance is on a 5K run.

      The MS Health app is pretty slick and works extremely well on a windows phone (Nokia 1520 in my case). Easy to customize what alerts you want to get on the Band and you can customize which tiles/apps show up where. The bluetooth sync takes place in the background or when you save a change to the layout or add a workout.

      For the workouts you can already download interval runs and multi day programs liek a “4 weeks to faster 10K” which gets added to the calendar etc. I don’t use Runkeeper but I would expect it is a very simple step to get to upload a custom workout from a linked app.

      And that is where it looks like the strength lies in the Band. By being cross platform and tying into apps already being used it seems like it may be pretty easy for developers to make use of their existing apps to add functionality to the Band (not sure if what I mean is coming across with that comment or not …. the band and MS Health app are very serious software contenders in this arena).

      It will be interesting to see which third party apps MS can get on board and what some other hardware manufacturers bring to the table. Right now I do not thing the hardware is up to rough outdoor training (trail running, mountain biking) in inclement weather, but for day to day workouts its looking pretty good.

      Battery life is TBD at this point but 30 minutes with GPS on did not kill it so that’s good ;)

      The “Smart Watch” side of things is pretty strong in terms of alerts for calls, texts, emails etc. the screen is large enough to show most brief text msgs as well as the first few lines of email (with scrolling) and the screen is pretty easy to navigate to various apps.

      Sorry about the random commentary ( I am sure Ray will have a much more readable and insightful review) but that’s what I’ve got so far :)

    • ML

      I’m very impressed with the Band so far.
      However, I was really interested to see the accuracy of the Heart Rate monitoring so compared it this morning on a treadmill run against the Polar RC3GPS and chest strap. The Band seemed to be measuring 20 – 30 beats per minute more than the reading on my Polar watch. :-(
      Not sure if i have a faulty unit….
      It seemed very accurate on distance and steps however.

    • Mike Richie

      Got a chance to stop by the MS store this morning, and the Band is not quite as clunky as I thought (kind of looks like a fugitive ankle bracelet for the wrist, though) – still not sure how comfortable the long top (or bottom) and stiff sides will be, but others are reporting that after using it for a while it doesn’t feel that bad – it’s not very heavy.
      The inaccuracy in HR while working out you (ML) are reporting is clearly a deal breaker if not just due to a faulty unit. Did you try fiddling with the tightness using the clasp? And were you using the Watch face on the inside of your wrist? Also, I’m a little concerned it would not hold up under heavy use.

    • ML

      I tried wearing it a number of different ways to see if I could resolve the HR accuracy. Tight fitting. Loose. On the inside of the wrist. On the outside of the wrist.
      I’m going to try an outdoor run today and see how it compares with the Polar unit again.

      Perhaps my unit is faulty – I can’t seem to get it to charge beyond 80% either.

      I find the Band pretty comfortable. And have been very impressed so far. For a first generation product it is very good.

    • ML

      So I managed to get the chance late afternoon to compare the accuracy of the Band Optical HR measurement against my polar unit (RC3 GPS).
      Over 43 minutes, the Band measured an average HR of 169 and the Polar measured an average of 168.

      The units were identical for distance run (measured by GPS)

      I’m very impressed with the Band.

    • Hi ML – I had the opposite experience with the HR and the milage.

      In the last two days with the Surge I noticed that the heart rate monitoring was within +/-3 beats every quarter mile compared to my Polar RC3GPS. The milage on the Surge was short by a whole mile at the end of the workout (actually ran 3.5 miles in total). I’m an avid runner and feel very confident that I was running the said pace and distance. The steps were also short by ~900. I would be interested in seeing what might be causing these variances.

      I wonder if the placement of the band on your wrist could be improved? I wear mine as directed by FitBit three fingers up the arm from the write bone. Try that out and see if the HR is similar!


  69. Andrew


    I was about to buy the polar loop but read your review above. Could you let me know if you think the surge or the charge HR would be a better option than the polar loop.

    I’m looking for an activity tracker which also monitors HR. I want to be able to record my activity over 24 hours ongoing etc. I play field hockey at a competitive level but also go to the gym around 3 times a week and do a bit of jogging each day as well.

    • It’s too soon to tell. Until we know the accuracy of the Charge or Surge (like the Microsoft Band), then the most accurate method for getting HR data to a wrist based tracker is via the HR strap like how the Polar Loop or Garmin Vivofit works with separate straps.

  70. Bucky Payton

    I am a field hockey umpire and am looking for a smartwatch that can replace both my current watch and my Fitbit Force. Would I be able to use the Surge to time a game? Specifically, is there an app that could be downloaded to the watch so that it will function as a count-down timer without losing any of its other capabilities? I would also need for it to stay on the whole time, as often times I am asked about time remaining and need to be able to see it without having to press a button or wake up a screen. Many times I am the official timer as well as the umpire, so this functionality is an absolute deal-breaker. I would like to stick with the Fitbit interface, as I am already very familiar and comfortable with it.

  71. I keep waiting to see if Fitbit will build a unit that is waterproof enough for swimming to monitor heart rate and count laps…then sign me up! I hate having to take off my Flex every time then manually add the entry every day…

  72. me

    ​Fitbit is not being clear regarding water resistance. IP68 certified and 5ATM are mentioned everywhere but if you ask their support team they insist that the Surge NOT be worn in the shower or in a swimming pool. They need to clarify this!

  73. Jake Wagner


    Has anyone else heard about a partnership between Fitbit’s Surge and Strava? It would be great if true.

    PC Mag Article

  74. link to jawbone.com

    Jawbone is up next with two new trackers announced. a low end model and a new higher end UP3 with HR. i much prefer the iOS App for Jawbone to FitBit.

