Nike announced the FuelBand in January of 2012, and started shipping the product in March 2012. So what is the Nike FuelBand? The FuelBand is a watch that measures your daily activity. Nike believes that having an easy way to measure daily activity will motivate people to move and exercise more. The FuelBand can display and track time, the number of steps taken during the day, something called Nike Fuel, and your daily calories burned. You can set a target for how active you want to be, and the FuelBand gauges how close you are to your daily goal with a red, yellow and green display.
Before we get started, a quick tidbit about our reviews. By now, many of you have read the FitnessElectronicsBlog disclaimer, but here it is in case this is your first time reading one of our reviews. For the record, are in no way connected with Nike or any of the companies whose gear we review. We do this because we love playing with the latest technology, and we can’t keep our hands off this stuff if we tried. For this review, we purchased the Nike FuelBand. No give-us-gear for a favorable review, or anything like that. We call ‘em as we see ‘em. It keeps us honest. Also, we have a group of 4 people who do the evaluations of all of the gear. One person is the lead on a piece of gear, but everyone gets a chance to evaluate the stuff. We have 2 guys and 2 ladies, so it’s a good mix of people. It gives us better insight, and we get a better review overall. Everyone has an input to the review. If you want to know who these people are, check out our About Us page. We have 4 seasoned triathletes, and 3 Pilates instructors. All swim, bike, run, do Pilates and Yoga, and use all of the gear on a daily basis. So, enough with the babble, and let’s get to the review.
What’s in the box?
Here is the product box:
Here is what is included in the Nike+ FuelBand box:
Here is a side view of the FuelBand. It comes in three sizes; small, medium and large. If you need to figure out your size, there is a sizing chart on the Nike FuelBand website. The FuelBand comes with additional links, and a tool to remove them.
Here is a view of the connection strap:
Here is the charging cable and additional link and removal tool:
The watch band has a rubberized feel, with a locking mechanism on the bottom to keep it locked. It has a single button that scrolls through time, Nike Fuel, calories, and steps taken.
So what are the features and specs?
These specs come right off of the Nike+ FuelBand website:
- Small: 5.79 inch circumference
- Medium: 6.77 inch circumference
- Large: 7.76 inch circumference
- Depth: 0.6 to 0.8 inches
- Small: 0.95 oz
- Medium: 1.06 oz
- Large: 1.13 oz
- A built-in 3 axis accelerometer
- An ambient light sensor to change the brightness of the display
- 20 color LED array shows your daily goal progress
- 100 white LED display shows time, NikeFuel earned, calories burned and steps taken
- Automatic brightness
- The FuelBand is water resistant. It can be worn in the shower or in the rain
- It is not waterproof. It is not recommended to use while swimming
- The watch has a built in USB interface, and is supplied with a USB connection cable
- The FuelBand can be connected to an iPhone with iOS 4.3 and greater.
- There is an airplane mode to disable the Bluetooth connection while in flight
- There are two Lithium Polymer batteries inside
- Up to 4 days of battery life
Using the Watch
To get started, you will need to install some software. To install the FuelBand software, you first need to download the installer, which is available here. Scroll down the page to get software, and click on download. Follow the directions, and the software should install. After this is done, the program will ask you to connect your FuelBand if you haven’t already done so. You will then see a screen that may update your FuelBand firmware. If so, follow the directions, and it should install:
While the watch is plugged in, the battery is being charged. Here is an image of the watch charging in the supplied dock:
Once your software is installed, you will need to set up your FuelBand with your weight, height, and the number of calories that you want to burn. Here is a video on how to set it up:
If you want to save your activities and view your progress, you will need to create a Nike+ profile. This is the last step in the software setup. Click SIGN UP , or use Facebook account to login. Here is the create account screen:
There is full integration with Twitter and Facebook.
After the watch syncs and the battery is fully charged, the battery display will show full. Disconnect the FuelBand, put it on your wrist, and you are ready to go.
