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Customer Review

695 of 758 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tried for 3 months. Unreliable, poor software updates, poor quality., August 15, 2012
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Great idea, low profile system with a nice display, simple to use, custom-fit, hooks into mobile devices. Here's my two cents.

Quality of Construction:
I bought a Fuel Band in May. I wore it for about 3 months. I wore it every day, to track my fuel points, which is the system Nike built to measure activity.

The Fuelband fit well. There were problems with the interface, and I had to reset it after a week because the firmware update didn't work right, it wouldn't connect, so I lost all that data. I talked to a service rep and got it fixed. Then I synced it to my iPad and it worked for about 3 weeks, I tracked my workouts, and then the sync stopped working, and it asked me to go to the Nike website and update my account. I did that, and it started working again, until today, and now it appears to have finally given up, just telling me to plug it in over and over, sometimes with a firmware update, sometimes not.

Then there's the LEDs that display everything. They started to burn out after the first month, line by line. I'm down to about 75% of the lines working at this point. Its unreadable now. I was pretty gentle with the thing, so I don't know why they are burning out.

So the quality of my $200 band withstood 3 months of moderate use, and was maintenance heavy throughout that period, and now it is pretty much useless and I'm looking for a new watch. I've done 3 factory resets, the past two haven't done anything and its just giving me the "Error returned from Nike+" when I plug it in to the computer, and the display is giving me the "plug me in to the computer" symbol.

Quality of the Fuel Point system:
The whole idea of this is a minimalist system that tracks activity constantly and passively, without a whole lot of button pressing for the user. Nike put an accelerometer in a rubberized wrist band, told it to record accelerations in any direction, and then puts that data through a formula that spits out Fuel Points, Calories, and Steps. Calories is completely inaccurate. Steps is probably pretty close. Fuel points appear to be based entirely on duration. The longer you are moving, the more points you get, regardless of intensity. So if you run 5 miles in an hour, its worth as much as walking 1 mile around the mall for an hour.
This was proven to me when I did an 8 mile run on a Saturday, and then the next day, I played with my kids for 2 hours on a golf course trail. Vs. the 8 mile run, the kids scored about double points (who knows?), double calories (not true), and double steps (probably true). I was carrying one daughter on my shoulders for a short stretch, but I don't think the FuelBand knew that. A few weekends later, I did a long walk up Mount Whitney. About 22 miles. I got about 3000 calories for that, over the 11 hours it took me, and 11000 fuel points. I'm no scientist, but I'm pretty sure I burned more 3000 calories in 11 hours of effort. I understand it can't take into account elevation, but it recorded 57,000 steps that day, and it gave me very little for it in terms of calories. Even at 10 calories per 100 steps, I should have gotten 5700.

So, Nike, some free advice, which I'm also sending you directly:
-don't sell this as a professional workout system, its not, it isn't accurate enough and doesn't account for things like speed, intensity, elevation change, distance/time, activity type, etc.
-don't sell it to athletes as a performance tracking system, it doesn't track performance in any sort of reliable way, just a single number accelerometer and simple algorithm to put the data through
-I recommend you re-package the existing model as a healthcare device, for people who need to move more each day to maintain some basic level of activity: the sick, the old, the obese, anyone with an overly sedentary lifestyle who just needs to shoot for a number each day to get them off the couch or prevent muscle atrophy
-I recommend you add functionality and re-introduce a performance model, that maintains the low profile/simplicity factor, but includes distance covered (through net acceleration, kind of an inertial nav system, or GPS), workout intensity (possibly through heartrate), and is waterproof. An all-activity performance tracker, that isn't a huge beast of a watch. Nice form factor, now make it live up to the promise of "Nike+ FuelBand tracks your activity through a sport-tested accelerometer. Then translates every move into NikeFuel. Nike+ FuelBand tracks running, walking, dancing, basketball - and dozens of everyday actions. It also syncs up with a motivational web and mobile experience. So put it on and get moving."
-Maybe even hook this new device up to Fitocracy.com, and cross-reference the data with descriptive workout data to calibrate your fuel point system. That might actually get you the innovator/early-adopter demographic you're after, that you can expand into more mainstream audiences.

Hope this helps people on the fence,

-Jason W.
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Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 28 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 26, 2012, 1:24:44 PM PDT
Wildchild716 says:
"just telling me to plug it in over and over, sometimes with a firmware update, sometimes not."

That is exactly what's happening with my band. Its just a piece of junk and I am not ready to do any more factory resets.. it goes into the dump. Shame on Nike.

Posted on Oct 23, 2012, 5:29:54 AM PDT
J. Weiner says:
"I understand it can't take into account elevation, but it recorded 57,000 steps that day, and it gave me very little for it in terms of calories. Even at 1 calorie per 100 steps, I should have gotten 5700."

I agree your calorie number sounds wrong... but check your math here chief.

Posted on Nov 4, 2012, 4:36:13 AM PST
Good post, thanks.... that one is OFF the Christmas list.

Posted on Nov 4, 2012, 4:38:10 AM PST
Good post, thanks.... that one is OFF the Christmas list.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012, 9:56:41 AM PST
Alf says:
Yes, you're right, I typo'd. 10 calories per 100 steps would be 5700 calories. Good catch.

Posted on Nov 5, 2012, 5:52:15 PM PST
Damn, I wish I saw your review before my fuelband went into self destruct mode. lol thanks

Posted on Nov 13, 2012, 1:10:21 AM PST
Keith B. says:
Everything this reviewer said is the truth, Nike did just an okay job here. The marketing is there but I really expected more from the product. It is not totally useless but I really expected more from the device considering the cost I paid

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2012, 7:11:12 AM PST
Dev Gil says:
Expecting more from Nike is sooooo 80s. Its marketing and money now. They have found out endorsements sell much much more than a good product.

Posted on Nov 28, 2012, 9:25:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 22, 2014, 12:44:18 AM PST
Blejowski says:
Thanks for a great review. This answered pretty much all the questions I had. Sounds like a gimmick that doesn't really deliver.

I saw a review somewhere that posted nikefuel scores for various tasks. Smoking a cigarette scored more than walking up 4 flights of stairs. Obviously this thing is much better at measuring arm movements than leg movements. And presumably the score for smoking a cigarette with the *other* hand would have been almost zero.

update: I ended up buying a Fitbit One. I am SO happy with it. It's given me an accurate understanding of my calorie situation, has motivated me tremendously, and I'm more active and steadily losing weight as a result.

update 2: Over a year later, and I'm still happy with the fitbit One. It works well, is impressively accurate, and has made a strong impact onto my overall fitness. I went from "never exercise, and am approaching obesity", to "enjoy regular exercise, lost 10kgs, and feeling good". Of course, the fitbit isn't 100% responsible for all of that, but it's certainly helped. The fact that it actually *works* obviously has something to do with it.

Posted on Dec 13, 2012, 11:20:20 AM PST
Buys stuff says:
It's just a cool shiny thing, the GPS watch and the Kinect game are better measures of fitness, you have to go in there and push buttons and be specific about what you're doing.
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