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Gear Review | UP2 by Jawbone Fitness Tracker
Product: UP2 by Jawbone Fitness Tracker
Suggested Price: $99
The UP2 by Jawbone is touted as a lightweight, yet sophisticated and stylish alternative to all the bulky and complicated fitness trackers available on the market. It’s user-friendly, intuitive, and sleek.
A few things I discovered within the first couple days:
· I am an AMAZING sleeper
· I had literally no concept of how many calories were in food
· Hitting the average 10,000 steps a day recommended by experts is HARD!
As a full disclaimer, I’ve never been the kind of “athlete” that has felt the need to track my activity, count calories, or closely monitor my ZZZs. I was honestly a bit nervous to use this thing as it seemed a labor intensive project to take on for someone with my lackadaisical approach to both working out and eating. (Can you actually count skiing as a workout if you drink beer and eat chicken wings after?) To properly review the UP2, I committed to wearing it for 30 days in hopes that any novel (and healthy) habits I picked up would cement themselves into my routine.
NOTE: A huge feature of the UP2 is the ability to connect to friends who are also using the device. The belief is that by tying yourself into a community of active folk you’ll be more inspired to participate and strive harder. I unfortunately had no friends or acquaintances using the UP2 so I did not utilize this functionality and it will not play into this review.
| STYLE & APPEARANCE |
I was initially worried that the UP2 wouldn’t fit me because I have wrists that approximate those of an 8-year-old child. I’ve also never felt comfortable wearing a watch or bracelets so I was pleasantly surprised to discover the wide range of adjustability on the band and the comfort of the device. It easily cinched up to fit my diminutive wrist and I came to ignore its presence quickly. This thing is actually comfortable! The clasp is relatively easy to disengage and the materials never itched or bothered my skin. The UP2 is available in quite a few classy colorways and combos. I was paired with a fairly unassuming silver variety, so there’s less obtrusive options too.
The app comes with a small USB wand and one charge lasts about 6-7 days in my experience.
| UP2 APP |
On the left is the homescreen with your daily goals presented. On the right is a sample of the messages you might find from the Smart Coach as the day progresses.
The data collected on your wrist must be synced with the UP app, downloadable for Android or iPhone. The UP2 uses bluetooth to sync with your phone, providing you with up-to-the-minute data on your stats and goals.
I’m not much of a computer maven, but I found the interface to be intuitive and simple to navigate. I do wish there were a more comprehensive tutorial at the beginning, because I was more than a week into using the program before I discovered a handful of additional features.
The app presents you with an easy to digest summary of your daily progress. There are three bars depicting sleep, activity, and food intake. Sleep is automatically tracked by wearing the band to bed. Activity must be logged by type, duration and effort level. Food must also be manually added per meal and snack. This is a bit of a chore, but after time the app stores data and learns what types of food you often consume.
| SLEEP TRACKING |
The UP2 uses an accelerometer in tracking your sleep to capture the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and the time spent in light and deep sleep cycles. I’d say that the sleep tracking is fairly accurate overall. There were a few nights when I noticed the device did not capture instances in which I had awoken, but seeing my nightly allotment of sleep was insightful. I had no idea what an amazing sleeper I am. Of all the goals the UP2 tracks, sleeping was the only one I consistently met, (I always knew I felt a special connection to tree sloths).
The sleep tracker also offers a cool feature called the Smart Alarm that wakes you during a state of light sleep within a target range of time dictated by you. In trying this I did feel that I woke up more refreshed and less aggro (NOTE: I am NOT a morning person).
The data is presented in a very digestible format and I actually found it pretty interesting to compare night after night. Take the photo on the left, a blissful night of sleep. Compare that to the photo on the right, after a night in which too many porch beers were consumed. Under the influence of alcohol I laid in bed with my iPhone for 30 minutes before falling asleep (always a dumb idea), slept poorly, logged fewer hours, and felt exhausted the next morning.
| ACTIVITY TRACKER |
Besides a seemingly accurate pedometer the UP2 allows you to log your activity and workouts to estimate your calorie burn. It’s a fairly simple interface in which you choose the activity, rate the difficulty, and log the amount of time spent. I did find myself wishing for more comprehensive stats like maximum speed or average pace, but I guess that’s what Strava is for. If you are interested in heart rate, you’ll want to check out the UP3 for a $30 upgrade. I’m also not certain how accurate the calorie burn feature for the Activity Log could be. There’s obviously a huge difference in energy expended between a nice backcountry ski tour and some downhill resort skiing.
