The first time we actively used a smart armband was the UP by Jawbone back in January. The promise was simple and easy — track your daily activity, from number of steps to number of hours of deep sleep, sync them to the cloud and access them via your Android or iOS smartphone.
The UP24 by Jawbone is a second-generation smart armband. unlike the first-gen which uses a 3.5mm jack to connect to your smartphone or tablet to sync data, the UP24 is powered by Bluetooth to wirelessly sync data to any of your paired devices.
Design and Comfort.
The UP24 comes in 3 sizes — small, medium and large — which you can try out using a plastic measuring band that is attached to the box. The flexible rubber cord wraps around your wrist and feels very comfortable to use. It’s stylish and not so bulky so it can even be worn at the same time as your watch.
One end of the tip has the cap which seals the 2.5mm jack for charging the armband. The other end of the tip is the button controller for setting the device for day or night use.
The UP24 is perhaps one of the nicest-looking yet less conspicuous smartband we’ve ever seen or used. It also supports Android and iOS devices so it’s not that picky in terms of the brand or the model of devices you can pair it with.
One thing that got us frustrated, especially with the older UP band, was that the caps keeps on getting dislodged and eventually got lost (the thread becomes lose after a while and repeated use). Jawbone has spare caps you can buy but it was a hassle.
Use and Features.
The UP24 is very easy to use and understand. Just pair and activate the band with your smartphone, wear it on your wrist, set it for day mode or sleep mode, then watch as your activity is wirelessly synced into the app from time to time.
The band has two modes — the Wake Mode which tracks your morning activities like idle time, active time plus the option to log a specific type of work-out (weights, biking, sports, etc.); then the Sleep Mode which tracks your sleep cycle (light sleep and REM).
The band is able to track the exact time you feel asleep and the time you woke up and plots the whole data in a nice 24-hour graphical timeline. There are a few other minor functions you can set the band for, like as a stopwatch or clock a Power Nap.
With all these daily activity being recorded, you will be able to clearly see a weekly pattern of your activity — the average sleep you get every night (I do 4 or 5 hours of average sleep a day) and the average number of steps you walk each day (my average is 6,000 steps a day).
What we really liked about the band is the social aspect. You can add friends as part of your team so you can also see their daily activities. There’s a Leaderboard which ranks the people in your team based on their level of activity. This encourages you to hit your daily quota (10,000 steps and 8 hours of sleep a day) or at least match your level with that of your friends.
The app estimates the amount of calories you burned based on your activity. It’s not that very accurate but at least you have some sort of basis.
Connectivity and Battery Life.
The UP24 is connected to your smartphone via low-power Bluetooth. This makes it more convenient to sync the data since you don’t need to physically plug the band into the audio jack of the phone in order to sync them (like what we did with the original UP).
The wireless synching is done every time there is new data gathered by the smartband. Fortunately, this doesn’t really eat up a lot of the battery of the band. We estimate around 9 to 10 days of operation on a single full charge before we have to plug it back again to re-charge. That is a pretty long battery life, even compared to other smartbands we’ve seen and tested before.
The smartband market has been around for a couple of years but it’s still considered to be a niche product and mostly geared towards the sports and health conscious crowd. Still, we find very practical and convincing use for it. It’s simple and very easy to use, provides the essential data that matters and can be an integral part of a user’s lifestyle.
We particularly liked the UP24 by Jawbone because of the wide device compatibility, very long battery life and the gamification features of the app.
The UP24 smartband by Jawbone is not yet locally released in the Philippines so we had to order it in the US via Galleon.ph. It retails for $149 in the US and the list price of around Php8.5k from Galleon includes taxes, shipping and customs (plus a bit of margin for them).
What we liked about it:
* Simple, light design
* Very long battery life
* Compatible with iOS and Android devices
* Social features
What we did not like:
* Not water-proof
* Caps can get lost easily after a while