Nike+ FuelBand Review

Initial thoughts
Well, I’ve had my new Nike+ FuelBand for 4 days now, and so far… Eh… I’m not incredibly impressed.

Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t really anything wrong with it… But there’s really nothing right with it either.  As advertised, it’s very lightweight, I barely feel it when I’m wearing it, in-fact I often forget I even have it on.  It’s easy to use with the single button that cycles through the options to display time, calories, fuel and steps. Not to mention pretty good battery life, as I said, I’m on day 4 using it, and still on the original charge from the first time charging it.

The thing is, I’m just really not all that impressed.  The “fuel” element seems to be a pretty arbitrary number that accumulates at an undisclosed rate.  Heck, just by putting it on my wrist and walking down the hall to the living room, I earned 3 fuel points. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing in here that can sense the difference between a light swing of your arm (like when walking) or harder swing when playing say a raquette sport.

The Good
I like that I have some consistent way of tracking my daily activity.  Even with the arbitrary nature of the Fuel point system, I can still have a daily goal to meet or exceed my previous day’s Fuel allocation.

The tool itself (medium for me) is very light, comparable to a standard watch (maybe a little lighter) and really doesn’t get in the way or irritate. Since the band is slightly elliptical and doesn’t really have any moving parts or links, it does sometimes sit funny on my wrist.  From years of wearing a watch, I have a reflex to shake my wrist to readjust whatever is causing the feeling and I can’t help but wonder how the band is interpreting this activity.

Though I have not tested the water resistance of the band in the shower, it does seem like it should hold up to a little moisture from a shower or a steam, but that remains to be seen.

The Bad
One of the more annoying things with the Nike+ FuelBand is that there is no battery indicator on the band itself, or the iPhone application.  I’ve had this on my wrist for 4 days and don’t have a way of knowing if it’s at 10% battery or 50%.

Speaking of battery, for a divice with a few electrometers, a button, some tiny LED lights (usually off), and a radio transmitter (usually off), why the heck does it go through a battery in only 4 days?  Why didn’t they think to add a kinetic charger like many watches have?  For a device that was meant to be used while working out, this could have potentially extended the battery indefinitely.

The charging dongle for it is a little awkward, I didn’t see an obvious mark to show which side of the charger should face upward.  This is just asking for people to break it in the first 2 minutes of opening it.

The battery was not charged out of the box…. on the plus side it took only about an hour to charge via USB to my Windows based computer.

The firmware upgrade I had to do failed on the first attempt which didn’t impress much, but that very well could have been a Windows issue.

I was disappointed there wasn’t something in here to monitor pulse rate.

Final Thoughts
All-in-all, I can see this being motivating for a while to try to get me to do a little more each day.  The limitations above are real, but more annoying than really hindering the functionality of the product.

In the end this is really just a glorified pedometer with LEDs, water resistant skin, and a very expensive marketing campaign.  Not at all worth $150.  I would call it a much better value at $50 or maybe $75.

Good monitor, bad monitor

When our baby was born, we, like most parents registered for a modest monitor with decent ratings.  We figured with a name like Sony, we could hardly go wrong.  To be fair, maybe we got a lemon, or something, but the thing just didn’t work well at all.

Our baby’s bedroom is at the back of the house, with a bathroom near the middle of the house, and the family room at the other end of the house.  While my wife and I stayed home with our new baby for her first 3 weeks; we took many showers in the middle of the day.

With the base station in the baby’s room, the receiver at the other end of the house (well within the stated range on the box) and one of us in the shower in between… The static in the living room was so bad in the living room that we couldn’t hear the TV or other people talking in the room!

We got the monitor at Babys ‘R’ Us, and were lucky that they took it back and let us exchange it for another one.  We were told by the sales people there that our problem was likely due to the fact that the monitor was an analog monitor.  So we took their advice and tried a new one, this time a digital one.

The monitor we switched to was the Summer Infant Slim, and it was a night and day difference.  With the new monitor we were able to walk all around the house without any interference, static, or crackling like we had with the Sony from above.  The transmitter is so sensitive that we can hear her breathing when she has a stuffy nose!

The range is at least double what the Sony one was.  In the fall we can take it out to the fire pit in the backyard without any loss of signal.  When we bought ours 6 months ago it was considerably more pricy, but it was worth every single penny.

Take my advice, pay a little more and get a digital monitor over an analog one, it’ll save you a lot of sleep, and a lot of static.

Great Shoes, Great Service

Several months ago, I bought some Johnston & Murphy shoes at an outlet store while I was on vacation.  I was working in my first real “big boy” job at a major financial institution, and needed some new shoes that were worthy of my new surroundings and pay grade. While I was making more money, I had only gotten a few pay checks, so I was still looking for a deal.

I really liked these shoes when I tried them on, and decided to buy them, one in black and one in brown.  Between the two pairs, I’d worn them 6 days a week for about 6 months.  They were pretty much the most comfortable shoes I’d owned up to this point, which was great because I was in them for 8 – 10 hours a day.

About 6 months in, I noticed that the left shoe in my brown pair started developing a slight squeak whenever I put weight on it.  The sound got way louder when the shoes were wet.  “Oh no, I paid $100 + for shoes that would only last me 6 months?” I was a little disappointed, but I still liked the way the shoes felt and looked… I guess I would just have to stay out of puddles.

Several weeks later my wife and I were in a local mall back home, and saw a Johnston & Murphy store.  We decided to go in to see if they had another pair like the one I loved with the squeak.  I walked up to the counter and told the salesperson what the issue was, and why I was wanting to replace the shoe.  He politely asked me to sit in one of the chairs while he went to the back to see if he had any of that particular style in stock.

After a few minutes, he walked back with a pair in hand.  He laced them up, and put the shoes on for me.  My wife looked at me like “what great service…” and I nodded back.  I walked around and sure enough, they felt just like the pair I had.

I was sold once again, and asked the salesperson to wrap them up, “I’ll take it.”  I took the shoes off, and was ready to start haggling with the guy as he started punching things into the register.  “My old pair only lasted me 6 months, could I talk you into maybe a 20% discount?” I asked him.  He looked at me and said “Sir you don’t owe me a thing, I’m just getting my inventory updated.”

My wife and I were stunned!  We couldn’t believe the service, and the gesture.  Johnston & Murphy has found a customer for life in me.  I will always buy my shoes from the Johnston & Murphy’s at the Chesterfield mall in St. Louis…. as long as I live in St. Louis anyway.

Great products, and great service.  Thank you very much.