Nike, like Apple, is great at marketing. Unfortunately they're not in the same solar system when it comes to product reliability. Their first attempt at a heart rate monitor was unimpressive as the battery would constantly die. The Swoosh has typically been at its best when they keep things simple. I still have my ultra-thin Triax sports watch and I think the reason why it's so good is because it is an incredibly basic watch with very few bells and whistles.
So bearing this in mind I steered clear of the GPS sportswatch and that proved to be a wise decision when the Polar heart rate monitor strap that was supposed to work with the watch had to be pulled from stores because it didn't work with the Nike watch. Use a Nike product to keep track of your heart rate? Just Don't Do It.
With that being said I felt good about the prospects for the Fuelband due to the fact it's basically a glorified pedometer. It can't be used in water and it doesn't track activity like bike riding, but it seems to do a good job tracking activity like weightlifting, running and walking. These are my main forms of physical activity so it made a lot of sense for me to give it a go. Pretty much any activity that is ground based and requires your body to do the work (lift, run, walk, jump, play basketball, volleyball, hockey, football, baseball) will be tracked by the fuelband.
How does it work? You input some basic information about yourself (height, weight, which wrist will be adorned with the fuelband) and set a goal for how much "fuel" you want to try to use each day. Since we all burn calories at different rates "fuel" is Nike's way of trying to democratize activity; no matter your physical condition if you run a 10k you get credit for using the same amount of fuel as Galen Rupp would receive for running one. Again, just as Bo knows baseball and football, Nike knows marketing.
The fuelband tracks "fuel" used, steps taken, calories burned and also has a watch that shows the time. When you download your activity it also estimates how many miles you put in while wearing the fuelband. One feature I would like is a stopwatch so I can keep better track of how much rest I am taking between reps in the gym or keep track of the time it takes me to do a run. So if you want to use the fuelband to track time it will be completely ineffective. If you simply want to set a goal for activity each day the fuelband will be a helpful tool for monitoring and tracking your activity.
When you hit a daily goal or hit a big cumulative number (say 25,000 total fuelpoints) there is an animated figure that dances around and does other goofy stuff. It's cute the first couple times but gets old pretty quickly. There's an app for the iPhone and iPad where you can synch your data and keep track of your goals.
I set my daily goal at 3,000 fuelpoints and on the days I workout I hit the goal effortlessly. On my rest days it can be a bit of a challenge to hit the goal. On days where I travel across the country it can be nearly impossible for me to hit the goal. So it seems fairly accurate in terms of gauging how active I am on a day in, day out basis. It's also cool to know that I have accumulated nearly 500,000 fuelpoints over the 3+ months I have owned the fuelband. What does that mean? I guess it indicates what I already know, that I am serious about being physically active and that I consistently hit my goals.
Let's wrap this up. In short the Fuelband is a glorified pedometer. This is a good thing if you are familiar with Nike's attempts to make advanced technological products. They simply are not up to that task. Creating the most badass pedometer available is right in their wheelhouse. It will work very well for you if you want to track activity on a daily and historical basis and you engage in activities the fuelband is designed to track.