Typical Price: $260.00
CNET Editors' Rating: 3.5 / 5
The good: As a fitness tracker, the Nike FuelBand offers a simple, attractive design that stays out of the way during most physical activities. Its pedometer tracks steps taken, calories burned, and a proprietary measurement of activity called Nike Fuel. The accompanying iOS app and Nike+ Web site offer great motivational tricks too.
The bad: The Nike Fuel score is worthless to anyone who doesn't have a Nike+ product, and isn't always accurate. There's no way to measure distance for specific runs, so it isn't useful for athletes or people who train regularly. At $149, it's also pricey for what it does.
The bottom line: Armed with a few tricks, the Nike FuelBand can be very effective as a motivator for casual exercise, but its limitations will leave serious athletes disappointed.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
Nike was early in the personal fitness market with its Nike + iPod accessories. Its latest creation, the Nike FuelBand, functions as a standard pedometer but uses "gamification" tactics such as awarding badges to lure sedentary people into an active lifestyle. It also measures activity with the new Nike Fuel virtual metric. But can a smart sports wristband really be motivational? Read on to find out if the FuelBand has the stuff to inspire you.
The FuelBand is a somewhat thick, rubber-feeling band that wraps around your wrist, secured by a metal clasp. I was immediately struck by its simplistic design: a single button for scrolling through the categories, a large row of 100 white LEDs that display the readouts, and a smaller line of 20 color LEDs that change from red to green as you get closer to your stated goal. You push the button to get the Nike Fuel score, and push it again to rotate through calories, steps, and the time.
While it's somewhat bulky, I found the wristband wasn't distracting during my physical activities, in this case a run through Central Park and an hour of tennis. Both times, I barely noticed the device was on my wrist, at least until I looked down to check my score. The design also caught the attention of my friends, who particularly liked the LED readouts, so if nothing else, it makes for a unique fashion accessory.
The FuelBand comes with additional spacers that can lengthen or shorten the circumference of the band for different wrist sizes. Its circumference is 5.79 inches at its smallest and 7.76 inches at its largest. It weighs between 0.95 ounce and 1.13 ounces, depending on the spacers.
Because of its tight, circular design, the FuelBand doesn't fall off even if the clasp gets undone. Instead, it just hangs on the wrist, handy if something knocks the clasp open during a run or game.
As with most fitness devices, the FuelBand is fairly rugged. It's water-resistant, so you can shower with it or take it out in the rain. But it isn't durable enough to handle a swim.
Simplicity really is the key to this device. Aside from the button, there are no other ports or extras. One end of the FuelBand is actually a USB connector, so you need to undo the clasp to connect it to a computer and sync your data this way.
The FuelBand also has a Bluetooth connection through which you can send data to your iOS device using an application found in the App Store. Simply hold down the button on the band until the "sync" notification comes up, and it sends data to your iOS device, which then uploads the data to the Nike+ Web site. Unfortunately, the FuelBand only works with iOS right now, although Nike says an Android app is in development.
Once synced, the app tells you your Fuel score, which is the prominent metric used, for better or worse. A different page shows your activity throughout the day, week, month, or year, as well as a reading of your calories, active time, steps, and total distance for the day. You can use Facebook to share your posts, although I opted not to. The last section, titled "Me," is where the FuelBand's motivational tools are located. You get a total count of your Nike Fuel, as well as banners like "Best Day" and "Longest Streak," plus trophies for hitting benchmarks like 10,000 Fuel points. After you pass certain benchmarks, a little mascot does a jig or pulls down a banner in your honor. The gamification of fitness has arrived.
The Web site offers more of the same stats, but with greater detail. You can check on how many Fuel points you've accumulated hourly, the only real way to see how active you've been during a specific activity. Color graphs illustrate how you've done on a day-by-day basis, and compare your Fuel score ranks with people your age and the Nike+ community as a whole.
It's the device's inability to provide an accurate measure from start to stop that is a gap for anyone serious about exercising. There's no way easy way to track time and distance on the FuelBand. Nike says it sells other Nike+ accessories that can complement the device, but at $149, I expected the band to do more.
Nike wants you to buy into the concept that Nike Fuel points will become a new standard measurement for activity. Given that it uses the Nike name, I doubt Reebok or Adidas will be jumping on this bandwagon.
