Fitbit Ionic :: First impressions

by Volker Weber

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Ionic is the first real smartwatch from Fitbit. It's much nicer than I thought it would be just by looking at the pictures. I don't like to read Fitbit on the front, much like I did not like reading Pebble. There are some really good features. But in the end it fails spectacularly for me. But first things first.

Ionic has a touch interface and three buttons. Your main interaction is swiping: left for apps, right for settings, down for music player, up for notifications. Yes, up for notifications, which is completely backwards since every other platform has notifications from the top.

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I wore the Ionic on a regular dog walk and it logged the same 7000 steps my Apple Watch saw. It came to completely different results for the calorie burn. Where it recorded 600 Cals burned, my watch only awards 300. Which does not really matter, since I take these numbers only relative to each other. I set a 600 Cal goal and if that means two walks, it shall be two walks.

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Fitbit has customers who love the product and everything related to fitness tracking is as good as on other Fitbits. The heart rate sensor appears to be even more accurate.

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The biggest advantage of the Ionic is battery life. It only needs a recharge every five days. That is some Pebble heritage here. On the Apple Watch I recharge every day and that is completely routine. You can do the same with Ionic, but when you are travelling, you don't need to take care of the watch for days.

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Smartwatches differentiate from fitness trackers by supporting apps and notifications. And it is notifications where Ionic fails for me big time. You can't really do anything with them. You can't reply, you can't keep a conversation going, and when you return home, they are still all on the phone.

But that is just my personal preference. I know somebody who wants it exactly this way. Bill, I am looking at you. This might be your perfect watch.

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And then there is the whole ecosystem. Ionic is more like Samsung Gear S3 than Android Wear or Apple Watch. It just doesn't tie as closely into the platform. There isn't really much software and there is little interaction. It has its place but it does not come close to my Apple Watch.

Comments

Android Wear notifications scroll from the bottom as well.

Ralf ter Veer, 2017-10-03

LOL, no - that is one butt ugly device. And I doubt it works the same as the custom watch face I wrote for my beloved Pebbles. I lasted twice as long with this Apple Watch as the last time I tried it. Hopefully the next time it will actually last the duration. In the meantime I've opened my eyes more to fitness and what I really need, but this isn't really the place for that discussion.

Bill Greenberg, 2017-10-04

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