Fitbit Goes after Fitness Smartwatches with Surge

Fitbit is stepping up its game and moving into the smartwatch market with its just announced Fitbit Surge. The watch, due to ship in early 2015, packs in the usual fitness tracking features along with a heart rate monitor, GPS, call and text notifications, and more into what Fitbit is calling a Fitness Super Watch.

Fitbit Surge blends fitness tracking with smart watch features, but will have to take on Apple WatchFitbit Surge blends fitness tracking with smartwatch features, but will have to take on Apple Watch

The Surge includes eight sensors geared at tracking how many steps you take each day, how far you travel, flights of stairs climbed, sleep patterns, and heart rate. It also includes a built-in GPS for tracking routes, and a touch screen can display incoming phone call and text message alerts, offers music playback controls, and offers a customizable watch face.

Fitbit says the Surge will last seven days on a charge, and calls its Fitness Super Watch the first with GPS built-in designed to be worn all day.

The Surge will have to take on the likes of the Basis Peak and Apple's soon to be released Apple Watch, both of which offer health and fitness tracking, and in the case of the Apple Watch, tight integration with the iPhone and support for third-party apps.

Expanding beyond basic fitness tracker bands is a smart move for Fitbit and the Surge has the potential to be a nearly perfect crossover device between fitness trackers and smartwatches. Not everyone wants the feature set devices like Apple Watch bring to the table, and the Surge offers plenty of tracking with just enough extra without falling into the full-on wrist top computing category.

Where the Surge falls short is its lack of iOS 8 HealthKit support. So far, Fitbit has decided to stay away from HealthKit in favor of its already established health and fitness data management platform. While Fitbit does offer comprehensive health and fitness data management with support for tracking devices from a long list of companies, it may not be enough to draw in customers wanting to use Apple's Health app and HealthKit platform.

Fitbit plans to ship the Surge in early 2015 for US$249.95.