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Stephen Hackett's weblog about Apple, Apple history, technology, journalism and design.

Review: The Nike+ FuelBand

I’m in pretty decent shape. Like most nerds who spend all day in front of a computer, I could stand to lose a few pounds, but I try my best to stay active.

Back in July, I ordered a Nike+ FuelBand. after reading several reviews online. I thought that if I could gamify being active, I would be more prone to get up and move through out the day.

Hardware

The FuelBand is a plain black bracelet, with a silver clasp. Coming in three sizes with two additional “links”, it’s not hard to get a FuelBand to fit comfortably. That said, it’s a little clunky for my taste, but I wear a very thin watch.

Across the top of the band, there’s two banks of LEDs, both controlled with an ambient light sensor. The larger one is made up of 100 white LEDs. This panel will show time, NikeFuel earned, calories burned, etc. Below it, there’s a line of LEDs that fade from red to green as you inch closer to your daily activity goal. The band can be worn on either wrist, the software will let you flip the text on the LED display over.

I’ve noticed that my FuelBand doesn’t seem to be aging very gracefully. The four hex screw heads on the inside of the band are rusting, presumably from sweat. Likewise, the black rubber already seems to be fading.

The battery life is pretty great. If I don’t sit and play with the LEDs all day, I can get two days worth of usage pretty easily. The band comes with a USB cable, and charges quickly.

Software

The FuelBand will track steps, calories and the number of active minutes in your day. While these numbers can be seen individually, FuelBand wraps them all up in something called your “NikeFuel.”

NikeFuel is a number derived from all sorts of activities — walking, jumping, running and more. (As a cyclist, I found that sticking the FuelBand in my pocket let it do a decent job at tracking my activity.)

The FuelBand will hook up to your iPhone over Bluetooth, and sync the number of steps it has recorded. The app keeps up with your trends, so you can see your activity over the course of a week, month or all time.

The software also will “reward” you when your meet your goals by having a robot dance around. No, I’m not making that up. More usefully, the app can push a notice to Twitter or Path when you meet your daily goal.

(All of the data is also available on Nike’s website.)

Wrap-Up

Over the last few months, I’ve seemed to fallen out of love with the FuelBand. It’s a little too bulky for my taste, and it’s rather limited in what it captures, not to mention it doesn’t seem to be holding up well. I want a more complete look at my fitness level, so I’ve pre-ordered the Fitbit One. I’ll be sure to share my thoughts on it after some use. I think it will out-shine the FuelBand pretty easily.

Update: Here’s my Fitbit One review.