80
10
final rating

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purchased on
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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Durability Sturdy build, durable outer rubber cover, and stainless steel plate at band connecting portion containing USB plug. great!
  • Portability Light weight, fits around wrist comfortably, barely noticeable during activities. great!
  • Ease of use One button to reveal information, Bluetooth for wireless sync, hidden USB plug for computer sync. great!
  • Design and form factor 3-axis accelerometer, functional /stylish watch, interesting Fuel metric. However, questionable accuracy concerning calories and distance measured. good
Detailed review
To review the Nike+ FuelBand to the best of my ability, I won’t bother you with information about the band that you can find in almost every other review on the net. Instead, I’ll review aspects about the band that I find will be helpful and relevant to those seeking the item for their own pleasure/benefit or as an alternative. Through this, I hope to cover areas of the product that I feel most reviews overlook or fail to focus on, albeit doing their own fine job of painting you a picture of the band overall. On an applicably personal note, I find myself to be a person that is usually on the go. I have to walk around a lot to get around in the city and I like to be active and hands on. I go to the gym everyday if possible and usually do some running with lifting as my main workout. I’ve had the FuelBand for over a week now and have used it everyday extensively w/ no issues thusfar. After all the difficulty with the limited quantity of sales and constant sell outs online and in the only store selling them (NikeTown NYC), I managed to grab a medium band.

Why is the Nike+ FuelBand so special?
The best way I can think of to answer this is a term I have seen used in other reviews and with other items: “Gamification”.

The FuelBand is a product that can ideally be used by anyone, athlete to couch potato, and everyone in between. Everyday it gives you a goal that you set yourself of the amount of activity you want to accomplish. In this way, your everyday life becomes a sort of game where you try to reach the score within 24 hours. You end up pushing yourself a little further, running for just a few minutes more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator... All just to reach that precious goal. You’ll see yourself in predicaments where you have only 200 NikeFuel (which I’ll discuss later) left at the end of the day, and in a desire to avoid failing yourself and the numbers set before you, you go out for a walk or a run. Even if you reach it well within the comfort of the day, you’ll have that urge to see that number rise like trying to beat your own high score. In the simplest understanding of the phrase, it gives life an extra little spark of purpose.

In addition, through the iOS app (Android’s version is slated for release by Summer 2012) or Facebook, you can put those numbers to the test against your friends and colleagues. If you’re really competitive or like having a cause for your added energy output, Nike has just started “Nike+ Missions” that pit you “globally” against other FuelBand users on missions that usually take place within 24 hours. You are ranked based on your activity against the activity of others in a whole day of “do anything you can to win” theme.

So wait... what’s all this about “NikeFuel”?
In addition to providing you with an estimated caloric burn and steps taken, Fuel is brought before you. Basically, NikeFuel is a metric that Nike implements to put everyone on an even playing field when it comes to activity. From what I understand, NikeFuel removes the discrepancy that results from taking an individual’s weight, height, and gender used to calculate calories. Instead, NikeFuel is supposed to ignore all that so whether you’re a famous athlete or your average blue collar worker, the same movements you perform will present with the same amount of Fuel. This is based on studied “oxygen kinetics”, meaning that Fuel is calculated by the amount of oxygen required to perform a particular action, which should ideally be the same for everyone.

I’ll be honest here and say that you can just apply a value to a motion observed by the 3-axis accelerometer and give that value every time that motion is observed without having to really take into account the oxygen expended to perform it. But it might really be much deeper and more complicated than that. I haven’t seen the algorithm or have found any further physiologic explanation to how NikeFuel is calculated, but I find the ideal to be quite ingenious.

The name itself gives your mind a sense that you are charging something up with energy and distracts you from the thought that you are actually using up your own energy in the process. It allows you to feel empowered when you are using up all that power. The value ends up being very high, with 2000 Fuel being an average person’s goal through regular daily activity and walking. In comparison, the calories you burn seem ignorable and almost unwanted. Watching your Fuel count go up feels like you are really accomplishing something.

Is the Nike+ FuelBand for you?
That all depends on what you want from it and the type of individual you are.
The beauty of the FuelBand is that it can be used by anyone. It is meant to be worn day and night to give you a good idea of how active you are throughout the day. The Nike+ software supplements this very well by allowing you to see all this in graph form and in comparison to the rest of the NikeFuel community. The band keeps track of your activity and lets you know how well you are doing to reach your goal. It gives you that extra push to be more active. It inspires you to possibly live a healthier lifestyle. On a day to day basis you compete against yourself and against others. If you want something to give you a general idea about your activity and to give you a fair estimate on calories/steps, then this product might just be for you. The watch just makes it that much more functional. Why not have your timepiece give you calorie burn values on the side? However, there are a few things to keep in mind that I’ve observed from others in person and on the net.

Runners, making up a large part of the Nike+ community, are where I hear most issues with the FuelBand from. If you are mainly looking to accurately measure your calorie burn or steps taken, this product may not be for you. In regards to accuracy in measurement with steps or calories, I am skeptical about the band’s current algorithm and method of tracking. First, its measures are based simply on the movement of a single point on one’s body, the wrist. Second, it does not take into account any metabolic factors such as heart rate or body temperature. Assuming measurement of movement is entirely accurate, it would only be able to tell you calories burned from kinetic activity alone. If you are a runner who just absolutely needs to measure that distance to a key or find calorie counting important to your lifestyle, then you may need to have a second thought about buying the FuelBand.