  75. Kyle

    Can’t help but think they’ve missed the price on the Surge. Any higher than $199 and they’re crazy. The Band does all of that and is $199. Who knows what drops between now and “early 2015”. I like the look of it and the B/W screen, but it’s not a $50 premium good.

  76. Tony

    I’m still trying to figure out what the importance of HealthKit really is. It can aggregate all your data – so what? It doesn’t offer any feedback, advice, new interpretations, or social interactions (as of now) so why would FitBit – who does offer all of that need to work with Apple?
    If you really want it, you can easily export your readings from FitBit to My Fitness Pal to HealthKit. I already did this and again, I don’t see the point.

    What everyone is overlooking is the incredible battery life. My FitBit One lasts for over a week. The Charge is just a One in another form. By limiting how much interactivity the Surge has with your watch, it’s probably saving battery life too. I’m very interested in tracking my heart rate 24/7 and my GPS 24/5

    • JL

      The importance of Healthkit (or Google Fit in Android world) is that it’s a unified data exchange layer between apps.

      Imagine that you’re a developer of a fitness app. Your customers are asking for your app to integrate with other apps/services X, Y, Z, etc. In previous days this meant that you would have to build an integration interface to each one of those. Now you would only have to build one interface to read/write to Healthkit (or Google Fit) and you would automatically have integration to all other apps that do the same.

    • Health App is a big picture thing. Some folks can’t see that. I am not knocking those who cannot, just saying. It is far from a finished product. I do not see it a single user product or experience. It will be big business/corporations, hospitals who utilize it to as part of health insurance plan program and so on.

    • Tony

      I get its a big picture thing. I love the idea that I can show my doctor the various measurements to help diagnose other problems (such as a sudden unexplained weight loss might indicate diabetes medication suddenly not working effectively). But right now, nobody is taking advatage of it. It seems that Apple needs FitBit’s vote of confidence in HealthKit more than FitBit who (I think) was reported having the majority share of the fitness data tracking market. FitBit didn’t rule it out in the future, they just said they have too much on their plate. Like I said in the previous post, you can transfer all the data via My Fitness Pal very easily

    • (Coming in half-way)

      I’d say that while no doubt Fitbit has (or had) shipped the most devices out there, I think that specific metric will mean much less this year and next. There’s just so many entrants to the market that they’re eating away from Fitbit’s lead pretty quickly.

  77. Eric W

    Here’s hoping the Surge makes use of the GPS sensor elevation data to provide activity info on the amount of time spent standing during the day. As someone who tries to stand at my desk as much as possible, the only compelling feature I find for the Apple Watch is that it provides an activity monitor for standing. Standing burns 33% more calories as well as yielding a host of other benefits over sitting (just google “sitting bad”) and tracking this data is as important as tracking the amount of steps during the day. I’m hoping Apple is not the only company that realizes this.

  78. Peter

    Hi, i am a bit confused with the announcement of this New collection, especially About surge, because i was decided to buy polar m400 and now i dont know what to do. Which one do you recomend me? Price doesnt Matter, diference is not remarkable. Thanks!!

    • It’s too soon to know on the Surge. If it’s not accurate from a HR standpoint, then it’s just an overpriced GPS watch. We won’t know that till next year though. Ultimately, if you need a GPS watch now, then the M400 is an awesome deal. If you need a GPS watch with optical HR today, then look at the TomTom Cardio.

  79. Ray,

    Since I hadn’t seen much mention of it in the comments so far, I wanted to add that I would love your take on the effectiveness of the sleep monitoring functionality. It seems like that is not a big concern for many here, but there are some of us who would like that info when you come out with your more hands-on review.

    • It’s honestly all over the map. Perhaps a sleep-monitoring round-up might be interesting.

      At one end you have, for example, Garmin’s sleep monitoring – which I generally find as the least useful out of any device out there.

      At the other end you have Basis and Beddit, which are much better in the level of detail they provide (with Basis being the most advanced). And, RIP, Zeo at one point too.

      Then in the middle you have everyone else. I think it’ll be most interesting over the next few months when Basis gets their units out, along with Apple to see where those go too.

    • Eli

      I think it would be important to group by sensor input. As in movement only, sampled heart rate, continuous heart rate (OK, for sleeping purposes not sure how much those differ), breathing rate, etc. Yes the ui that interprets and displays the data is important but so is the limitations of what you can expect the input to provide. link to livescience.com

    • Eli

      And maybe include devices that help with sleep like sleep shepherd link to kickstarter.com

    • Chris

      Definitely would love a sleep tracker review!

  80. Frank

    The Surge is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. I don’t really care or want a multitude of apps, I want a relatively low-profile device that has strapless HRM (24/7), BUILT-IN GPS (the HRM taken together with GPS are the two most important things and where Apple dropped the ball), and if it can give me speed, distance, time, and the ability to change tracks IF I decide to take the iPhone, then that’s great as well. But I’ll probably continue to use my iPod Shuffle when running. So I’d be able to leave this thing on at night, grab my shuffle and head phones, and get all the data I need. Sounds perfect and wish it were available RIGHT NOW.

    The Gear S is available right now, but again, I and many runners I know just don’t care about this ‘watch full of apps’ solution and the pairing with the phone and all that as much as manufacturers seem to think we do. I think Fitbit doesn’t care about integrating with Healthkit because they know they’ve got the killer product in the Surge (though I still think it’s foolish). Also, the Gear S and the Apple Watch both look bigger and more ‘watch-like’ than the Surge, which is another reason that I’d just get the Surge.