Each day your calories, Nike Fuel, and steps will be reset to zero. Plugging the FuelBand into the computer will recharge the watch, and transfer your workouts to Nike+ Connect. Battery life is approximately 4 days.
Here is a great shot of the FuelBand, taken from the Nike website:
So I took the watch on a run, a ride, and a walk. I compared my calories burned from the FuelBand to the Garmin 910XT. The run was a very hilly 5 mile run. The calories were within 150 of each other. On a long walk, they were within 60 calories. The bike wasn’t even close. Since the FuelBand thinks you are walking or running, and it’s trying to measure a walking or running gait with an accelerometer, you would expect the measured bike calories with the FuelBand to be way off. It was. I like to think of the FuelBand as a really cool pedometer, that’s pretty accurate at measuring walking or running, but not so great at other sports. (As a note – the Garmin 910XT matches calories burned fairly closely to other heart rate monitors, but there are differences between heart rate monitors. I used the 910XT, since it compares pretty well to other HRM’s that we’ve tested, across different sports).
Many people have asked how Nike+ Fuel compares to calories. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t fully understand Nike Fuel. The claim is that Nike Fuel is a metric that compares a person’s movement through the FuelBand accelerometer to Nike’s data they’ve collected on how rapidly oxygen is consumed. In this way, you can compare your Nike Fuel burned to others.
The iPhone app is another way to sync your device to Nike+ Connect. You can use the iPhone or a computer to do this. The iPhone app can be downloaded from the iTunes store. Once the app is installed on your iPhone, the FuelBand will need to be paired to the iPhone. The FuelBelt has a Bluetooth radio that can transmit and receive data to and from the iPhone. Here is a video showing how to pair the FuelBand to the iPhone:
Connect the Nike+ FuelBand to Your iPhone
Here are the four main screens on the iPhone. This is the HOME screen:
This is the ACTIVITY screen. This screen plots the number of calories burned versus time. The time can be changed from daily to weekly, monthly or yearly.
Here is the FRIENDS page, that lets you connect with other people:
Thoughts, Opinions and Summary:
Here are the pros and cons:
- Nice looking watch
- Could be a good motivator to keep moving during the day, or if you are just starting to exercise
- Four day battery life
- Calories burned is most accurate during walking and running exercises
- If you want to do accurate day to day workout comparisons, you will need a HRM or GPS watch
- You need to press a button to get the time or any of the other metrics
So what do we think? First of all, the watch definitely looks different. We like the look, and it feels good . During running, it slid around a little too much for us. If you are a serious runner or triathlete, and you want to measure your time, distance, pace, or measure multiple sports, the FuelBand is not the watch for you. If you have been into running or triathlon for awhile, and want to buy a something in the $150-$200 price range, I recommend the Soleus GPS 2.0 for $149.00 or Timex GPS watches in the $200.00 price range. So who is this watch targeted to, and what would they do with it? I think this watch is all about trying to give exercisers, especially beginning exercisers, a simple way to view progress, and more importantly, a way to create a workout habit. If you buy the FuelBand, it can motivate you to be a little more active each day. You know how some people say that it takes 3 weeks to create a habit? Since it’s definitely easy to use, you can work your way into a workout habit. Who cares if it isn’t super accurate? It’s the motivation factor that is important. Once you get hooked on exercise, you can always step up to a heart rate monitor or GPS watch.
So, as we usually ask ourselves, for our target audience who are the season runner or triathlete, “Would we buy and recommend this watch?” For the reasons stated above, our answer is no. If you are a beginner just starting to exercise, and don’t want to learn to use a heart rate monitor or GPS watch, and want something super simple, I would still recommend that you bite the bullet and get a heart rate monitor or GPS watch, but if you’re looking for motivation, the FuelBand may just be the ticket. I like it as a watch, and I think I’ll keep it
Nike+ FuelBand – The Inside Story