Fitbit One vs. Striiv vs. Nike Fuel Band
Like many others, I’m interested in improving my fitness level. I’m also someone who’s interested in data. Things some may consider “useless facts” can actually be valuable information in the right hands. This is where fitness tracking devices come into play.
The three devices I’ve tried and talk about are the Fitbit One, Striiv , and Nike Fuel Band. All of these devices have been developed with the same ultimate goal of providing the user with information about their activity level during the day and hopefully motivating you to do more. If you don’t care about the details (this is a bit longer than I expected) and just want to see a recommendation, jump to “The Verdict”. Otherwise, I’ll provide a little information about each of them to highlight pros and cons. This is by no means intended to be a definitive write-up. Different people will want different things from their products so the goal is simply to provide some information from the perspective of a user of these devices in hopes of aiding the decision making process.
First off, all of three of these devices are good at what they’re intended to do – inspiring the user to get up and move.
The Fitbit is the smallest of the three. The Fitbit One is a little taller than a AAA battery and slightly thinner than one as well. The previous Fitbit models were comparable to the size of a AA. The One includes a clip which keeps the device wherever you like to wear it. It can be comfortably worn under clothing or, as I often do, just dropped in a pocket.
The Striiv is taller and ticker than the Fitbit. Sticking with the battery size examples, it would be about the height of a AA battery stacked sideways on top of another AA. There’s good reason for the additional size as the Striiv is the only one of the bunch to include a full color LCD touch screen. There’s a new version of the Striiv called “Striiv Play” which does away with the LCD but I’ve not used one so don’t have information to share on it here.
The Fuel Band is essentially a bracelet. It comes in a few different sizes which are further customized by included extension links. The Fuel Band does include a Fuel meter which shows how close you are to your established goal at any given time.
To me, the most important thing to know about these devices is what data is tracked by them and how accurate that data is. They each have a variety of accelerometers they use to know when you’re doing something. They display your number of steps taken, distance traveled, and estimated number of calories burned.
The Fuel Band adds Nike’s proprietary Fuel Points to the data. Nike Fuel is earned by activity level. It’s not an exact measurement as you’re rewarded for the intensity and duration of your activity as well. For example, walking a mile will not earn as much as jogging a mile and neither will earn what a 1 mile sprint will give you.
The Fitbit and Striiv include methods to determine if you’ve climbed stairs and tracks those as well. The Fitbit tracks “floors” while the Striiv takes it a step further by estimating the equivalent number of steps climbed as you increase altitude. Hopefully Nike takes this data point into account with future revisions of the Fuel Band.
The Fitbit is the only one that tracks sleep. You wear it on your wrist and night, start an activity by holding the button, and dose off. It’s interesting to know how much you’re tossing and turning or flat out getting up at night.
As much as we’d like, it’s unrealistic to expect perfect accuracy from any of these devices. Accuracy, however, is very important when it comes down to the data they track.
Of the three, the Fuel Band was consistently less accurate than either the Fitbit or Striiv. Maybe because it’s worn on the wrist or maybe it’s less sensitive, whatever the reason, the Fuel Band regularly came up over 1,000+ steps less than the others on a 7,000 – 10,000 step day.
The Striiv also tends to miss a few more steps than the Fitbit. I’ve walked around, device in hand, counting step by step and watched as the Striiv would overlook a few as I went along. This was the same with going up steps where it would lose one or two on each flight. This was worse when waking the display during an activity. At one time I watched as it neglected to count at least 20 steps as I was running on a treadmill.
The Fitbit did a great job of keeping up with the counts as I checked on it through various activities. At times where it appeared to have frozen and missed steps, it caught up shortly after that and got back on pace easily. There were times where it missed a floor or two but otherwise it was on the mark. The one thing about the Fitbit is the way it tracks floors. It uses barometric pressure and something like riding a motorcycle to work will make it think you’re earning floors. On a 30 mile commute I can gain up to 20 floors just riding in.
No matter how much data is tracked, it’s useless if you can’t see it. All of these trackers provide free websites where you can view your logged data.
The Fitbit and Fuel Band provide the numbers tracked on their respective displays. Each uses a normally dark display which lights up with data when you press a button on the device. The data on the display is cycled by repeated presses of the button. The Fuel Band adds a meter which lights to indicate how close you are to your established goal for the day.
The Striiv makes good use of the LCD display by providing a wealth of information on the screen. In addition to the tracked data, it offers a number of competitive challenges during the day, virtual races with digital opponents, even a game that you play on the device itself. It’s reminiscent of the Sega Virtual Memory Unit for those people who are familiar with those. The touch display allows easy navigation through the various screens and menu options.
When it comes to the websites, Fitbit has a vastly superior service. You can create and manage a log of your activities like runs, bike rides, swims, etc. There’s also a log for food so you can track your meals and snacks through the day and even your body / weight stats so you have access to a full suite of tools included with the free Fitbit account. Additionally, the Fitbit community is more active and there’s always something interesting going on in the forums.
Both the Fitbit and Fuel Band allow you to set daily goals. The Fuel Band tracks Nike Fuel which makes determining exactly how much more activity is needed to achieve the goal difficult but the indicator does give an idea of where you stand.
With the Fitbit, you can set your goals based on the number of steps, miles, or floors that you want. These are fairly definitive numbers and you can always tell how much more you need to do by checking the display on the device. The Fitbit is the only one of the 3 that does not give you information about your goal on the display though, you have to check from another device if you don’t know off the top of your head.
The Striiv has another way of working with goals. It gives you challenges based on your activity level so they’re changing dynamically. Those goals come in Easy, Medium, and Hard choices at any given time and for the most part it’s very good at providing attainable challenges that will get you to take the extra couple of steps or another flight of stairs before having a seat in the office. There are also Trophies provided which seem to keep coming every day as you keep moving. There are a lot of ways to motivate in the Striiv as long as you take a moment to use the device.
Interaction with other services
One of the best things about these companies is that they are doing what they can to help you get the best experience from their devices. A part of accomplishing this goal is partnerships with other fitness inspired sites and services that can share data. Fortunately for users, there are a plenty of those available and more coming all of the time. Popular sites like MyFitnessPal and TrackMyRun as well as less known sites like Neufit are all able to share information with the Fitbit. The Striiv is increasing it’s presence as well with more partnerships happening recently. I didn’t find any partner sites for the Fuel Band, but, Nike is strong enough to stand on its own for those who don’t have interest in the other services.
I enjoyed all three of the devices. Each has its own strong points as well as weaknesses. When it comes down to the device that gives me the most pros in a single unit, I choose the Fitbit One. It captures all of the data that I’m interested in, it’s partnered with a lot of other services, and the design fits my lifestyle better than either of the others.
As I said before, this is not the end all be all of reviews. You should make your choice based on what gives you the information that you want. In the end, it all comes down to getting you motivated to do a little bit more and to be a little healthier.