Jawbone UP First Impressions

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Although it is only just being released this morning, I was able to pick up one of Jawbone’s new UP wrist bands yesterday (Jawbone UP). It truly is the height of “geek chic”, and whether or not it will be a passing fad waits to be seen. I wanted to share a few initial impressions of it but first let’s look at what it does and does not do.

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The UP is like a super-duper pedometer. It tracks your steps and can “challenge” you to do more. Or, if you set it at “X steps planned today”, it will tell you when you are achieved your goal or when you have lamely missed it.

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It can track your sleep patterns. You simply “tell it” you are turning in and it goes into sleep monitoring mode. Based on your movements, it can sense when you are in deep sleep and when you are not. It can also track how close you are to achieving the number of hours of sleep you desire. This is a great thing since, as a society, we are all pretty much sleep-deprived.

It has another cool trick up its sleeve. More on that soon.

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It can track your meals and help you figure out which foods work well for your body and which do not. Unfortunately, this aspect of the system is fairly limited. You can take a picture of your meal and record, it but it doesn’t appear to do much more than that.

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And that leads to my main initial negative of the device. It requires a lot from you. The band needs to be charged every ten days. Worse yet, the only way it tracks ANYTHING is if you sync it to your iPhone. And how do you sync it? You plug it into the 3.5mm headphone jack. That’s right, there is no wireless connectivity here. That, plus the limited food aspect of it are concerns for me, at least in my initial impressions.

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On the plus side, the UP band has a cool alarm setting that will wake you up within 30 minutes of your target time, and based upon your body movements, go off at the optimal time for you to wake up refreshed. I assume this means it goes off when you are moving and are therefore in a lighter sleep. I tried it today, and while it did get mixed up by an hour thanks to the time change, it worked well. On the downside, to set the alarm you need to physically connect the band to your phone and fire up the free UP app.

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The UP band is meant to be a social experience. Couch25K certainly was more “doable” because Judie, Carly and Larry were all doing it with me at the same time. My hope is that as more friends get them, the peer pressure to do more will increase. I know that Judie, Matt Miller, Scott Jordan, Larry and others either have them on the way or are getting them today.

We will keep you posted.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.

8 Comments on "Jawbone UP First Impressions"

  1. Got mine yesterday.  I guess I was in the same boat as you – thought it was BT – didn’t think I had to physically sync it each and every time.  I understand the negative impact BT would have on the battery in both the UP and on the phone so I guess I’m okay with it.  Lack of social integration (ability to send stuff to Twitter and Facebook) is a big miss for me – hopefully they’ll add it soon.  I think it has some potential.

  2. I wonder how well it tracks sleep. Can we use this as a quick way to see if people need to get a sleep study? Interesting….

  3. Rodney St. John | November 22, 2011 at 6:27 am |

    How is it going with you all? Is it still a cool gadget or is it sitting in a drawer? Does the alarm work well for you?

    • I ended up very disappointed in it. The functionality was too limited, the alarm didn’t work as well or accurately as I hoped and the app was meh. I ended up realizing that it just wasn’t adding much, if anything, to my life or health and… back it went.

      • Rodney St. John | November 22, 2011 at 6:58 am |

        Thanks Dan.  Thats exactly what I wanted to know.  Maybe the UP version 2 or 3 will be better if they make it.  

    • I’ve been using mine for about a week. The alarm clock is actually one of the reasons I can’t quite take it off. Simply put, it works well for me. I like the challenges, although I don’t have any friends who have kept their UP bands. I guess I am basically challenging myself at this point. =P

      Unfortunately there is much to not like about UP v1, including the lack of wireless sync and how much input you wind up doing yourself through the app, the lame food diary input, and how easy it is to cheat the steps. For instance I wear it while typing and I think it is counting my wrist movement as steps! Too bad my legs don’t see it that way! =P

      I wish Jawbone would add wireless and then partner with Lose It or Withings (wireless scales and blood pressure cuff).

  4. Saw this at Target the other day and the packaging says nothing about what this thing really does which I found interesting. Still wanted to play with it though. Thanks for the article!

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