Unfortunately, the band is not waterproof, although it can safely be worn in the rain or even in the shower. However, if you happen to do a good amount of swimming, especially as your main form of exercise, or your life involves some sort of regular submersion in water, then you’ll need to look for another method of measuring your activity.

Because measurements are based on movements at the wrist you are wearing the band on, activities that don’t involve much or any movement of the wrist will not be taken into account. Activities such as cycling will be greatly undermined by the FuelBand. Curling a 50 lbs. weight will be the same as curling an empty soda at the same speed. Doing 100 straight pull ups will give you less Fuel/calories burned than shaking up your pre-workout supplement.

Take a good hard look at what you want out of your fitness device before going out and buying this one. Even if you find that another may suit your purposes better, the FuelBand is a great supplement and accessory.

Why did I Choose the Fuelband?
I've been encountering people (friends and strangers alike) who've been asking me why I decided to buy the FuelBand over another fitness device. I'm the type of person who dwells on deciding to buy something for weeks at a time, and months previous to the FuelBand even being announced, I had been wanting to buy some sort of fitness tracker/watch. At the time, I looked into buying the Nike+ GPS Watch, but I'm not that big of a runner and the device was a per session tracker. Doing more research, I stumbled upon the FitBit Ultra and the Jawbone Up, and their features, for the most part, were exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be able to track my relative calorie burn throughout the entire day (I like to be somewhat active and moving around). I was well aware that these 2 products have the same accuracy flaws that the FuelBand has.

Reading endless amounts of reviews on these products, I found that the FitBit Ultra had features I didn't really care much for, but did what I wanted. I wanted to track activity, and sleep tracking was fairly irrelevant to me. The food tracking was nice, but all done through the website (I felt this was outside the realm of the device itself) from what I could infer, and there are a ton of sites and apps for such things. What turned me off immediately from the FitBit was the fact that it was a clip-on device. I felt that it would just be extra effort to remember to clip it on to myself and that I could easily lose it. And so I turned my sights towards the Up.

Putting aside the pause in production and the battery issues it had, the Jawbone Up was exactly what I wanted in form factor but lacked the watch feature I desired. When the FuelBand was announced, I kept up with news about it feverishly while keeping my eye on the Up. The FuelBand's watch feature and screen available information immediately made it trump the Up.

So in summary, the FuelBand had what I wanted: easily accessible information, a watch, a form factor that was stylish and wouldn't get in my way, and all day/night activity/calorie tracking. All the other fitness devices lacked one or more of these features. The only additional feature that the FitBit Ultra has that I cared for was the stopwatch.

Final Thoughts
Other fitness devices can measure items such as calories, distance, or heart rate much more accurately than the FuelBand, but these devices are not meant to be worn/used with active measuring the entire day. They are meant to be used on a workout-to-workout basis. In my opinion, the FuelBand should not be considered in the same light as it serves a different purpose. It is meant to be worn all day throughout all your activities and to push you to be more active. I feel that it doesn’t measure a specific workout or exercise, but rather that it measures you as an individual, active or inactive. I think it is a great motivational tool if you want to be more active and even if you already are. I love how it makes my everyday life a game.

Overall, I find that the Nike+ FuelBand is a worthwhile product based on its “cool” factor, style, functionality as a watch/accelerometer, and life gamification. If used to its full capacity (including Facebook, Missions, Apps), it is a wonderful tool to keep track of any lifestyle. I love it so far and I highly recommend it.

3/20/2012 edit - Formatting & reconsidered score based on comparison to similar products.

3/19/2012 edit - Added reason for decided from other devices.
review history
2012-03-20
Updated detailed review
2012-03-19
Updated overall rating
Updated detailed review
Updated detailed review
Updated detailed review
Updated detailed review
2012-03-16
Updated detailed review

Comments (4) subscribe to this review's comments

baileylo

How is the web app? I used Nike+ run and the web app was terrible. It constantly would crash in either Chrome or Firefox.
jdelapena

So far, 2 weeks in, I haven't had any problems or crashes with the web app. I use Chrome and sync it every morning and every night when I shower. Syncing is fast: the downloaded app loads the information to Nike+, a Chrome window pops up with your NikeFuel Dashboard, and shows the updated amount of Fuel, calories, etc. The graphs are useful and you can use your mouse over different parts of it to reveal the amount of Fuel earned at different parts of the day. Distance, calories, steps, etc. are shown below the graph. Information can also be viewed in weekly, monthly, and yearly format. At each format, your previous days/weeks/months/years are compared with your previous, average, and best.

In addition to your personal information, there's a small bar graph at the bottom of the general page that tells you how you generally compare to other FuelBand users in the past 7 days, including your comparative goals met, average Fuel per day, and total Fuel.

Overall, I find the web app to be informative enough as I need it to be. It's pretty cool seeing spikes indicating when I was active during the day and providing the reason/story as to why the spike occurred. Unless I'm not seeing it, I do wish there was a way to save the information locally. You know, just in case.
ptysurfergirl

I'm going on a trip with my mom next weekend to NY (coming from DC). I think I'll be able to head to Niketown Monday morning by 10. Could you let me know if there were lines or what time I should head down there? Thanks!
jdelapena

If you're going for a small or medium you should be fine. Even large should be fine at this point. 10 is when they open so that should be perfect