Factor Reviews: Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch

Among all the fitness gadgets I’ve tried for Factor so far, Fitbit’s Blaze smartwatch is the first that has thoroughly impressed me, both in the gym and for everyday use. For the past three weeks I’ve tested in on everything from MMA to yoga and from running to weights, and I already don’t remember how I ever got through my daily fitness routine without it.

Slim and stylish, the Blaze is comfortable enough to wear around the clock – even at night. It comes with a range of accessories, including the standard elastomer band, a softer nylon version, and some very smart-looking (if somewhat expensive) leather and metal options that will go nicely with any business suit.

Image courtesy of Fitbit

Its high-resolution colour touchscreen, supported by three buttons, allows for easy and intuitive access to all features and offers a range of styles for the clock face. As a nifty extra, you can make the screen wake up and go to sleep with a simple flick of the wrist.

The Blaze tracks daily essentials (steps, distance, calories, heart rate) as well as most major sport modes, with the option to customise shortcuts for your preferred activities through the paired app. It also features sleep tracking, connected GPS, smartphone notifications and controls, silent alarms and a small selection of on-screen workouts.

In exercise mode, you can flick through comprehensive tracking information on screen – and here comes my only point of criticism: The screen can be a bit tricky to use when on the move, especially with sweaty hands, and sometimes requires repeated tapping to respond.

Image courtesy of Fitbit

Images courtesy of Fitbit

For more in-depth analysis of all the stats collected, the Blaze syncs (via Bluetooth) with Fitbit’s superb smartphone app, which completes the full fitness picture with sleep analysis, food and weight logs, a calories in vs out tracker that adapts to your activity level throughout the day, and a range of goals and challenges to keep you motivated.

Battery life is very decent; it charges in two hours and lasts around four days when in constant use.

Prices start at £159.99 for the basic frame and band and special editions are available at £179.99, but a stainless steel band will set you back a further £89.99.

Overall, the Blaze is a brilliant smart watch for all your fitness tracking needs that’s also stylish and comfortable enough to convince as an all-day accessory, offering a whole lot of useful features at a reasonable price. I’m not taking it off anytime soon.

Factor’s verdict:

factor-rating-5

Factor Reviews: XYZ Printing’s da Vinci 1.1 Plus 3D printer

XYZ Printing’s higher-end family 3D printer is a richly featured, robust machine at a reasonable price, although there are a few flaws that stop it from being truly perfect. Some good design features make it generally easy to use, and with both WiFi and cabled connectivity it’s suitable for almost any situation.

The da Vinci 1.1 Plus does not lead in print quality – there are better print results out there – but in general we were very happy with the results, and the majority of users would be unlikely to think the machine was lacking in this area.

The touchscreen interface is generally easy to use, and it’s not hard to get going on your own print, which should make it an appealing option for families and less techy types.

The machine also features a built-in gallery of downloadable designs to print, and comes with software to allow you to sculpt your own designs. This makes it a great option for newcomers to 3D printing and families looking to get their kids involved in the whole process.

The price is also very reasonable given the features, at €799 or $699.

da-vinci-1.1-plus

However, the machine could come with better arranged guides; these are hidden away on a memory stick, in a mixture of pdfs and videos, making it sometimes difficult to locate a specific issue.  There are also some rather poor translations on the printer’s touch screen interface, which don’t help the problem.

The da Vinci 1.1 Plus is a excellent, if a little flawed 3D printer, and well worth considering if you’re looking for a capable first machine.