The worst-kept gadget secret in recent history is no longer secret at all. The new Fitbit Charge, Charge HR, and Surge fitness trackers are official. Here's everything you need to know.
First off, you can only buy one of them today: the $130 Fitbit Charge. (The other two are coming "early 2015"). And the Charge itself is basically a revamped Fitbit Force. The Force used to be Fitbit's top tracker, until it was recalled due to some nasty skin allergies. Fitbit says that should be all fixed: the new bands no longer have any exposed adhesives and use less stainless steel.
As features go, that may not sound particularly exciting, but the Charge's existence means that once again you can buy a Fitbit wristband with an integrated screen and that can tell when you're climbing stairs. Plus, the Charge can now tell you who's calling (with Caller ID) when you pair it to a smartphone, and automatically detect when you go to sleep instead of requiring a button press. Fitbit says it'll get a full seven days of battery life, on par with the original Force.
Fitbit Charge vs. Charge HR. Hello watch strap and heartrate monitor!
In early 2015, the Charge will be joined by the $150 Charge HR, which includes just about everything in the Charge but adds an embedded heartrate monitor. Which, in turn, allows the Charge HR to keep tabs your calorie burn even when you aren't clearly taking steps by tracking the intensity of your workout. Like other wrist-mounted heart sensors, it's got a couple of LEDs and a tiny infrared camera that detect changes in the amount of blood pumping through your arm. The downside is that the Charge HR only has a listed five days of battery life.
Last but not least, early 2015 will also bring the $250 Fitbit Surge, which is indeed a smart watch, but perhaps not the smartwatch you might expect. It's a so-called "Fitness Super Watch" designed with runners in mind, adding built-in GPS (for a total of eight sensors) to track your routes and give you access to all kinds of workout data. You could already track routes with the GPS in your phone and the Fitbit app, mind you, but with the Surge you can leave your phone at home. Plus, it comes with every other Fitbit feature including the Fitbit HR's heartrate monitor, and gives you a manufacturer-estimated seven days of battery life too.
As a smartwatch, the Surge sounds pretty limited. You only get call and text notifications, plus the ability to control your music. It's going to be an interesting showdown between the $250 Surge and the $200 Basis Peak which has loads of sensors and smartwatch notifications too.
As always, Fitbit's products will come in an array of colors and sizes, with the Charge available in black and slate to start, and blue and burgundy later on. You'll see the Charge HR and Surge in black, blue, and tangerine. The Charge HR will also come in plum.