The UP band
I’m a proud geek and fitness fanatic.
This combo means I just love fitness gadgets! There’s been a wave of fitness tracking apps and wearables but the first to gain traction (and a lot of criticism) is the Jawbone UP. v1 was pretty much a disaster (Google it if you want to find out more), can Jawbone stake their claim on a growing market with v2?
Price & Where From
You can get the UP online and they retail (in the UK) for about £99.95. Compares quite well price wise to competitive products such as the Nike Fuelband.
In The Box
In the box there is the fitness band, a USB to 3.5mm dongle and a small manual. Lots of air too, way too much air – I’m sure the packaging could have been much smaller and more environmentally friendly. Designed for shelf units, which is probably the reason why the box is so big, these will make a fantastic display in stores.
The dongle just looks designed to get lost. I give it a week before it ends up down the back of a sofa.
There’s a tiny manual, but it is a simple device to operate.
It’s a band. That goes round your wrist. One button on the end to set active and sleep modes. A cap covering the 3.5mm jack at the other. There’s another piece just waiting to go missing. The cap needs to be taken off to synch the band with your phone. I give it a week before it elopes with the dongle.
The band itself feels great when its on. Soft rubber touch and so far, pretty sturdy.
The band claims to be waterproof and I can attest to this. It survived showers, dishes, even a session washing the dog. I wouldn’t risk it for a swim but in general use it appears to hold up with no problems.
Testing it under a variety of sporting situations its been a trooper. Running, sprinting and weight training went without a hitch, but if you’re into rougher pursuits – combat sports for example, you might want to take it off. One annoyance is the band is designed to be worn with the open ends under your wrist and this means the cap and button rest on whatever surface you happen to have your hands on. Quite irritating when you’re at a computer, you’ll probably find yourself subconsciously adjusting your typing style.
A single button is used to set the various modes. For some reason my band kept jumping out of sleep mode in the middle of the night leading me to register about half the sleep I actually had. That was good news as I could then justify a nice afternoon nap.
The band relies on the UP app to track your data. You get an activity tracker in the form of a step counter, a sleep counter, a food diary and, most importantly, a nap alarm.
This last option seems to see the most use in my life.
The food diary is pretty cool. The database has an extensive range of foods you can scan, photograph or look up and add to your food diary. You can scan barcodes or take pictures. The database provides a comprehensive nutritional index
The UP band and app are pretty simple to use. The battery life is phenomenal and the band is light and discreet. It’s also tough. I’ve had it on constantly and so far its taken everything I’ve thrown at it, including cross country runs, climbing, archery and all sorts of other manly pursuits. :)
If you’re not active, its a simple way to track your progress. However…
The sleep tracker didn’t work for me. It always thought I went to sleep and woke up at the wrong times and I couldn’t get the alarm function to work.
I’m not convinced by the accuracy. Somehow, before I had even gotten out of bed, the band registered about 800 steps. Rhythmical, rapid one armed shaking may have caused it but I can think of only one activity that, er, may have caused that and
A) I’m 38 and that sort of thing takes planning, usually days in advance
B) I’d probably wake my wife up, then need a divorce
There is no visual indicator of your goals. You won’t know how you’ve done until you plug it into your phone, which leads me onto…
There is no wireless synching! This is MAJORLY annoying, and quite surprising, given that Jawbone are most famous for their bluetooth headsets. I’d happily sacrifice the battery life (rated at ten days) to do this.
The band is useless without the app and vice ersa
The biggest flaw however, is the simplistic data tracking. You merely get a step count goal (user definable but defaults to 10k – which is a bit arbitrary) with no option to track how you took those steps. Sprinting them over walking will have a completely different training effect. The band has no way of tracking this. You get a food diary which is useful but I can’t get over the only exercise function the band has.
If you’re even mildly into fitness and you want an easy way to track your weight training or varied cardio training this tracker is unfortunately, in my opinion, not worth your money.
I really don’t want to slam the Jawbone UP as all fitness bands suffer from some of the problems I highlighted but my final thoughts are that the Jawbone UP is a solid device with some baffling omissions that make it (and other fitness trackers) hard to recommend. The UP lacks things such as wireless synching and a visual progress indicator, it’s beautifully designed but let down by extremely limited capability. The data tracked is too narrow for anyone even remotely active and you can find alternatives, much cheaper alternatives. Get yourself a pedometer and a diet app for about 10% of the price.