Jawbone Up Review

I’ve had a fair few people ask about the Jawbone Up I’ve been wearing since November (the second version, not the recalled first one – although, as you’ll read, perhaps this one should have been too). Here’s how I’ve found it.

The good

The reason I waited on the Up, over say the Nike Fuelband, was because I wanted a wrist-wearable tracker plus sleep data. The FitBit One has a wearable night-time band, but it looks rather large and cumbersome and I didn’t want a clothes-clip tracker in the day time (where do dress wearers clip them?).

Jawbone Up

The Up band’s size is really good and it’s comfy and it doesn’t look ridiculous.

I like the sleep tracking, although I feel like it’s not terribly accurate – if I wake and don’t move around much, it doesn’t record it as a waking period – but it’s accurate enough to collect the information I’m interested in.

I have been a bad sleeper for a long time, but having actual data about the length of time I’ve been asleep and awake has helped reduce my anxiety about a bad night’s sleep (it always feels like a lifetime when you’re awake in the middle of the night and don’t want to be – but turns out it isn’t), which in turn has helped improve how well I go to sleep generally, I think.

I also like the smart-alarm – before I’d put off looking at the clock to see the time, but the gentle nudge that, yes, it is about time I got up is really useful, and again, anxiety reducing.

The steps tracking seems fine. I’ve never bothered to calibrate it, since I don’t do much exercise except walking – but it seems to match the distances I do regularly around the city. It’s fun – I’m not competing, so it’s mostly just interesting. I hear from others that it basically can’t cope with running or cycling, though.

The bad

It broke. Twice. The first time, it broke after about 6 weeks – the vibration feature (needed for the smart-alarm and idle alert) just stopped working for no apparent reason. At the time, the Up band wasn’t out in the UK, so Jawbone were not willing to replace it (ugh) but when I said I’d be in New York for a week, they agreed to courier me a replacement to the Google office there while I was in town – which I think was really just a nice act on the part of one very good customer service rep I’d met on the support forums. Had I not been on the forum or nagged on twitter, I suspect I’d have been left out of pocket.

Unfortunately, the second band stopped working a couple of months later. The smart-alarm feature became temperamental and often wouldn’t go off at all, and the button on the end of the band had become dislodged and no longer clicked. This time, the band was out in the UK, and they sent me another one immediately.

I’ve been wearing the third one for about a week and I honestly expect it’ll break soon, too, sadly. Edd, who originally picked up my first band for me while he was in New York, had his first and second bands break too (the second after only 2 weeks) – so the statistical data I have available to me is not very favourable and a quick look through the forums will find most people in similar situations.

The other stuff

They just released third-party app integration, but sadly on iOS devices only (I use a Nexus 4 day to day, so syncing with an iOS device is an extra annoyance if I want to use those features). I expect that’ll help make the data the band is recording more interesting.

Otherwise, these are things I wish it had:

  • A visible metre or something on the band. I have to sync it with my phone to find out how I’m doing. It doesn’t even tell me the time. I feel like it’s not providing me with much in return for the space it’s taking up on my wrist.
  • There’s no web view – the only way to share the data is through facebook (meh) or if your friend is also an Up user (which is basically no one). I’d like to be able to let my husband see my sleep data – then he’ll know that I’m just grumpy because I’m tired. He can sneak a look at it on my phone, I guess, but it would just be nice to have a public view somewhere on the web.
  • The food and mood logging is boring and pointless. It may be that the new app integration gives this value, but it was onerous and I gave up after a week. The insights offered to you only ever related to steps and sleep, so no matter how much food and mood you logged, it was for your own entertainment only. These features appear to be rather tacked-on.
  • Some people complain about the lack of wireless sync as a deal-breaker (you sync it via the mic jack). This personally doesn’t greatly bother me (longer battery life is a reasonable trade), but given that I have to take it off my arm to find out anything about it, as mentioned above, then I think it would have been preferential in this case to sync wirelessly.

But, these are all minor gripes – I’d recommend but for the fact that they clearly have not managed to make a band that doesn’t expire every 2 months.

I’m mostly just hoping this band will hold out long enough for the delivery of the Fitbit Flex I just pre-ordered.

Update: My 3rd band has the same smart alarm fault. Sigh.

