Reviews

Nike+ FuelBand SE: It’s Refuelling Time | GadFit

December 29, 2013

The Nike+ FuelBand SE (Special Edition) is the upgrade to the original Fuelband. While the original Fuelbands were predominantly whole-coloured; clear, black or ice. The Nike+ Fuelband SE is mostly black with dash of, depending on your preference, yellow, orange, pink and rose gold.

Throughout the day you’ll earn NikeFuel which is supposedly the Nike’s way of measuring your daily activities regardless of your gender, age or weight. According to press release, Nike analysed over a year’s worth of NikeFuel and had the algorithms improved to offer better accuracy in tracking your activities. I put the Nike+ FuelBand SE¬†to the test.

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Can you smell the NikeFuel? ahhh…

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Clockwise from top left: Charging cable, Fuelband SE, 16mm link extension, Sizing tool.

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USB end of the NIke+ Fuelband SE

I make the band look gooood :)

I make the band look gooood ūüôā

ACCURACY

track count

The Nike+Fuelband SE is not the most accurate of trackers I’ve put to the test. I’d be concerned¬†blowing a hundred on something like that. Then again this applies to the unit i own.

HOW’S IT LOOK

The Nike+ FuelBand SE¬†captured the higher intensity activities accurately. However I may exercise at a pretty high intensity for maybe an hour a day max but i’m pretty sure i’m going to be walking around the rest of the day and the lack of accurate step capturing in that aspect bothers me.

Depending on the colour your purchased, i went for the full black. The missus actually said this looks the least sports-like of all the bands i had; it could pass off as a bangle, till she saw the LEDs go off.

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Except for a button on the band, it’s spartan. You control the functions of the band or access the display by pressing the button. Simple. The Nike+ FuelBand SE¬†is hard, almost diecast like when fitted. I¬†could exert a certain amount of weight on it and not see the Fuelband SE even change shape. Herein also lies the issue of the band getting in the way of work, especially typing. Unless you desire discomfort, you’re going to have to pull it further back on your wrist or remove it totally.

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Nike clearly has the fit thought though. The pack comes with 2 extensions which you can choose to add based on your wrist size. The addition of the links is easy and once added, the links clip tight. To give Nike due credit, i never had the links pop on me. The band, once closed, clips firmly.

Links and bands you can use to adjust your fit. The red dot means i havent' been active.

Links and bands you can use to adjust your fit. The red dot means i havent’ been active.

Sizing tool goes here.

Sizing tool goes here.

With a 16mm link, the 8mm link is for comparison.

With a 16mm link, the 8mm link is for comparison.

LEDs will light up the display and exhibit some firework (if i can call “it” that) when you achieve your set goals. Setting the user to right or left hand causes the display to change accordingly. The ambient light sensor in the Fuelband SE also means the brightness of the display is based on the brightness of your environment, so you’ll still see clearly in bright sunny day.

The row of 20 coloured LED at the bottom of the display is actually an indication of your progress towards your goal. If ten LED light up, you’re halfway there.

The Nike+ FuelBand SE is water resistant and will not be a problem for shower and running in the rain. No swimming though.

ACCESSIBILITY OF DATA

The Nike+ FuelBand SE¬†can be used with select iOS and Android¬†devices, and PC or Mac. I found myself doing everything onmy mobile device, there’s no need to use the Nike+ Connect software which is installed on your computer.

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As you get nearer to your goal, the line that charts your day’s activities will eventually turn green. Red means no go, green means go. For ease of reference, you can correspond that to the quarters of the day. As you can see, i usually hit my goal around late afternoon and evening when i go for my run.

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weekly summary on PC

You do get more slightly information from the web interface compared to the mobile app¬†interface. You’ll understand the NikeFuel IS the main form of measurement. Though there’s steps, goals, calories and even hours won. The main display is based on NikeFuel. Perhaps over time you’ll slowly get used to reading the NikeFuel points.

I found the Nike Fuelband app and Nike+ Connect less informative than apps from Jawbone, Fitbit and Withings. For example in the Jawbone app, i’m able to see the trend of any of the tracked stats. Seems Nike is more interested in displaying all the stats based on NikeFuel rather than what the consumer hope to see; that is of no interest to me when i would like to see my sleep duration in a graph. (cant’ be done by the way)¬†

You can see your past activities by day, week, month or year but everything is NikeFuel based.

You’ll also find that all most of your tracked stats and achievements can be shared easily with your friends.

Data is not downloadable as yet unfortunately.

FUNCTIONS:

The Nike+ FuelBand SE promises to track all your physical activity based on NikeFuel. 

  • NikeFuel (It’s actually activity measured in NikeFuel)
  • Steps
  • Calories
  • Sleep tracking

Personally the main draw of the Nike+ Fuelband SE is not the NikeFuel but the trophies you can win from completing challenges. The key is NikeFuel. It’s basically permutation of duration, intensity and time. Getting people off their bums and exercising is hard, why not gamify it, throw in a few trophies etc.¬†Initially it was quite fun. I’d be lying if i didn’t try to achieve these trophies one time of another. There were also days when i’m just 100 points short and i would just swing my arm vigorously to hit the goal. These were some of my trophies.

These are for clocking 50% and 100% more than my set goal of 2500 respectively. The trophies come with nice animation.

