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Review: Jawbone Up

By Leigh D. Stark | 12:45 pm 04/04/2013

How are you feeling? Do you need more sleep? Should you be walking more? These are questions that technology doesn’t often answer very well, but a new wristband from accessory maker Jawbone seeks to help out with that and more, with the Up, a new product that aims to make sure you never feel down again.

Features

A sensor system in a water-resistant rubber bracelet casing, the Up uses a tri-axis accelerometer to monitor your movements and store them in a system capable of remembering up to nine months of data.

The Up wristband features a rechargeable battery that is good for up to ten days of life (roughly 10% equals one day of use) and features a small vibrating motor for an alarm system and movement alert.

In the spirit of minimalism, which most devices out these days seems to adhere to, there is only one button, which sits at one end of the bracelet. At the other end is a 3.5mm jack protected by a nylon cap.

Two status lights – sunlight (which looks closer to a flower) and night (resembling a crescent moon) – are the only indicators that your device is on.

The Jawbone Up band is available in three sizes – small, medium, and large – in a variety of colours.

It comes packaged with a 3.5mm to USB converter which is used to recharge the battery from either a computer or a USB port-enabled wall plug.

Performance

Fitness gadgets are a new thing for us, not because the technology is strange, but rather because we don’t always do the right thing and get off our backsides to do much moving.

These gadgets, however – devices like the Fitbit and Nike Fuel Band – inspire you to get up and walk around, tracking what you’re doing and displaying that information in a neat little bundle for viewing later on.

Jawbone’s Up is built for this purpose, and a little bit more, in fact, as it has been designed with software to help track what you’re eating, how you’re feeling mentally, and hardware to monitor just how you’re sleeping.

There’s also a team of people working out of one of the Jawbone offices taking in all of this information and coming up with neat little insights into your life, such as how your footsteps could have taken you all the way over the Golden Gate Bridge.

First up, though, is the band: it’s rubbery, bendable, resistant to water, and quite comfortable on the wrist, provided you get the right size, of course. That’s a necessary thing, too, as the fit of the Up is based on the thickness of your wrist, and as such, it isn’t a gadget you can just give to someone else, unless their wrist is the same rough diameter as yours.

Throwing it on is easy, and it really just sits there, operating with one button that lets you jump between daylight (walking and exercising) and night-time (sleep) modes. Different length of presses can also activate a stopwatch mode that will time an event and add it with a separate calorie and distance counter to your software, but for the most part, you don’t have to really do anything, and it will track your movements while you go about your regular daily routine.

Wearing the Up is strange at first: you feel a little like a test subject at points, wearing a band that tracks your movements and works out what you’re doing.

On the plus side, it’s very easy to forget you’re wearing it, and as a result of its water-resistance, you can wear it while you’re showering, and even forget to take it off.

You will have to leave it aside when you’re swimming because Jawbone’s water-guarding doesn’t quite extend into pressure-based water-resistance, which swimming sits under. You can always add a differently timed activity later to bring it under the fold of your fitness tracking program, so all that hard work isn’t forgotten.

That tracking program is also very cool, with the 3.5mm jack of an iOS or Android device serving as a very effective way to upload your data on the go. We all have our phones with us, pretty much all the time in fact, and so it makes for an easy and logical way of sending information across.

This is all tabulated in a sleek interface, with an animated graph that connects the activities of every day, while also being able to share that with other friends who own an Up.

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Price (RRP)

$150

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Water resistant means you can use it in the shower; The Up app puts together some useful information and allows you to watch your friends; Using 3.5mm to transfer data is a pretty cool concept; Great battery life;

Product Cons

Despite being able to monitor muscle movement and twitching, it can't work out when to switch itself into night's sleep mode; Can't be used when swimming or surfing; Android app can be buggy and only likes some devices;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Ease of Use

Design

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