I have been using Fitbit devices for a couple of years now and have practically gone through all the devices since the Fibit Flex. I can certainly say that using the Fitbit was the main motivator for me to spend more time walking, replacing some of the time on public transport with walks to and from the office during the morning and evening commute.
Add to the mix the Fibit Aria connected scales and I was able to lose some weight over the last year or so. It's no surprise that I think measuring is a bit part of the fitness cycle. Like in other things in life, measure everything you can and create a baseline to work with. Set a goal and work towards that.
Previous Fitbit devices were very conventional in looks and functionality. The Fitbit Flex was really a glorified step-counter. But add heart rate monitoring (present in the Charge HR, Surge and Blaze), GPS (present in the Surge), calories database and now on-screen workouts and you have a complete toolset to help you achieve that goal.
The Fitbit Blaze is different in that's the first Fibit device with a colour screen. It the first touchscreen device (this goes to the Surge) but the colour screen makes a huge difference. Its backlight is a lot better than the Surge model and unlike the Surge this one has an actual Gorilla glass screen so you don't have to be afraid of scratches.
It also allows you more flexibility when matching it with your current situation, thanks to swappable bands, which now includes leather and stainless steel options. The bands have a quick release mechanism making it really easy to swap those in a couple of seconds. The leather one (Camel) I received is nice and smooth although I wouldn't mind it to be a darker shade of brown - but again this is a personal preference.
Fitbit has released a few updates for the Blaze already, working on small things. For instance when I first started using the Fitbit Blaze I noticed the screen would become unresponsive after a while but this is now gone. They have also added support to more Asian languages.
The Fitbit Blaze is deeply integrated with the Fitbit app. Unlike the Fitbit Surge, you don't have a built-in GPS on the Fitbit Blaze. You can track location during exercises if you keep your smartphone on you and let the Blaze connect to it during activities.
The Fitbit Blaze automatically detect exercises based on time. For example if you have ten or fifteen minutes of continued movement the software will automatically record that as an exercise and even assign "walk" or "run" without you having to do anything. It can also track cycling quite effectively.
Sleep tracking is a standard feature, as well as alarms, which are quite effective (the vibrating function is pretty strong). New functions are the timers and the workouts. Fitbit incorporated three workout modes that guide you through a series of quick exercises, taken from the Fitstar Personal Traineer app. These allow you to select between exercises to get strong, lean or get moving.
Heart rate monitoring is a hot topic. Some debate saying wrist photoresitor-based devices aren't as accurate as chest-straps, and so on. Others says the technology Fibit uses can be accurate around 80% of the time. However you see it, this is not a medical device. It collects this data on a minute basis and upload resting heart rate and exercise heart rate to your account so you can use it with other data visible in your dashboard or Fitbit app. In that context it does exactly what's in the tin. I won't be able to discuss the accuracy without scientific, calibrated equipments to compare, but going with the 80% accuracy some reported, then the numbers are a good indicator of the overall exercise regime.
Battery life is similar to other Fitbit devices, even though you now have a colour screen. Expect the battery to last around five days, providing you don't use the Blaze to track exercise with GPS connections.
You can configure the Fitbit app to deliver notifications to your Blaze, but don't expect a full smartwatch functionality here. This is not a smartwatch, although it's a smart fitness tracking device. You can receive notifications for SMS and incoming voice calls, but that's pretty much it. You can also control music from your device, but this will use a bit more battery than usual since it uses standard Bluetooth connection instead of a low power version.
You have a selection of watch faces to chose from. Some will show instant information about your steps and heart rate, while others will show time and an hourly progress towards your step goals. I wish there was a way to allow users to create their own, custom watch faces.
Talking about Bluetooth I've noticed sometimes the app on my Android device would not find the Blaze. I guess this is more related to the Android device itself and the fact I had other Bluetooth-enabled software running (the Tile app and Bluetooth headphones for example). However, the Fitbit Blaze doesn't come with the desktop/laptop wireless adapter previous tracker had. Fitbit assumes you will use Bluetooth for everything. The good news is existing adapters work just fine and that's what I use at home (we have more than one Fitbit device so an adapter is always plugged in a home server in the home office).
The Fitbit Blaze is very light and comfortable to wear. However it's not waterproof - a few splashes of rain will be ok but you shouldn't go swimming with it.