Film and Lit 2008

For no other reason than to have something to blog at the end of the year, I kept a list of films I’ve seen and books I’ve read from Jan 1st 2008 until the end of the year.

Films (at the cinema, in seen order)

  1. I Am Legend
  2. Sie, Jie (Lust, Caution)
  3. No Country for Old Men
  4. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead
  5. Sweeney Todd
  6. Cloverfield
  7. The Savages
  8. Juno
  9. There Will Be Blood
  10. Be Kind Rewind
  11. My Blueberry Nights
  12. 10,000 BC
  13. El Orfanato
  14. Funny Games U.S.
  15. [Rec]
  16. In Bruges
  17. Deception
  18. Iron Man
  19. Smart People
  20. Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull
  21. Gone Baby Gone
  22. The Incredible Hulk
  23. Kung Fu Panda
  24. WALL-E
  25. The Dark Knight
  26. Elegy
  27. Persepolis
  28. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  29. The Strangers
  30. Pineapple Express
  31. Taken
  32. How To Lose Friends and Alienate People
  33. Burn After Reading
  34. Easy Virtue
  35. Choke
  36. What Just Happened?
  37. The Fall
  38. The Day The Earth Stood Still
  39. The Reader
  40. Blindness

Favourites:

Fortunately, there were many I really enjoyed. Juno, Wall-E, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Funny Games U.S (or the original – it really is an identical shot for shot remake), El Orfanato, In Bruges, Easy Virtue and The Reader (on general release in 2009) are all ones I’d especially recommend, though.

Least favourites (or just plain terrible films):

10,000 BC (just awful on every level), The Day The Earth Stood Still, Be Kind Rewind (good concept, bad screenplay), Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (incredibly boring).

The Day The Earth Stood Still deserves special mention. I was willing to give this film a chance if it stood up as a film in it’s own right, rather than as a remake, since they couldn’t really make an accurate one set in today’s world. Such an utter disappointment.

This film is remarkably not ruined by Keanu Reeves. He actually suits his role. The film is ruined by an incredibly bad screenplay that makes half-hearted references to the amazing original, includes terrible dialog and unbelievable situations which lead all the main characters to constantly and whimsically change their allegiances so as to suit the ridiculous “human beings are wonderful” love-fest and unnecessary patriotism. Oh, and the CGI sucks too.

Books (fiction and non, plus some graphic novels – in finished order):

  1. The Unteleported Man / The Mind Monsters – Philip K. Dick / Howard L. Cory
  2. Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4 – Bryan O’Mally
  3. The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman
  4. Star Maker – Olaf Stapledon
  5. The Penultimate Truth – Philip K Dick
  6. Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
  7. A Handful of Darkness – Philip K Dick*
  8. Dr Bloodmoney – Philip K Dick
  9. Love and Limerence – Dorothy Tennov
  10. Ubik – Philip K Dick*
  11. Dark Stars – ed. Robert Silverberg
  12. Bonjour Tristesse – Francoise Sagan**
  13. Lost at Sea – Bryan O’Mally
  14. Through a Glass, Clearly – Isaac Asimov*
  15. The Gryb (and other stories) – E. A. van Vogt
  16. Fear and Trembling – Søren Kierkegaard
  17. The Game Players of Titan – Philip K Dick**
  18. On The Genealogy of Morals – Friedrich Nietzsche
  19. Watchmen – Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons***
  20. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck****

Gracious book lends: *Michael, **Dave, ***Patrick and ****Steve

I’ve certainly been on a short-stories kick this year, having read 5 collections. I really like the medium, actually, and it’s a shame that the form seems to be dying. I only tend to come across good short stories, especially of the sci-fi variety, in now out-of-print editions in musty second-hand bookshops. The Blackwells and Foyles seem to push and stock mostly the latest full-length pop novels and not a whole lot else. Shame.

The other clear trend is my continuing appreciation for Philip K Dick. The man was prolific, but I find almost all of his books interesting to read. I really do recommend him if you’re interested in concepts of alternative realities, trust and philosophy of the mind.

I wanted to read as much as I saw, but, as pointed out to me, a film is just a couple hours out of the day, but a book is a lot more. Maybe next year I’ll do better (or watch less).

Happy 2009!