Monday, 8 December 2014

Review: The Jawbone Up Move Fitness Tracker

Ever since going on medical leave, getting fitness into my life has been really difficult for me, especially being that I'm banned from doing most activities! I decided I should make more of an effort to go for walks, but being that it's so cold at the moment I was severely lacking motivation to actually do it. I therefore decided to look into fitness trackers, and eventually ended up with this little gadget - the Jawbone Up Move. Its release date is actually today, but mine arrived last week so I've had a little while to play around with it and get used to it.

There are two main competitors in the fitness tracking market - Jawbone and FitBit. On the looks side, FitBit probably actually appealed to me more, but the main selling point with these devices is the apps that they work with so I decided to download both and give both a try for a couple of days. Jawbone won, so I decided to look into their devices a bit more. At the time of looking, only the wristbands were available - wristbands definitely do not work with me. There's the fact that I don't really like the look of them, but more than that I definitely would not be allowed to wear one at work. It looks like I was looking at just the right time though, as the Up Move is a little clip on device that you can hook on to your pocket, belt strap, bra, or wherever else you decide you want it to go!

And this is it! It's a tiny little device, much smaller than I expected it to be. It's really very discreet when I clip it on, and nice and light. There's a variety of colours available but I went with the black one just because I wanted it to be a bit more disguised with my clothes. It's a very small device but very sturdy, the clip is good quality and I'm yet to be worried about it falling off my clothes.

So, what does it do? Well, in many ways it is a bit of a glorified pedometer. It counts your steps, and it also monitors your sleep - sort of, we'll get to that. On the app you can tell it what your step goal is and the device will also update you on how well you're doing. Obviously the app itself will just plain tell you, but the Move has a display like a clock - if you click it, it'll display a little white line in a different place, like a clock face, so you know how well you're doing. Eg - if the little dash is at the very bottom of the Move, then you're about half way to your goal. I've found this to be pretty accurate, my only concern is with buses - I've found its hit and miss as to whether it counts my bus journeys as me taking lots of steps or not. It seems to be that the bumpier routes it is more likely to think I'm taking steps, which makes sense. I'd imagine if you're a motorbike rider it'll definitely think you're doing a lot of walking - I'll get back to you on that in a month!

As for the sleep part - you can hold the button down and it'll go into sleep mode. You press it again when you're awake, and you can check it all out on the app. The app displays the time you spent in light sleep and deep sleep, as well as how long it took you to sleep and how many times you woke up during the night. The first night I used this I think it was really accurate. It said it took me 38 minutes to get to sleep, which I'd say is about right, and obviously I don't know how accurate the light and deep sleep readings were, but judging by how I felt in the morning they were spot on. However the second night it said it took me 4 minutes to get to sleep when I know for a fact it was at least an hour and a half, and the same applied for the third night - I don't know exactly how long it took me, but it was definitely a lot longer than the ten minutes it seemed to think! I don't know how accurate the light and deep sleep readings are, but I think they're more accurate than that part at least.

On the app itself you can view the charts of your walking and your sleeping, and you can also input other activities. For example, you can put in any exercise you do, and you can also put in any food you've eaten. When you do this it will give you a rating of the food you've eaten that day. I've found the food database is actually pretty good and its easy to find most things in there - certainly a lot easier than FitBit's database was. It has a scanning mode where you scan the barcode of an item which is great in theory as you can get the actual information of the fried rice you just ate rather than the information of a generic box - however, the first time I scanned a yogurt I bought it was convinced that I'd bought a packet of chicken fillets, so your mileage may vary on that! You can track calories eaten with this, and if you have a weight goal you can input that as well. I'm not using that, so I can't comment on how well it works. You can also input your mood.

One of the features most heavily advertised with the app is the smart coach system, which provides you with personalised information and advice based on your data. It does use your data, but I don't know how generic it was. As an example, on my first day of using it I'd only used it for an hour or so so had reached 250 steps. My smart coach commented that the average user walked 8000 steps, whilst I'd walked 250, so adding an extra 1000 would help bring me closer to that goal. Yes, it would - but someone who walks an average of 250 steps isn't going to suddenly quadruple that. It also provides information and advice through a couple of tips a day. At the moment I find them quite interesting but I don't know if the novelty of that will wear off! There is also a "Today I Will" feature. I'm not entirely sure how frequent these are as I got my first one today, so I'm not sure if they're more frequent now it has more of my data or what. My "Today I Will..." is based on the fact that my sleeping times are really inconsistent, so it wants me to go to bed at 23:06 today. Yes, 23:06. It's being very specific. I'll try, Jawbone, I'll try.

I do like the app though - FitBit's is very plain and matter of fact, whilst the Up app is bright and colourful and I like looking at it. I know that sounds like a silly thing to judge it on, but when you're basically looking at graphs it is important to find one that you like to look at and use, otherwise you're just not going to bother. That being said, FitBit was probably a bit more user friendly and was more straight forward when it comes to inputting the data. The Up app can also be synced with other popular apps like MyFitnessPal and TrackMyRun - I don't use any of these apps so I can't comment on how well it does this!

Overall, this is a good app and a good product - it is tiny and lightweight and very discreet, and despite being so small and not really having a screen, I find that what the little light up buttons can do is actually very useful and productive. If you need extra motivation or you enjoy tracking your activity, I'd recommend you give this a go - I'd tried to use tracking apps before but always lost interest within a couple of days, so having something like this is really working for me, especially when I'm so restricted in what I'm allowed to do and can't go to my normal fitness classes anymore. However, before buying one, I'd recommend you download both the FitBit and the Jawbone apps and see which one you like the most, then look at the devices from there. Also if you're an Android user, double check your device can run the app before thinking about buying any of them! I use the HTC One M8 now which runs it perfectly well, however my previous phone was the original HTC One, which couldn't run it. 

You can buy one for £39.99 through the official site, or get it through amazon for what is currently the same price.. 



  1. I have been wanting to purchase one of those little gadget for a while but, knowing myself, I am worried that I would get a bit too obsessed with the amount of steps i'm taking. I guess it is a nice little object for people who have office type jobs or struggle to get their exercise in everyday though !

    Charlie xx

  2. Haha, in a way it's silly for me because I look and see that I have done nowhere near enough and shrug and continue whatever I was doing :P To be fair though I was more interested in it for my normal job - as it involves pretty much constantly wondering around, I've always been interested in how many miles I walk just at work!


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