First take on the Jawbone UP
November 07, 2011
On Friday, we drove by two Targets, a Best Buy, and an AT&T store to see if anyone was selling the Jawbone UP early. None were. The reports we heard about UPs selling early must have been very isolated experiences, though it seems people had more success at Apple stores, who apparently are more likely to not play by the rules.1 Both Target stores we visited had places set aside, complete with labels, for the three sizes of the UP initially available, yet employees at neither store could tell me whether they already sold out of their UP stock, or if they hadn’t received any yet. We decided to return to the AT&T store on Sunday morning.
We had sized our wrist using the printable template available at the UP site. This proved to be a waste of time, because not only did the AT&T store have demo units out to try on, but the packaging on each UP box has a plastic template included, so buyers can check for their size when in the store. It’s a nice touch, and shows Jawbone’s attention to detail. So we bought our UP, and set it up in the car on the way home.2 We won’t bother to give a full review here, because we found Shawn Wall’s review to be plenty thorough for a product that’s only officially been on shelves for less than two days, but we will respond to some points he made for the sake of completeness.
The rubberized bracelet is bendable to a degree. It’s not the simplest task in the world getting it on or off your wrist, but thankfully you don’t really need to take it off given its waterproof nature.
Jawbone actually calls the bracelet water resistant, and only to a fairly shallow depth. The idea is that you can wash your hands, and even take it into the shower, without worrying about it getting damaged. We even saw a picture of someone wearing it in a shallow pool, so the idea that you can wear it most places is obviously something Jawbone wants customers to understand. But don’t think about taking the UP diving. In fact, the notion of taking this thing in the ocean makes us a bit uncomfortable, and we’d rather someone else tried it first.
When we took a shower this morning, our hesitation for getting the UP wet made us take it off. It’s not like you’ll be missing out on too much activity tracking in those few minutes of the morning anyway. Though, we did notice that the black rubberized band3 attracts dirt pretty quickly, so wearing it into the shower may not be a bad idea after all.
As far as bendability goes, the UP has to be somewhat bendable to get it on and off. But that’s only for the “ends” of the band, and the bendability is temporary. In other words, you can’t bend the UP into a different shape, or make it larger or smaller.
There’s really not much in the way of moving parts here; there is a button at one end that is used for switching modes (more on that later), and the opposite end has a cap that is pulled off to reveal the 3.5mm male jack that is used to sync the device with your mobile phone (currently iPhone-only, but Android “coming soon”).
The one thing we don’t like about the UP is that the button on one end, as well as the cap, is painted silver. We’d much rather have these match the main band colour, as we don’t expecially like the accent color. The cap is only silver on one side though, so if you put it on backwards, it appears black to all but the closest observer. A backwards cap also means you’re not proudly displaying “Jawbone” written on your jewelry; we don’t need to advertise for the company we already supported by buying their product. Depending on how much we dislike the button on the other end being an “off” colour, we may end up painting it black down the road.
One really great feature in regards to sleep is that the bracelet can be used as an alarm clock using vibration. Even better, it supposedly will wake you up out of a light sleep instead of a deep sleep by getting you up a little earlier if it can (by looking at your deep vs. light sleep somehow).
This feature worked well for us this morning, though to be fair, we didn’t sleep all that great last night anyway, and noticeably tumbled around a bunch. In this case, we were quick to feel the pulsing vibration of the alarm, but we wonder if it will wake us on days that we have a deeper sleep. Today, it woke us up 15 minutes early. We’re considering doing a side-by-side test of the UP and Sleep Cycle iPhone app to see how consistent the two are, or if one tends to go off before the other. For now, though, we expect the UP to handle our alarms equally well, if not better, with the only concern being whether the vibration is strong enough to rouse us from a deep sleep.
One of my favorite feature of the device is found in this area. You can set your bracelet to remind you to be active if you are sedentary for too long. The time range is user defined. This is great as it can remind us programmers to get out of our chairs once an hour :)
We’re rather fond of this feature also. We have it enabled during business hours, and its a great reminder to get up and do something, even if it’s just to pee or get some fresh water.
I do not own another pedometor, Fitbit or anything else along those lines so I cannot speak for the accuracy of the UP. It feels like the numbers are too high though.
Whether they’re too high or not, all we can say is that the “lightly active” category is cake during an average weekend, and that’s not even with workout scheduled. From noon until night yesterday, we scored over 8k steps taken, which means we can easily up our steps goal to the next level. We’ll have to see how our weekend activity compares to the average workday to see whether it’s worth adjusting our goals at this time, though.
The food diary portion of the application is well… a little underwhelming in my opinion.
We haven’t played with this feature too much yet, and honestly, we’re not too tempted considering there’s no way to count calories. We’ve used other apps to compare our caloric intake to our ideal goal (at least 3k calories a day), and the fact that such a simple feature is missing makes us feel like we’d gain little from the UP app’s inclusion of a food log. Maybe once this feature becomes more robust, we’ll be more likely to keep up with it.
Game mechanics are a huge portion to an offering such as the UP, and I feel they currently fall a little short.
We agree with Shawn here, and don’t like how simply accepting a challenge means others who accepted the challenge can suddenly see your progress. We’d prefer “private” challenges that don’t involved any reporting, or at the very least, allow users to select a username instead of their registered (true) name. Sure, the public feed only uses first names, but we’d still prefer a nickname.
The problem of the food log and the game mechanics points at the one flaw the UP currently has, and that’s a very simplistic piece of software. If Jawbone maintains a regular release schedule of updates and bug fixes, however, we can truly see the pair being a useful lifestyle assistant for some time to come.
More thoughts to follow as we spend more time with our new bracelet.
Ironic, considering how tightly Apple controls their releases for first-party products. ↩
We weren’t driving. Though, the process was so quick, we could have done it at stop lights. ↩
Only the black band was available at the AT&T store we bought our UP at. That was okay, because it was the only colour other than brown that we even considered, and the brown’s not even available yet. ↩