When the first Nike+ Fuelband was unveiled, the sports clothing manufacturer presented a product that dragged everyday fitness into the digital age. A new industry of wearable health trackers was born.
Fast forward to 2014 and the market is bursting with activity and fitness bands which offer advanced tracking and connectivity, leagues above the first FuelBand release. In efforts to fight the competition, Nike have unveiled the Nike+ FuelBand SE with updated specs and new features. How does this Special Edition compete and are Nike still a force in the fitness tracking industry?
*Update – 7th September – The best features of Nike+ Running can be found on the latest Samsung smart watch. Check out my review of the Gear S.
It’s all about NikeFuel
Yes, the FuelBand SE can track conventional metrics such as calories and steps taken. Where the device stands out from its rivals is the use of NikeFuel, a metric designed to be a little more edgy and fun. Though a fake metric such as NikeFuel could easily be scoffed at by sports scientists, Nike state it helps to address movement across a range of activities. As actual calories burned can also be affected by age, gender and weight of the individual, NikeFuel scratches out the rules and places everyone on a level playing field that’s focused on movement.
NikeFuel gets more granular with body movements and assesses how often and how intense your movements are too. Bigger, more vigorous actions result in a larger accumulation of NikeFuel points.
Some may still argue, what’s the point in tracking a fake metric? Ultimately, the more you move, the higher your NikeFuel score becomes. If a fictional metric has the ability to increase your levels of activity, then isn’t the FuelBand SE achieving the main purpose of a fitness tracker?
Set Daily Goals, then smash them!
Once you’ve chosen a target via Nike+ Connect, it’s time to get active. As with the first generation release, you’ll find a progress bar made up of 20 coloured LED lights on the FuelBand SE. As you move throughout the day, there’s a great feeling of satisfaction as you see the progress bar power up from red to green. With your daily goal always on show, see it as a constant reminder that there’s movement yet to be done. You’ll feel better for it afterwards!
More feedback with Nike+ Sessions
Press the black button to select session mode, and you’ll experience a whole new level of fitness tracking. Perfect for when you’re doing a bit of boot camp or focusing on an active session, the FuelBand will log your NikeFuel Rate, to show how many NikeFuel points you earned each minute of the session.
Reviewing how you earned your NikeFuel throughout the activity may help highlight which parts of your session really racked up the points. Next time you do a session, you could aim to achieve more movement, or achieve a higher NikeFuel rate.
Reduce inactivity with Win the Hour
Many of the 2014 activity tracker releases arrive with inactivity alerts; gentle reminders to get off the sofa. The Nike+ solution is “Win the Hour” which rewards you with trophies for every hour you move for 5 minutes or more. At any stage, should you be losing against the clock, the FuelBand SE can push a notification to your iPhone to encourage you to pick up your activity.
All this recording of movement is going to drink battery juice and the FuelBand SE states up to 4 days of power from its two Lithium Polymer batteries.
With a built in ambient light sensor, the FuelBand SE can ensure the display is only bright when in it’s difficult to view in natural light.
Battery life is pretty short when you compare it to the likes of Garmin Vivofit, with its mammoth 1 year charge from two replaceable CR1632 coin cells. As long as you’re in reach of a USB port every 4 days, the band can be taken off your wrist and charged within 3-4 hours.
FuelBand SE compatibility with smartphone
The latest FuelBand SE comes rocking with Bluetooth Smart, meaning you can view your activity data in real-time whilst wearing the device. This functionality only works if you own an Apple iPad or iPhone later than 4s. It’s tough news for Android and Windows Phone users, who don’t even have the FuelBand app available in their respective app stores.
For an activity tracker that’s compatible with Android smartphones featuring Bluetooth 4.0, the Jawbone UP24 or Garmin Vivofit may be better purchases.
*Update – 22nd June* – Nike have now launched the FuelBand app onto Google Play. You can see which Android smartphones are compatible with the FuelBand SE in our latest post.
If you have no intention of connecting the FuelBand SE to an iPhone or iPad, you can always download the Nike+ Connect software onto your Mac or Windows laptop. Then just use a USB port to plug in the FuelBand to your desktop to upload your latest activities.
Earn Rewards and Community Spirit
For an extra scoop of motivation, log onto the FuelBand app for a whole host of trophies, leaderboards and group goals.
There are plenty of Nike+ trophies up for grabs through using the Fuelband. Whether its hitting your first million NikeFuel points, doubling your daily goal or achieving green on Halloween, there’s a bounty of awards waiting to be hoarded. View an up to date list of FuelBand trophies over at Nike+.
Maybe you prefer to stand out from the crowd. You can challenge your friends or take on the Nike+ community in the race to achieve high NikeFuel scores. For the team players you can even, create a group goal to achieve a combined number of NikeFuel together. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, you can always give them a friendly reminder of encouragement!
Long live the FuelBand!
In summary, the Nike+ FuelBand SE delivers an updated product to maintain relevancy against the barrage of new fitness activity trackers. With Bluetooth Smart, improved accelerometer sensitivity and a redesigned app interface, Nike’s fitness tracker is a worthwhile purchase to give your activity a healthy boost.
Hopefully the next generation FuelBand release will incorporate connectivity to Android smartphones to really branch out to a wider base of users.
Until then, the FuelBand SE is available to buy in Volt, Pink Foil, Total Crimson and Black.[product id=”336″]