Friday, November 1, 2013

Hands-on review: Nike FuelBand SE

Hands-on review: Nike FuelBand SE

Hands-on review: Nike FuelBand SE

If you ever thought that whisking your morning eggs was one of the most strenuous yet overlooked workouts of the day, the Nike FuelBand SE might be the solution.

The SE, which updates Nike's existing FuelBand, is about much more than just accumulating your overall activity and spitting out a big number at the end of the day.

This is now about full body tracking and letting you tell it exactly what you're doing at various moments of the day so it can reward you accordingly.

It will arrive on November 6 around the world at the price of $ 149 or £129 (around AU$ 156), with an overhauled iOS app. No, there's still no Android support, but Nike says it's in the works.



As big fans of the original FuelBand's minimalist look, we're glad that Nike hasn't tried to reinvent it or add any new bells and whistles when it comes to the hardware.

The new band does arrive in three new colour variations - Volt, Pink Foil and Total Crimson - though these are only visible on the inside of the otherwise black wristband.


The FuelBand has also come back better sealed for playing with water. You'll be able to take it in the shower and let it get splashed in the rain, though you still can't take it swimming. Nike told us that the decision to leave the USB connector exposed meant that water resistance had to be sacrificed. Shame.


Interacting with the SE is mostly familiar, although with more to play with. With Bluetooth LE now entering the fray, it means you no longer have to sync the FuelBand with your iPhone by holding the button - that connection is now automatic. This means your NikeFuel points will continue to update on your phone throughout the day.

Viewing the time is also easier now, requiring just a double tap of the button. It's still not at-a-glance as we'd like it, but it's easier than we've been used to.

The SE is bad news for cheaters too. The improved tracking and coordination means that the new FuelBand can tell when you're waving your arm around in the air in an attempt to snag yourself some undeserved Fuel points.

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Nike has dismissed the idea that a wristband can track our exact levels of sleep, but the FuelBand SE will tell you how many hours of complete rest you get a night. We still think the lack of GPS or some other means of measuring distance is a real shame though.

But hold down the FuelBand button for a couple of seconds and a whole new feature will pop up. Which brings us to…

Nike FuelBand SE Sessions

As the heart of the SE lies Sessions, so it really deserves a whole section to itself. This is what stops FuelBand just being the sum of your movements and actually distinguishes your separate activities throughout the day â€" and the exact Fuel points each activity will earn you.


Setting up a Session is easy. As mentioned, you can start a Session by holding down the FuelBand button until "Start&# 34; appears on the screen and then tapping it once more (do the same to finish a Session). You can also activate it from the app itself, which you'll need to do if you're choosing a new activity.


There are a lot of activities that Sessions will recognise, even things like cleaning, coffee grinding and paintballing. But if they're not on there then you can add them yourself, and as more people around the world tag the same activity the more Nike will begin to recognise how much NikeFuel it should be earning you.


What's more, once you've finished an activity and "closed" the Session, you can change the time you spent doing it (in case you forgot to hit start right away) and how hard you think you pushed yourself. Think you took things to the limit? Tell the app that you went all out and you'll be rewarded with more points for doing so.


A perfect example of this is yoga, a demanding exercise that doesn't require a whole lot of movement. Cycling is another - while the FuelBand will carefully monitor your subtle wrist movements as you're biking, those uphill pushes may deserve more credit than you're being given.

We suppose it's another way of cheating really, but it now make things feel a lot more intuitive. As impressed as we are with the new Sessions feature, we can see that a lot of people won't want to bother tagging every single activity they're doing throughout the day.

Nike goes some way to solve that problem by letting you start an untagged session at any point via the wristband and t hen adding the activity in later on.

Groups and Milestones

Enjoy gloating about your achievements but not to the point you want to rub them in everyone's Facebook? Enter Groups, which lets you form small teams with friends so you can keep track of each others progress. Or, as is more likely, keep an eye on the competition.

It's a nice little touch and it was surprising just how much harder we pushed when we could see our rivals doing better. We can see this new feature being a mighty popular one.


The SE also introduces an achievements system called Milestones. This lets you unlock little trophies for your achievements - it might seem a tad silly but just remember how fast Xbox Live achievements took off.


Then we come to "Win the Hour", another nifty feature that Nike had packed in. To win an hour, you have to move for more than five minutes within it. It's Nike teaching us that intense and lengthy bursts of exercise aren't going to do you much good if you spend the next four hours sat immobilised behind a desk.

While the FuelBand SE will be keeping an eye on this, you can set up notifications that will remind you to get up and stretch your legs to make sure that hour is well and truly won.

Early verdict

It's a testament to our hands on time with the FuelBand SE that we really struggled to part with it. It's the same design we know and love but now packed with so much more to offer. Sessions is the real sell but the social features are also a brilliant addition.

There's still the odd gap, but the SE does a great job of fixing the flaws of the original. Is it a smartwatch? Who cares? It's a brilliantly focused piece of fitness wearable that we guarantee will get you moving more throughout the day.


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