For those of you that know me, I’m all about well-designed products that make life easier. Having researched several pedometer/health and wellness wearables recently, I decided to give the Nike FuelBand SE a test drive, now that the wearable offers support for Android as well. Nike sent me a FuelBand SE in Volt (chartreuse green) to pair with my GALAXY S5 Active last month.
Though my main phone is an iPhone 5S, I’m going to use the FuelBand SE with my Galaxy Active S5 for the purpose of this review.
I’m fully aware what the FuelBand SE DOESN’T do: monitor heart rate, track fitness machine usage at the gym, steps climbed, or food intake.
What I DID want to use this for is to keep track of my power walks and to make sure that I’m active at several integral parts of the day, as our modern age sedentary computer lifestyle has become the new life-shortener. I’ve recently read that it’s more beneficial to get several spurts of activity throughout the day rather than an hour all at once, and for that reason alone, the FuelBand SE will hopefully prove the perfect wearable to keep me on track.
Having the USB cable is handy if you’re like me and connect to a USB-powered keyboard. It’s also handy for plugging into a charging brick leading into a wall socket.
The band comes with an extra link to make the band larger, which I did, as I was sent the smallest size (5.79 inches/147mm) of the three. Additional sizes are medium/large (6.77 inches/172mm) and extra large (7.76 inches/197mm).
Once the FuelBand SE is paired with your smart phone via Bluetooth, it will automatically sync to the app when close to the phone. Each time you plug the FuelBand SE into your computer’s USB, the Nike+ Connect website launches to update your recent progress.
Progress is made using NikeFuel, a way that FuelBand SE measures how much you move as well as the intensity of your sessions. Hourly reminders (aka own the hour) can be set for a daily range of hours (e.g. 9 am to 6 pm). For those of you unfamiliar with Nike’s own the hour, it’s the FuelBand SE’s way of gently nudging you to get away from your desk and moving around for five minutes straight each hour.
I sometimes found it hard to get out of my chair right when the message “Go Ariane” scrolled on the band at every hour (especially when on a writing deadline), but this feature does give me an idea that it’s time for a leg stretch, if even to walk up and down the stairs a few times and grab another glass of water. An extra option reminds you to keep moving each hour.
Pushing and holding the button on top of the FuelBand SE brings you to the Sessions screen. Press and hold the button to start a session, press it again for a three-second countdown, and Go! To stop a session, press and hold until End appears on the screen, then press again.
Once your session has ended, a readout cycles from Fuel Per Minute to Time Elapsed to Fuel Accumulated. Once you end a session, you can tag it either within the app or at your desktop with the Nike+ Connect app open.
The FuelBand SE consists of 100 white LEDs and a row of 20 multi-colored LEDs, with a bright readout as well as an integrated ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts for fluctuations in lighting.
The Nike+ FuelBand app is handy for letting you know the FuelBand’s remaining battery juice. To save power, consider turning off the own the hour option.
The FuelBand SE is water-resistant but NOT waterproof, so swimming, SUP sessions, and other water-based activities are out. A thermoplastic elastomer/polypropylene shell shields the device from minor abrasions and keeps it water resistant.
Sleeping with the FuelBand SE
As FuelBand SE monitors your non-active hours as well, it’s recommended that you sleep with it on. I did so and discovered that aside from pushing the bracelet down my arm closer to my hand at times, the bracelet is pretty comfortable to wear throughout the night.
The few times that I took it off before showering were the same few times that I wound up forgetting to click it back on my wrist!
For starting a ‘sleep session’, start a new session before going to bed, then stop it when you get up, to learn how long and how deep your sleep ‘session’ was.
All settings are configured either through the easy-to-navigate Nike+ FuelBand app on your computer or via the Android and iPhone apps.
– Optimized for the web (Mac OS X v10.6 and above/Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8)
– Works on Android and iOS devices (iPhone 4S and above, iPod Touch 5th generation and above)
– Android experience (available in English only) optimized for Samsung Galaxy S3, S4 and S5, HTC One, Nexus 5, Moto X
– Bluetooth 4.0 support for real-time app updates when the FuelBand SE is near your smart phone
– Graphics to show activity overview by time period, including day, week, month, and year
– Keeps users motivated showing goals, challenges achieved, and calories burned
– Share sessions via Facebook and Twitter to challenge friends online
– Bright display; easy to read in sunny conditions too
– Sleek design, comfortable to wear, available in black with three different accent colours
– Tracks a variety of activity types
– Connects straight into a USB port
– Battery life could be improved (though it’s improved over the original FuelBand by 20mAh’s)
– Missing an altimeter; many of my office worker friends climb stairs during the day for exercise
– Heart rate sensor would be great
The Nike FuelBand SE retails for US $99/CDN $99 and comes with a one year warranty. Note: Nike will no longer be producing the FuelBand SE but will continue to offer support via app updates.