Review of "Jawbone UP2"
Ciao ciao! Thanks everyone = sorry to say goodbye!
In the last 15 months or so I’ve gone through 3 fitness trackers. I was unlucky with my Fitbit Charge which turned out to be something of a misnomer; it clearly had a dodgy battery as it didn’t actually keep its charge for more than 48 hours. I returned it within a month but by then had decided to try the Jawbone 24 which I really liked. However, after quite bit of abuse – and sorry to put this rather indelicately – it lost one of its ends. Not the end that most people seem to lose (one end has a removable cap to enable it to be plugged into a USB connector for charging), but the other end that needs to be depressed in order to access all its functions. So on to number 3, the UP2 which 6 months in is doing okay.
~~~ So, what does the UP2 do? ~~~Well according to Jawbone “UP is not just an activity tracker—it's a revolutionary, integrated system that incorporates advanced hardware, sophisticated algorithms and data science to better understand your behaviours and habits.” Which is rather a fancy way of saying that it tracks your activity and sleep and through its Smart Coach apps will give you tips as to how to improve those behaviours and habits!The UP2 is a step up from the Jawbone Move but doesn’t have all the features of the UP3 which includes a heart rate monitor. For me, however, it does all I need it to do and probably a bit more.
~~~ Hi good looking ~~~One of the reasons I was keen to go for the UP2 is that it looks rather attractive. Indeed, one of its straplines is ‘Where performance meets style’. And in terms of straps (sorry – couldn’t resist), there are two different designs, both of which I think are very nice-looking and make the UP2 look more like a bangle than a fitness tracker. The choice is between a flat or thin strap. I think the flat strap is a little more fiddly than the thin strip and possibly less secure. I say this not from personal experience but I note that a complimentary activity clip is available from Jawbone should you find that the UP2 flat strap falls off.
The flat strap comes in three colours – black diamond, light grey hex and violet circle. The thin in six – turquoise circle, oat spectrum, gunmetal hex, orchid circle and black diamond. In terms of good looks, I really think Jawbone have got it right. For no other reason than it would blend in well with my usual collection of bangles, I went with the thin gunmetal hex. The thin version is a rubbery strap which is medical-grade hypoallergenic. It has a small metal hook that clips into the other part of the clasp. The UP2 comes in one size only but fits wrist sizes ranging from 140mm–190mm. You can move the clasp so that is suits your wrist and it does seem to be very secure. I’ve never had it come off by mistake and by the way it should be worn on the wrist of your non-dominant hand.
~~~ Getting started ~~~The UP2 is nothing without the UP App. Jawbone trackers don’t have a screen as such but there is a touch display screen with three small LED lights. To activate, you double tap on the front of the tracker. An orange light shows you're in active mode, a blue crescent moon means you're in sleep mode, and if the middle white light flashes with either one, it means you either need to get up and start moving (an idle alarm) or start the process of going to bed (sleep notification). The only time I really notice the lights is when I’m charging when all lights flash on in rotation to show the tracker is charging.So you can’t see from the tracker itself how you are doing. All the data is accessed via the app, so the first thing to do is get the tracker charging (see below) and while it’s doing its thing, download the app. It is a great app and seems to score consistently high in reviews of Jawbone products.
~~~ Pairing with the UP app ~~~Once the app is downloaded, you need to pair it with your tracker. When you open the app you can either sign into an existing UP account if like me you’ve had a Jawbone before, or select Get Started to create a new account. With either option you will be prompted to activate the tracker which you do by attaching it to the charging cable which in turn needs to plugged into a powered USB port. When attached the tracker lights should illuminate, you then remove it from the charging cable and follow the prompts on the app screen to touch and hold the tracker. Once it vibrates, the tracker has been located and you should be paired.
~~~ The main functions ~~~But what does the UP2 actually do for you?, I hear you ask. Well via the app it tells you quite a bit.
On the main home screen there are two progress bars, one to show the day’s activity and the other sleep. The tracker uses something called an accelerometer and algorithms ‘to passively track and quantify your activities, distance, active time and idle time’, as well as how long and how well you’ve slept. However the magic happens, it does appear to work.In addition to just counting the number of steps you’ve taken, it detects when you’ve been doing exercise. Unlike its predecessor, you can’t tell the tracker when you’re about to start exercising (although the app has a stopwatch feature), but most of the time it seems to recognise an activity. Quite often the app will ask you whether you were doing a particular activity at a certain time which you can then confirm and record as exercise. You can also drill down on the activity progress bar and manually record exercise and categorise it by type and intensity.
