Nike Fuelband SE Makes Keeping Fit That Bit More Stylish [Review]

fuelband

Fuelband SE by Nike
Category: Activity tracker
Works With: iOS devices
Price: $149.95

Until Apple finally comes out with its eagerly anticipated iWatch, Nike — at least in terms of style — is perhaps the closest thing to Apple in the wearable computing space (Tim Cook does, after all, sit on its board). I resisted picking up the original 2012 Fuelband but, motivated by a desire to get fit for the new year, bought its sequel, the Fuelband SE, earlier this year. Having had a bit of time to try it out, here’s what I make of it. (Thoughts registered between exercise-related wheezes.)

What It Is

A stylish activity tracker for keeping you on target when it comes to fitness. Your aim is to earn NikeFuel points, and these are awarded for various activities the device “intelligently” captures courtesy of its in-built accelerometers. You can then visualize your progress on an accompanying iPhone app, while sharing the most impressive accomplishments with friends.

The Good

If you’ve used a Fuelband, you’ll know what to expect. If you haven’t, get ready to be (mostly) impressed. The device is as stylishly designed as you would expect from a company like Nike, feels comfortable on your wrist, and comes in a range of colors which represents a nice touch.

It’s waterproof, which means you don’t have to worry about getting caught out in the rain, or even bother to take it off when you shower. The battery last an impressive amount of time, Bluetooth LE is a big improvement (allowing you to constantly sync with your iPhone, rather than manually having to update), and the accelerometers have been improved from the first generation model.

The algorithms have been considerably tweaked also — so you won’t be able to rack up Fuel points by simply shaking your wrist to “trick” the device into thinking that you’re, say, running.

The main two additions this time are new features Sessions and Hours. Sessions lets you measure specific activities — with a focus on training targets — and matches up well with the social features Nike have thrown in for SE. Hours, meanwhile, encourages you to get some exercise every sixty minutes, with “winning hours” being Nike’s way of describing continued movement for five consecutive minutes.

The accompanying iOS app lets you visualize your progress, while sharing it with other Fuelband-owning friends.

The accompanying iOS app lets you visualize your progress, while sharing it with other Fuelband-owning friends.

The Bad

Temper your expectations is probably the lesson to be learned from the Fuelband SE. What is here is good — the first generation Fuelband was a nifty activity tracker when it was first launched in early 2012, and the Fuelband SE builds on everything that made its first generation sibling good. At the same time it’s what isn’t here that might make potential customers question whether or not to buy an SE — especially considering that this is still one of the more expensive trackers out there on the market.

While it’s unlikely (although not impossible) to affect Cult of Mac readers, it’s worth mentioning there is still no Android support for the Fuelband in terms of the accompanying app.

Nike also haven’t strained themselves coming up with new functionality for the SE, so there’s no altimeter or way of measuring your pulse, for instance, while sleep tracking is disappointing. Although the device is fairly streamlined, it also carries a surprising bit of bulk — noticeable more when you’re typing or resting your hand flat on a desk than at any other time. Finally, there’s the fact that Nike hasn’t added a whole lot for the second generation — making the SE more of an incremental improvement (say, the leap between an iPhone 5 and 5s) than a true rethinking.

The Verdict

Less revolutionary than evolutionary, the Fuelband SE is nonetheless a solid activity tracker. It improves over the solid original in almost every way and, while it may not yet prove why wearable tech is the “must have” wave of the future, it definitely isn’t a purchase I’ve regretted for a moment. The fact that it looks stylish and therefore something you’d be happy to be seen wearing in public doesn’t hurt, either.

Screen_Shot_2014-02-07_at_23Product Name: Nike Fuelband SE
The Good: Stylish, easy to use, and improves on the functionality of the original.
The Bad: Doesn’t add a whole lot over its predecessor. No Android support.
The Verdict: There’s still a way for Nike’s Fuelband tech to go until it becomes truly “must have”, but this a solid activity tracker with a few neat touches.
Buy from: Apple

Cult of Mac rating: Good

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in News | Tagged: , , |