Review: FITBIT 'Ionic' Smart Watch

Whether we are checking in at our favorite cycle studio on Facebook or uploading our post workout #sweatyselfie on Instagram, technology has found a way to integrate itself into every workout we do. I’m a huge fan of how it’s changed fitness, and the awareness it brings to the amount of activity we get every day.

For the past three years I’ve used either the ‘Suunto Amibit3 Run watch + HR monitor’ or the ‘Apple Watch’ (first gen.) to track my fitness activities. But we all know how quickly technology evolves, and recently I became eager to explore some of the newer options. I wanted to find a watch that would inspire me to step up my workouts and create new daily challenges.

One product that quickly caught my eye was the 'Ionic', FITBIT’s first official smart watch. Some of the features that got my attention included:

  • Fitness Tracking: One of my biggest pet peeves about my current watches is that they only account for calories that you burn when while the exercise function is turned on. What I want is an estimation of how many calories I’m burning ALL day---walking, climbing stairs, and especially while I’m sleeping. The Ionic watch claimed to do all that in addition to automatically detecting when you’re working out based on your accelerated heart rate.

  • Battery Life: Another issue I have with my Apple watch is that by the time I get home in the evening it has either died or has less than 10% battery life left. Ionic promised up to four days of battery life on one charge or up to 10 hours while the GPS feature is running i.e. when you are tracking a run or bike ride.

  • Style: The new Ionic design looked pretty slick, with a rectilinear shape and unique burnt orange color option. I liked how the design paired well with both professional and casual clothing.

After reading up on all these features I decided to give it a shot—and I immediately fell in love with it. The fit and comfort are great, with two different bands to choose from depending on your wrist size, and the face layout is easily customized from the FITBIT app on your phone.

I charged the watch on a Sunday afternoon so I could wear it to bed that night and see how long it lasted over the week---I was pleased to find out that it lived up to the hype---four days on one charge. It gave me all the statistics I wanted from exercise tracking to sleep tracking, water intake and even nutrition, all easily managed from one convenient app. But the real test came when I set out on a two-day, 160 mile bike ride.

I started day one at 830AM on a full charge--the GPS tracker ran smoothly and my calorie and step counts were on fire. One of my favorite features is the way the watch incorporates bike riding into your daily step counts. This is especially handy when riding indoors-- it’s nice to get credit for your movements even when you are stationary.

After eight hours and 100 miles on my bike, I was very pleased to see that I had 19% of my battery life left---I couldn’t believe it! My other trackers would have easily lost their charge before the ride was over. If you’re a long distance runner, cyclist or swimmer you know the importance of tracking your progress. When you’re logging those miles it’s encouraging to see how far you’ve gone. It keeps you motivated as you get closer to the finish line.

A month later I’m still crazy about the way this watch performs. From a fitness point of view, it blows away any other fitness tracker I’ve had. There are built in circuit and ab workouts, the ability to upload your favorite playlists, and it has direct access to the Starbucks and Pandora apps.

From a “smart” point of view, you can receive calls and texts on the Ionic, but you can’t answer or respond. If that is a deal breaker, then you’re probably better off sticking with the Apple watch. But for me, the Ionic is the better fit, and I can’t wait to see how the FITBIT technology continues to evolve.

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