Review: Jawbone Up 3
Jawbone’s Up 3 certainly took some time to arrive, but the delayed fitness gadget is finally here, packing in more sensors than most activity bracelets and the ability to track REM sleep. Worth it, or should you go with something less exy?
Announced last year and finally set to be available shortly, the Up 3 is the next generation of Jawbone’s fitness band.
After persisting with the Up, Up 24, Up Move, and the recent Up 2, the Up 3 is an Up smart band with more sensors to track more of your life.
Specifically, this band features the same three axis accelerometer as its Up 2 brother, but adds a few more sensors, including one to measure heart rate, respiration, and skin conductivity, as well as the ambient and skin temperature of the wearer.
This technology is worked into a medical-grade rubber body with the main electronic components sitting inside an aluminium block covered in a capacitive touch panel. The electrodes are made from stainless steel and coated in titanium nitride (TiN).
The main body of the device includes three LEDs, with orange for activity, blue for sleep, and white for notifications sent to the device.
The Jawbone Up 3 talks to smartphones and tablets by way of Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (LE), with this connecting to a 38Ah battery that can support up to 7 days of life, with the magnetic USB charger taking roughly an hour to charge the life.
Jawbone’s Up 3 is rated as water-resistant and splash proof.
Now that every man, his dog, and his dog’s company has a fitness gadget out there in the world, the race is on to find a fitness gadget that does something different.
After all, most of the fitness gadgets out there are reliant on the same basic principle: take an accelerometer or another multi-axis sensor, encase it in a wrist- or pants-friendly device meant to be worn, use it to track information, and then synchronise that information with a phone.
Just like that, you too can design a fitness gadget.
There is a little more to it than that, of course, and that’s why companies spend millions of dollars in design, research, and app development to make these devices as seamless as possible, to connect with our lives and make us reliant on them.
In the latest of these fitness gadgets from Jawbone, the company has decided to integrate a couple of different sensor technologies to compliment the existing movement ones the Up bands have relied on for a while.
Alongside that original tri-axis accelerometer, the Up 3 features sensors to pick up on the temperature of your skin, the temperature of the world around you, and for bio-impedance, specifically tracking heart rate, respiration, and skin conductivity (Galvanic Skin Response).
And when you pick up the Up 3, you can actually see the differences in the sensor setup, with gold-looking titanium nitride ceramic-like contacts that sit against the skin for measuring these attributes and data points.
Using the Up 3, you’d never realise the tracker is doing anything different, and essentially, this is like using any other Up. You pair it with a Bluetooth LE compatible smartphone — basically, anything from the past year — and then wear the device.
As you wear it, the Up will talk to the phone either at random intervals or when you open the Up app, and this will track movement in daylight — steps and whatnot — and when put into sleep mode, will track the motion, heart rate, and more to get you a better understanding of how you’re sleeping, with REM cycles added to the mixture of light sleep, deep sleep, and being awake.
Going from daylight to sleep is as simple as tapping the Up 3 band to wake it up and holding your finger against the band, which will switch you between the two modes, daylight — with an orange figure lighting up — and sleep — with a blue moon.
That’s a fairly new control system, too, borrowed from the Up 2 — just like the one-size-fits-all band you get to wear — with a reliance on a capacitive touch panel that surrounds the middle of the band.
This inclusion eliminates the need for buttons, which should improve durability, but we’ll get to this later, because the not-quite-touchscreen nature of this part isn’t going to be ideal for all.
Fortunately, the Up app is as good as it ever was.
Just like with the previous Up incarnations, the app is one of the better parts, with a clear understanding of how you’re doing, fairly frequent synchronisation, and a social side of things that allows you to compete with your family and friends that have joined the Up system through either a gadget or an app on a smartwatch, which is also a possibility these days.
The information taken from this platform is fairly rich, too, with a break down of your activities over the course of a day, revealing how often you walked, were active, how many calories you burned, and so on, with the sleep showing the time it took to fall asleep, when you woke up, and a little more, too.
During sleep, your heart rate will be tracked, which is about the only time it happens on the Up 3. We’re told this will change later on as Jawbone’s people work on ways to make the Up 3 do more, but right now, it tracks heart rate while you’re sleeping and tells you how much water you should be drinking.
That’s primarily what the Up 3 does, which doesn’t seem like a whole lot of a difference from the Up 2, though in a way, this might be seem like early adopter technology that will eventually open up.
Even with this in mind, the Up 3 does appear to have some pretty noticeable problems.
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