FitBit Ultra Vs. Nike+ Fuelband

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I’ve been researching ways to lose weight and boost my overall health. In doing so, I hope to reverse this decade-long trend where my weight resembles gas prices in its upward roller coaster climb to the heavens.

Two devices that appear to have popped up repeatedly during my research are the Nike+ Fuelband and the FitBit Ultra. While each of them share a quite a few of the same features, the differences between the two services are like night and day.

Here are some points to consider before throwing down your hard-earned money on one of these devices.

Accuracy

At their cores, both the FitBit Ultra and the Nike+ Fuelband are step counters. They can measure overall activity, and each has its own set of additional features which makes them a little more useful than a cheap step counter you can pick up at the convenience store, but the true test of a device that counts steps falls in accuracy.

The FitBit Ultra clips on to your belt, pocket, bra, and can even be kept in your pocket if you don’t want to clip it on anything. Depending on where you place the FitBit, its accuracy is pretty remarkable. I found it very difficult to fool, and a built-in altimeter makes it easier for the device to determine whether you’re talking steps or climbing stairs, something the Nike+ Fuelband can’t actually track.

The Nike+ Fuelband attaches to your wrist and tracks your general activity by way of your natural arm swings. If you take the Nike+ Fuelband and fiddle with it idly while sitting at your computer or even shake your arm, it will register activity as if you were out for a jog. It’s not exactly the most accurate way to track your activity. The Nike+ Fuelband can be worn in the shower, which means that you don’t have to worry about possibly forgetting to put it on before you head out to start your day, a welcome benefit for forgetful folks like me.

Winner: FitBit Ultra

Style

Not everyone wants the world to know that they’re on a diet. I’m a strong believer personally in not broadcasting a lot about yourself when I’m out and about. While I might be forthcoming on the Web, I don’t necessarily want everyone I see at the grocery store to know that I’m on a diet.

The FitBit Ultra can be concealed just about anywhere. Women can clip it to their bra, and anyone can clip it to their belt, pocket, or throw it in their pocket for ultimate concealment. I go with clipping it to my pocket, as the device itself is easily covered by my shirt.

The Nike+ Fuelband is an obvious accessory, and everyone and anyone that you meet during your day will probably see it. While the band itself may be stylish, and you get to rock that Nike logo (if you care about that sort of thing) everyone will know that you’re using technology to help you work out. Still, that does appear to be a trend right now as fit is being considered the new rich.

Winner: Tie

Syncing

Both the FitBit Ultra and Nike+ connect to the Web to sync your activity with an online portal that compiles and displays your data to help you reach your fitness goals. These two devices both accomplish pretty much the same thing here, but how they do it is very different.

The FitBit Ultra needs to be either docked or within 15 feet of a FitBit dock to sync. I find that within a minute or two of getting home after an outing the FitBit site is updated with the latest stats, but I have to be home to make that update.

The Nike+ Fuelband can sync via Bluetooth on your smartphone, making the information available through the app and site as updated and accurate as possible. This makes it easier to check your progress while stopping at a coffee shop during your lunch break.

Winner: Nike+ Fuelband

Features

Outside of being an overpriced step counter with sync functionality, what can your device actually do? What are the features of the connected service, and how can they assist you in meeting your long-term goals?

The FitBit Ultra not only counts your steps, but it also keeps tracks of stairs climbed, your sleep quality, your calorie burn, and even your food intake by way of the website. This means the FitBit can track virtually all components of your activity. I’ve even been able to get detailed reports about how many times I’m disturbed from my slumber during the night, which helps me to better track methods of improving my sleep. The FitBit service has made it possible for me to track the amount of calories I’ve consumed and burned, while maintaining a goal for me to optimize my weight-loss efforts. You can also use it to track your blood pressure, glucose levels, BMI, heart rate, and other important health information which can be exported to an XML file. I’d imagine that a doctor would find this information invaluable in some cases.

Nike+ is a pretty robust service in itself, tracking your activity levels and giving you goals to meet in order to improve your overall health. Nike+ appeals strongly to the athlete, giving goals and promoting an active lifestyle above all. While FitBit Ultra does this to some degree, the data collected by Nike+ might be more useful to an athlete than anyone else.

