Fitbit Surge: Affordable running watch

Fitbit Surge
Fitbit Surge

The Fitness Surge is a fitness tracker that doubles as a running watch with its built-in GPS and wrist-based heart-rate monitor (HRM).

It has a squarish 1.25-inch touchscreen display that is surrounded by a thick bezel. There are two buttons to the right of the display, and one on the left.

The time is always displayed. You can choose to display any of the four watch face options from the Fitbit app (available in Android, iOS and Windows Phone).

The Surge looks like an over-sized fitness tracker. That, though, is being polite in describing how it looks. Other than for running, I can't see myself wearing it as a casual watch.

It does have a nice textured rubber wristband with a stainless-steel buckle that makes it comfortable to wear. And while it will survive a jog in the rain, you cannot go swimming with it.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $368

    WATER RESISTANCE: 10m

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 52g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 2/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

To start a run, press the button on the left to bring up a Run panel. Run is the default activity out of the box, but you can set others, including Hike, Weights and Spinning, as default.

Tap on the Run panel and the display will show Free Run. Swipe to choose Treadmill Run or Lap Run. Press the lower button on the right to start a session, and the upper button to end.

The Surge took only 10sec to lock onto GPS signals from the streets of my HDB estate. It took 3sec to do so in an open running track.

Distance logged by the watch during runs is fairly accurate in both running environments, although the readings were short by around 2 per cent compared with the actual distance.

Heart-rate readings differed by no more than 3 beats per minute when compared with the readings of the Wahoo Fitness Blue chest-strap HRM.

Being a close relative of the Fitbit Charge HR, the Surge does a superb job as a fitness tracker. The step count recorded is almost the same as my calibrated Charge HR.

There is no need to activate its sleep-tracking mode. The Surge does this automatically and can detect when I am awake, having a restless sleep, or in deep slumber.

The advertised battery life is seven days. But when paired with my smartphone with notifications turned on, it lasted four days before it needed recharging.

Trevor Tan

•Verdict: For its price, the Fitbit Surge is a competent running watch with fairly good distance tracking and heart-rate monitoring. That is, if you do not mind its awkward looks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2016, with the headline 'Fitbit Surge: Affordable running watch'. Print Edition | Subscribe