    The Gear S seemed promising since the only other thing I’d want is the music stored in the watch with bluetooth headphones, but I’ll trade that for GPS and it being something I can wear all day and not even have to think about putting on in the morning before a run. I’ll just grab the ipod and be on my way.

    I’m just not sure of the market for these watches outside of fitness and I think this whole ‘wearables’ market is a solution in search of a problem. Apple were insane to make that video CLEARLY marketing to the fitness crowd then leave out GPS and tell us we HAVE to take our gigantic new iPhones with us in order to get tracking data. A number of people I talked to afterwards were saying, “But that would have been a battery drain, added too much weight, etc.” and I had to point out that there are about 4-5 watches that will be out before the Apple Watch (maybe more, now that it seems like May or June is the release), that will have GPS and HRM.

  81. Jeffrey

    After some research, I’m can’t recommend the Fitbit Surge as Fitbit does not allow you to export any of your runs (they call them Activities or Exercises). Though they offer API access, the run data is not available. I have confirmed this with MapMyRun, RunKeeper, Endomondo, and others. As far as activity, most partners are only retrieving the daily step totals. If someone knows a way to get my runs (gpx, tcx, or similar) from Fitbit, please post.

    • Dave

      Jeffery, We do not know yet if Fitbit Surge will allow us to export run as it is the first fitbit to have on board GPS. I don’t believe it has been confirmed either way.

    • Jeffrey

      Dave, I’ve used the Fitbit app on iPhone that does let you track your run using GPS. The data is on their site today. The question is more of whether a user can get their run data out. I have an open ticket with Fitbit support to try and figure this out.

    • Dave

      Good point. To me being able to get GPS data from the surge is a bit of a deal breaker. Strava etc…. I have a nasty feeling they may try and push us into premium to do this… Time will tell I guess.

  82. JessieJ

    I was wondering if the Charge HR will show the calories on the watch as you are burning them or do you have to wait until you sync it to your phone?

  83. Woj

    On the Force, the charge slot is on the bottom which it looks to be the same on the Charge/HR. It was very temperamental and had to be in at just the right angle to even charge. It, quite frankly, is a pain in the ass. Is there any improvement on this on the Charge HR?

  84. Melanie

    I just noticed on your comparison chart that you don’t have the Charge as doing stairs climbed or distance walked. It does both and they both display on the unit, not just in the app. Thanks for all you do!

  85. Sam

    These comments are interesting reading, but I’m confused with all the research I’ve done… I’m looking for a Christmas presents for my sporty boyfriend. His main passion is squash, which band would you recommend that would give stats on a sport that stays in a court but still burns calories? Too many bands seem to focus on runners. He’s really into stats so the more the merrier!

    • You’d probably want something that can calculate calories using heart rate. If he’s really into stats, something like the Basis Peak might work – since that has loads of data.

      I suspect I’ll publish a deeper post into the peak on around Thursday, if it helps.

    • Ally Caffrey

      A review on the Peak this week would be awesome. Basis has offered previous customers a “loyalty” offer towards the Peak that expires at midnight on 12/7. I’m still debating between the Peak or Charge HR, just don’t want to be disappointed again. I would have appreciate a trade-in value too seeing my B1 is sitting on eBay now.

      Does the new Peak now sync automatically with iOS like Fitbit?

    • It does automatically sync, though, somewhat more randomly in what I’m seeing than the Fitbit.

  86. iandyli

    I went into a local Target this afternoon and saw a Fitbit Surge GPS Watch display unit. It wasn’t responsive via touchscreen so it probably had the display software to lock it down. Anyway, I asked the electronics Target Associate when watch would be available. After scanning Surge barcode and reviewing inventory scanner, ETA for sale is 07 Dec 2014, ie next Sun!

    DC Rainmaker, have you received a Surge testing unit from Fitbit for review? It’d be great to hear your thoughts and see your review. Thanks!

    • I haven’t received a Surge or Charge HR. I’ll hit them up to see if that date is inline or not. Previously they were saying Q1 2015, so it’s a bit of a shift to say…next week.

    • iandyli

      BTW, the Charge HR was already available for sale. I’ll take a pic next time I go there and see if I can upload it for you.

    • I’d definitely be interested if the Charge HR was actually available for take-home.

    • Fitbit is still saying it won’t be till Early 2015 for the Charge HR/Surge. So, either Target is wrong, or Fitbit’s PR team is wrong. At this point, I’d actually wager Fitbit’s PR team is wrong…typically big box retail stores are very rarely wrong about availability in systems, and are well known for leaks.

    • iandyli

      Just got back from same Target. I was mistaken about Charge HR current availability. They had a few of the normal Charge units hanging on the Charge HR racks so I thought they were were HR units. I’ll check in again next Sun and see if Surge is actually available.

  87. Rose

    Thanks for the informative post.

    I can’t stand heart rate chest straps so I got excited reading about wrist-based heart-rate monitoring system (though, it’s accuracy is still yet to be determined). I would love to combine activity data acquired from the Fitbit Charge HR with my Garmin FR 220 fitness data. Is there a way to do this? Although I am not exactly thrilled with the data visualization offered by Garmin Connect, there is something nice about having all of my fitness data in one location for analysis. I am currently deciding between the Fitbit Charge HR and one of the Garmin vivofits (possibly the Garmin Vivosmart). If there is an easy way to combine data from Garmin and Fitbit devices, then I’d likely go with the Fitbit Charge HR due to the advantage of having HR monitoring. Love to hear your feedback. Thanks.

  88. Mike

    Since Valencell and FitBit are funded by some of the same venture firms, do you think the FitBit tech for the sensor is a version of the Valencell? I mean, it definitely isn’t like the Scosche as it has no yellow light.

