Jawbone Up – Another Geeky Bracelet Review

I’ve never been one for jewellery but I don’t seem to be able to resist the lure of a bit of black rubber around my wrist.

Jawbone UpI started with the Nike Fuelband, complete with Star Trek inspired flashing lights and have now discarded that in favour of the more subdued Jawbone Up. For a few weeks I had both bands on simultaneously but fortunately I got over that fashion faux pas fairly quickly.

I think the Nike Fuelband is fab but I gradually became disillusioned with the unfathomable Fuel currency which seemed to reward an hour of ironing with more Fuel than two hours of running. I probably wouldn’t complain if I did much ironing but the fact is I don’t.

I’ve decided that the best currently available measure of daily activity is a step counter. Whether it’s a £10 fob for your waist or a stylish £100 wristband, its the step count that indicates if you’ve been sat on your arse all day or run yourself ragged. If I want detailed stats for a specific workout then I’ll supplement that with the output from a garmin watch or other heart rate monitor.

The Jawbone Up has been available for a while but they had a disastrous first launch and had to pull the model for re-work. I’ve had the re-launched wrist strap for a few months now and haven’t had a single technical glitch and I believe the iPhone app has been greatly improved in the interim.

So the Jawbone Up is a body monitor, recording steps, sleep, mood and nutritional info. I haven’t really bothered with the mood feature, I find it hard to decide exactly how I feel and the thought of assigning myself to a happy or sad face feels too constrained. For the purpose of this review I’ve just tested the feature out and discovered that I have an entire sliding scale of moods to choose from and feel somewhat inspired to try and define my spirit for a few weeks. It could be quite telling.

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I’ve opted for Good right now but if I’d been using this feature on Saturday’s London2Brighton walk I’d have oscillated between all 8 moods over the course of the day.

The graphics available on the iPhone app are suitably satisfying and informative. These two snapshots show my limited and restless sleep the night before the London2Brighton and then my step distribution during the event.

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The sleep function requires you to press a button on the bracelet when you intend to go to sleep and then press it again when you’ve woken up. This suggests that it clearly can’t tell when I’m asleep or awake if I have to prompt it in this way. However I’ve had the same problem with other monitors which will record deep sleep in the middle of the day if I happen to lift my feet up while engrossed in some rubbish on the telly.

Other features that set this monitor apart are the vibration reminders and alarms. You can set a smart alarm to wake you with a vague buzzing when it recognises you are in light sleep mode. It’s never worked well for me, either buzzing at me a full hour before necessary or not until I’m downstairs making the morning cuppa. Good idea though.

The inactivity reminders are quite telling. I’ve set mine to remind me when I’ve been idle for 2 hours (the longest setting) and on a work day it buzzes me like clockwork, every two hours. It does shame me into taking a trip to the toilet or coffee point so has some motivational uses.

The Jawbone Up syncs and charges by way of a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is fairly slick but does require an adaptor to charge. It comes boxed with the adaptor but if gets lost you’ll be scuppered as its a bit of a one off. The charge last 10 days.

I’m really happy with the Jawbone Up, it encourages me towards a healthy 10,000 steps per day and it will stay on my wrist until I find something with more bells and whistles to entice me away. I prefer it to the Nike Fuelband (although its missing the watch functionality) and the KiFit.

It’s a stylish pedometer, with an accomplished app and a designer price tag to match.

**UPDATE**

Strangely enough, not more than 3 days after I published this review, my Jawbone UP died. Quite tragic.

I’ve contacted Jawbone support and after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing they’ve agreed to send me a replacement. Hopefully that one will last a bit longer.

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1 comment

  1. Just seeing if I can post again although I haven’t got anything to say. How about ‘why aren’t you doing Juneathon?’

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