Sunday, February 28, 2016

Jawbone Up-3 - initial thoughts

I've been toying with the idea of a fitness tracker for over a year now. I like statistics and thought that the information a tracker would give would be interesting and maybe help me stay motivated. But the cost and my inability to make a decision on which one to buy kept getting in the way.

I picked up a clip-on pedometer last year and used it for maybe a month or two. I liked the information it provided. But I had to remember to clip it on my clothes and not forget to take it off when I put my clothes in the laundry. It had a tendency to catch on things which I found annoying. Plus I had to manually track my steps. So now it's collecting dust on a shelf.

Then this month I saw the Jawbone Up3 pop up on Amazon's Deal of the Day (UP3 by Jawbone Heart Rate, Activity + Sleep Tracker, Black Twist). It was still almost $100 and the reviews were iffy. Then I noticed you could get an "open box" item in very good condition for $40 so I jumped on it. Still had a 30 day guarantee so I figured I could send it back if I changed my mind.

It arrived quickly and although the box was opened, the contents were all there and in like new condition. I got it charged up and have been wearing it ever since.

I'm not a fan of the charger. It's a short USB cable that attaches magnetically to the band. There are 4 pins that have to line up with a port on the band and I find it fiddly to get the pins lined up. You know it's right when the band sits flush on the charger. However, charging is fast. The first charge took about an hour. I've recharged it once since then and that took maybe half an hour. A charge will last about a week.
The band itself is very light and comfortable to wear. There were a lot of complaints online about the band coming loose. My guess is they didn't have the size adjusted properly. I've had no problems whatsoever. I must have a small wrist because I had to adjust the clasp all the way up to the sensor (as short as it will go) but it fits securely. I went with plain black, although they have a lot of nice color choices. The black blends in nicely with the bracelets I wear so it is unobtrusive. They say it is water resistant (can be worn in the shower, but not swimming). I err on the side of caution and take it off before showering. I have gotten it wet washing my hands with no problems.

The Up3 tracks 3 things: steps, sleep and resting heart rate. You need a bluetooth enabled device with the Up app in order to see the readings. The app keeps your historical data and gives you feedback on how you are doing and what you can do better, encouraging you to meet your goals. Thanks to firmware upgrades since it was first released, you don't have to tap to move the device from active to sleep mode, it now happens automatically or you can control it manually through the app.

This time of year I am particularly sedentary. Long hours at work, glued to my desk and cold dark nights making it hard to get out and walk. So I'm not stressing too much about my low step counts. I love that you can set an inactivity alert which will cause the band to vibrate if you've been sitting longer than the designated time. Mine is set to thirty minutes. Its is an odd feeling when it buzzes you but definitely encourages me to get up and move. Since it only tracks your steps, I love that the app allows you to manually add workout statistics. So on days when I ride the exercise bike I can add the workout and the app will figure the activity into my daily fitness goals.
Resting heartbeat is pretty cool. I had originally wanted a band that gave on demand heart rate but I'm finding this method of tracking works great. The band randomly checks your heart rate throughout the day and night and provides graphical data so it's easy to see how stress, activity and inactivity are affecting your heart rate. The app also provides feedback on your readings to help you understand what it means and how to improve.
The sleep feature is also really neat. Mostly from the interesting perspective, seeing how you move in and out of the different stages of sleep. I am generally a pretty good sleeper (thanks to a bout of mono when I was in high school) but it's fun to see the graphical interpretation of sleep.
So these are my initial thoughts on the Jawbone. It's still early days. We'll see how long I stick with it and how it plays out for the long haul. I'm not very fitness conscious. I just want to be healthy and not a total lump.

Lightweight, comfortable and attractive design
Long lasting charge
Easy to use
Great statistics via the app
Feedback/encouragement based on your numbers

Have to use the app. I wish there was a PC interface for viewing statistics and manually adding data.
Difficult to attach the charger

If you are looking for an entry level fitness tracker, this might be one to look at. I know I'm enjoying it so far.