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Nike+ Fuel Band Review: The Sports Watch You Never Knew You Needed

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Attempting to drum along to the entirety of the classic cult party-rock album 'I Get Wet' by Andrew WK takes 43% more effort than the equivalent drum-along to the best of REM.

A full seven-inning game of softball delivers just about half the amount of benefit to the human male's body as the equivalent game of football.

And, alas, walking 100m, eating a burrito, and then walking back again contributes just 2% of your required daily exercise.

These things and more - so much more - we learned recently while testing the Nike+ Fuel Band.

The Nike+ Fuel Band is a beautiful and deadly device, which aims to measure your daily exercise with a variety of brutal statistics - and so inspire you to greater endeavours of physicality and not sitting around.

Worn on your wrist, it is a matte-black, soft-to-the-touch and pleasantly weighted piece of techno jewellery with a single raised button, which when pressed reveals a hidden 70s-style LED display that lights up your daily progress (or the time) in a line of 20 red-to-green lights, and connects to your PC and Mac via a USB adapter while syncing to your phone with Bluetooth.

As with the best and most timelessly designed devices, the Fuel Band is simultaneously retro and futuristic, functional and ridiculous. Even if it does look a bit like a charity wristband it's one of the coolest things you can wear above your hand.

It's also water resistant, works in the shower (though not when swimming) and comes with extra 'links' to resize to your needs.

So no, unlike other Sports Watches you won't look like Dick Tracy while wearing it. But trust us - that's a good thing.

Aside from looking swish (or is that Swoosh?) the Fuel Band is designed to measure your daily exercise.

Is does this using Fuel Points, which are Nike's new currency with which to try and tot-up your activity using something other than calorie counts, pedometer or GPS. The result is a mixture of sensors and formulae which are used to measure the intensity, length and style of your movement.

With all this data the band then does something, and turns it into a one-size-fits-all representation of your activity.

As you progress through the day - walking to the Tube, running up and down the stairs searching for meeting rooms and generally having an awful time of it - it will tell you with a simple button press and a row of 20 twinkly lights how much closer you are to either living forever, or dying of a heart attack in the next 24 hours. In a sense.

The Fuel Band also measures your steps and your calorie count, as well as the time. All of the relevant stats are synced and uploaded to Nike's online exercise tracker, which you can use to set challenges to your friends, make goals for your future progress and everything else that people do in adverts.

So does it work? In most practical respects, yes. It's impossible at first not to implicitly distrust and even dislike the Fuel Band for its apparently arbitary measurements - if you do a 20 minute treadmill run and only earn 90 points and then go on to gain another 200 from an hour drinking in the pub, as we did early on, you'll feel something is wrong.

It's also possible to see how the Band could become an oppressive force - a constant nag to do more, go higher, jump longer and all the other things that - again - people do in adverts.

But the more you use the band - and, frankly, start to forget it's there, the better it becomes.

After about a week we stopped watching the counter every time we made any significant movement, and started to check in a few times a day to see what the stats reported. Over time we learned to use it as a guide, a mantra almost - a constant, quiet pulse alongside our gradually improving exercise schedule. To run the extra half mile, to walk the extra bus stop, and type the extra Nike Fuel Band review.

Instead of a digital gym instructor forcing us to lift impossible loads for their own sadistic amusement, the Band over time became the tech equivalent of our slightly fitter, slightly younger friend, who won't tease you for being flabby but will buy you a new running shirt as a hint at Christmas.

The most repeated criticism of the band - aside from its price, which at £139.99 is steep - is that it answers a question nobody asked.

From a certain point of view, this is true.

But for us, it didn't matter. After a while the Band first imposed, then justified its own existence, to the point that when we gave it back we missed its self-righteous nagging, and the haunting pressure its presence placed on our wrist.

We didn't feel it made us exercise more when we had it. But by not being there it made us exercise - and drum to cult party metal - less. Without the Band both things were also made a little less fun.

So while you don't necessarily need a Fuel Band now, we recommend you give it a try. And after about a month, you probably will need it after all.

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