Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Some Thoughts About the Jawbone Up Activity Tracker


I was walking through my local BJ's wholesale club when I noticed that they are selling the Jawbone UP and UP24 for $30 and $40 off, respectively, and I thought it was time for a little experiment.


For those who don't know, the Jawbone UP and UP24 are fitness/activity trackers just like the Nike+ FuelBand SE (I wear the original FuelBand) and the Fitbit Flex.  Unlike the proposed Apple Watch and the Microsoft Band the Jawbone devices don't have a traditional "display".  On their website, Jawbone describes their UP system this way:
"UP® is a system that takes a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle. The wristband tracks your movement and sleep in the background. The app displays your data, lets you add things like meals and mood, and delivers insights that keep you moving forward."
It's the "and sleep" part that piqued my interest in the device.  You see, my Nike+ FuelBand, while I do like it, can't track my sleep habits because it does not have actigraph sensor.  So, for $39.99 plus tax, I'm thinking about running a little experiment on myself to learn how well I sleep at night.  (I already know that I don't get anywhere near the recommended eight hours of sleep.)

As you would expect, the UP and UP24 come in three sizes and a variety of colors by way of rubber accessory bands.  The default color is black/onyx. Personally, I think after two years of wearing a black Nike+ FuelBand, I'd like a nice blue, red or orange band.

The since the UP and UP24 don't have any display, you can only see that data it has collected once the information is synchronized.  The data is transferred by way of a Bluetooth radio for an iPhone or Android 4.0 device on the UP24.  If you are like me and are considering the less expensive UP tracker, you will need to sync the data via your 3.5mm headphone jack.  It is unclear whether or not you have to plug your UP into your smartphone, the PC or if it doesn't matter which.  My guess is the phone.  Always bet on the smartphone.

Once the data is synchronized, you can view and analyze the information on your iPhone or Android smartphone with the freely available app.

On a side note, there are a few things that I'm keeping in mind.  First of all, Nike has been a little vague about the future of the FuelBand line, as seen in a report on Re/Code back in April 2014. (Since the report, Nike did release a new color variant of the FuelBank SE with the same specs the other SE devices.)

Secondly, in my opinion, the UP represents "last year's model" as it does not include Bluetooth connectivity.  At this point in the fitness tracking game, I see wireless connectivity as a must.  The trade of is that you can get the device for $40 and so, since I'm only playing with it from the onset, this isn't a deal breaker.  There are other activity trackers on the market that can do more and sync wireless to your smartphone for twice as much money.

And finally, there is the Apple Watch on the horizon.  Apple has told us a little about what to expect, but it breaks down like this - the Apple Watch is a watch, has grandiose smart device ambitions for the future, tracks your activity, needs to be charged daily and with the pricing starting at $349, the Apple Watch will be expensive.  (I fully expect that the configuration I want to be closer to $549-649 when you add in an extra band.)

For the time being, I think I am going to stick with the Nike+ FuelBand as my "official" device.  The Jawbone UP will be the device I use to track my sleep with and to generally play around with to see what other companies in the activity tracker field are doing.  And lastly, I will wait until we have more information about the Apple Watch pricing before I make a decision about what device will be my new "every day" device.

For more information about the UP and UP24 activity trackers, check out the Jawbone website.

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