    Also, I was looking at the Valencell site, and Intel is a partner. I wonder if the Basis Peak incorporates a Valencell sensor assembly now (and is why some say it is FAR more accurate)?

    • Possibly on the Valencell piece for FitBit, I’ll do some digging there. As for Valencell in the Peak, I doubt it. The accuracy sucks too much during excercise to be Valencell.

    • Mike

      Yes, please do!

      I couldn’t find anything, at all, when searching around.

      Does the comment about the Basis mean that you wouldn’t recommend as a solution for activity tracker and workouts combined? What about the Mio Fuse? If no on that front, too, would you still recommend a Rhythm+ and GPS watch for runs and a UP3 for regular all day use?

    • At this point, no, I’m not seeing the Peak as a viable workout watch unless all you’re interested in is a very high level and potentially incorrect look at your HR.

      On the Fuse, it’s solid on HR, but I haven’t yet received the production unit in (was supposed to arrive last week, odd), to be sure on the step piece.

    • Mike

      Thanks! That officially puts the nail in the coffin for the Peak…

      Now it is between the Rhythm+ w/GPS (Garmin or my old MotoActv) and UP3, or just a Mio Fuse…

      What’s your take?

    • Hard to say at this point until I’ve had hands on with the UP3. Though, I don’t expect that will really be a good workout option.

      I think in general we’re seeing that for most athletes, having separate devices is still somewhat needed.

    • Mike

      So you wouldn’t put the Fuse in the ‘one size fits all’ category? Since you need to sync to a phone, presumably GPS would be covered during workouts. So, you get route tracking during workouts, step/activity when not. It just would lack insights/sleep tracking that Fitbit and Jawbone provide.

  89. Mike

    Hi Ray,
    Do you have a “comparison chart” of the most popular activity trackers?
    Looking to get one for my 13 yr. old daughter for x-mas. Any suggestions? I’m thinking Garmin only b/c I currently use their products and we could track each other on the “leaderboard” in GC.
    Thanks for any words of wisdom!

    • Activity trackers are within the product comparison tool here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      In general, I only put them in there once I have them in-hand, though I do make occasional exceptions like here for the FitBit piece if I can individually validate specific specs.

      In most cases, I recommend that you stay on the same platform as the majority of your friends/family when it comes to activity trackers – at least if you want to use those social features. While the FitBit social features are better than Garmin’s, that only means something if friends are there. And, from a basic leaderboard standpoint the Garmin side works just fine there.

      Given that, you’re options are the Vivofit, Vivosmart, and FR15 (I assume she doesn’t want a FR920XT). For a 13yo, I suspect she’d enjoy a Vivofit along with one of the various colored bands. Though, if she’s more into tech, she might like the Vivosmart.


    • Mike

      Cool. Thanks Ray.
      I’m going to head on over to http://www.clevertraining.com tonight.
      Are there any current or upcoming coupon codes?
      Thanks again and happy holidays.
      Hope you get a chance to make it back over the pond.

    • Hi Mike-

      For right now, you’ve got a slew of Black Friday deals here from Clever Training: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Then, for anything not covered there (the Vivosmart), you can use the VIP program to save 10% here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Thanks for the support!

  90. Sal Siddiqui

    I’m probably not following the description of the Surge correctly. If I go for a run, do I need to also carry my phone with me in order to capture the GPS information? Or, can I run with just the watch (no phone), then sync the information when I’m back to my phone or computer?

    Sorry for the dumb question.

  91. Mindy Stewart

    My company does a vitality health program that supports the Garmin watches (which is great on race day) but does not support the vivofit I have. The best intergration it has is the FitBit line.

    I have a free Zip and like it, but I am interested in the fitbit Charge to replace my vivofit (and ditch the extra Zip). The only thing that is holding me back is that the vivofit links to my scosche armband and the data is spot on for what in need on my walking days (aka I’m not gonna take out the G620 for a 45 minute walk)

    I am uncertain about the HRM on the Charge HR due to the contact/light issue you mentioned. It would really be hard to give up my armband which has been a godsend from the vile chest strap horrors I’ve had.

    Have you heard anything regaridng the regular Charge being able to pair with separate HRMs? I can’t find anything on the topic.

    I’m hopeful, but I can see it being silly considering they made a HRM version.

    Thank you for a fantastic article as always.

  92. Meredith

    I got an email today about an exclusive limited release of the Fitbit Surge. I’m tempted to order one now but I’d really like to see what you think of it before I risk having to pay shipping on the return of a crummy product. I’m leaning toward the Surge due to the silent alarm but the Basis Peak’s sleep data looks pretty tempting. I’m crossing my fingers that the HR on the Surge can’t be as bad as the Peak’s. What do I do!?!!?

    • Was that from a retailer or Fitbit? it’s funny, they seem pretty adamant that nothing is being released till next year.

      On the optical sensor side, I truly have no idea. Industry rumors have said that the product slid to next year (versus this fall) because they were trying to get the sensor right. So on one hand hopefully they sorted it out. On the other hand, that doesn’t stop other companies from just shipping to please investors.

    • Juro

      Yes “limited release” of both Surge and Charge HR. Can’t wait to read the early reports as the 24×7 HR monitoring is tempting (but I don’t want to move out from fitbit ecosystem).

      link to techradar.com

    • Thus confirming why I generally dislike dealing with 3rd party PR firms that don’t know up from down with their clients. It always amazes me how badly some of these 3rd party PR firms can get wrong the message.

