Review: Jawbone UP24 Fitness Tracker

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 The smart and sporty Jawbone Up24 is the most fashionable, lightweight and comfortable fitness tracking wearable you can buy, and it has a beautiful app to match.
Some functionality is sacrificed in the name of vanity. There’s no display on the device itself for on-demand workout stats or a web-based portal to chart the quantified self data it silently collects. All metrics have to be synced to an iOS or, as of this month, an Android app.

The good news is that Jawbone Up24 is able to wirelessly sync these accurate step and sleep quality numbers through Bluetooth. Now, as the Jawbone Up24 name suggests, this new version can truly be worn 24 hours a day without the need to take it off between syncs. Combined with the  its colorful app and newly released Android support, this is one of the top wellness motivators.

Design

The flexible Jawbone Up24 bracelet is coated with the same incredibly smooth non-latex rubber as its nearly identically designed predecessor. The company goes out of its way to say that this silky material is medical-grade and hypoallergenic, meaning it won’t give you a nasty rash like the recently recalled Fitbit Force.

Beneath this rubber layer, the bracelet has a spring-steel inner-core that gives it that deformation-resistant elasticity. Its solid design ends up being less malleable than the Fitbit Force wristband, but it’s even softer to the touch on the outside, an important feature for any wearable meant to be worn 24/7. Eye-catching OLED displays, the full gamut of metrics and colorful apps might turn heads, but any wrist-worn gadget has to be comfortable for these extras to be worth it.

Jawbone Up24 weighs in at just 20 grams. That means it’s easier to forget that you’re wearing it, compared to the Fitbit Force and the hard rubbered Nike FuelBand SE, both of which are 30 grams. It’s also more fashionable than its two fitness-focused rivals.

The textured bracelet is thinner than its more plain-looking competitors, measuring half an inch in the direction of forearm to hand. Compare that to the .75 inch width of the Fitbit Force. It’s tenths of an inch, but wholly beneficial when slipping on cuffed shirts or jackets. Constantly removing and attaching it won’t need to be part of your fitness routine.

The bracelet thickness actually narrows as it wraps around the wrist to two overlapping ends. These unique prongs provide 1.5 inches of security and stand out from the normal wristwatch clasp used in the Fitbit Force and other trackers. It’s also easier to put on and take off.

Jawbone Up24 comes in two colors: Persimmon (reddish orange) and Onyx (black).There are also three sizes again: small, medium and large to fit a variety of wrists.

At the store, you won’t need to break out the measuring tape, as the packing includes a clever plastic layer with a size-appropriate hole through the center. It can be lifted to see if your wrist fits. Jawbone offers a traditional print-out guide just in case you’re ordering online.he only two backlit icons underneath the non-latex rubber are a sun and a moon. They indicate activity and sleep mode. Everything else will have you back to the app.

App

Jawbone Up24 is lightweight, but its multilayered app is not. It’s full of rich color, helpful wellness tips plus detailed activity and sleep analysis.

Activity is represented by a vertical orange bar that shoots up with more physical movement. Tapping it reveals a horizontal 24-hour timeline that spikes vertically with hourly movement. It’s based on the number of steps taken and miles or kilometers traveled.

Additional ta6175604d26741f3a947cb9cce9fe9731-650-80bulations below the bar graph include active time, longest active time, longest idle time, total calories burned, active calories burned and resting calories burned. It’s almost the full spectrum of fitness metrics. Flights of stairs climbed is the one missing stat I’ve seen before elsewhere. Unlike the Fitbit Force, there’s no altimeter sensor packed into this tiny bracelet.

That’s okay because the Jawbone Up24 sensors for everything else are more accurate and customizable than its wearable peers. Fitbit Force, for example, likes to add five phantom steps for every 100 taken, skewing the numbers quite a bit by the end of the day. The Up24 didn’t do that, and it includes a “Calibrate Your Band” option deep within its settings menu to improve accuracy.

 

The app’s invitingly bright color and the overall better accuracy are a good motivator, but nothing gets you on your feet faster than a slap on the wrist. Its idle alerts are more like a joybuzzer than electroshock therapy, causing the bracelet to vibrate whenever you’re inactive for a set amount of time. It can be set to gently buzz your wrist every two hours all the way down to every fifteen minutes.

