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Fitbit plays the long (battery) game with update to Surge activity tracker

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Good for those 10-hour runs

Fitbit is rolling out a significant update to one of its dedicated fitness trackers this week.

Starting Wednesday, the Fitbit Surge — a large, GPS- and heart rate-sensing Fitbit that's aimed at athletes and fitness enthusiasts — will get a software update that will introduce a variety of new running-related features called "Run Cues." The Surge will now send an alert to the wearer when he or she has reached a predetermined distance. Lap, distance, and heart rate information will be available with a glance at the watch face during a run, and the Surge will (finally) have a timer and a stopwatch.

The Surge will also get a battery boost: it will now last 10 hours in active mode, which means it's using GPS during a workout, compared with five-hour active battery life prior to the update. That's a long time to work out, of course, and the update won't impact everyday battery life, which is estimated to be around seven days. In an early test of the Surge, I got a "low battery" warning after about four days of average use, including some workouts.

Seeking volunteers to workout for 10 hours and test new Fitbit battery life

Given its feature set and $250 price point, the Fitbit Surge competes squarely with dedicated fitness devices from companies like Garmin, Polar, and TomTom, more so than the other lightweight, step-counting Fitbits. But the device also shows notifications for smartphone messages and incoming calls, which means it has some appeal for health- and fitness-focused consumers who want something that feels a bit more like a smartwatch.

Fitbit currently holds a market-leading position in sales of activity trackers in the US; the company sold 4.5 million trackers last quarter and is on pace to sell more this year than last.

The news of the Fitbit Surge update was reported earlier by CNET.