Similarly, the tracker automatically detects when you fall asleep. It also breaks down the sleep between light and sound sleep and seems pretty accurate when it comes to identifying any times when you’ve woken up in the night. If it’s not sure it will ask you to verify your sleep. I’ve found I need to do this occasionally - sometimes it will add an extra half hour of zzz’s after I’ve woken up as I tend to take off my tracker pretty much as soon as I wake up while I undertake my morning ablutions. The UP2 is splash proof but not waterproof so has to be taken off when showering etc.
~~~ Alarms and alerts~~~The app allows you to set various alarms and alerts. The Smart Alarm allows you to set an alarm at an exact time or wake you when you’re sleeping lightly within a 30 minute window of the time you want to be woken. In both cases the tracker vibrates to gently wake you. I think this is quite a useful feature but I don’t rely on it solely; I always have a back up!You can also set up an Idle Alert which will remind you that you need to get up and move if you are idle too long. I find this quite a useful feature when I’m working in the office. It reminds me that I should take a break from peering at my computer screen to give my eyes a break as well as the need to stand up and move around.
Also, if you need a bit of encouragement, you can set an alert to give you a progress update – for example when you’ve reached 5000 steps.Finally, you can set up to 4 different reminders for bedtime, exercise, mealtime, taking medicine or your own custom reminder.
~~~ Smart Coach ~~~The app comes with a feature known as Smart Coach. Over time, the Smart Coach gets to know you and based on the trends it identifies will offer up helpful tips and advice. This sounds as if it could be annoying but actually I rather like this feature. Rather than being patronising and a bit cringe making, I find some of the insights quite useful and you can let the app know what messages you like and don’t like.
For example, it’s certainly helped me with my sleep patterns. I know I can function well on 7 hours sleep a night and not fret about getting the full 8 hours. I also know that I feel better at the weekends if I don’t have a long lie-in – as tempting as it seems sometimes to turn over and go back to sleep on a Saturday morning, I realise that can end up with me having a bit of a headache.It will offer you little challenges – for example repeating a good day when you’ve stepped out well – and if you’re into sharing your successes with others (I’m not) you can do so and even challenge other UP users.
Again, not a feature I use but you can track food intake through the app. As I’ve not used this feature I can’t comment on its effectiveness but there is a barcode scanner and restaurant menu search facility. Like the sleep and activity functions, it will track your meals over time and the Smart Coach will make recommendations for healthier eating.You can also link it to other apps such as MyFitnessPal and WeightWatchers. I have it linked to my WeightWatchers account and it does works really well, inputting my activity directly into the WeightWatchers daily log.
~~~ Syncing ~~~This is probably the right time then to talk about syncing more generally. You do need to check out which devices the track is compatible with. It won’t for example work with my now antique Samsung Galaxy SII but the phone is now well past its sell by date. So I use it with my work phone, an iPhone 5 which generally works well. The tracker syncs wirelessly using to Bluetooth although there have been a couple of occasions where the pairing has been lost and I’ve had to plug it back into the computer to re-pair and sync. I’ve not figured out why this happens but it’s only done it twice in six months and it’s easily fixed.
~~~ Battery life and charging ~~~Battery life is around 7 days (perhaps a little longer) and the app will remind you when you need to charge. So, battery life is pretty good but charging is diabolical and for me is the one thing that really lets down the UP2. The charger is a short proprietary USB cable about four inches long which attaches itself to the tracker by means of a magnetic strip. The problem is that the cable is quite short and the magnetic strip is fiddly so sometimes you think it should be charging and it isn’t. It also takes quite a while to charge it up fully – an hour and above if the battery has gone totally flat.
~~~ The overall verdict ~~~Apart from the charging mechanism and occasional need to repair the tracker (for which I am deducting one star), I am very happy with my Jawbone which looks more like a piece of jewellery than an activity tracker. I do find it motivational. The Smart Coach encourages rather than nags and I actually find it quite interesting to track activity – I can now view housework as a bit of a workout rather than a chore that has to be done!
As other models have come out, the price of the UP2 has dropped and I got mine for around £25 which I think remarkably good value. If you’re not bothered about having the latest model and don’t need some of the more advanced features such as a heart rate monitor, than I would definitely take a serious look at the UP2.
Product Information : Jawbone UP2
Manufacturer's product description
EAN: 0847912021019, 0797749804692
Cellular / Type: Activity tracker
Long Name: Jawbone UP2
Listed on Ciao since: 14/08/2015