The one thing that frustrated me was that the UP2 software doesn’t take your activity log into account when determining if you hit your fitness goal for the day or not. The overall fitness goal is based off the number of steps you’ve taken. I rarely hit the 6,500 daily step goal I set for myself, because I assume most of my energy is offset by biking, yoga, and skiing, rather than walking. I feel somewhat defeated not meeting my fitness goal on most days because my step count is low, despite the fact that I’m exercising. This was my biggest overall complaint with the app. While I do find it useful to know my step count, and there were many occasions when I adjusted my routine to accrue more steps, I still think other activities you log should be calculated into your daily activity goal.
PRO TIP >> If you can find yourself a dance party you'll hit your fitness goal! The one night my friend dragged me out to go dancing I hit over 13k steps! WIN!
| FOOD LOGGING |
Though somewhat labor intensive, the ability to log your caloric intake provided me with a huge amount of insight into my diet. I’d never before bothered to really keep track and I definitely gave pause once I began daily logging what I was eating. You can log food in two ways, searching by name or scanning a barcode. I found that in low light situations the barcode scanner often did not work, so make sure you are in a bright environment. There were times when I couldn’t find a perfect match for what I was eating, so there is a margin of error there.
I previously had no idea how much, how often, and what my diet was mostly composed of. The app rates your meal based on a 1-10 scale and offers encouraging tips on how to improve your diet. I was astounded to learn how many calories lurk in casual snacks, cheese (duh), and alcohol. I always knew that, but to physically watch those calories adding up provided a great deal of motivation to consume more thoughtfully.
I really liked the word cloud feature, which helps you determine the composition of your diet. It looks like I still have work to do…NUTELLA! CHEESE! COFFEE!
Apparently I consume a fair amount of “breast” as well…that’s news to me!
| SMART COACH |
Examples of Smart Coachisms
The UP app incorporates a feature called Smart Coach that offers fitness tips, sets small goals in increments, and offers encouragement (even when you suck). You can thumbs up or thumbs down the info Smart Coach provides so it better learns what works for your motivation and fitness goals.
I have a very difficult time with goal setting, so I really enjoyed this feature. For example: “You are close to maintaining your 7-day average of 4,868 steps. Another 870 steps, or a 9 minute walk, will get you there.” Nice. The competitor in me can’t handle that, so a walking I went.
In addition to daily updates and reminders, Smart Coach also offers a weekly summary. I did find it incredibly valuable to look at my progress week after week. That was something I’d never been able to witness before, so for me that was HUGE.
| WATER RESISTANCE |
Being a champion, I mistakenly read that the UP2 was waterPROOF, when in fact it is only water resistant. Jawbone recommends removing the UP2 before showering and swimming. For 2 weeks I mindlessly showered and even went hottubing with the UP2 on my wrist before discovering this important care tip. No problems were encountered as far as I can detect, despite my abuse of the product and inability to follow directions. Good work Jawbone!
| CONCLUSION |
Truth: I didn't expect to like this product because I've never been interested in counting steps, miles, calories, or hours slept—ever.
But once equipped with this knowledge, I realized that the power to change my habits was supercharged with DATA. Ignorance truly is bliss, because now that I know 4 beers contains some 600 calories I'm much more reluctant to just casually stuff my face with beer, truffles, cheese, etc. Paired with the fact that I am generally a people-pleaser, I found myself not wanting to 'disappoint' the Smart Coach. I imagine that when you do have friends participating in your UP program, the power to achieve your goals is mega multiplied. For me, I noticed I began working out 5-6 times a week instead of 2-3 because I was excited to log my workouts. I became better about drinking enough water to stay hydrated because I wanted to earn the "HYDRATED!" badge. I'd take an evening walk around the block to hit a few more steps and I rode my bike to yoga every time the weather was fine. My habits have absolutely improved since the day I slipped the UP2 on my wrist.
Overall, this product can accomplish much in a very sleek, lightweight package that was comfortable to wear. It's definitely not going to be ideal for people who are looking to train hard while monitoring heart rate and mileage. I would recommend it to friends interested in changing up their routine or looking to lose weight. I often struggle with motivation to get moving, so if this device could inspire me to pursue more activity, I think it can do the same for you.
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