Few people are going to know or care what Fuel score you earn on a given day. So it's really up to individuals to determine the value they place on this score. For me, I found it useful as a general guidepost for activity. Prior to getting the FuelBand, I was slowly getting back into a regular exercise routine, so I found it a great motivational tool.
I've had the FuelBand for nearly a week, and I'll admit I've exercised more in the last few days than in the last few weeks combined. I set my daily goal for 3,000 Fuel points, what Nike defines as a fairly active day. It actually took a good amount of activity to hit that mark, and I was able to exceed it only by running, playing tennis, and hitting the gym on three consecutive days. On the days when I didn't exercise, I fell well below the mark.
A run in Central Park, for instance, garnered 2,500 points, while an hour of tennis earned about 1,000 points. Because the points are accumulated by the movement of the wrist, scoring can get a bit wonky. Cyclists who keep their hands on the steering wheel may get no points for their effort. On the flip side, I earned nearly 400 points by sitting at a bar and drinking beer (lifting mugs is hard work, after all).
The color LEDs on the FuelBand serve as an extra crack of the whip: the lights move from red to green as you approach your daily goal, taunting you to keep moving until you hit your mark. When I was a few hundred points away from the goal, I spent the last hours of the night walking around my apartment to boost my score (your Fuel score resets to zero at midnight).
Overall, as a measure of activity, it can at least give you a clearer picture of whether you actually are exercising, or just staying in the office and working, which got me a score of just below 2,200. One issue: it's difficult to change your daily goal, which can only be altered after you exceed your preset benchmark.
Battery life was satisfying. Nike rates the FuelBand for up to four days of run time between charges. In my experience it exceeded this, lasting six days before it needed recharging, and that included regular syncing with my iPhone plus constantly looking up my score.
The $149 FuelBand certainly isn't for everyone. Despite Nike trotting out a few superstar athletes at the FuelBand's launch event, I doubt many hard-core fitness buffs will find much use for it. For runners or cyclists, there are a lot of other, more useful devices, including gear that incorporates GPS and can more accurately keep track of time and distance. For example, the $249.99 Motorola MotoActv may be a better fit. Still, there are a lot of people who could benefit from such a motivational tool, and the trophies, banners, and color charts from the Web site and app do go a long way toward spurring a less-than-athletic individual into changing up established patterns. A less expensive alternative is the simpler, $99.95 Fitbit Ultra, which also offers activity tracking in a tiny package.
Average User Rating: 3.5 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 2
4 Star: 0
3 Star: 1
2 Star: 1
1 Star: 6
Makes working out fun.
Rating: 5 / 5
on March 29, 2012
2 out of 2 users found this review helpful
Pros: Many uses, tracks the entire day, no need to take off
Cons: no sleep mode, can't swim or bike with. No android app at this time.
Summary: I've had my fuelband for over a month and I love it. Using it has really helped me get in shape for my wedding. If I could wear it swimming or while on the bike it would be just even more amazing.
Motivates me, but could be better
Rating: 3 / 5
on July 18, 2013
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: Comfortable. Cool-looking. Shows time. Easy-to-upload software, keeps all data for past months in one place, so you can see your progress. If you have friends who wear it, you can see and compare your achievement. Motivating, for me anyway.
Cons: Doesn't count your steps exactly (greatly underestimates your steps count). Assumes that all women have stride of 66 cm, & all men 78 cm, therefore my regular 700 m walk counted by it as a 650-steps walk (which in turn is converted to 430 m walk).
Summary: I didn't pay for the band (won it as a prize at work). If I'd buy such product myself, I would probably do more research and maybe choose another product. But as is, I am overall satisfied with the band, since even though I know it is not very exact, I still can consistently compare my day-to-day level of activity, and that's all I really need. That, plus watch.
BTW, when I had technical problem and e-mail their support, they replied quickly and individually. I wear it for 2+ months now, so far the band didn't break.
Nike Fuelband....DON'T BUY ONE.
Rating: 0.5 / 5
on June 3, 2013
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: There are none!
Cons: They break...Nike won't give a refund because you bought it from Apple. Apple won't give a refund because it's a Nike product. I have had 3 gone bad in less than 6 months. It's JUNK and both companies are unprofessional!
