• activity trackers,  fitness,  health,  jawbone up,  nike fuelband

    Jawbone UP First Impressions

    A few days ago I was talking about getting a deeply discounted Jawbone UP.  After a few days of using it a alongside my Nike+ FuelBand, here are my first impressions of the UP.

    Hardware

    The Jawbone UP comes in a variety of colors.  When you buy your device, you pick your color and that's it.  The Nike+ FuelBand SE is the same way.  If you like accessorizing, then you might want to consider a Fitbit Flex because you can put the tracker into different bands.

    Jawbone UP (left) & Nike+ FuelBand top view
    Jawbone UP (left) & Nike+ FuelBand bottom view

    The UP does not have a display of any kind or interlocking clasp.  This trade off keeps the UP band  more narrow then the FuelBand.  The FuelBand has both an basic LED display that shows basic information (Fuel points earned, calories burned, steps taken, and the time) and has a metal clasp.  While I've not yet been in a situation where I felt that Up band was going to fall off, it does not sit as tightly on my wrist as the FuelBand does.  The UP, being Jawbone's most basic fitness tracker does not have any wireless radios, so the only way to synchronize the data that was collected is to plug the UP into the headphone jack on the iPhone.  While this isn't ideal, it does work most of the time.

    My favorite feature so far, has to be the sleep tracker.  With the built in actigraph sensor, when worn while sleeping, the UP can track how restful your sleep was.  Another nice addition over the Nike+ FuelBand is a tiny vibrating motor that can be used to wake you from sleep or to remind you that you've been still too long and that it's time to get up and move around a little bit.

    Software

    When you buy and UP fitness tracker, you has free access to the (blue) UP application.  (There is also a purple UP application for a different Jawbone tracker.)  The software works fairly well.  Since the UP does not have a display, the iOS (or Android) app is the only way to view and sync the data from the band to your iPhone and the Jawbone website.

    The main screen is a colorful,  linear scrolling, top down list of data from the band.  If you want to get the most out of the UP, you can also enter in additional information as exercise, your mood, what you've eaten, log your weight, and if you forgot to wear your UP band to bed, when you went to sleep and when you woke up.

    If you are the type that likes daily motivators, the "Smart Coach" feature will help keep you working toward your goal.  The Coach gives you helpful tips based on the additional information that you enter into the app.  This is a marked difference between the Nike+ software and the Jawbone software.  The Nike+ software only tracks your exercise and movement activity.  The Jawbone gives you a more holistic view of how your body is performing toward any fitness or health related goal you are working toward.

    Wrap Up

    Over all, I'm fairly impressed with the features of the entry level Jawbone UP.  Simply based on the hardware and the stock app, I'm considering retiring my original Nike+ FuelBand and replacing it full time with the UP. Knowing what I know now about the Jawbone UP, the UP24 and the current Nike+ FuelBand SE, I would definitely purchase the Jawbone UP24 and use it as my daily fitness and activity tracker.  At least until the Apple Watch Sport goes on sale later this year.

  • activity trackers,  apple watch,  fitbit flex,  fitness,  jawbone up,  nike fuelband

    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.