REVIEW: Nike+ FuelBand

Nike+ FuelBand was well on its way to becoming this year’s coolest fitness device. It’s a shame it doesn’t work.

WEB LOG: No words needed. Nike has mastered the clean, no-nonsense graphs and logs.
WEB LOG: No words needed. Nike has mastered the clean, no-nonsense graphs and logs. Bilde: Screenshot

Nike+ FuelBand

  • Sizes: S (147 mm), M (172 mm), L (197 mm). Depth: 6.9-8 mm. Weight: 27-31 grams.
  • Sensors: A 3 axis accelerometer. Cannot be calibrated. Nike calculates 20 per cent inaccuracy, test shows 30 per cent. Light sensors that regulate display brightness accordingly to suit environmental light.
  • Display: 20 colour LED lights show progression towards daily goal from red to green. 100 white LED lights show time, NikeFuel earned, calories burned, and steps taken. Brightness level adjusts according to environment.
  • Battery: Two Lithium Polymer Batteries. Charges via USB and lasts up to 4 days.
  • Connect and Sync: Built-in USB 2.0 or cable for computer, Bluetooth sync for mobile phones with Nike+ FuelBand app (free from iTunes, currently only works for iOS 4.3 and 5).
  • Other: Flight mode. Waterproof – can be used in the shower, but not recommended for swimming.
  • Price: 149 dollars. Limited release for pre-sale in the USA. To be sold in Europe from April. Date for Norway not confirmed.
  • Website:
  • Rating: 2/6

What is the Nike+ FuelBand?

The idea behind Nike+ FuelBand is to stimulate the users to a more active lifestyle.

As the name suggests, the Nike+ FuelBand is a wristband featuring two digital displays that you can programme to suit your right or left hand.

The coloured display shows how far you are from obtaining your predefined fitness goal. The white display presents a digital clock, calories burned, number of steps taken and your daily NikeFuel points. The latter being a combination of the number of calories burned and the number of steps taken.

The FuelBand was unveiled in fanfare spirit with help from sports icon Lance Armstrong.

The wristband underwent a very controlled and limited release in the US on the 22 February and is yet to be sold in any other country.

This restricted release caused hype amongst fitness-lovers and the Nike+ FuelBand can now be found on Ebay for double and triple its retail price.


As an avid hobby runner trying to pin down 2000 kilometres per year, I depend on fitness apps to log and measure my progression.

I have tried and tested most of the apps out there available for both Android and IPhone: Runkeeper Pro, Runmeter GPS, Endomondo and several more.

But for the past year, I have sworn my life to Nike+ GPS for three reasons:

  1. The app is stable and consistent. Nike+ GPS maintains its GPS signal throughout every workout, no matter how long your run. I have experienced that other apps have lost their GPS connection or, alternatively, crashed completely, when a run exceeds 25 kilometres.
  2. The web interface is fantastic, and the visual look of the results log, matched with the prizes for the attainment of goals as well as an altered status for reaching your kilometre aims, make for a fun and easy display.
  3. Nike+ has the world’s largest community of runners. You can compete against close friends as well as other community members, or alternatively work together towards a common goal. There are always fun on-going group competitions to join such as running the length of Norway or the first to circle the equator.

Advanced pedometer

Keeping it within Nike territory lines, points 2 and 3 directly complement each other. The expertly portrayed visual log of progression and goal attainment serve as a huge factor of motivation in itself, creating an ever-growing community.

The Nike+ FuelBand is a clear attempt to create a very different fitness gadget to the average runner’s app.

The FuelBand lacks a defined start and stop system. Ideally, this is a wristband you should wear day and night; it measures all movements, like an advanced pedometer.

The aim is to accurately measure all active movement in all 24 hours of the day, and, in turn, encourage an active lifestyle.

The wristband cannot measure heart rate and has no way of registering the intensity of a work out, nor calories burned through weight and strength training.

Given that the accelerometer only registers the swinging motion of the wrist, it is clear that the FuelBand would also be useless for cycling.

Start with a goal

Your journey starts in front of the computer screen.

The first step is to input your personal data including weight, height and age, as well as deciding on your realistic personal goal of how many NikeFuel points you wish to earn daily. Levels can be cross-checked with the average level of your age-range as well as everyone registered.

Additionally you can also download the iPhone app in order to sync your settings and data wirelessly between the wristband and your phone via Bluetooth.

After this, you can begin logging your fitness.

Whilst working towards your daily goal, the LED lights switch from red to yellow to green to indicate how far you are from completion. When you have reached your goal three days in a row you will receive well-earned attention from Here you can also track your personal development, view your high scores and complete log, all presented in a fancy and motivating fashion.

Your online personal profile will be familiar to anyone who has used Nike+ GPS. All your data and progress can naturally be easily shared and posted to your social network profiles.

30 per cent inaccuracy

The Nike+ FuelBand does not have GPS, and the measuring system it does have is shockingly inaccurate.

The accelerometer itself does a fairly bad job of counting the movements of the wrist.

On test-run number one, the wristband registered a distance of 7.0 km on a route I have run and measured at 10.05 km using GPS over 100 times.

On the second run of the same route, FuelBand measured 7.03 km and calculated 609 calories burned, whilst Nike+ GPS reports 797.

On a third try, Nike+ FuelBand measured 6.98 km for the exact same route.

A 30 per cent margin of error in distance measurement comes across as unprofessional and flippant. It will cause miscalculations in both calories burned as well as NikeFuel points.

When the calculations are this misleading it calls for a calibration, but the real problem lies in the fact that the FuelBand can’t actually be calibrated.

When I confronted Nike’s customer service with these concerns they simply explained that they operate at an 80 per cent accuracy average for number of steps and distance, but they are also working on an algorithm and will soon release updates to make the service more accurate.

Until this happens, this product is near useless.

The impressive website log’s value is belittled if you can’t trust the statistics it displays. The best case scenario is that you gain a constant, but incorrect, set of statistics from which you can identify trends and progression, even if the numbers themselves are unrealiable.


A cool gadget with a fantastic website featuring a fitness log, a vast community, smart motivational factors and stellar graphics.

But when push comes to shove, Nike’s 70 – 80 per cent accuracy doesn’t hold.

When it comes to running,  I am sticking to the reliable Nike+ GPS app, which happens to be free, unlike the wristband which is set at 149 American Dollars.

For measuring steps, there are more accurate products on the market.

Let's hope the updates will bring a more accurate measuring - the frontend is world class.

Rating: 2/6

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