I make no bones about this – I like fitness devices, particularly watches. Smartwatches, eh, I’ve not had a lot of use for them. But fitness-specific devices, those I can get behind. They let me know how hard I’m working in a run or weight training session, and can capture all sorts of metrics. At the gym, I’ve been partial to Polar devices (and we’ve got a review of their latest in the works), but what I’ve got with me day in and day out, is a trusty Fitbit One. I like that it can slip into my pocket (since I’ve already got a regular watch on my wrist) and track my activity, and wake me up silently in the morning. So, every new release from Fitbit is something I watch with interest, and they just announced a trio of new goodies.
First up, and what most people will probably gravitate towards, is the new Fitbit Versa 2. Technically this is a smartwatch, but it’s got all sorts of fitness-specific goodies built in: heart rate monitoring, activity tracking, and a bunch of new sleep-specific metrics. They’ve definitely refreshed the design, making it look more like something that appeals to today’s sense of style and utility.
The Fitbit Versa 2 also packs in other goodies, along with the standard phone notifications and the like. Find yourself a heavy Spotify user? Well, you can control the tunes and podcasts right from your wrist. You can also do cardless payments from the device. What is probably the most intriguing – and potentially confusing – inclusion is a microphone, for waking up Alexa (it’s built into the watch) and having it help with all manner of things.
The press release is a little vague here, but I’m guessing it relies on the connection to your phone to lookup whatever you’re asking it, or to interact with other devices in your home. Will this be a must-have? We’ll see. I know I’ve gotten rather used to using the voice assistant on my phone to set reminders and send messages, so perhaps that extends here. The Fitbit Versa 2 is available today (online) for $199 and should be to retailers by mid-September.
Along with the new Fitbit Versa 2, they also announced a new scale, the Fitbit Aria Air. The brand has long had a branded, connected scale, so this device is much less of a surprise. Along with activity tracking (with the Versa 2 can do) tracking your weight and other body metrics is a key component of knowing how you’re doing. Not saying you should weigh in every day, but once a week? Sure, that’s what I do, and you can trend that way. They key differentiator here is that the scale works seamlessly with all of the Fitbit services, so syncing the data in should be a breeze (I’ve an off-brand one that took some hoops, but I was able to get it pushing the data in). The Fitbit Aria Air will be available in black or white for just under $50 in late September.
To really take advantage of all of this – as well as getting some advanced nutritional logging and coaching (hey, whole-health picture here), Fitbit also announced a new premium service. For this, you’ll expect to $9.99 a month, or about $75 annually. From a business perspective, this makes sense. Adding something with a subscription model to co-exist with your hardware makes sense, as it keeps the customers engaged with you. For the customer – or as I like to think of it, the Joe Schmoes just trying to get healthy (AKA you and me) – it will have to be a decision on whether the advanced tracking, coaching, and sleep tracking is worth the additional costs. If you’re relying on a variety of different apps already for some of these, sure, perhaps you can consolidate some of your spend – and there is an appeal to having it all in one place.
If you’re unsure if the new Premium service makes sense for you, there is a way to trial it out. There’s a version of the Fitbit Versa 2 being sold (basically, it’s a different strap and a slightly higher price) that comes with three months of the service along for the ride. A free trial would’ve been nicer, and would’ve sped adoption, but I suppose it’s a way of trying it out. Or even bumping up for a month or two to try it – with any Fitbit device – could help you get informed there.
I’m not sure that we’ll be trying out the new service, but we have reached out to the brand to see if we can get the Versa 2 in for a hands-on review, and see how it performs against my current favorite device for the gym. fitbit.com
- Fitbit Premium™ — the new paid membership in the Fitbit app that uses your unique data to deliver our most personalized, actionable guidance and coaching to help you eat better, sleep better and move more. Premium offers guided programs, dynamic workouts, new challenges and games, advanced sleep tools, and cross-correlated insights between their physical activities and sleep — all in one place to help you develop healthy behaviors.
- Fitbit Versa 2™ — advanced health & fitness Versa 2 lifestyle smartwatch with all-new Amazon built-in, available for pre-order beginning today at Fitbit.com. Here is a video to showcase the new Amazon Alexa feature.
- Fitbit Aria Air™ — affordable, easy-to-use, Bluetooth smart scale, available for pre-order beginning in late September at Fitbit.com.