These are for clocking 50% and 100% more than my set goal of 2500 respectively. The trophies come with nice animation.

These animal trophies are achieved when you complete certain number of NikeFuel points at certain time of the day. I wasn't trying for these two.....ok maybe i did.

These animal trophies are achieved when you complete certain number of NikeFuel points at certain time of the day. I wasn’t trying for these two…..ok maybe i did.

These are trophies i achieved when i showed consistency over time. For example, going green 7 days in a row. (hitting my goal)

These were trophies I achieved when I showed consistency over time. For example, going green 7 days in a row. (hitting my goal)

Some of the weird challenges require you to clock NikeFuel points in the wee hours of the morning (thank you very much but no). Some required you to quadruple you goals. I set my NikeFuel at 5000 and to quadruple that….that’s going to take a lot out of me. However i can reduce it to perhaps 2500 and suddenly the trophies keep coming in. I’d be lying if i didn’t try to achieve these trophies one time of another.¬†

A nice "shelf" for all my trophies!

A nice “shelf” for all my trophies!

If you count tracking sleep duration and providing NikeFuel (again) as indication of sleep quality, then¬†Fuelband SE also does sleep tracking. I’m not a big fan of sleep tracking but Nike+ FuelBand SE¬†literally NikeFuel-ed my sleep quality. Note to Nike, fuel and sleep don’t go together. How about NikeZzz.

(Left) This is my sleep graph. Seems i'm well rested, slightly stirred towards the end of my sleep, clocking a total of 3 NikeFuel! (Right) My sleep summary over nine sessions. I could not get the app of the web interface to display my sleep duration in a graphical form.

(Left) This is my sleep graph. Seems i’m well rested, slightly stirred towards the end of my sleep, clocking a total of 3 NikeFuel! (Right) My sleep summary over nine sessions. I could not get the app of the web interface to display my sleep duration in a graphical form.

The other feature of the Nike+ FuelBand SE¬† is the tracking of activity sessions. Sessions allow you to track a duration of workout and thereafter tag it as one of the app-listed activities like running, tennis, basketball and so on. I did a couple of runs and had it all tracked with the sessions function. By tracking the workout, you can also choose to add comments, take a picture or share. Well it’s a bonus to see it in graphical form.

A typical tracked running session

A typical tracked running session.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Nike+ FuelBand SE will remind you to get up and move if you set the notifications to active. What you get is the display lighting up on the Nike+ FuelBand SE and also reminders sent to your mobile devices. Unfortunately due to the lack of vibration, most of the reminders went to waste. 

Your scores are always compared versus people of your age group and also the Nike community. For example, you might know that by night time, you’re 300 NikeFuel points ahead of people who are in the same age group. That’s good, i’m ahead.

Nike claims the battery lasts about four days. It really depends on the user. During the review, i regularly worked mine and had the LED display go on quite frequently, it lasted between 3-4 days. I’ve managed to go even longer when i don’t press the button at all, don’t sync daily and had low activity level (not intentional). To charge the Nike+ FuelBand SE, you just need to plug it into a USB port. Yep, you heard me right, a USB port. Gotta give Nike credit for that. Water-resistant and USB charging. *Clap clap clap*

The smaller band has a lower capacity battery than the bigger band at 50mAh battery versus 70mAh battery. This had me scratching my head; 40% smaller battery capacity, lesser materials to produce compared to the medium and big bands, same price?

NIKEBAND FUEL SE IN A NUTSHELL

Pros:

  • Tracks multiple activities quantified using NikeFuel.
  • Water resistant.
  • LED display adjust to brightness levels.
  • Works without mobile device on Mac and PC.
  • Tells time
  • Charges in USB port.
  • Competition with friends and trophies.

Cons:

  • No vibration.
  • Short battery life span if user is active.
  • No food log.

After 3 weeks of using my Nike+ FuelBand SE, I’m convinced high intensity activities and upper body movements are the keys to gathering plenty of NikeFuel. I’ve also gotten used to the fact that only about 75% of my walking step count will be clocked. So if my Fuelband SE shows about 7.5k steps, other trackers would be in the range of about 10k steps.¬†This was compared versus Fitbit One, Withings Pulse and Jawbone UP.

Also, it became painfully obvious that in order to see more trophies i’d be required to set my goal low. If i stuck to my 5000 NikeFuel target, i’m not going to see a lot of trophies.¬†

Competition is the main draw really.¬†There’s plenty of competitive elements when you use the app. If you’re not the competitive sort, it may not appeal to you.¬†The more NikeFuel you have, the more trophies are unlocked and available for winning. New trophies also mean even more achievements to unlock. If only these achievements can be converted to some form of discount at Nike stores. Now that would really mean something.¬†

With the Nike+ FuelBand SE¬†you’re also subscribing to the entire Nike + Ecosystem with Nike+ Running, Nike+ Move app. In effect, you’re competing against an entire population of NikeFuelites if I may coin that term. So you won’t feel like you’re losing out if you swap over to another Nike activity tracker service or device.

Time to re-FUEL.

The Android version of the mobile app was introduced on 20th June 2014. Unfortunately the app supports the Nike+ Fuelband SE only and not the first generation Fuelbands.

Price: $99 and $149 from Nike

Colours: Black, Volt, Pink Foil, Total Crimson.

Metallic Colours: Rose Gold, Silver, Gold

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