The UP wristband by Jawbone promises a lot. It takes a ‘holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle’ to ‘keep you moving forward’.
It will keep track of your sleep and how much you move, while you input what you eat and your mood.
The band itself comes in three sizes and will fit round your wrist tight enough not to fall off but certainly loose enough to be comfortable.
It’s quite flexible so it won’t snap if it gets jerked from your arm, quite light so you can easily forget you’re wearing it.
The UP is essentially a computer that fits around your wrist, inside a rubber casing. It’s water resistant, so you can shower with it – but not totally waterproof (don’t go swimming wearing it).
It is available in a selection of colours – some of them rather vibrant – but I went for onyx, a shade of black.
Some of the brighter ones might not be acceptable to wear in the workplace, dependent on where you ply your trade.
I found it comfortably fitted underneath jacket and hoodie sleeves and larger cuffs, but tight cuffs meant it was more comfortable to push the band right to the top of the wrist.
The band has no visual interface, other than one symbol which does not light up other than to tell you whether the band is in ‘day’ or ‘sleep’ mode, or if it’s charging.
To upload the data recorded to your phone – for use on the UP app, which is the second half of the product – you take the cap off the band and plug it into the headphone jack.
This is a good way of accessing the data because it means you can do it on the move, instead of having to plug both the band and your phone into another computer.
In an ideal world the data would transfer to the band automatically via Bluetooth, but that would have a massive impact on the battery life of UP.
The band goes for an astonishing 10 days once charged – via a USB port for 80 minutes – meaning you don’t have to constantly worry about getting to a computer.
It was around nine days for me, because I frequently updated my phone with the information because I was fascinated.
In the fortnight I trialled the band I never ran out of battery – which is more than I can say for my mobile phone.
The idea I was most interested in was the band’s ability to track your sleep, and it’s also the part of the product that most impressed me.
When you’re ready to go to bed, you push a button to switch it to sleep mode – a little moon symbol.
You have to remember to do this each night – I forgot once in 14 days, after a night out. Remembering in general is easy, if you set a routine of bringing the ‘moon’ up when you turn your lights down.
When you wake up in the morning, switch the band back to day mode by pressing the button. When you plug it into your phone, it will have the story of your night.
The band will inform you how much deep sleep you had, how much light sleep and how many times you woke up. It displays this over a bar chart of the night, which is easy to interpret
Jawbone Up is a pedometer, but with pretensions of being much more. Within its “medical grade” rubber casing, the Up houses a number of motion sensors and shares the information it collects with a smartphone app for iPhones and Android.
Beyond counting your steps, Jawbone believes the Up is capable of monitoring your sleep as well. Using proprietary algorythms, the
wristband and its software tell you how well you slept based on how you moved, sensing a difference between light and deep sleep and acknowledging.
There is one thing for certain: the Jawbone UP is fantastically designed. Both the wristband and the app are sleek, easy to grasp and a pleasure to use
The band itself is completely devoid of clasps or clips. It is a flexible loop that you slip around your wrist, and it sits comfortably below your hand. There are three sizes to choose from, with a size guide on the Jawbone site.
Best of all, the wristband looks good to wear. Our review unit is black, and it goes with every outfit in our wardrobe, from unwashed weekend wear to cocktail party dress.
At one end of the band is a small, square tip, that looks like mere decoration. In fact, this is the single button on the Up that users interact with. A long press on the button changes between day and night modes (you switch it before bed), and a double-press and hold command starts special modes, like a power nap, or the recording of an excercise session.
On the opposite end is a cap with the Jawbone logo on. When removed, a 3.5mm jack is revealed which should plug into every phone that the Up app is available on. Cleverly, this connection is used for data transfers from the band and also for charging — there is a 3.5mm to USB adapter in the box.
Arguably, it would have been more clever to use Bluetooth for data syncing with smartphones — the way its major competitor FitBit does. Tugging off the protective cap and plugging the wristband into a phone is no great strain, but we’ll always prefer a wireless solution.
A full battery charge is good for 10-days worth of use, should you won’t be using the adapter too frequently, which is a plus.