      I’ll go hit up some product mangers to get clarity…

    • Meredith

      It was from Fitbit. Must be the result of my clicking their “Notify Me” when the product is available button on the Surge page. The email says, “You were one of the first to get excited about Fitbit Surge when it was announced. Now be the first to get your hands on one as part of our exclusive limited release.” I added the small version to my cart and it said it was back ordered but would ship in a week. The large is in stock and “All orders will be upgraded to FedEx Overnight delivery.” After they added tax to the price tag I decided I might wait to see if Clever stocks them eventually.

    • Ally Caffrey

      I thought I had clicked the “notify me” button for both Charge HR and Surge, but only received an email to purchase the Surge. I’m more interested in the Charge HR right now. I have the $30 coupon for the Peak so I’m thinking I’ll buy both and do a real time comparison returning the inferior product. Does anyone know how to get access to the Charge HR limited release sale without the email? I went back and clicked notify me for the Charge but no email yet… Or if someone has the Charge email and wants the Surge, I’ll forward/trade if possible. Thanks!

    • Mike

      Would be happy to take yours, but don’t have one for the Charge HR. That said iif our won’t use the Surge one I would be happy to take it off your hands.

    • Ally

      Just “chatted” with a FitBit representative and they will not trade my Surge offer for a Charge HR, and also said that the link will not work if I forwarded it. Only option would be for the email owner to purchase it and send it the other person and vice versa, which is silly. She did confirm to expect a limited amount of the product to be available at Amazon, Best Buy, Brookstone, Dick’s Sporting Goods, The Sports Authority, Kohl’s, REI, and Target. However, she does not have information on when the product will become available in store.

    • CJ

      Do I have to have a smartphone to use a fitbit charge hr?

  93. Camp

    I ordered one. They added free 1-day shipping so it should be here soon. It’s a bit risky ordering without seeing an in depth DC Rainmaker review so…fingers crossed.

    • Mike

      Did you get it? Any comparison against a chest strap? Is it worth it, or just another poor attempt at wrist OHR?

  94. Kjell Svensson

    Will the Surge be available outside the US anytime soon? I’m in Norway.and I get the UK store as default when I go to fitbit.com. I did register via the “notify me” buttom, but I haven’t heard anything from them yet.

  95. Mike

    Hoping one of the lucky few will post a comparison of the HR function to their HR monitor

    • Tosin

      My wife wants the Charge HR for Christmas (obviously not happening) primarily because of the 24×7 LED HR and the activity monitoring. She has a FR210 that she used successfully for 2 x Half Marathon, and 1 x Sprint Tri. She never was able to get the HR strap to work well for her, even with getting a replacement Polar HR strap on Amazon.

      I’m trying to see if it’s worth it for the Surge. Yes it’s a $100 premium, but is touch screen, music control, and gps worth that extra change?

      Also, anyone have pictures of what it looks like on their forearms?

    • Camp Murphy

      I have 2 pics:

      link to i.imgur.com

      link to i.imgur.com

      The backlight is on in the first but not in the second pic.

  96. jay

    Erm… has anyone asked the simple but very valid question, can the strap on the charge hr be replaced when it breaks?? I say when because it will if the flex is anything to go by.. its bad enough they kept the same crap design in clasp with the normal charge like the flex, many people had issues with this design but yet they chose to not change that so yeah so if the strap cant be replaced on the hr thats a waste of £120 so if you know id love to knkw to save myself the casg from the get go

  97. Brian

    Fitbit sold around 10,000 Surge units in a limited pre-release, and mini reviews are being posted in the Surge forum. No cycling mode, and Fitbit forum moderator stated “none of our trackers were designed to accurately track cycling” (link to community.fitbit.com). Other users confirming issues when trying to GPS track a ride.

    Although rated 5ATM there is no swimming or showering with Surge. No GPX/TCX export. One user reporting HR accuracy issues at high BPM (link to community.fitbit.com).

    Still early, but looking like Surge is off the list.

  98. Mike Cem

    Just got my surge today….unlike the MS band this is quite comfortable. I’ll work out with this and my v800 tomorrow and post the hr comparison. Broke a toe so I can,t do run comparisons…

  99. Mike Cem

    Used my surge this morning, i have a few comments;
    Very comfortable I have no problem wearing this all day.
    The heart rate accuracy sucks so far. Compared it to a polar chest strap connected via blue tooth and the old gym link interface with my rower. For the first 5 minutes it was all over the place but mostly 10bpm lower than polar h7 . (Btw both the scosche rhythm and Tom tom cardio track fairly closely to the polar but do have some dropout inconsistency’s) . The surge settled down and tracked in the general direction of the polar but still~10 bpm lower. There were occasional spikes but no real dropouts.

    When comparing step counts the fitbit was consistently about 15% higher then the loop. I didn’t compare it with the v800 because i don’t wear that all day.

    The aforementioned results are preliminary since i really haven’t “futzed” around with it yet and I haven’t tried the gps. More to come if interested.

  100. Camp Murphy

    I ran with mine today and both the GPS and HR were dead on with what I see on my normal 5 mile route wearing my Garmin + HR strap. I think the key is how tightly you wear it during exercise. The band plays a large role in eliminating any possible light leak under the watch. It has a rubber band-like flex lets you wear it tighter than you would with a more typical plastic or metal watch band. And that tightness allows for greater protection from light leak. I wore it tighter (yet still comfortable) during my run and got great results. I let out some slack wearing it through the day when accuracy is less important.

    My only complaints are lack of customization for running. For example, I don’t see any way to set alerts for specific milestones during a run (I had my Garmin set to vibrate every mile). I can just look at the screen, of course, but programmable alerts are nice to have. My Garmin also has a nifty auto-pause feature the Surge lacks. I didn’t stop during today’s run but I will need to remember to press the pause button when I do stop with the Surge.

