Review of the Jawbone UP
The Jawbone UP really excited me 2011, the device was revolutionary, bringing activity tracking to the average consumer. Disappointingly, the majority of devices were faulty and eventually Jawbone recalled the product.
But in 2012 the UP came back – and this time it works! They have made a whole host of improvement that make the device a real competitor in the activity tracking market.
But how does it measure up? Read on for my full review.
What is tracked?
The Jawbone UP tracks 4 main data points. Two of these are automatic, the other two are manual. Beyond this you can even hook in other devices, through apps that make use of the API or through the service IFTTT.com. Natively, you can track:
- Sleep – light, deep and times awoken
- Mood – manually measured via the app
- Food – manually inputted via the app
With these items tracked, you can then see data points included resting calories burned, active calories burned, calories consumed, carbs, cholesterol, fibre, protein, and so on.
You can also track weight either by manually inputting or hooking up to your Withings WiFi scales.
All data from the device has appeared accurate and made sense with how I felt it should be. Steps for example, are not tracked while I cycle, or when I am in a car. This means the device is good at tracking when movement is a step and when it is not. For any activity that is not ‘on your feet’ you can manually input this.
Sleep is also accurate. Using the time line I have been able to see that a good night’s sleep leads to positivity during the day, but a poor sleep has an effect on mood. It is interesting to see the amount of times you wake during the night – often I remember, but sometimes do not, but can still tell by the groggy feeling in the morning.
It is also worth noting that the calories burned while resting and while active are kept separate. This is useful to know as if they were bundled together you would be unaware of how great an impact your exercise activity had.
The Jawbone UP has an open API for developers to tinker with, which means the following apps can sync perfectly with the UP:
The native app itself is a beautiful experience. Data and and the timeline are shown in an infographic style, along with updates from the friends you connect with. Check out these screenshots for more:
This is largely what it comes down to when choosing an activity tracker nowadays. The competition is fierce and the top devices are just as accurate as the UP. But the user experience is where the UP shines. There is a lot to say here so see each header for points which interest you most.
As the device is worn on the wrist, you do not run the risk of losing it – by coming off your clothes by mistake – or putting it through the wash – by forgetting it was on your clothes. Those wearing a current model FitBit will know what I mean! The UP can also be worn in the shower, but don’t go swimming with it.
It is also small, lightweight and stylish. It is rather bendy too, so can take a beating. When I wore the Ki Fit (which is the UK branding for the BodyMedia device) I found it rather bulky, and wearing a device on the arm to be unnatural. It got funny looks and just didn’t feel right – I would not be able to wear it constantly. And wearing the device constantly is necessary.
There is a button on the device and light / vibration motor for confirming settings. You use the button to tell the UP what you are doing – i.e. going to sleep, timing an activity, taking a power nap and so on. The commands are explained within the app, but once learned it becomes a powerful way to track other activity manually, without ever having to open the app.
To sync, you must remove the device and plug it into your phone – a manual process. However, this takes seconds. You are given no time to forget you are syncing the device and therefore will always put the UP back on your wrist, where it is safe to keep on tracking. But if you are really against anything but wireless, this may be a deciding factor for you.
When you charge the UP you need to leave it for around 30 minutes. This is enough time to forget about it and end up not putting it back on for far too long. But, with a battery life of 10 days, this doesn’t happen too often. In comparison the FitBit Flex has a battery life of 5 days, so twice the charging required.
The alarm feature is also very useful. As I sleep in the same bed as my partner, but wake at a different time, it can be irritating for her for my phone alarm to go off, waking her at the same time. The UP has a silent alarm, which I set for 6.30am, and wakes me with a light vibration (and therefore not waking my partner) during a light sleep phase around that time.
At £100, the UP is a reasonable cost. It is cheaper than the Nike Fuelband and more expensive than what the FitBit Flex will be. This is good value, considering that it is an open system, unlike the Fuelband and its strange metric called ‘fuel’ and provides your data to download for free – something that costs you an extra £40 a year for the privilege with a FitBit device. The UP is also more feature rich than the FitBit or Fuelband, so you’re getting more bang for your buck.
The Jawbone UP is a great activity tracker and is easily the best device in the market right now in its price range. It does not break the bank, it is accurate and tracks what you need it to do, and has a great user experience, with a stylish device that is worn 24/7 so you never lose any tracking.
If you are looking for more data however, or a way of tracking activity that is not ‘on your feet’, such as weights, cycling etc. then you should look at the range of devices by BodyMedia, however their range of devices are around £200 plus a monthly subscription. Also, as they bought by Jawbone recently, it may be worth sticking with the UP ecosystem.
At the £100 price range, with no monthly subscription, more connectivity and features than the competition, the best battery life and knowledge that the data is your own to download at any point in time, at no extra cost – I fully recommend the UP as the best activity tracker in the market right now.