Fitbit Blaze best wearable for wellness programs

A study finds that Fitbit's fitness watch is the best choice for corporate wellness programs. But how did Apple Watch and Fitbit's Charge 2 fare?

fitbit blaze smartwatches smartwatch ces 2016
REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Among 21 wearables tested, Fitbit’s fitness watch Blaze is the best device for workplace wellness programs, according to a new study from Sprinbuk, a health analytics provider for employers.

Out of a possible 100 score, Blaze earned a 94, the highest in the survey. “The Fitbit Blaze is at the top of Fitbit’s lineup,” according to the report, available as a free PDF download. “As a sleek and stylish watch that also functions as a robust fitness tracker, the Blaze is an impressive product. From step counting and GPS to heart rate monitoring, this device is ready to handle your workout. The style of the watch fits into everyday life and never feels out of place. It’s easy to see why this is Fitbit’s top product.”

The study’s results were compiled from more than 8,000 employers, a survey of more than 800 of “America’s Healthiest Employers,” and field tests conducted over a four-month period involving 50 people reviewing the 21 wearables from eight manufacturers.

Some other findings worth noting:

Garmin’s vivoactive HR was the no. 2 wearable with a score of 89.

The device “is a sports enthusiast’s best friend,” according to the study. “In addition to the basic activity tracking like step counting, this device has built-in apps for running, cycling, golfing, and even swimming… The waterproof design means you can take it with you to the pool for your morning laps. Even with its in-depth sports tracking and water-resistant design, the Vívoactive still has more to offer with its smart notifications that display your calls, texts, and emails on your wrist. At times the watch is slow to sync your data to the app, however for a device that does it all in a slim profile, look no further than the Garmin Vívoactive.”

garmin vivoactive hr Garmin

 Fitbit’s Charge 2 and Surge tied in third place with scores of 86.

“With step counting and heart rate monitoring, (Charge 2) is a great device for your workout and your everyday activities,” the survey says. “The move reminders are effective motivation to get up and be active. All in all, the Charge 2 is a great option for anyone looking to step up their game.”

Surge “does nearly everything you’d want it to do in a relatively small package,” such as basic step counting, GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring. “The rubber-like material of the band makes the Surge fairly comfortable to wear, but the watch itself may feel bulky.”

Samsung Gear S3 and Garmin vivosmart HR+ tied for fourth place, with scores of 85.

Samsung’s Gear S3, like the earlier Gear S2, “seamlessly combines the wrist watch feel with an activity tracker.” Garmin’s vivosmart HR+ (a thinner device than vivoactive HR) is “packed with features” and though its “screen is more limited than other options,” it “may be worth the trade-off for a device with this much robustness.”

Samsung Gear S2 (with a score of 83) landed in fifth place. “Like all of the Samsung wearables, there is limited integration with phones running iOS. It’s a solid device for those with a taste for classic watches and modern technology.”

What’s missing from the top 5 slots?

The study is also noteworthy for devices that didn’t make into the top five slots.

  • Apple Watch 2 earned a score of 79. “Apple has delivered a great activity tracker with health monitoring functionality. There’s no denying the elegantly simple design, but the price point could be a deterrent.” (Apple Watch 2 starts at $369.)
  • Fitbit’s Alta was scored 82 and its Flex 2 came in at 80.
  • Tied for last place, each with a score of 57: Misfit Shine 2 and Polar A360.

My take on wearable study

The study offers a mostly comprehensive guide to wearables. However, Fitbit’s Zip ($60) and One ($100) weren’t among the trackers tested. Admittedly, both devices are long in the tooth, technology-wise. But their low price points combined with the popularity of the Fitbit Group Health platform still make them solid options for wellness programs.

Fitbit’s Blaze and Charge 2 merit serious consideration as well. But I’d advise wellness administrators not to go with Surge. The $250 fitness watch is starting to feel like an afterthought, having been passed over for the useful feature updates that Fitbit has bestowed upon Blaze and Charge 2.

At a Glance
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