    The screen layout is not entirely customizable either. It displays 3 pieces of data at once which is competitive with other devices. Your distance and overall time are static and cannot be changed. However the 3rd data point (at the bottom) can be changed in real time while running. Simply swiping the touchscreen left or right lets you view several data options: Pace, AVG Pace, Heart Rate, Calories, Steps (I may be missing one or two others). This works quite well but I wish I could program these as defaults. I’d like the ability to change the order or eliminate one (like steps) that doesn’t matter to me when running. I’d also like the option to set the watch to automatically cycle through these data points at 1-2 second intervals. Finally, it would be nice to be able to edit the static data (overall time and distance) to my personal preferences. There are times when I may want HR or current pace front and center.

  101. j lister

    I recently found your site and have enjoyed reading your reviews. REI is taking deposits on the Surge. I have a FR405, not sure how old it is, but I think I bought it when it was out < 6 mos. It replaced my FR105.
    I am in the market and I hope you will do a full in depth review of the Surge. It could be what I have been looking and hoping for – a sports watch that is both a Sports Watch and a watch I would wear to meetings.

  102. Dave Wetton

    Another update from the forum managers regarding cycling with Fitbit Surge, looks more promising….

    “We’re working on it! Algorithms on the current GPS-enabled apps like Free Run and Hike are calibrated specially for those activities so they won’t track cycling accurately, but a cycling app is in development.

    I’m a huge cyclist, so I feel you on this one. We’ve got a little ways to go before Surge can harmoniously crunch all your bike commutes and Sunday rides, and hope you’ll stick around to see how it works when complete.”

    • Scott

      Crazy to release a GPS device without a cycling option. To track my ride with GPS and keep separate from my runs, the only option I see is to use the Hike activity for my rides. That is the only other activity set up with GPS tracking. The other weakness for cycling is the 5 hour battery time when using GPS. That’s enough for most rides but not for most people on a century. Would really like ability to upload to Strava to be able to fully replace my Garmin. As it is, I will end up using the Garmin for real fitness needs and the Fitbit for fun information. The HR without a strap is a great feature. Someday someone will put alltheneeded features in one device but noone has it yet.

    • Scott

      Crazy to release a GPS device without a cycling option. To track my ride with GPS and keep separate from my runs, the only option I see is to use the Hike activity for my rides. That is the only other activity set up with GPS tracking. The other weakness for cycling is the 5 hour battery time when using GPS. That’s enough for most rides but not for most people on a century. Would really like ability to upload to Strava to be able to fully replace my Garmin.

    • Scott

      Crazy to release a GPS device without a cycling option. To track my ride with GPS and keep separate from my runs, the only option I see is to use the Hike activity for my rides. That is the only other activity set up with GPS tracking. The other weakness for cycling is the 5 hour battery time when using GPS.

    • Scott K

      Crazy to release a GPS device without a cycling option. To track my ride with GPS and keep separate from my runs, the only option I see is to use the Hike activity for my rides. That is the only other activity set up with GPS tracking.

  103. Meredith

    Do any of these new Fitbit’s give inactivity alerts?

    • Shawna

      I have have done a 6 mile run using Nike+, Garmin, and my surge.. Nike + and garmin were both close at just over 6 miles, surge said 3.26.. Did another run with all 3. Almost 9 miles and again Nike+ and Garmin were close to 9 but Surge was at just 2.5!

  104. Sam Victor

    Ran with my Surge GPS on one wrist and my Garmin FR610 on the other, on a measured 6 mile course that I have been running for years. My initial observations are:

    1. Distance/Pace accuracy is suspect. The Surge seems to be report shorter distance (and hence slower pace) than the 610. (So now I am not sure whether Surge or the FR610 is reporting inaccurate distance/pace now).

    2. There is only one Pace on the Surge – (unlike Lap Pace, Instant Pace, Average Pace on the FR610) ; so it’s not clear if the Pace that is being displayed is the Lap Pace or the Average Pace. For instance if I am at mile 5, is the Pace that is being reported the pace for the 5th mile or average pace for the last 5 miles..

    3. Like Camp Murphy said, it’s be nice to have a distance alert on Surge and the ability to move the stats (data fields) around on the display. Time and Distance are constant on the first two lines and you swipe to display Pace, Heart Rate, Calories and Clock (Time of the Day) on the third line.

    4. Cannot create custom workouts on the Surge and so it’d not very useful for interval workouts. And there is no Auto Lap functionality (unless you are running mile splits). For all other interval distances, you have to press a button to create a new lap.

    5. Finally the battery life when using GPS is only 5 hours…

    Plan on doing some more experiments to determine the distance/pace accuracy (against the Garmin FR610 and the Garmin FR10) ; and also looking for comments from others who have used the Surge on its GPS accuracy.

    • Ed F

      I just did 5 miles today with both the SURGE and the FR620 on the same wrist and distances were virtually identical. Less than 1/10 mile separated them. As far as all the other “runners” features I don’t think the Surge ever intended to be a “pro runners” watch but mostly a “smart watch health monitoring device.” If anyone is looking for the reporting features of a Garmin Forerunner or similar on the Surge or any other “smart watch” they are looking in the wrong place. Apples and Oranges.

    • Shawna

      I have have done a 6 mile run using Nike+, Garmin, and my surge.. Nike + and garmin were both close at just over 6 miles, surge said 3.26.. Did another run with all 3. Almost 9 miles and again Nike+ and Garmin were close to 9 but Surge was at just 2.5! Ugh..

