Saturday, September 21, 2013

Review: Jawbone UP from Best Buy

The reviewer (MichiGal) has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free. All opinions are my own.

I was SO EXCITED to be given the opportunity to review a Jawbone UP. Don't have any clue what I'm talking about? Here's what Best Buy has to say about this cool little product, before I go any further.
Live Better. Start now. Jawbone UP. Track your sleep activity, steps, calorie intake and more with the Jawbone UP wrist sensor and free mobile app. UP gives you meaningful, personalized insights so you can make lasting improvements to your everyday life. 
I wear it on my wrist like a bracelet. It looks like a bracelet, and I doubt anyone has thought it's anything other than that, unless they specifically know what it is. I've been wearing it pretty much constantly.

To give you an idea what it looks like:

I know it looks more like navy in the photo on the right, but it's black. The coloring just came out weird in that photo. Other colors are available, but I like the unobtrusiveness of black - it goes with everything and never looks out of place. They did a great job on the design. That silver piece that says "Jawbone" on it comes off, and underneath is the part (the sync port) that plugs into your phone to sync. It also plugs into the (included) charger, which then hooks up to your computer. The other end, which you can kind of make out in the photo on the right, is what you press to switch to nighttime mode. You know it's on nighttime mode because a little picture of a crescent moon lights up on the band. You can also somehow use this button to use your band as a timer of sorts, but that's a function I haven't played around with yet.

More confused than ever? Okay, here's the deal. You wear the UP band on your wrist. As stated above, it is a wrist sensor, so it tracks movements in your wrist. Using this, it calculates how many steps you take and monitors your sleep. It will not track your sleep unless you switch it to sleep mode, otherwise time spent sleeping will just show up as a dormant period on your activity tracker. It takes that data and translates it into how many miles you've walked. For added accuracy, you can calibrate your band. I just realized this, so I haven't done it yet.

I'll take you through a typical, ideal day. You wake up in the morning and push the little end button to switch back to daytime mode. Then you sync your band to your phone to upload your sleep data. You wear your band all day, and at bedtime you sync up again to upload your activity data (steps taken throughout the day). Then you switch to nighttime mode using that same little button. Every few days, you take the band off to charge it. A full charge can last up to 10 days. The Jawbone UP is water resistant up to 3.3', but I prefer to take it off when I shower. You do need to have a smartphone - be it an iPhone or otherwise - to use this product. An app is required, which is free.

What do I love most about the Jawbone UP? It's easy. It requires little effort on my end. It allows me to set sleep and fitness goals and then monitor them by telling me if I'm meeting those goals on a daily basis.

This is what data looks like on the app:

I chose a couple really good stat days to share with you, but let's be clear that I average much less sleep and fewer steps. The picture on the far right shows a seven day comparison of my sleep (also available for steps), which is not quite accurate because I failed to switch to sleep mode two out of seven nights. Oops! I'm still getting the hang of it! I have found that my daily steps are much lower than I thought they'd be, and to be honest I question whether all my steps are being picked up by the band. For example, I can see a big spike in my data when I go on the treadmill at the gym, but not when I go on the elliptical. Just something to keep in mind. I'm not sure it would pick up anything for other activities, such as cycling.

Basically this is a high tech toy to help you live a healthier lifestyle. It's fun to play around on the app, and there is much more that you can do with it that I haven't tried yet. For example:

  • Nutrition tracking/calorie counting. You can use the food database or even scan product bar codes to add foods to your dietary log.
  • Alarm clock. Gently vibrates to wake you at an optimal time in your sleep cycle so you feel nice and energized. I love this idea, but I'm not sure I trust it since I usually have to be awake at very specific times, whether I've had enough sleep or not! Again, I haven't tried it yet. I need to find out more info, but it might be designed strictly for napping purposes.
  • Inactivity monitoring. I love this one too! The band will vibrate on your wrist when you've been idle for too long, reminding you to get up and move. Blogging can be a very sedentary activity, so I could really use this function to remind myself to take breaks regularly. This one I'm going to try ASAP.
  • Mood tracking. On the app, you can choose your mood and it will be added in with your daily data. It's simple enough, but I haven't been doing it. I do think it's a good idea though, so you can see if your mood affects your activity level, amount of sleep, or caloric intake. 
  • Create a team. Find friends from your contacts, Facebook, and Twitter who are also using UP and connect. Support each other! There are privacy settings, so you can choose to only share certain data with your friends.
  • Stopwatch function.
The Jawbone UP doesn't come with an instruction manual. I know this is the way of the future with electronics, but I like to read something in a booklet form that it is easy to go back to for reference. There is a help option on the app to guide users along, but it's not quite as comprehensive as I'd prefer. 

The band is available in three sizes (see sizing info before ordering!) and retails for $130. According to my wrist measurement, I was wavering between two sizes, and decided to go up to a Medium rather than down to a Small. I think this was a good decision. It does jostle around a bit like a bangle bracelet, but I get kind of claustrophobic with tighter things, so it works for me. 

Setting goals is really important, whether fitness and health related or otherwise. Using my Jawbone UP, I have seen some pretty clear data letting me know that I have lots of room for improvement if I hope to reach my personal goals. Activity and sleep are vital for good health, and as such, the UP band is a great product for general monitoring purposes. Is it totally accurate? Of course not. This is not the same as being hooked up to sleep monitoring machines. This is tracking sleep and activity based on wrist movement. Take it with a grain of salt. But it will give you an idea of how you're doing and how you need to improve. If you're into health and fitness, and love techie gadgets, I think you'll find that the Jawbone UP is a valuable tool. 

No comments: