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Review: FitBit Surge

From: Amy LaPanne

Review: I’ve owned 4 different Fitbits so far. The Surge is definitely the coolest & most advanced one of them so far.

What I love:
Fitbit’s app & dashboard. It’s fantastic. It’s very customizable and you can track your sleep, water intake, calorie intake, weight, food plans, and more. You want motivation? You got it. Add some of your friends who own Fitbits, which could be a lot of friends knowing this community, and challenge each other in a Weekend Warrior challenge, or maybe a Workweek Hustle to see who can get the most steps in. If you don’t want to participate in challenges, you can hit a little button and “cheer” or “taunt” them, or just send a message.

When you’re working out, unless you tell it what exercise you’re doing, the Surge will make an educated guess. For example, I went on a hike one night and it guessed that I was mountain biking. I went into the app, edited the activity and updated it in just a few moments. The connected GPS is a great feature on this tracker. I don’t always carry my phone with me, so it’s great to be able to keep track of my routes without carrying more stuff on me. You get a nice map on your dashboard showing your route and mile markers when you’re done. Sometimes it can take a little while for the GPS to find you, which is annoying when you want to get moving, but only once in the deep woods have I ever had an issue with it losing where I was. Smartly enough, the GPS tracking is available for certain activities, like biking, hiking, or walking, and not for things like yoga, lifting weights, or the elliptical.

The Surge is really easy to use, even for someone with limited tech skills like me. Setting up the device can be a little tricky but the instructions on line are good and their customer service is very good. They have live chat and phone options for assistance, and a great community section where you can often find answers to your questions for any Fitbit device.

The face display is customizable to 3 different ways to view, but the thing I love the most is that it’s so easy to read in the bright sunlight. It automatically adjusts to the brightness of your surroundings so that you can always read it. You can set the Surge to brighten when you raise your arm, or leave that feature off and just tap the Gorilla Glass face and it will brighten then for you.

What I don’t love:
It’s still not waterproof. Now, having said that, a friend wore hers in the ocean and in the pool with just some waterproof medical tape over the charging port, and it was fine.

It’s not a good device for karate/kickboxing and other contact sports. IMO, it’s just too big. One time it left bruises on my wrist from moving around and making impact. Another time I ended up leaving bruises on my partner’s wrist when we were practicing punching & blocking. The good news is that if you have a second Fitbit device because you upgraded, you can use the other device and still get credit for your steps when you sync the devices. I have a ChargeHR that I will often wear to karate instead, and after class I edit the activities to record the karate class.

You have a choice of 3 colors: Tangerine (yikes), Blue, or Black (which ends up looking sort of like a felon’s tracking device that you wear on your wrist instead of your ankle). You can’t change the band out either, so if you break it, you’re screwed. Fitbit encourages you to wash the band with some gentle soap to avoid skin irritation, and it’s important to know that some people have had some significant allergic reactions to it.

Overall, it’s probably more of a fitness tracker than I need, but I really like it & would recommend it. Fitbit has really good customer service. I started wearing the One in 2012, upgraded to the Force (later recalled), then the ChargeHR, and now the Surge. The devices come with a one year warranty. NOTE: You CANNOT buy an extended warranty from Fitbit, though you can if you buy the device at one of their Authorized Retailers.

Do you own this product? Leave a review below!

3 thoughts on “Review: FitBit Surge

  1. Pro’s:
    Comfortable to wear
    Looks good
    Phone and web app are clear and easy to use
    Waterproof (in my experience)

    Con’s:
    Takes FOREVER to sync to a satellite
    When band breaks you can’t buy a new band – have to buy whole watch after 1 year warranty expires
    Smart watch features are lame, text too small to read
    Very short run time with GPS on (6 hours)
    Running start / pause button sequence is screwy

    This was the first fitness tracker / GPS watch I have owned. I used to just use “map my run” on my phone before this.

    I would not recommend buying this for an OCR racer. It is not accurate, takes too long to sync to a satellite, the band breaks easily and many people report it is not waterproof. This watch is just a fitness tracker that has GPS added to it (poorly).

    There are many times when I’m in the starting gate, ready to start a race and I forgot to “pre-start” the watch. You select run and then have to wait up to 10 minutes to connect to a satellite. Then I usually forgot to hit the “start” button until 8 or 9 minutes into the race when I’m looking for my pace 🙁

    After just over a year, I broke the band on an obstacle and found out you can’t buy a new band. If I was within the one year warranty period they would have given me a new device. But since I was outside that, their support said they would only give me 10% off a new one. They won’t sell replacement bands!

    The batter life also stinks when using the GPS. For a few longer races 6+ hours, it ran out of power and erased all the data. Ugh.

    I recommend you don’t buy this device. Please see my Garmin Forerunner 230 review for a good device.

  2. I have had this watch for almost a year now and I really like it. It syncs to GPS relatively quickly even in somewhat remote locations. I love the app. It has some great community features as well and easy to read reporting and charts. The Fit bit App will also sync your information with other websites like myfitnesspal.com and vice/versa so you can track your weight and food in MFP and your calorie goal automatically adjust based on activity level.

    I like that the fitbit Surge had the built in HR monitor and the data for my activity seems to match fairly closely to when I used to use a Garmin Watch with HR strap.

    The GPS data seems fairly accurate. It matches up to the same approximate distances that I had mapped out either on mapmyrun or when I had a Garmin GPS watch. The only time I feel it is not accurate is if there is a lot of tight switchbacks on a hike or a course. My distances tend to be a little lower than others when that is the case. The GPS function does quickly drain the battery which is not good if you are planning on going out for a whole day hike.

    The other feature I love about this watch is that I can sync it to your cell phone and read your texts and alert you that someone is calling on your watch. The watch will vibrate when there is an incoming text and shows up on the screen. This makes it easy to see if you are on a run and don’t want to pull out your phone or if you phone is buried in a bag and you don’t feel like digging for it to see who is calling.

    It is not waterproof which is a bummer. I have been completely submerged in water and it is still working fine. I take the precaution of putting tape over the charge port and I have had no issues with doing dunk walls or falling into water when I fail an obstacle.

    Another downfall for me is the band. It is a textured band so when it gets dirty it is a pain to clean. You have to really get into the divots to make sure to get all the dried dirt. It is held together by two tiny screws and my first watch band started ripping at the site of the screws. I don’t know how common this issue is but it is definitely something to look out for.

    Fit bit does have GREAT customer service. When my watch band started ripping I took a picture and sent it to them with my purchase date and information. I had a new watch in 3 days and did not have to send the old watch back.

    The only other issue I have heard of with the watch which I have not experienced is that you can hit the buttons to stop your workout if you flex your wrist. I have heard of people accidentally turning off their watch while climbing over walls or lifting weights at the gym. I just try to wear mine a little further up on my arm to prevent this from happening.

    Overall I am happy with this product and would recommend it to others.

  3. Really its an incomplete Rating at this point. It has its uses but I need to use it more. I will update as I go.

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