    • Shawna

      I have have done a 6 mile run using Nike+, Garmin, and my surge.. Nike + and garmin were both close at just over 6 miles, surge said 3.26.. Did another run with all 3. Almost 9 miles and again Nike+ and Garmin were close to 9 but Surge was at just 2.5!

  105. Miikecem

    I still haven’t tried the GPS but I am getting horribly inconsistent HRM results based on my polar. It had my HR at over 300 at one point, but mostly averaging ~10 lower

  106. JJ

    so right now for me it’s down between the FITBIT HR and the pulsense ps100 . i just want 24/7 HR with good tracking for indoors activities , a good battery and app (or 3rd side integration) and it should be comfort.
    any advice whether to wait or go with the pulsense ?

    • Miikecem

      I have experience and like the fitbit website. They continue to develop features and connectivity with lots of apps. Even though my “workout universe” is Polar, the fitbit is winning me over for day to day activity. I am using my surge as a watch, and my v800 for workouts.

  107. Mike

    Will FitBit Surge have alerts for pace or heart rate?

  108. Jan Willem Fransens

    Does the Fitbit Surge has a ATN+ transfer to my Garmin 800 bike-device?

  109. Terry

    One thing all these heart rate / fitness monitors seem to lack is to monitor if a person is actually alive, or a slow heartbeat, and send an SMS via their own smartphone to some other smartphone.
    They seem to have the where-withall in the hardware so they just need the function to send an alarm to the local smartphone APP via bluetooth.
    Anyone seen this feature on any of these devices?

    • I think the tolerances are just too low there at this point. Additionally, it starts to get into the medical range – which means you become subject to all sorts of wonky regulation that slows development to taking years to complete.

  110. For those curious – I’ve posted a handful of unboxing photos of the Fitbit Surge and Fitbit Charge HR here: link to facebook.com (don’t worry, doesn’t require a Facebook login to see).

    These were from units I bought that finally shipped. I’d been using the regular Charge for the past 3+ weeks, but of course, no surprises there since that’s just a Force with a new name and band. Expect a full in-depth review of the units probably in 10-20 days.

    • chris

      I picked one up a few days ago at sports authority and ran with it yesterday (surge). The results were pretty poor in general. I ran 3.5 and the watch logged 2.15. It seemed to not resume after a manual pause at a traffic light. I synced it and it showed yet another distance of 2.91 and a different pace. Not great so far. HR seemed pretty close to normal.

    • Ed F

      LOL, speaking of unboxing. (RE: Surge) It took me almost 30 minutes to figure out how to open the f*(***& box! :D I had to actually go online and look for an “unboxing” video. I was ready to go at it with a mallet!!!!

  111. Gillirob

    I have not taken the time to read ALL of the questions here, so, my apologies if this is a duplicate question. Will the Fitbit Surge work on it’s own without having to carry a smartphone? The iWatch has to have the iPhone within reach in order to work, so if you run out the front door without your phone, nothing will be recorded. I refuse to pay $400-$500 for a GPS smart watch that HAS to be accompanied by a phone.

  112. Ryan

    Will the gps feature work for hiking (hiking/hunting). I like the street view that shows what you previously ran but would it show my trail from hiking?

  113. Andy

    Do the Charge or the Surge send a Heart Rate signal that can be read by Treadmills, Elliptical Trainers and Stationary Bikes?? Or do I still need to wear my heart monitor in the gym to maintain a constant heart rate??

  114. C Frost

    First, this is a great site with very helpful info. Thanks for taking the time to post such a detailed review. I never considered purchasing a fitness tracker until my son was given a fitbit flex for Christmas. After seeing what it can do I’m wondering if there is something similar I can use though I would also want it to track/map my path via GPS. I want to use it for day to day activity tracking and mapping my hikes (I’ve tried a few iPhone apps but the batter always gives out before I do). I was excited about the fitbit surge, but based on the initial reports above it seems like I need to continue searching. All the same, I was hoping to find a wristband rather than a wrist watch since I already have a good watch and I’m too cheap to put it on the shelf. Any thoughts/suggestions?

    p.s. IMO I could do without the email notifications on my future activity tracker…I run, walk, bike, hike to get away from all of that noise!!

    • I think things are somewhat in transition. It appears that it’s tough to find an optical device that’s also an activity tracker and also GPS enabled, where all three of those core areas actually work accurately. :-/

  115. Andy S

    Can anyone that has used the surge confirm if there is a way to accurately sync the run (including map) with Runkeeper? That would be key for me wanting to buy this… I am so entangled with Runkeeper that I would not want to lose that history and tracking.

  116. Dave Wetton

    You can use this hack tool https://fitbit-to-gpx.herokuapp.com to create a GPX file then import into runkeeper.

    • Andy S

      Thanks for sharing this… this sort of blows though. Might be a dealbreaker for me. Will just stick with my Garmin I think and use fitbit for step tracking only. I was hoping to get the Surge to do it all.

  117. Dave Wetton

    Well did my first comparrison of Fitbit surge vs Difitfit+mio link today on a 8.5 mile hike. See the comparison charts on the link below plus some initial conclusions.

    link to community.fitbit.com

    • Rob Marks

      Hi Dave,
      Can you post a summary of your findings for those of us who aren’t part of the fitbit community? I was thinking about getting the surge or the TomTom cardio. Thanks

  118. Leslie T

    So in comparing the Charge HR and the Surge….is the only real difference between the two the addition of the GPS to the Surge? I am looking to monitor all day activity, whether in the GYM lifting weights/cardio or outdoor running or walking. I’m trying to see if the extra $$$ is worth the Surge or not…I’m happy with my Garmin for when I run etc but i want more info daily activity. Someone please break it down for me again…thanks!!!!