Both of these services have social integration allowing you to share and retain your progress. Within the FitBit site, you can opt to invite people to be your friends, allowing them to see a bit more of your information than the general public, while giving you the ability to do the same with them. You can still keep certain things private such as what you ate, your weight, and other stats. On the other side, you can expose all this information so your friend (or trainer) can monitor your progress and help you develop a comprehensive workout plan.

Winner: FitBit Ultra

Price

The FitBit Ultra runs about $100 and can be found just about anywhere fitness products are sold. I picked mine up at Walmart for the same price (plus tax) I would have paid at Amazon. The device itself comes with a wrist strap for sleep monitoring, charging/syncing dock, and a belt clip for larger belts. The basic features of the FitBit website are available for free, though the premium services including a trainer, comparative analysis, and meal planning come at a price of about $50 per year.

The Nike+ Fuelband is available only on the Nike Store and runs about $150. Considering that it tracks less than the FitBit Ultra, you’re really just paying for the Nike brand and Bluetooth sync. While I don’t personally see it as the better value out of the two, it could be to you if you care about that sort of thing.

Winner: FitBit Ultra

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • Kyle Polansky

    For those who are serious about training, I would recommend a Garmin sports watch. The Forerunner 610 is a smaller watch that can also be used for non-fitness activities, but the 910XT is the watch that will do pretty much everything.

    If selecting a Garmin watch, those are the 2 main paths. Either a bigger watch, or a smaller one. I personally prefer the bigger screen because I don’t have the best vision. Although the watch seems huge at first, give it a week and you will be used to it. The 4 versions of these “big watches” are the 910XT, 310XT, 305, and 205. I would recommend getting the cheapest version that meets your needs. The 205 is the base that does a great job, but doesn’t really have any extras. The 305 (My previous watch) is the 205 with red paint, and support for heart rate monitors, step counters, and biking wheel rotation sensors. The 310XT (My current watch) has everything the 305 has, but also has vibration alerts, updated stat tracking (HR and current pace), longer battery life, and automatic wireless syncing. I bought this when my 305 broke (because I put it in a supersonic jewelry). The extra battery life is great, and it’s nice having my runs automatically synced everytime I run home. The newest watch, the 910XT, focused on the swimming mode. It also has a barometric altimeter for measuring altitude. I personally didn’t think the extra $100 was reasonable for this upgrade, as I’m not a swimmer.

    I don’t have much experience with the other “small watches”. The 610 is the only watch that offers a touch screen, but it’s hard enough to push buttons when you are running. I would look at the specifications for more information to compare these watches.

    With all these watches, you can upload your data to Garmin Connect, an online site for storing all of your workouts. It saves all the GPS data, so you can go back and view a map, and analyse graphs of sections where you slowed up or slowed down, and where the elevation change was etc. It also keeps a calendar of all the activities you have, this is useful to use. I can go back a year and see how much faster my times are. You can also calculate miles per year, and split up statistics based on activity type. I’ll also mention that all these watches support biking as well, so if you are a cyclist, then the same information will be stored, but the activities will be stored as bike rides rather than runs.

    For in depth reviews, I recommend reading some of the product reviews that “DC Rainmaker” has made. He has compared many different types of GPS watches, and does a great job writing articles. I would post a link, but it appears that comments with links never get posted (Google is your friend :).

    If you have any questions about the Garmin watches (specifically the 205,305, or 310XT) let me know on Google+. They are all great products, and I want to inform people that may not know about them.

    Also, if anyone has a way to get an email when someone replies to your comment, that would be awesome. I feel like a lot of people reply to my comments but I almost never come back to the blogs to check them.

  • http://www.besttomarket.com/ M Elayan

    I own the FitBit Ultra. For the price, it’s great! But I do agree that the Nike band is more stylish.

  • D Trikannad

    This has been very helpful. For my needs, I think I just need something I can hide and the fact that fitbit can be more accurate for somethings puts it over the top; not to mention that its cheaper as well. Great review!!

  • amy bengtson

    Do you still use your fitbit? Is it in good shape?