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Jawbone UP Activity Monitor Review

Wristband Plus App Tracks Activity, Sleep, Diet

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By

Updated January 11, 2014

Jawbone UP on Wrist

Jawbone UP

Wendy Bumgardner © 2012
Jawbone UP iPhone Synch

Jawbone UP iPhone Synch

Wendy Bumgardner © 2012
Jawbone UP App Activity Screen Shot

Jawbone UP App Activity Screen Shot

Screen Shot by Wendy Bumgardner, Jawbone ©

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Jawbone UP and UP 24 are wristband pedometer/activity monitors that pair with an app to track your physical activity, sleep quality, and diet. It has an additional feature that led me to buy it -- you can set Idle Alerts and it vibrates to tell you when you've been inactive too long. I am concerned about the health risks of sitting too much, as I make my living in front of a computer.

The Jawbone UP has no read-out on the wristband. You must plug it into the audio jack of a compatible device to view your data on the app. As of May, 2013 it is compatible with iOS 5.1 or later devices and Android devices running 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later. Jawbone Device Compatability List.

The UP 24 communicates via Bluetooth with iOS devices only, iPhone 4s and newer.

The first generation of Jawbone UP had enough product defects that all buyers were refunded their purchase price. I bought one of those and it didn't break, but I waited for the second generation to debut in late 2012 to do a full review. The second generation UP is much improved. I do not recommend buying the first generation device, even at a steep discount.

Wearing the Jawbone UP

The UP band is made of latex-free medical-grade hypoallergenic rubber. It's water-resistant but you shouldn't immerse it or wear it swimming. It comes in three sizes and eight different colors. They recommend wearing it on your non-dominant wrist (the left if you are right-handed) for the best accuracy. You can also carry it in a pocket or purse if you don't want to wear it on your wrist at a particular time.

The band has only a display that shows either a flower (day time use) or moon (sleep tracking mode). You press the end of the band to change between the modes, starting or stopping the sleep/timer mode.

You can set an Idle Alert so the band vibrates when you've been inactive for the length of time you choose. It will also vibrate with a Smart Alarm at the best time in a 30-minute window to wake you in the morning, and has a Power Nap mode with a vibration to wake you at the end of a nap.

Uploading and Viewing Your Data
To see your data, you remove the cap and plug the band into the headphone jack of your compatible device. Open the UP app and your data syncs to your UP dashboard in the app.

Powering Your UP
The battery in the UP lasts about 10 days on a full charge. Recharge it via a USB adapter, either plugging it into a computer or a USB power cord (such as the one your iOS device uses).

Jawbone UP App to View Data

The main screen shows how you are progressing towards your sleep and activity goals for the day. You can review past days.

Tapping on the activity graphic takes you to a screen which shows you:

  • Bar graph of your activity data throughout the day, color coded for intensity of your activity. For example, moderate-intensity activity is orange, vigorous activity is dark red-orange.
  • Step count and distance estimate. You can calibrate your band over a known distance to get better accuracy.
  • Active time, longest time active, and longest time idle.
  • Total calories burned, active calories burned, resting calories burned
You can manually log workouts that your UP didn't record, by activity type, effort level, and duration. This will add the estimated calories and active time to your total.

There is also a stopwatch mode to time activities, which you can then edit with workout details. I found it tricky to do the right sequence of presses to get it into stopwatch mode and not into sleep mode, but when it worked, I liked having the detail of a single workout.

The physical activity tracking is at about the same level as the Fitbit trackers, good for those who want to set a total daily step or activity time goal. But it doesn't include heart rate data, speed or other details that you might want for training purposes.

Tracking Sleep with MotionX Technology

Jawbone incorporates the MotionX sleep tracking technology to produce very detailed sleep graphs. To track your sleep, you wear the wristband to bed and push the button until the green moon glows. When you get up, you push it again until the green flower glows. Then you plug it into your iOS device, sync and view the graphs and data.

As I previously reviewed the MotionX Sleep App, I love the details. You can easily see on the graph as well as with numbers the time you spent in light sleep, deep sleep, times awakened, how long it took you to fall asleep and the amount of time you were awake during the night. You get the total time slept as well as the time in bed. I find these to be extremely accurate for me.

I had some strange bouts of the app turning itself off, perhaps I bumped the button at some point, but it happened sporadically. You can edit your sleep period to add another bout of sleep if that happens.

I can't really review the effectiveness of the alarms as I never sleep to the point where I need an alarm to get up.

But the other non-secret is that you can just use the MotionX Sleep App, at far less expense, to track your sleep. You just put your device on the bed and it works just as well as the UP band. That app also can give Idle Alerts.

Tracking Diet with UP

You can track your diet with the UP app. Add meals and drinks three ways. You can scan a bar code. You can enter items by searching a food database or typing in data from a nutrition label. Or you can take a photo.

As you add items, your daily intake gets color coded from green to red for calories, fiber, unsaturated and unsaturated fat, carbs, sugar, protein, sodium and cholesterol.

I found it to be a nice integration of a food diary, which makes this a more complete health monitor system.

Mood Tracking
You can also track your mood throughout the day with a smiley/frowny face.

Social Integration
The UP only has friend tracking amongst other Jawbone UP users. You can see their postings on your dashboard, and they can see yours, if you so choose. I would like ways to share my activity graph, for example, to Facebook or Twitter. Of course, I can take my own screen shot and upload it, but better integration with social media is a feature many users want.

Bottom Line on Jawbone UP Second Generation

This is a very good device for those who want to track their physical activity, sleep, diet and decrease their sitting time.

The UP app is easy to understand and navigate. It could use a little more contrast for those of us with aging eyes.

Jawbone UP is a good solution for those who want charts and graphs of their activity, sleep and diet but don't want to have to have a desktop or laptop computer. It functions with a mobile device only.

The feature I value most is the Idle Alert, which I need and I find motivates me more than having, say, a phone app that would do it. It's harder to ignore it when it is vibrating on your wrist.

Negatives:

I downgrade it most for not having an on-device display. I like to check my step count frequently and I prefer to be able to do it by just looking at the device, especially when it is there on my wrist. I prefer the Nike+ FuelBand on my wrist, or the Fitbit One on my waistband.

It isn't a training system for those who want to track their speed, heart rate and other performance details.

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