Jawbone as a company builds products around consumer technology and wearable devices. They are one of the companies known to have invested heavily in Fitness tracking, and uses software platforms powered by data science. I tried one of their products, UP3, which is an advanced fitness tracker for anyone who wants to take their fitness to the next level. Here is my experience with Jawbone UP3.
Smart Coach :
When it comes to fitness tracking, counting steps, looking at your heart rate and being happy on your calories burned don’t help much. They are important, but what do you with that data? I have been a long time user of Fitbit, greatly admire the accuracy, and instant heart rate monitoring system both with Charge HR and Fitbit Surge, but it stops there.
When I started using Jawbone (still had Surge on my wrist), what really impressed me was the Smart Coach, unlike the hardware which is actually very boring.
As soon as you pair the tracker with the app, the tracker takes in basic data about you which includes your weight, height and age and then suggest how much you should sleep and walk everyday. Done that, you have two rising towers enabled. First tells you how Sleep, a very important factor to keep yourself healthy, and second tells you how many steps you took throughout the day.
Still can’t figure out what impressed me? I wasn’t impress by this time myself. After using it for 3-4days, and making sure I was wearing my band to track my sleep as well, the data analysis started. Here is what happened:
- The App pointed that I was sleeping less, and that my heart was beating a little higher.
- It suggested me tips like drinking more water, following a proper routine for getting deep sleep.
- The app tracks deep sleep, how many times I was awake and so on.
- If you choose to opt in, the app can prompt you to go to bed at a particular time to meet your sleeping goal. The time it suggest is picked from your past records. So for example during my trip to Goa, I was going to sleep at around 1 AM, and the smart coach asked me to make sure I go to bed at 12:30 am.
Smart Coach starts with analysing your daily habit. How often you walk, stay idle and keeps on calculating your passive Heart Rate. Even if you set up high target goals, the coach learns how much you an actually walk every day. And then it starts the motivation system.
- It will push to work towards a goal which is achievable. So lets say your target is 10,000 steps, but on an average you achieve 6,000. It will ask you set next target as 7,000. Once you achieve this over a week, it pushes to the next 1000.
- If you can’t keep up with the intermediary goal, it will start suggesting to improve sleeping pattern, drink lot of lemon water, east healthy food. And then push again next week.
- If you are an overachiever, it asks you to try for even higher level.
So you can see, it’s all about motivation. Instead of reminding you that you missed your daily goal, it learns, adopts and helps you reach the final goal.
Food & Water Tracking:
It took a bit of effort to manually enter daily food habit, and water logging. End result was impressive. The coach was able to suggest how can fine tune my eating habit, and also water drinking habit.
Design Build and Fit.
It’s one of the thinnest, and lightest tracker I have used which houses a lot of features, but there is a reason for that. There is no display panel, and everything you do is through their app on the phone. Looking at the design, I just have one thing to say–Its less gadget, more jewellery–and this is its biggest drawback.
Any Male Athlete or Fitness Enthusiast looking at will be disappointed. By the looks, it seems to be designed to get along with female bracelets, and nothing else.
UP3 clasp is adjustable to a great extent, and delivers comfortable fit. The top is surrounded by thick textured rubber, with rubber strap on both the sides. The strap holds four sensor, along with one more which is under the thick mid portion (I had no irritation for over a month of usage).
Now here comes another small problem. Getting used to the clamp, and make sure that it stays in place is tricky. It gets stuck, knocked off if anything hook with it. Yes, I did drop it 2-3 times, within the first 10 days of usage. Later it was fine, but I still kept checking on it.
Here is a word of caution. At the end the band is rubber or something similar. This like Fitbit Flex is prone to tear and wear, and it will over time. After researching over forums, and couple of users on twitter, seems to be one of the issue. Though Jawbone replaced the bands for them, but then there is a limit to it.
Hardware & Heart Rate
Jawbone UP3 comes with these sensors.
- Tri-axis accelerometer.
- Bio impedance sensors.
- Skin and Ambient Temperature Sensors.
The sensors are distributed around the band. The strap holds four sensor, along with one more which is under the thick mid portion. These are enough for daily tracking, and most of the activities, but lets point the attention to the heart rate sensor.
Unlike Fitbit Charge, and Surge which uses Optical Sensor to track live heart rate reading, Jawbone UP3 tracks resting and passive heart rate. It is recorded every few minutes, and then the AI Coach can use this to see how it trends over long period. This is very useful for picking up suggestion on sleeping habit, food and stress.
In my usage for over a month, I never had an issue with its reading. Both Fitness tracking, and Sleep tracking was well done.
Battery Life and Charging:
The band lasts for 6 days easily. My daily routine includes 30 minutes of walking, 45 minutes of workout and I kept it on for 24 hours. Like all other trackers, Jawbone UP3 comes with custom charger which is not only short, its ugly. You will have to get used to setting it right to get the magnetic clasp on the right spot.
Conclusion : Should You Buy it?
I am in a mid of Yes and No. I truly love the fantastic Smart Coach which has helped me push my goal to the next level. Not only to walk more, but also to sleep well, educate me about life style and what I missed. There is no match to what it offers. However, the hardware is awful. Its more girlish, and looks like a jewellery which will definitely push away the guys.
Considering that Jawbone Up3 costs approximately around Rs 12,000, and if at the end of the day if it doesnt look good on you, it becomes hard to recommend it. Jawbone needs to improve their design and build quality to get into windows of highly recommended fitness trackers.