Fitness gadgets are designed to be used every day, so how is one doing six months after we reviewed it? It’s time to see if Jawbone’s Up Move can survive the rigours of every day fitness living.
Last year, Jawbone introduced us to two gadgets, but only one of them ever made it out into the real world.
Despite talking up some high tech features of its Jawbone Up 3 fitness tracking wrist band, the only one that actually arrived on store shelves was the smaller of the two, the less expensive and much smaller Jawbone Up Move.
We don’t know what happened to the Up 3, but we’re not too fussed because interestingly, it was the tiny Up Move that would really make us fall in love with fitness gadgets properly.
If you hadn’t seen it, you could easily miss it as the gadget is remarkably small. Not much bigger than a clothes button, the Jawbone Up Move consisted of a few sensors, some Bluetooth technology, some flashing LEDs, a small battery, and a physical push button, culminating in one of the smallest and most tech-friendly ways of keeping your activities tracked.
You could wear it on your belt or underwear or the inside of a shirt like with other trackers, and Jawbone even made it something you could plonk on your wrist, and with that last one, the company even made it possible to use as a wrist watch, bringing the watch back to the arms of people who hadn’t worn one in ages. Technically, they weren’t wearing a watch; they were wearing a fitness tracker in a convenient location, but the watch functionality helped validate its place on their arm, and really made the device a well designed piece of kit.
Completing the package was wireless connectivity, an automatic Bluetooth synchronisation that Jawbone had brought over from its Up 24 allowing the sensors and small amount of on-board memory to connect with your phone from time to time and keep your profile updated. It made sense, and Jawbone’s well-designed social network made everything work.
My, how things can change in the long term.
Six months later, the Up Move has been spending time on the wrist of this writer’s wife, while he has been tracking its progress on her, because he’s not likely to wear several fitness gadgets at once, and she expressed an interest in trying it out.
And try it out she has, and still wears it to this day, with the Up tracking her running, her walking, her playing of soccer and more, synchronising it all on the neato social network Jawbone has created for itself.
While it still works and still functions, neither are necessarily a sign that all things about the Jawbone Up Move have gone terribly right.
We’ll deal with design and durability first, because they have more or less stayed the same.
The silicone wrist strap has changed from a beige to something a little darker, no doubt something that happens from wear, tear, sweat and time, but the black dot of a gadget found on the inside — the thing itself, Jawbone’s Up Move — still appears to be in relatively decent condition, and we’ve even had to change the battery once or twice.
While Jawbone suggests the battery should last up to six months, it feels more like two to three is a better guide, and that’s dependent on the strength of the battery you buy. One cheap battery barely hit a little over a month, so we replaced it with something a little more expensive. As you do.
Technically, though, the Up Move still in more or less the same condition we first received it in, and that’s after being on a person’s body for the space of six months, which isn’t bad at all. It tells the time and tracks data, but while it says it’s working, the Up Move isn’t without its fair share of problems.
For instance, synchronising the Up Move is done automatically, but much of the time, it feels like the Up Move isn’t working at all.
We know that it’s supposed to automatically synchronise, an action that happens thanks to Jawbone’s use of Bluetooth LE. That said, we’ve actually noticed that syncing often has to be forced, with the app lagging behind and refusing to connect to the Up Move.
You’ll hit sync and the app will say it’s working, but nothing will happen, and the steps you’ve gathered over the day won’t appear. So you’ll do it again, and again, and again, and again, and eventually it might actually synchronise the way it was supposed to in the first instance, although we found more likely that it would do it if you deleted the Up Move from the app and re-paired it.
Sometimes this needs to happen several times before anything can happen, and it’s an issue we’ve found on both iOS (iPhone 6) and numerous Androids. When it’s happened and the wife has worried about her missing activities, we’ve paired, repaired, tried on a different device, and found that something wasn’t working right.
Was it the app? Is it the hardware? Is it some mystical force that doesn’t want activity information synchronised (our guess is no for this one).
And that leads us to the problem with Jawbone’s Up Move six months on: it’s fairly unreliable.
It’s a shame, too, because the Jawbone Up Move has so far been the best, the most social, and the most easily accessible of the fitness gadgets we’ve seen, providing a tiny size and wrist-bound form-factor that manages to also offer up a wrist watch when you need one, some excellent social networking options allowing you to connect with friends and see how they’re doing (and cheering them on), and a price tag that is hard to go by.
At $69 — which is where it launched and where it remains at current street prices — the Up Move is difficult to ignore for someone interested in fitness gadgets, especially since it does what a lot of the cheap gadgets do — steps and whatnot — but also offers a little more.
But the longterm durability appears to be a little out-of-sync, just like the Up Move’s inability to sync easily over a long period of time, and that makes us wonder how well made it is internally, rather than externally.
On the one hand, the battery is very easy to replace, requiring a CR2032 battery that you can find from any supermarket, so that’s positive. On the other, however, the constant synchronisation problems give us pause, after all, no one likes to think their details and fitness activity logs have been lost to the ether, and sometimes that’s exactly what the Up Move feels like it’s doing.
That leaves us in a bit of a precarious situation, because while we still like the Up Move, we don’t like how it frequently doesn’t work, and throws unnecessary stress into the picture.
Overall, the Jawbone Up Move is still excellent value, but Jawbone seriously needs to work on its reliability and durability, because six months in, we’d be surprised if this thing is still working at the twelve month mark.