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Nike+ FuelBand Review

Pros

  • Comfortable, unobtrusive design
  • Bluetooth syncing to mobile devices
  • Easy to introduce into daily lifestyle

Cons

  • Struggles with certain activities (bike, weights)
  • Battery life could be better
  • Could do with being fully waterproof

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £129.00
  • Compact, comfortable 0.6-inch thick design
  • 100 white LED display
  • Bluetooth syncing
  • Monitors all daily activities
  • Offers Nike Fuel, calories and steps counts

Introduction
Having helped push performance monitoring tech into the mainstream with the globally adopted Nike+ shoe chips and subsequent iPhone and Android app, iconic sportswear giant Nike has turned its hand to more gadget filled fare, with the Nike+ FuelBand lining up as a wrist worn fitness tracker that offers overall performance details with little intrusion.

Far more than a simple revision of the classic pedometer, the Nike+ Fuelband offers detailed feedback from your daily activity, be it simply popping to the shops or heading out on a 10k run, breaking down your daily performances into a metric standard of the company’s own devising, Nike Fuel.

Nike FuelBand

Nike+ FuelBand Design

Unlike many cumbersome fitness monitoring systems, the Nike+ FuelBand is in no way obtrusive, fitting comfortably around your wrist with the compact minimalist design lining up at a barely noticeable 0.6mm thick, and around 30g in weight.

Available in three sizes, Small, Medium/Large and X-Large, the Nike Fuelband is capable of fitting all manner of wrist sizes from a tiny 5.79-inches (147mm) in circumference up to a rather large 7.76-inches (197mm). What’s more, for those who are unsure as to which size band to plump for, each device comes with two size adjusting blocks that can quickly and easily be added and removed to personally tailor the perfect custom fit.

With a water resistant rubberised finish and currently available in two colour schemes, the standard Black Steel and the limited edition transparent ‘ICE’ offering, the Nike+ Fuelband, following a couple of weeks worth of constant wear has stood up well to the rigours of an active lifestyle. Showing no signs of wear, scuffs or knocks, the wrist mounted performance tracker is easily stylish enough to be worn without concern, replacing your standard watch with its futuristic LED display and comfortable construction.

As easy to navigate as it is to use, the Nike+ FuelBand design sees the Garmin Forerunner 410 rival play host to just a single physical button that can be pressed repeatedly to scroll through the device’s four menu options, ‘Fuel’, ‘Cals’ (calories burned), ‘Steps’, and ‘Time’, for quick, simple access to all manner of data metrics and performance details. With a comfortable metal clasp, the FuelBand’s locking mechanism hides the integrated USB connector and offers continued piece of mind against unwanted loosening.

Nike FuelBand Ice

Nike+ FuelBand Features
Allowing you to monitor all of your daily activities and fitness sessions, the wrist mounted Nike+ FuelBand boasts a 100 white LED display, with the performance tracker providing instant feedback on daily steps, calories burned and Fuel points earned, direct from your wrist.

Offering a universal currency for all Nike+ device users, the company’s new Nike Fuel system gives the Nike+ FuelBand a unique metric over its competitors, with the performance unit creating a level playing field for comparable data no matter what sporting activity takes your fancy.

Slightly confusing at first, the introduction of Nike Fuel is one which actually opens up new sporting rivalries with devices like the Nike+ FuelBand allowing users to compete through daily targets with friends, even if one prefers playing basketball whilst the other enjoys running and tennis.

Whilst a collection of 100 white LED lights ignite at the press of the rounded button to transform into a data providing display, a second strip of 20 coloured LEDs feature at the top of the device offering a scaled insight, ranging from red to green, into your progress on your daily Fuel targets. Although claimed to automatically adjust the screen’s brightness levels to suit your surroundings, in reality, the FuelBand’s display can be dazzlingly bright, at times to the point of distraction.

Nike FuelBand Ice

Although the Nike Fuel party piece is the FuelBand’s USP, for those keen on accessing more universally recognised data metrics, the device accurately displays a step count whilst a calories burned display shows by how much you’ve gone above the daily average.

Admittedly a useful tool that is sure to appeal to many of the more food and waistline weary users, the Nike+ FuelBand count could be more all encompassing, with a system like on the Fitbit Zip, which offers users a daily average count that is further accelerated by extensive exercise, a more preferably option for a performance monitor that is design to be a part of your everyday life.

Further bolstering the FuelBand’s credentials and adding to the system’s bag of tricks, the unit’s time menu ensures the Nike+ FuelBand can act as a watch replacement, not simply an addition, meaning your wrist real-estate can remain clutter free.

Nike FuelBand App

Nike+ FuelBand App and Software
Being a portable device, Nike has ensured that, unlike some of its competitors, the Nike+ FuelBand is not limited to syncing data only when in close proximity to your PC or MacBook Air. Whilst such services are still available, (the FuelBand comes boxed with a USB extension cable for PC based syncing and charging), thanks to the unit’s integrated Bluetooth technologies, the Nike+ FuelBand can be seamlessly synced with mobile devices whilst on the move.

