My Nike+ FuelBand Review is one of the first reviews that got the original WearTesters.com quite a bit of traffic. It was lost in one of our site updates, but I recently found the Word document with the original text. I want to stay true to what I wrote in 2012, so I’ll post this in its original format. So enjoy our first “Retro” of a review.
I’ve spent several months wearing the Nike+ FuelBand and I’ve had both good and bad experiences. While the FuelBand and its accelerometer are pretty cool technology, Nike hasn’t been able to execute it flawlessly nor give consumers everything they want in a fitness band. What follows is the biggest list of FuelBand pros and cons that you’ll find on the web. Feel free to add your own pros and cons in the comments section.
- Better battery life than expected. Nike says it will last up to four days. In my experience, it always lasts 5 days.
- Easy to start using it. Installing the software on my computer and the app on my phone was simple.
- Easy to add and remove links to customize the size. Also, Nike’s size chart online makes it easy to determine what size band you need (small, medium, or large).
- Looks Cool. It’s the best looking watch I’ve ever used.
- You’ll get a huge amount of complements and comments from others. Everyone will be intrigued with it, especially once they see the color LEDs show the time or one of your stats.
- Accurately measures calories. It’s not perfect but it’s much more accurate than calorie calculators on treadmills or other cardio equipment.
- It syncs via Bluetooth to an app. It’s nice to be able to sync on the go and avoid connecting to a computer every time.
- Nike+ Customer Service. Every time I got on the phone with them I was impressed with their knowledge. They were always able to figure out what the problem was and tell me the fix or replace my FuelBand. Of course, I did have to call them several times so I’ll understand if you don’t view this as a true pro.
- It’s too thick to allow you to forget you have it on.
- It’s too hard to play contact sports like basketball with it on your wrist. If someone has a FuelBand on their wrist and they foul you, you’ll come home with a nice purple bruise. The next generation FuelBand needs to be flexible and pliable so that it becomes one with the wearer.
- The latch isn’t good enough. My FuelBand has been knocked off several times while playing basketball and not always as a result of solid contact. Sometimes, it just unlatches by itself. I resorted to placing it in my pocket during contact sports.
- Fit is never perfect. It’s not completely customizable. Unless you’re lucky, your FuelBand will either be a bit too loose or too tight.
- No battery indicator. This one blew me away. This is 2012; every piece of electronics I own has a battery indicator except for this one.
- Doesn’t accurately measure steps. Steps are always counted too high so steps become a throwaway measurement.
- The FuelBand does not measure pulse.
- The FuelBand does not have GPS.
- FuelBand doesn’t work with most weightlifting, biking, or swimming.
- No ability to set different goals for different days. Sundays are my rest days. My goal that day should be less than Monday-Saturday. There’s no way to do that with the FuelBand.
- The Facebook missions are dumb. All FuelBand owners can contribute to a weekend goal? Please, give me national or world leader boards on a daily/weekly basis so I can compete against others. Don’t these guys play video games? Co-op missions are always less popular than death match.
- The accelerometer can be tricked. Just like with the Nintendo Wii, just because you’re good at something in real life doesn’t always mean you’ll get the highest score.
- Nike+ Connect software you install on your computer is clunky and won’t minimize as long as your FuelBand is connected.
- The Nike FuelBand app causes problems almost every time Nike sends out a new update. Twice it has caused my FuelBand to not be able to sync properly. Both times required a call to customer service.
- Technical issues. The dreaded Error 52. I still have no idea what causes Error 52 but it has taken two of my FuelBands to the grave. Nike has replaced two FuelBands for me. I’m on my 3rd FuelBand and hoping this one lasts.
- What is Fuel exactly? Let’s ask Nike directly:
Weartesters: What is Fuel exactly?
Weartesters: Um, Nike? What was that?
Nike: A measure of your daily activity, based on a complicated algorithm of course.
Weartesters: So basically you just made it up?
Nike: Yes (hangs head in shame)
Well, it’s not worth $150 but it is really cool when it works. Also, it’s an attention getter and people often pay more than $150 for attention-getting accessories.
As you can see by the huge amount of cons on my list, the Nike+ FuelBand is great in concept but suffers from poor execution. I love the concept, but it’s half-finished. I really hope Nike gets it right with the next version because with better firmware, software (calling Silicon Valley) and features the FuelBand could be an essential athletic training aid.