Fitbit has released what seems to be its most important product of the upcoming holiday shopping season: a smart watch it calls “Ionic.”
The Ionic appears to be Fitbit’s new flagship wristwear, and with good reason. Here’s a look at the device.
The Fitbit Ionic manages to fit—no pun intended—a GPS sensor, a heart rate sensor, a “multi-day battery” rated at more than four days, a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip for contactless payments, enough storage for music (plus Pandora support and Bluetooth headphone support), and water resistance into a device that’s not much thicker than conventional wristwear.
It’s also fully featured in terms of software. Ionic offers personal coaching software that creates personalized workouts (it’s smart enough to recommend yoga after a tough workout, for example), guided breathing (for all that yoga), so-called SmartTrack intelligence that can detect your activity and adjust tracking accordingly, and—thanks to its water resistance—swim tracking that covers laps, stroke style, and calories burned. Plus, its notifications work with phone calls, text messages, and calendar appointments.
The standard Fitbit Ionic is $299.95, a cool hundred more than its Blaze watch sibling and twice the price of the popular Alta HR band. It comes in three colors: a dark gray, a light silver, and a gold.
There’s also a special edition/designer Adidas model of Ionic, though its price has yet to be released.
Look no further than the second generation Apple Watch for Fitbit’s stiffest competition. Starting at $269, the chiclet device—which comes in dark gray, light silver, rose gold, and classic gold, with a bevy of additional options for extra cost—has GPS, a heart rate sensor, water resistance, personalized workouts, and guided breathing. (Sound familiar?)
Garmin’s VivoActive HR GPS watch is also a popular alternative. Like the others, the rectangular device has GPS, a heart rate sensor, water resistance, and coaching software. Its battery lasts much longer—approximately eight days in “watch mode,” Garmin says. It costs $249 but commonly sells for $199.
Finally Samsung’s Gear Fit2 watch—thought it’s really a band—offers GPS, a heart rate sensor, water resistance, workout software, and a battery that lasts less than a day. It’s also the cheapest of this bunch at $189, though you can get it for less than $150 if you look.
So how is the Fitbit Ionic in the real world? Look no further than Fortune senior writer Aaron Pressman’s first impressions. “Wearing the Ionic seems like a statement that you’re into fitness, that you like gadgets, or maybe that you just love Fitbit,” he writes. “But unlike the Apple Watch or some of the new luxury brand Android Wear watches, the Ionic seems like less of a fit in a business meeting or at a fancy dinner party.”
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