  119. JohnPaul

    Great review DCrainmaker! CES saw the announcment of the Inbody fitness band and this one appears to be a winner. I’m interested in either the Inbody or the Jawbone Up3. Any chance you’ll be reviewing either of these?

    BTW, you have the best reviews on the net. I will use your amazon link when making my purchases, definitely.

  120. Chelsea


    I know a full review will be coming in the future, but trying to decide between purchasing the Charge HR and Mio Fuse in the coming days. The sleep tracking and 24/7 HR monitoring of the Charge HR are appealing, but my hesitation is how accurate its HR monitor really is, especially with HIIT type workouts which are my favorites! I have seen mixed reviews on other sites, but know that no one is as thorough as you are in their assessments. If I am not getting an accurate reading, I would rather sacrifice the 24/7 and sleeping features for accurate workout HR readings. Any early findings to share?

    Thank you!


    • JohnPaul

      Chelsea, I too considered the Mio Fuse and had it 24/7 HR monitoring and sleep tracking, it would have been my pick also. Even the Vivosmart is really appealing, but not HR monitor which really sucks. I’m not about to wear a chest strap!

  121. Chelsea


    I know a full review will be coming in the future, but trying to decide between purchasing the Charge HR and Mio Fuse in the coming days. The sleep tracking and 24/7 HR monitoring of the Charge HR are appealing, but my hesitation is how accurate its HR monitor really is, especially with HIIT type workouts which are my favorites! I have seen mixed reviews on other sites, but know that no one is as thorough as you are in their assessments. If I am not getting an accurate reading, I would rather sacrifice the 24/7 and sleeping features for accurate workout HR readings. Any early findings to share?

    Thank you!

  122. Bsquared


    I’ve been reviewing posts on the FitBit Surge community forum, at the moment the consensus seems to be that Surge HRM for HIIT workouts is not accurate. No support for biking or swimming, and FitBit recommends taking tracker off when showering or swimming. On a positive note, HRM accuracy for walking and running is reportedly good.

    This is the link for Surge community:
    link to community.fitbit.com

    And the link for Charge HR:
    link to community.fitbit.com

    Hope that helps.

    • Scott K

      Crazy to release a GPS device without a cycling option. To track my ride with GPS and keep separate from my runs, the only option I see is to use the Hike activity for my rides. That is the only other activity set up with GPS tracking.

  123. Just as an FYI to folks, I’ve published my Fitbit Surge GPS In-Depth Review here: link to dcrainmaker.com


  124. Donna Pierson

    I got the new surge hoping it would replace my Garmin 620 and get some overall daily stats for steps/stairs etc. Which is does, but as a diverse athlete I find the exercise list on both the watch and the computer interface very limited. Back packing or GoRuck workouts are not included you can put in Hiking but not with weighted pack. Also on the watch I only see spinning- not biking, If I use the spinning option for my 8 mile commute into work I get about 200 calories burned, however if I input Biking on website with same distance I get 800 calories??? how is this possible and which is right? I would like a way to suggest a exercise and have it added into the list. Does anyone know of a good website for calculating calories burned for back packing?

    • The 200 calories would be most likely in the ballpark. 800 calories sounds like standard 1 Mile Running/Walking = 100 calories math (which is also a good ballpark…just not for biking).

  125. Kezzle

    I’ve linked my flex to myfitness pal which had worked well. I’ve now linked the strava too, but is this double counting calories if I use strava for walking and not just stationary activities?

  126. Kezzle

    I’ve linked my flex to my fitness pal which had worked well. I’ve now linked the strava too, but is this double counting calories if I use strava for walking and not just stationary activities?

  127. Kezzle

    I’ve linked my flex to my fitness pal which had worked well. I’ve now linked the Strava too, but is this double counting calories if I use Dtrava for walking and not just stationary activities?

  128. Kezzle

    I’ve linked my flex to my fitness pal which had worked well. I’ve now linked the Starve too, but is this double counting calories if I use Starve for walking and not just stationary activities?

  129. AlexilSecco

    Hi guys, do anyone know if I can pair Fitbit Charge HR to my Suunto Ambit3 Sport using BTLE 4.0, to use it like a HR wrist band as Mio Link or Mio Velo? Thanks in advance!

  130. Sara

    Is it possible to pair the Charge HR with a TomTom Runner? I want to keep using the TomTom for running since it has all the running features that the Charge does not but to also be able to use the Charge’s HRM. I love that the Charge HR includes a HRM but it not much of a benefit for me during a run… once I press the button enough times to get to the HR screen, it’s near impossible to read the screen while running, especially outdoors in the sun and especially with sunglasses on. The TomTom screen is big and easy to read :)

  131. Ale

    Hi, I want to know if hairy forearms is a problem for the heart rate monitor? Thanks

  132. Chris

    I bought the Fitbit HR on release day. I don’t know who they made size small for. It won’t fit closer than the 2nd notch on my 2yr olds wrist. It’s nice and all, but the heart rate monitor is inaccurate in the light. If you close the band and spin it on your finger it will post 150+ bpm. If you have a little bit of mass on your wrists and don’t mind having it imbedded in your flesh its fine. Really though, if it isn’t going to be under a pillow, a sleeve or a glove just buy the regular charge. The clasp on the HRs band (which is much better than the charge’s) isn’t worth $30.
    If you are biking and coasting with no bumps, the HR will never give you distance updates.

  133. Hi All:

    Just a heads up that I’ve published my Fitbit Charge and Charge HR Review here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    And of course my Surge GPS review as previously published is available here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    As is usual, I’m going to close this preview post here to new comments – but feel free to take the conversation over to the In-Depth Review instead.