No, a Fitbit isn't a glorified pedometer. That said, you get more information on calorie burn with step based activities. It will measure calories burned based upon movement. So some non-step based activities do show up on there. You can also name activities that aren't step based and it will give calorie burn for those. Basically, the Fitbit will based calories on movement but won't show calories burned in exertion that is non-movement based.
I use a Heart Rate monitor with my Fitbit. I have a Wahoo Blue which is a bluetooth HRM. It records my activity to Digifit. Digifit then tells Fitness my calorie burn for those activities. So when doing formal exercise I do wear a HRM and if it comes up with something different than Fitbit would for the activity then I know that the data is automatically transmitted to Fitbit. Works great.
I also like my Fitbit because MFP talks to it and tells it what I ate so Fitbit always tells me what my calorie deficit is at any point of the day.
The problem with most of the activity monitors that measure heart rate directly is that they don't do a good job of measure heart rate during activity. They do better measuring heart rate when you aren't really doing anything. Well, that isn't what I want.
I have a Withings scale so the Pulse would have been great if it could measure a continuous heart rate. But it doesn't. You put your finger on it to get a pulse reading at a particular time. It isn't the same as wearing a HRM during exercise.
Before buying an activity monitor because it measures heart rate be sure to look at how it measures heart rate and find out if it will really measure heart rate continuously during activity.