Review: Jawbone Up 2

Need a bit of help getting in shape? Jawbone hopes to have the answer in an update to its Up 24, with the new sequel, the slimmer Up 2.

Features

Last year’s Up 24 is over a year old, and that makes it old news and old tech. Fortunately, Jawbone has an update ready taking what the company achieved in the Up 24 and shrinking it down to a thinner form-factor for people who prefer their gadgets lighter and more body friendly.

That’s essentially what is happening with the Up 2, which takes a three axis accelerometer and puts it into a small anodised aluminium strip featuring a small battery, Bluetooth 4.0 and Low Energy (LE) access, and three LEDs for various notifications.

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Surrounding this set of electronics is a small textured capacitive touch panel, with all of this sitting on a rubber strap, complete with a thin metal clip that can be moved in position to accommodate most wrist sizes.

The battery inside the Jawbone Up 2 is rated for as many as seven days, with the charging happening over a small magnetic USB charging cable and taking roughly one hour for a full charge.

Jawbone’s “Up” app is required for use with this gadget, which is available for both iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android.

The Jawbone Up 2 is water-resistant.

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Performance

Sometimes technology just needs a bit of a refresh, even if not much time has gone by. That seems to be the case with Jawbone’s Up 24, which saw release mid-last year and was a fairly well developed little wrist band that could track your movements, sleeping habits, and unite them under one of the most friendly app environments for the fitness crowd that we had ever seen.

Later in the year when Jawbone managed to shrink the technology down to the button-sized Up Move, we were impressed again, as that not only brought the same sort of tracking to a smaller size, but also a much smaller price tag, getting in there for $69 to $89, depending on where you bought it from.

Fast forward a year and Jawbone is getting its Up 3 ready for release, an advanced activity tracker with some very unique sensors thrown in for good measure.

Before that happens, however, the company has an update for its Up 24, slimming the product down and giving it the same form-factor and design it has brought to the Up 3.

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The resulting product is the Up 2, a new activity tracker in a bracelet that takes much of the technology used in both the Up 24 and Up Move and makes it thinner, more simple, and harder to worry about on the wrist.

This time, rather than take up a flexible rectangular skeleton on your arm, the Up band is slim and light, weighing just 25 grams and skipping over the three sizes of bands that were needed before, with a one-size-fits-most solution that you’re not likely to have any problems fitting to your arm.

That design is noticeable different, though it does require a strap to be clipped in place, almost like a watch band. At least Jawbone has made the clip moveable, meaning you can quickly tighten the band if needed, helpful since it makes the band suited for that “one-size-fits-most” mechanic.

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Under the hood on this one is the same tri-axis sensor technology used to work out when you’re up, down, and in motion, which will be used with algorithms to determine how much you’ve been walking and what phase of sleep you’re in, taking this information and throwing it into the Jawbone “Up” app, which it does so through a frequent Bluetooth synchronisation with your smartphone.

Controlling the Up 2 is pretty simple, and most of the time, you don’t need to do anything. In day time, you merely tap the surface of the capacitive touch display to see that the daylight orange figure is highlighted, and when it gets to bed time, you switch it to the night time blue moon, which will happen when you simply double tap the display to wake it up and hold your finger against the unit to switch it into each of the two modes.

And that’s pretty much it, with the exception to the changes to how this gadget charges, moving past the audio jack power cable of the original and relying instead on a magnetic pin charger, which the bracelet clings to and recharges quickly with.

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But while the design might have changed and it is a whole lot thinner, we need to stress one thing the average punter may not necessarily pick up on, and that’s the very fact that while it looks different to the Up 24, the Up 2 is essentially more of the same.

Granted, the LEDs are different, with three in a row compared to just two that change depending on what mode you’re in.

Here, there’s the daytime, message, and sleep lights, shining in orange, white, and blue when you’re using each respective setting, compared to the two — day and sleep — of the original. And the charge mechanism is totally different too, as previously noted.

But the functionality, that is pretty much all the same as what was offered in the Up 24, and in the Up 2, Jawbone hasn’t exactly broken the mould or gone back to the drawing board for anything other than design.

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You still get the same accelerometer tracking for walking, with each step picked up on and synchronised over Bluetooth to your phone or tablet, or saved until a later point when that can be made. If you wear it at night and put it in sleep mode, the same movement tracking is taken into consideration with an algorithm to track your sleep, working out when you were in light sleep, deep sleep, and when you actually woke up.

And this can all be connected with some smart alarms which will wake you up within ten or twenty minutes of you getting out of a sleep cycle with a vibration on your wrist near a desired wake up time, though in truth, this can be a little hit and miss. We’ve found it to work some of the time, and to completely miss it other times.

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