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My month with a new Fitbit: The Blaze
Mon, 16th May 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

I spent the month of April in a competition about food and exercise. It was pretty intense. It involved not drinking, eating to a strict plan, and exercising daily. There were rules. There were standards. There was a spreadsheet.

Helping me along my path of sweat and no nice food was a new friend, the Fitbit Blaze. I hadn't used a Fitbit for a while, so I was excited to get back on the wagon and see how it could assist me in my journey.

Off the bat, the Blaze is a massive step up from Fitbit's other offerings. And that's saying a lot considering I am a huge fan of their products.

The Blaze is smart fitness watch, combining the best of the original Fitbits' features with some clever, helpful extras. It was initially launched at the start of the year, and while it is closer to the likes of the Surge over Fitbit's other fitness trackers, it's much better.

First off, it looks better. While I enjoyed the features of the Surge, it wasn't the best looking thing I've ever put on my wrist. The Blaze is sleeker, its face brighter and it is much easier to use.

The Blaze features a high-res colour touchscreen, allowing you to see activity stats, the time, and notifications easily throughout the day. What's neat about the interface is that you can customise it with a variety of clock faces available.

The Blaze uses Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone, enabling you to receive notifications for text, calls and calendar event. The notifications are delivered through on-screen messages and a vibrating alert.

Why are these features helpful if you have a smartphone? Well, a quick glance at your wrist means you know who is texting you or calling, allowing you to ignore it or take action in a matter of seconds. You can also accept or reject calls directly from the display.

On the exercise front, the Blaze allows you to control your music from your wrist when playing music from your phone. It records all your steps, distance, estimated calories burned, active minutes. floors you've climbed – the works.

A nice addition to the Fitbit line up is the FitStar Personal Trainer. This is a small exercise app built into the Blaze that you can use on the go for a quick workout. Instructions are delivered right on screen, with three PT workouts to choose from: Warm It Up, 7 Minute Workout, and 10 Minute Abs.

I tried each of the workouts and they're pretty good. I usually use a different app for at-home bootcamp sessions via my smartphone, and with that app you have to constantly look at your phone's screen to find out what the next exercise is in the session. The FitStar app on the Blaze means you only have to glance at your wrist. It would be better if it called out each exercise though.

Just like the last several Fitbit models, Blaze features heart rate tracking for those who want to make sure they keep their heart rate up for maximum calorie burn.

A feature I did enjoy was the automatic exercise recognition. The Blaze automatically recognizes and records continuous movement activities like biking, hiking and running, with general categories for aerobic workouts and sports. The multi-sport mode lets you pre-load up seven activity types.

The Blaze is probably the best one so far, because of the combination of exercise features and smart features with its good looks, something the Surge failed on in my opinion. As always, having a Fitbit on your wrist increases your motivation to exercise, which then increases your motivation to eat well. So having it there definitely aided in my April competition.