Movement trackers are devices made to monitor your activity throughout the day or in cases night too. Let me tell you how I came across this fad (at least I used to think of it as fad). A month ago I got my iPhone 5S, as an iPhone enthusiast it was kind of a compulsion for me to get new iPhone in my pocket. At first I thought the new M7 processor chip in iPhone 5S will be a waste of hardware that I will be carrying around. M7 tracks movements made by your phone without compromising battery life. By tracking movements, M7 provides data to games and fitness apps.
I am a little health conscious but I stayed away from wearable tech to track my movement, as I found it unnecessary. However, since Nike released their steps tracking app which uses M7 data from iPhone 5S, I found this motion tracking business very interesting. While using my iPhone app to track movements I realized that, the results were inaccurate as I don’t carry my phone every time I move. That’s when I started reading about Jawbone UP, Fitbit and Nike Fuel fitness bands.
During my research I found that, Nike Fuel band is the fanciest one but, doesn’t support sleep tracking and solely be used for step counting. Fitbit and UP bands do something extra which is called sleep tracking in addition to step counting. Though all of these bands are designed to track your steps only, Jawbone UP app on smartphone allows users to modify timed activies in terms of type, difficulty and duration. Unlike Fitbit, this functionality allows UP users to use a band feature to log time of the activity automatically in app and then set parameters correctly to get a close estimate of calorie burn.
Sleep tracking: It is one feature which I always wanted to use to understand my sleeping habits. I tried using several sleep tracking apps before but I was not happy with results and definitely was not interested in keeping my cell phone so close to my brain over night (Isn’t whole day enough for that?). UP and bit gave me another shot to track my sleep. I like UP the most because of the way UP app shows me it’s collected sleep data. While Fitbit only shows when I slept and how many times I woke up during my sleep, the UP app also gives me information about sleep phases like, Deep Sleep and Light Sleep.
This additional data of deep and light sleep gives UP one more functionality which is called of Smart Sleep Alarms, which I found very useful over the course of last 7 days. The UP band vibrates to wake you up when you are in your light sleep, this happens at time which is closest to your set alarm time. Alarm time window can be set to 10, 20 or 30 mins.
Power Nap: Not sure about Fitbit but, UP band has a power nap feature which wakes users up after an ideal power nap time which is somewhere close to 26mins. The total sleep time can be set to 30, 45 mins to 1 hour. If its is set to 45 mins then UP band will wake you up after 45 mins even if ideal sleep time is not over. I found Power Nap feature very useful when I was over loaded with work and needed some rest at the same time.
Sync and wearability: Fitbit wins this one as it syncs with it’s smartphone companion app wirelessly where as, UP band uses 2.5mm jack on your smartphone to sync with UP app. I would prefer bluetooth sync a 1000 times over physical connection but other features of UP band and app overwhelm the odds. I sync my UP band three or four times a day and I don’t have problem with it because it’s very easy to pull out and put back on wrist. Fitbit is like a wrist watch which fits perfectly on wrist but might push users towards getting irritated but it and wearing it off.
Charging: Both UP and Fixbit bands require users to take them off for charging. Both come with their special chargers so users cannot use concentional USB charging cables. Charge time for UP is upto 10 days of course because it doesn’t have bluetooth wireless connectivity where as Fitbit can stay charged up to 7 days. To keep the charging cap from losing, UP band users have to take extra caution while charging the band.
Interaction with other services: This is a huge on UP band’s side that it’s app can be linked to IFTTT service to automate other services provided via IFTTT. This gets better with Jawbone’s latest version of fitness band UP24 which has bluetooth funcationality as additional hardware in comparison with the existing UP band. One better example is UP24 can detect when you are up and can start your coffee maker or turn on lights automatically.
Overall impression: I am using UP24 band for almost 2 months now and am not at all disappointed by it’s performance. However, Jawbone UP app needs a major overhoul which according to Jawbone is due soon. Keeping my hopes up for it.
Price: Both UP and UP24 bands are available at major retailers in the US. UP comes at $129.99 and UP24 comes at $149.99 price tag.