When it comes to Fitness Tracking, there are tons of trackers out there. Right from $15 Mi Band to the very costly Jawbone UP3, and Fitbit Surge the superwatch for those who just can’t replace their watch because none of the other fitness tracker have it. Today, in this post, I am sharing my experience of using Fitbit Surge for over two weeks, and how much it’s worth it, and if its worth spending $250 on a fitness tracker.
The Watch Factor: Can it Replace your Watch ?
Surge is a Watch + Fitness Tracker Combo. It is designed to fist look like a watch, and not a fitness tracker. A watch which is comfortable on your wrist, hooks in well to keep it from falling, and can survive a bit of water here and there. Surge has managed to do well in all these fronts.
- Anything that replaces watch, needs to tell time. This is where most of the fitness tracker fail. Surge has always on display, and you have your time without needing to push an extra button. The screen is backlit which helps in dark.
- The body of the watch, is made up of the same metal as the buckle, which houses the display, 2 buttons on the right and one on the left. The buttons are responsive, and till date didn’t get stuck.
- The wrist band is made of a flexible, durable elastomer material similar to that used in many sports watches. Surge also has a surgical-grade stainless steel buckle. Important to note that apart from buckle holding your watch, the loop has part protruded out just to fit well in one of the adjustment holds.
The same material is used for Fitbit Charge and HR. I have used Charge and, I can confidently say that band is not going to get wear and tear that easily. I have tried bending it to a great extend and it stayed in shape.
Fitbit Surge is not the best, but a great alternative, to those who want to keep the watch and fitness factor together. Powered by Monochrome LCD, backlight for low light visibility and touch screen, the watch stays on all the time, so when you flick your wrist, you know the time, and your fitness stats are just a swipe away. The watch display stays readable even in daylight which adds to the benefit anytime.
How does it Feel Wearing it for Extensive Period of Time ?
I have been using Surge over a month now, and almost 12 hours a day. It’s very comfortable, and doesn’t leave any kind of mark or rashes when used for long hours.
Now there is one basic rule for wearables. If you wear it right, you won’t be uncomfortable. Fitbit says that you should not wear it very tight and give a break from time to time. If you follow these two rules, it just works out really fine. Here is how you should wear it:
- Make sure a your middle finger can slide in from side. This makes sure enough air is left for your skin to breathe.
- If you feel a lot of sweat under it, take it and clean it up.
- Give at least an hour of break.
How well did the Screen do ?
The screen is pretty sturdy and clear, but it did manage to get scratches including a big one on the corner. That’s because I did bang it across the table corner. This did not break it, but left the mark. That tells us two things:
- It can and will get scratches.
- It can withstand heavy hits, but not very heavy.
So what is the extra benefit you get for using Surge over Charge and HR? Just that you have a watch? No. IMO, when Fitbit wanted to design a new product, they certainly wanted go ahead an extra mile. This is where multi-sport functionality which allows you to track every aspect of your training.
Right from Walking, Running to Cycling, Cardio, Yoga, Hike, Pulling Weights, Bike, Circuit Training, Kickboxing, Golf and more. You can measure your performance, and review comprehensive workout summaries to gauge your improvements over time.
Running with GPS
This one of my favourite parts, and if you are a serious runner, you will just love it. GPS is on board with Surge. This means, your location is being mapped without your phone connected. Now this is not activated by default, so when you start with your daily walks or runs or anything that needs to be mapped, you need to turn on. This comes into play as soon as you select one of those exercises.
It allows you to pause in between, check out your heart rate, steps taken, calories burnt, and most important time during the training period. It comes with a pause option if you want to catch a breath in between. Once done, mark it done and the data will be synced back online whenever you connect.
Now comes the fine part, if you want to check how you did throughout, check your activities log in Fitbit Online. You get to see Heart Rate, Pace, calories burn per minute and elevation. This is minute by minute recording which is very useful for serious trainers.
That said, the GPS unit on the watch is not one of the fastest GPS on board. It takes from 30 seconds to over 1:30 minutes to actually work. So can you start running before it’s on, yes you can. The software onboard gives you option to skip it and go ahead with regular tracking till it finds where you are.
Heart Rate Monitoring:
Surge uses PurePulse technology than can accurately measure amount of calories you are actually burning. This is much accurate than other trackers without HRM. Technically speaking, when your muscles need oxygen to burn calories and generate energy, your heart beats faster to deliver more oxygen through the blood. By measuring how fast your heart is beating, Surge can more accurately gauge how many calories you’re burning.
Now here is the deal, as your heart becomes more efficient, there will decrease in resting heart rate. The stats are available online, and you can check your records over 30 days to figure out how things have improved. Note that hear rates are measured in three different zones. Peak, Cardio and Fat Burn. More here
That said, We all want to know how accurate this thing is. I would say it’s not accurate, but then I did not expect a strap on my wrist to be very accurate, if you compare this with Medical devices. So for example, if you come out of workout, it takes a while to track the actual heartbeat when you are resting. How you wear it is another factor to the accuracy. So IMO, these are just averages and rough estimates. If you are looking for heavy accuracy, I doubt if any of the existing trackers can actually do it.
Battery Life : How long does it last? How Easy it is to charge it?
Surge has too many things on board, including a GPS. This is used for lot of Sports Activities like Run, Walk and so on. So how long does it last? 5 days tops with an hour of GPS usage included.
So now you have guessed it. What really sucks down the battery is the GPS, the more you use it, the more it drains which in turn means. So now the obvious questions, how much is the drain? GPS drain accounts to 25-30% of battery life if you use it for an hour. 40% if you use it for 2 hours. This is on an average.
I used the default settings right from start. Here is the list:
- HRM Auto
- GPS only used for an Hour Daily.
- One Alarm, 6 AM in morning.
- Backlight Auto
- Bluetooth Classic ON
Those who wanted to know if it has fast charging, answer is no. It takes a little over 2 hours to charge the watch from 0 to 100%. So the best option is to put it at charge during night for full power up.
Conclusion & Value for Money:
Surge costs $249.95 which is serious money. After introduction of lot of Fitness trackers like Mi Band, Yu Fit and many others, you now have trackers at every price point. Since I haven’t compared it with other trackers, it is impossible to compare and comment on value for money, but one thing is sure this is a flagship tracker, and it is only for those who are serious about their Fitness tracking to a level which is way beyond step counting.
IMO, it’s a great fitness tracker, and if you are looking to buy this, you should focus on the feature it provides and evaluate if you really need it. There could be lower priced model which could fit your need.
- Build & Design - 9/109/10
- Daily Tracking, GPS & Exercises - 8/108/10
- Watch Factor - 9/109/10
- Display & Screen - 8/108/10
- Extensive Wearing - 8/108/10
- Battery - 8/108/10
- All your stats are saved online which gives you access to all the details anytime.
- You get to see everything on the trackers display. Right from steps count to heart beat to access to settings and set up exercise mode, etc.
- The battery lasts for decent amount of time, keeping in mind the number of features and exercise tracking you get
- You get a Watch which has all time on display along with backlit to be used in dark.
- Support for plethora of Exercise like Run, Walk, Workout, Hike, Weights, Bootcamps, Kickboxing and so on.
- Mobile app which supports all platforms including call and text feature on the watch.
- A huge community where you can connect with more people like you, compete and achieve better targets.