Saturday, November 27, 2010
Review: SnakeByte Wii Premium Fitness Board
If you're looking to add some more active gaming to your lifestyle and don't feel comfortable working out at a public gym, You've probably heard about a little console called the Nintendo Wii and the rather impressive number of activity-based games and peripherals that have been released. Wii Fit and its sequel (plus other exercise games from different publishers) have become worldwide phenomenons thanks to Nintendo's targeting of every person as a potential gamer has really caught on since the console's launch. Here's a peek at a pretty slick peripheral you'll want to check out if you're interested in a gift for yourself or someone else starting up (or extending) their gaming workout.
Snakebyte's Wii Premium Fitness Board is a nifty upgrade that manages to add some great improvements while being a well-made product. The board comes in black or white and supports up to 390 pounds (30 more than the stock model), so it's definitely built to last. The unit takes 4 "AA" batteries and once out of the box (and drops the batteries in), syncs up to the Wii using Bluetooth technology, allowing you to get active in a snap. It works perfectly with both Wii Fit games and a few Balance Board-enabled others I tried, including that ridiculously silly (but hilarious) bobsled mini-game in Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games where you sit on the board and crack up laughing as you go through the motions of the sport.
Neat blue indicator lights add to the cool factor as soon as you step on the board, but it would have been nice to be able to shut the lights off if you didn't need that healthy blue glow). In a great touch, the unit also doubles as a LCD scale that you can use without having to turn the Wii on. I'd imagine keeping the board near one's bed in the morning, turning it on and stepping on it might be a good motivational tool to get in front of the TV for a workout (er, not that I'm speaking from experience, mind you). That LCD screen isn't back-lit, so you'll need to reach for your glasses or contacts if you need them. Or just turn on a light and look down.
Another thing that should have been added are removable rubberized pads for the board bottom or some sort of "grip" pads for carpeting. Some hard-surfaced floors can be a bit slick and I'm pretty sure quite a few folks actually use their Wii Fit boards on carpeted surfaces because they have wall-to-wall and probably don't feel like cutting a fitness board-sized hole in front of the TV. None of these things keep the board from being excellent at what it's made for, and I'd say all these changes I've noted could be made in the next revision of the product - then it would be perfect.
At $69.99, the board's price point is $30 below the official Nintendo model, so it's a more than decent replacement board you can get using as quickly as the original model. As noted above, as there are other games that also use the Balance Board, even if you're not a Wii Fit or Wii Fit Plus owner, snakebyte's got your back if you're interested in playing those titles and don't want to end up with a copy of an exercise game you won't play. Overall, it's simple to set up, easy to use (once you motivate yourself to get moving) and works precisely as it should and you can't ask for any more than that.