Jawbone UP Band

I’m on day 11 of wearing a Jawbone UP bracelet. So far, it’s a 6 out of 10. The biggest problem is quite significant: The band doesn’t sync with my phone (or computer) via Bluetooth. The only way to sync is by the band off, removing the cap, plugging into my phone, and launching the app. That’s way too many steps. As a comparison, the FitBit Flex (backordered most places, testing in mid-July) syncs wirelessly, which means you can take a quick look at your phone throughout the day to see where you are on your steps or calorie progress. The FitBit Flex also has subtle lights on the band that light up as you reach stages of your set daily goals. The Jawbone needs one, and preferably both of these. Look for more info on the Flex in July, and a comparison between the two most-popular bands.

Features
The Jawbone UP is a great tool: impactful and fun to use.

Step tracking: It’s rewarding to know that you walked a number of miles in one day, and wearing the band is a constant reminder to walk. You don’t want to sync the band at the end of the day and find out you missed your steps goal.

Idle alert: This is one of the features I was most excited about, and it might be the most impactful. You can program the UP band to vibrate after a specified period of inactivity (I have it set to 60 minutes). Getting up and walking around for 30 seconds is really easy to do, and the vibrating band provides the notification and incentive to do it. I haven’t ignored an idle alert yet.

Sleep tracking: After taking steps, the UP band tracks your sleep. The results seem realistic (especially compared to my first sleep tracker, the Lark alarm), and help track sleep over a night or over a period of nights. Having the data means you can see hours slept and quality of sleep, and compare it to how you actually feel on a given day. One small problem here is that you have to tell the band to go to sleep mode. In 11 days, I’ve forgotten twice.

Smart alarm: This is the feature that I was most excited about because I don’t like waking up in the morning. The smart alarm is supposed to track your sleep, and then wake you up within a defined time period around a specified alarm at an optimal time to wake up. It does wake me up, and I wish it was more effective. I was hoping that waking up at an ideal time rather than a set time would be more effective. It’s not. I still fall back asleep when I’m tired.

Activity tracker: You can tell the band with two quick clicks that you’re about to start a fitness activity, or anything else you want tracked specifically. After syncing, you can go in and explore a specified activity in more detail. This is helpful in distinguishing exercise from day-to-day steps.

Additional info
The Jawbone UP costs $129.99, so it’s not cheap. The battery so far seems to last for the promised 10 days with all day use. The design fits well and looks pretty good. The band is definitely a good conversation starter.

Buying advice
Consider the band if you have trouble waking up, and are willing to try anything to make mornings better. Also, buy the band if you can’t get enough data in your life, and want to see the numbers around everything you do. Consider the FitBit Flex. I would skip the Nike Fuel Band (doesn’t track sleep), unless you’re looking for more limited tracking focused on fitness.