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First look: Fitbit Surge, a fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring 'super watch'

Fitbit's latest premium wearable fitness tracker, the Surge, has been dubbed a "super watch" by the company, thanks to its inclusion of a heart rate monitor, exercise tracker, GPS, monochrome touchscreen display, and up to seven days of battery life.

AppleInsider got its hands on the newly introduced $250 Fitbit Surge, and upon launching the device it's clear that the fitness-focused company hopes to cater to a different market than the upcoming Apple Watch.

For starters, the Fitbit Surge features a black-and-white display that isn't as suited for advanced apps. But sticking to a simple, power-sipping display allows the new wrist-worn Fitbit to offer up to seven days of battery life, compared to just one day expected with the Apple Watch.

And the Fitbit Surge's screen is always-on, as well. The device also includes a backlight for viewing in low-light situations, and the backlight can be set to automatically enable or always be on.

And unlike other black-and-white smartwatch displays, like on the popular Pebble, the new Fitbit Surge features a touchscreen that makes navigation much simpler. The hardware still features three physical buttons: A menu button on the left and two input options on the right.

While the Surge isn't going to win any design accolades, the hardware is comfortable enough for daily use, as well as while on a run. We found it to be a much better fit than the recently released Microsoft Band.

Like Microsoft's offering, the Fitbit Surge offers its own integrated GPS, which the Apple Watch will not feature in its first-generation version. That means a user will be able to run, bike, or engage in other activity and track their pace without the need to bring their costly phone along for the ride.

Using GPS does severely consume power, with Fitbit advertising five hours of uptime when GPS is enabled.

The Surge also includes what Fitbit has dubbed "PurePulse" heart rate monitoring, which measures automatically and continuously throughout the day. With the Surge, users can see their resting heart rate, elevated rates during workouts, target ranges, and more.

Of course, the Surge also tracks typical daily activity such as steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, floors climbed, and active minutes. It also serves as a sleep monitor and includes a silent alarm function with vibration for waking the user up.

Finally, the Surge also includes expected smartwatch functions such as call and text notifications on the wrist. Enabling a "classic" Bluetooth mode on the device also allows users to view, play and pause current music on their iPhone.

The Surge connects to Fitbit's official iOS application for iPhone, and data can also be uploaded to the company's website. However, Fitbit famously does not support Apple's HealthKit, though there are some third-party tools that help bridge the gap between the two.

AppleInsider will have a full, formal review of the Fitbit Surge once we've given it an adequate test. We also took a peek at the company's new Charge and Charge HR fitness monitors at CES earlier this month.