Summary: Nike Fuelband....DON'T BUY ONE. I bought two Dec. 5th , paid $320 for both and as of today, June 3rd, we have exchanged the first one that went bad and now both the one we got in the exchange and the other one I originally bought has gone bad. 3 bands gone bad in less than 6 months! AJ, a "supervisor" at Nike says we can't refund your money because you bought it from Apple and William, a "supervisor" from Apple says it's a Nike product and we only have a 14 day return policy. What a racket! Just a way to rip off people. DON'T BUY THIS PRODUCT BECAUSE YOU WILL GET SCREWED LIKE I DID! JUNK...DON'T BUY IT! It's a rip-off!
DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS ONE!!!
Rating: 0.5 / 5
on April 8, 2013
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: Very comfortable, you forget you have it on. Relatively good looking and the watch aspect is a real advantage (for me anyway)
Cons: How can I gain almost 2500 fuelband points when driving in a car for 6 hours? I can reach my 3000 fuel points sitting doing paperwork and 3000 fuel points is supposed to be hard to get. Wore a fitbit and logged 10,978 steps, fuel band says 3145.
Summary: No help by customer support. They wanted a credit card before they would send a new one (not a good sign) I would expect better from Nike. I say go with another company. I have always had great success with the fitbit (I just wanted a band rather than a clip on) and will go back to them. I bought my son in law the UP bracelet and he loves it. I am an android user so the Up band would not work for me. Read other reviews (I wish I had before I spent $158 on the darned thing) they all are saying the same thing. Not an accurate devise and NO customer service. By the way, I had only had my band a few weeks, well within the warranty period for most products, but since I bought it at a retail shop, rather than from their store or website, they would not help me.
SAVE YOUR MONEY!!! Get a different device but do your homework first. $158 down the drain.
Good idea, bad execution
Rating: 1.5 / 5
on April 4, 2013
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: Easy to use
Good mobile app
Cons: Inconsistent performance
Fails to sync
Multiple failure points
Summary: I just returned my second Nike Fuel band in 90 days. I admit to liking the idea of the Fuel Band/Up/Fitbit/etc. a great deal. Somehow tracking activity makes you want to do more. It makes me choose to walk more places rather than drive, it makes me conscious of my daily activity level which is not a bad thing. However, the Nike Fuelband has a long way to go. There are two fundamental issues that I experienced - inconsistency and failure. On the inconsistency side of things, it does not sync and reset on a daily basis consistently. There were numerous times (typically at least once or twice a week) that the Fuelband would not sync data correctly, making it look like I had very few Fuel points on one day and an enormous amount the next day. In addition I would wake up some days and it would not be reset to zero, it would have retained yesterday's points, or worse yet a portion of yesterday's points as my starting point for the day. On the failure side of things, as I said, I have had two Fuelbands and both failed after varying lengths of time. My failed, what I mean is that woke up one morning, unplugged it and put it on only to discover that it was dead, no battery. I would plug it back in to charge and the light would come up, but it would not achieve or maintain any battery charge whatsoever. The second i unplugged it, it would go dead again. No matter whether I left it plugged in to charge for an hour, a day or a week, nothing. This happened the first time after 3 days and the second time after about 10 weeks. It is worth noting that my usage of the Fuelband seems, to me, to have been very run-of-the-mill and not extreme in any way. I woke up every morning and put it one, at night I sync'ed, took it off and plugged it in. I never got it wet - not even a little bit. So I don't think the issues can be associated with challenging use circumstances. I have to give the Apple Store 5 Stars for their customer service policy. There was no question when I walked in the store both times to exchange or return. Of course we all know that they try all purchases electronically and were able to find my original purchase and previous exchange without requiring me to keep a paper copy of the receipt. I exchanged the first failed Fuelband and returned the second one for a refund. Nice job Apple. Nike on the other hand, I contacted them through their Facebook page to tell them of my experience, thinking that they would be interested in what I had to say. I got a polite "Sorry you were unhappy" response with no apparent desire to learn more or offer me anything to try and keep me as a customer. I am now off to buy the new Fitbit Flex, or the Jawbone Up or one of Nike's other competitors.