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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Durability It's hard to tell after just 21 days, but it feels really well built. good
  • Portability It's on your wrist, all the time. great!
  • Ease of use One button operation. The iPhone app can be a little tricky though. good
  • Design and form factor No comments great!
Detailed review
I've spent three weeks with the Nike+ Fuelband now. I've hit some goals, ended some streaks and ran up the stairs for no reason at all (aside from earning the 143 fuel points I needed to reach my goal that day). In those three weeks I've earned 42,953 fuel points and average 2,081 a day, slightly surpassing my daily goal of 2K.

If you're not familial with the Fuelband, I'll summarize it real quick. It's a wristband that tracks your activity and calculates obscure Fuel points that represents how active you were that day. It has a social side that lets you match that number up against your friends through an iPhone app and web site, both of which are fairly complete and polished.

My stats from the second week with the Fuelband

While the fuel points take some getting used to, you'll quickly associate tasks with fuel points and gain a better understanding of how that number's calculated. The steps taken and subsequently the miles it calculates off of that aren't always as accurate as you'd like them to be. I used the Nike+ Running GPS app to check the accuracy. On two runs, the numbers varied by around 15%. The Fuelband isn't intended to be accurate though, it's intended to get you off your ass and moving, and it does that perfectly.

The device itself is made quiet well. It's much sturdier than the Fitbit I had on my hip for over a year (until it fell off while running). Nike says you can shower with it on if you'd like, just don't take it to the pool. From what I can tell, the rubber is injected around the electronic components, leaving no room for water to seep in. I was worried about stretching it too far initially, but the thing has good flexibility.

The battery could be better, lasting only around 72 hours. Luckily the charger is built right in, simply plugging the open end of the wristband into a USB port will charge it. Great for those times at work when you want to charge it while not moving. The iPhone app will let you know when the battery is getting low. I've gotten in the habit of charging it every other day. No need to risk missing out on points.

I really like the Fuelband. It's not feature rich by any means, but it does one thing the Fitbit never did, stays with me. I would leave the Fitbit on pairs of pants constantly, and lost it while running when it popped off my hip and into the street somewhere. That can't really happen with a device that's locked on your wrist.

The feature I miss the most after using a Fitbit has to be the stair counting. Other activity trackers, like the Jawbone Up, offer robust metrics like the Fitbit while being a wristband. The Up was just re-released after a horrible debut a year ago, breaking often. The Up also need to sync manually using the headphone jack of an iPhone. Not ideal.

So far so good with the Fuelband. I've actually ran up ten flights of stairs just to hit my daily goal and continue a streak. If a device can get me out of the chair and doing that, even if the metric is obscure I'm good with it. I'm looking forward to competing with friends as they get one. Goals are great, but true competition is always better.