Connecting to the iPhone 5 compatible application wirelessly, the Nike+ FuelBand app allows the fitness tracker to be synced with any portable Apple iDevice running iOS 5 or above, including the iPhone 4S and new 2012 iPod Touch. Simply download the free app and hold the FuelBand’s button for two seconds to pair your data.

Replicating the simplicity of the FuelBand itself, the Nike FuelBand app is a joy to use, offering detailed breakdowns of your daily goals with a selection of graphs showing your peaks and troughs of activity. Allowing you to compare your day’s results with performances from past weeks and months, the FuelBand app provides comprehensive feedback on how you stand in relation to your current targets.

Nike FuelBand Software

Whilst the Nike FuelBand iPhone app provides ample metric breakdowns for those on the move, for users will higher demands and more detailed desires, the Nike desktop service ensures all requirements are addressed. Adding new comparatives, the desktop service lets you see how you match up against friends, the average of your age group or the Nike community as a whole.

Helping keep you motivated, the Nike FuelBand app and desktop service offer frequent achievements and incentives that, in practise, really do help encourage you to go above and beyond your usual efforts. Whilst achievements are awarded for obtaining milestone Fuel figures, hitting your daily target three days in a row will start a ‘Streak’. Obsessively addictive, having once started a streak, the compulsion to keep above your daily goals kicks in, forcing you to make the effort to carry on your fitness regime.

For those looking for additional motivation, and to brag to the world about their new found health kick, the Nike services allow you to post your daily achievements to Facebook and Twitter. Be warned, however, the frequency of these alerts can quickly become and irritant.

Nike FuelBand Achievements

Nike FuelBand Performance
On the whole, the Nike FuelBand is a joy to use and quickly becomes an integral part of your daily life and ongoing fitness regimes.

Due to the Nike FuelBand’s placement on the wrist and reliance upon accelerometers to calculate activity, however, sadly there are areas in which the device fails to compute physical exertion into relevant data or indeed Nike Fuel. An example of this is road cycling.

A sport in which you largely keep your upper body still whilst expelling huge amounts of energy, the FuelBand fails to offer reliable feedback with extensive cycles often yielding minimal performance readings. Other areas that do not offer Nike Fuel results equal to the amount of exertion required include weight lifting, sit ups and static step machines found at the gym.

Nike FuelBand Ice

Similarly, it can be surprisingly simple to fool the FuelBand and quickly increase your daily figures without carrying out strenuous or fitness improving tasks. Whilst simply twirling the device within your fingers will see your Fuel count quickly rocket, a move that will undoubtedly cheat only yourself, a five minute juggling session offers similar Nike Fuel gains to a walk of a similar time, just without any of the physical or health benefits.

Although Nike has suggested it is safe to wear the FuelBand in the shower, given the slightly obvious gap between the clasp and the integrated USB port used for charging and data transfers, this is not something we would advise on a frequent basis. This said, however, wearing the product in the rain, whilst washing dishes and our hands, the Nike FuelBand’s rubberised finish showed no sign of damage, wear or even unsightly water spots. What’s more, thanks to this water resistant sheen, the FuelBand can be wiped down with little concern following an extensive, sweat inducing session.

Despite some niggling oversights, however, the Nike FuelBand handles its bread and butter tasks with aplomb, with most mainstream sports such as running, football and tennis providing detailed performance breakdowns. Elsewhere daily activites such as walking to the shops or talking the stairs at work also keep the Nike Fuel count gradually climbing to the desired daily targets.

Nike FuelBand Performance

Nike FuelBand Battery Life
Whilst Nike has suggested that the two Lithium Polymer batteries included within the Nike FuelBand will keep the device charged and monitoring your performance activities for up to four days, disappointingly, the reality is roughly half this with the wrist mounted gadget emulating a number of the leading smartphones in struggling to manage two complete days without a battery boost.

Narrowly avoiding a maddeningly annoying downfall, however, thanks to the expansive Nike ecosystem available when syncing your FuelBand with a PC, the fitness gadget will receive a recharge every time you physically sync your data, which, in all honesty is likely to be on a daily or at least bi-daily basis.

Nike FuelBand Ice

Nike FuelBand Verdict

Although the Nike FuelBand is affected by a number of performance depleting niggles, struggling to track certain activities such as bike riding or weight work, thanks to the backing of the Nike infrastructure the wrist worn FuelBand does what you would want, encouraging you to become more active, strive to hit daily targets and improve your personal performances.

With a Nike FuelBand price tag to see you part ways with £129 for the luxury of tracking your every move, the device is far from cheap. That said, there are plenty more expensive performance monitoring gadgets out on the market such as the Garmin Forerunner 610 that provide no more detailed breakdown of your activities than the latest Nike offering.

Thanks largely to the unit’s brilliant and simple design, the Nike FuelBand opens up a new world of unobtrusive performance monitoring, becoming an integral accessory to your daily life and one which, despite the price, will quickly have you opting for that lunchtime jog or the long walk home in order to improve your Fuel score and reach your daily goals.

Next, read our round-up of the best headphones for running

Trusted Score


Score in detail

  • Usability 9
  • Features 9
  • Value 8
  • Build Quality 8
  • Design 9

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