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For Fitbit, the known for years as the fitness wristband company, smartwatches are arguably make-or-break products. Its first launch, the Ionic, was mildly received last year—but its latest, the Versa, has been generally applauded since its arrival, at a $200 price point, in mid-March.
You can read more details by skimming reviews of the Versa, or just keep reading here, where we’ve summarised some of the key observations of a number of reviewers looking at the latest offering by FitBit. –
Some themes that kept coming up: The idea that the Versa, while not perfect, was a more-than-credible entry, an improvement from Fitbit’s previous Ionic phone, a legitimate Apple competitor, and a respectable value.
“It’s still far from perfect, and the company clearly has some important mountains to climb before the company has any real shot of challenging the Apple Watch’s throne,” Brian Heater wrote for TechCrunch. “But the Versa feels like a welcome do-over, and is exactly the kind of watch the company ought to have released in the first place.”
• Business Insider’s Avery Hartmans generally liked the design and style, though she found it a bit too reminiscent of the Apple Watch. She partiucarly liked the bands she chose: “I tried the Fitbit Versa in black with a metal mesh band for everyday wear and a white classic band for working out, she wrote. “The metal mesh band instantly elevated the watch. It didn’t look so much like a fitness tracker, but rather a fashionable watch that I was happy to wear every day.
“I was worried that Fitbit Versa would feel cheap, especially since it’s so lightweight and reasonably priced,” wrote Hartmans. “But the watch is sturdy and well made, and the stylish accessories helped it look and feel high end.”
And, from Yahoo Finance’s David Pogue: “Instead of being big, homely, angular and wrapping halfway around your wrist, the Versa is small, sweet and unbelievably light (eight-tenths of an ounce), even though it’s made of metal (aluminum).”
• PC Mag’s Victoria Song tested its use as a fitness tracker: “The Versa has a leg up on the smartwatch competition when it comes to fitness tracking. In a controlled, one-mile treadmill walk at 3.5 miles an hour, it logged 2,122 steps. By comparison, a Yamax SW-200 Digi-Walker recorded 2,172 steps on the same walk, for a difference of just 2.3 percent. On a one-mile run at 5 mph, it tracked 1,908 steps to the Yamax’s 1,967, for a difference of 3 percent. These are excellent results.”
• The Verge’s Lauren Goode had a gripe about how text messages work on the Versa: “The way the Fitbit Versa handles notifications is bad, same as it was on the Ionic,” she wrote. “Text message notifications from iOS, in particular, are frustrating. They’re not remotely actionable on the watch, meaning there’s no way to respond to them. (The Versa doesn’t have a speaker or microphone.) Fitbit says that eventually it will roll out quick replies for Android phone users, but that won’t happen until May.”
• As a carrier of apps, noted MarketWatch’s Emily Bary, the Versa shows promise—but needs work. “Fitbit has been steadily boosting its app offerings since the Ionic’s debut last fall, but it still feels like there aren’t enough,” she wrote. “ Wearables in general are best for things you just need to glance at, but you’re out of luck if you want to, say, view your fantasy-team progress on the Versa. Other apps, while neat, don’t totally work on a smartwatch screen. A tennis app created by Fitbit’s Labs division, for example, did a great job at tracking forehands and backhands, but it wanted me to input who won each point, something that’s cumbersome to do in the middle of a match.”
• How long does the battery last? Writes Valentina Palladino for Ars Technica: “Fitbit promises the Versa will last more than four days on a single charge. After 2½ days of all-day and all-night use, my Versa was down to 56 percent. At that pace, it should fall in line with Fitbit’s estimate, easily making it past the four-day mark before needing to be charged. That’s great for a modern smartwatch, considering the Apple Watch Series 3 lasts about two days on a single charge, while many Android Wear devices demand charging every night.”
• The headline on Macworld’s Michael Simon’s review will surely please Fitbit: “The first non-Apple smartwatch that’s worth your time.”
“If you aren’t an Apple devotee, Versa is a no-brainer, but iPhone users who don’t want to spend $350 to $400 on an Apple Watch Series 3 should take a hard look at Fitbit’s new smartwatch,” Simonwrote. “And since it works across multiple platforms (iOS, Android, and any remaining Windows Phone users) you won’t be stuck with a piece of costume jewellery if you switch.”