Idle alert reminders also include a start time and end time, so it should only buzz you during work hours, for example, and not when you’re at home watching a movie. Nike included this feature in its FuelBand SE bracelet, but its hourly “move reminders” don’t have the same idle time customization’s. Garmin Vivofit may be the only one to do it better with a red inactivity bar that visually grows throughout the set sedentary time period before the nagging begins.

The motivators don’t stop there. “Today I Will” challenges encourage you to get to sleep a few minutes earlier than the night before, drink all eight recommended glasses of water in 24 hours or walk a few additional steps by the end of the day. These personalized challenges are based on how well you’ve met your goals in the past week and make the whole Up system feel as if it’s getting to know you better than any other tracker.

Workout, pill-taking and custom tasks can be programmed in via the reminders menu that sends a notifications to both the phone and the bracelet. Finding teammates through your contact list, Facebook and Twitter can also fire you up. There’s room for comments, but this peer-to-peer motivation is more likely going to come from you seeing how much everyone else is obliterating your steps count in the well-laid out Up newsfeed.

Sleep tracking

Most gadgets keep us awake past our bedtime, but the Jawbone Up24 could actually help us catch more Zs. Its sleep tracking capabilities chart the traditional eight hours with dark blue, light blue and orange vertical bars on a timeline. This corresponds to you being sound asleep, restless and awake in bed.

The app’s sleep mode is surprisingly accurate for a fitness bracelet, going as far as reporting when it thinks you fell asleep and total awake time. Kicking the Jawbone Up24 into sleep mode requires pressing the device’s single button at the end of one of its overlapping prongs.

Sleeping on the job of switching it over to this mode isn’t a problem. You can still log unconscious hours manually, and the Up24 will even guess as to when you were asleep. It works far better than the FitBit Force’s sleep tracking, which is equivalent to a lot of tossing and turning.

Your partner in sleep will appreciate this: the Jawbone Up24 can replace a blaring alarm clock with its smart sleep alarms. Setting this “silent alarm” of sorts wakes you up with gentle vibrations that won’t disturb anyone else. A sleep window option from 10 to 30 minutes also makes it possible to avoid being woken up during deep sleep, making you less groggy in the morning.

Meal tracking

No one gets food logging quite right, but the Jawbone Up24 app comes close. That’s because it uses a barcode scanning in conjunction with an iOS or Android camera and a food product’s UPC code. There’s also the traditional nutritional database available.

Meals are tracked on the main screen with a green bar that sits next to the orange activity and purple sleep measurements. It’s given as much prominence as activity and sleep, but maintaining its presence by scanning or typing in a food and then figuring out how much has been consumed is tedious.

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Battery life

Bluetooth syncing has reduced the Jawbone Up24 battery life to a still-impressive seven days, down from the ten that the original had promised. That’s a fair exchange for the added wireless syncing functionality between the bracelet and app.

To make up for that, a real-time battery drain calculator is provided in the Jawbone Up24 app. It reads that there are “7 days left” right after a charge and, a week later, predicts “about a day” right before the bracelet needs to be plugged back in. That’s much better than a vague, slowly draining battery icon.

Not as straightforward is the fact that the Jawbone Up24 uses a 2.5mm stereo inline jack to charge. That’s the smaller headphone jack size that everyone hated about the original iPhone. While a 2.5mm-to-USB adapter is included so that the bracelet can be plugged into any USB port, the connector a measly four inches and very easy to lose.

Final Verdict

The Jawbone Up24 is one of the most inspiring fitness wearables that you can latch onto your wrist. It’s fashionable, lightweight design makes it easier to wear for a full 24 hours compared to its plain-looking, anchor-like competition. This doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a single handcuff. Better yet, the accurate activity and sleep tracking metrics make it useful both day and night.

It’s even more motivating when syncing all of this data to the bright-and-cheery Jawbone Up  app. Charting out steps and sleep quality explains where you’re making progress and where you’re letting yourself down. Your life is analyzed every swipe down to refresh.

The recent Fitbit Force recall makes the Jawbone Up24 the ideal choice among fitness tracking wearables by default. Even if that weren’t the case, this bracelet would have a slight edge given its more comfortable design, easier-to-read app and better accuracy, all of which drive a more informed if not healthier lifestyle.

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