Jaw­bone UP2

Tech Advisor - - REVIEWS - Matt Egan

In terms of wear­ables Jaw­bone is the (not so) lit­tle com­pany that did. Its Jaw­bone Up24 ac­tiv­ity tracker has been a smash hit in wearable terms, man­ag­ing to find its way on to the wrists of tech- and fit­ness­savvy beau­ti­ful peo­ple in Lon­don and San Fran­cisco (and there­fore the en­tire world).

The UP2 re­places the al­most ubiq­ui­tous UP24, and is the mid­dle child of Jaw­bone’s cur­rent fit­ness fam­ily. It sits be­tween the bar­gain base­ment Jaw­bone Up Move pen­dant and the UP3 (see page 38), Jaw­bone’s new flag­ship wrist­band.

There are two colour schemes for the UP2: grey and black. Both come with a tex­tured me­tal plate ap­pended to the top, but in the case of the UP2 that me­tal is black. The de­vice it­self com­prises a thin rub­ber strap and that me­tal mid­sec­tion. It’s a one-size-fits-all gad­get, with an all-new me­tal­lic watch clasp. In our ex­pe­ri­ence the clasp was ini­tially in­cred­i­bly fid­dly, but then a welcome ad­di­tion in that it al­lowed us to set the UP2 to be suf­fi­ciently tight as to live on the same wrist as my watch with­out the two clash­ing.

Like that ac­tiv­ity tracker the UP2 is ro­bust and splash­proof. The me­tal plate does pick up scratches, but it is im­pos­si­ble to tell on the top side be­cause of the tex­tured fin­ish. I wouldn’t take it swimming, but it sur­vived the odd shower with no prob­lems. And that is a good thing, be­cause like the UP24 that rub­bery strap will get sweaty and grubby when you work­out.

The UP2 weighs in at a measly 25g and mea­sures just 220x11.5x38.5mm. Jaw­bone ac­cepts that some wrist sizes will be too big or too small, but claims that it will fit all wrists rang­ing from 140- to 190mm in di­am­e­ter. We couldn’t find any­one in our of­fice for whom it didn’t fit.

In terms of the user ex­pe­ri­ence, the lack of phys­i­cal but­tons or a screen is both a boon and a pain. A pain be­cause although you can switch be­tween modes by tap­ping on top of the unit, we found this fid­dly and counter in­tu­itive. But a boon be­cause it is re­ally sim­ple to re­fer to the all-new Jaw­bone UP on your smart­phone. When you do that, you see more de­tail on a com­fort­able dis­play. And it is much eas­ier to con­trol your ac­tiv­ity tracker via the app than through a va­ri­ety of taps on your wrist.

Over­all though, the on-de­vice user in­ter­face of the UP2 is poor. It is worse than the more sim­ple sin­gle-but­ton, two-LED UI of the UP24. But the price you pay for hav­ing a slim and stylish ac­tiv­ity tracker is the ab­sence of a screen.

Gen­er­ally speak­ing we don’t like the kind of pro­pri­etary charg­ing ca­bles sported by the UP2, as it re­quires you to carry it around with you when you are in need of a charge. But given that it charges via USB, and quickly, we are pre­pared to give it a pass. The UP2 clips into the charger us­ing a mag­net, so you can do it in the dark.

Bat­tery life is noth­ing out of the or­di­nary for this type of de­vice. Dur­ing test­ing, we achieved sevenor eight days (and nights) out of the UP2 and its Li-Po 38mAh bat­tery.

The UP2 does not have a GPS ca­pa­bil­ity. In­stead, it uses an ac­celerom­e­ter to act as a pe­dome­ter, mea­sur­ing your ac­tiv­ity based on weight and height data you give it. Reader, this will never be as ac­cu­rate a method as that of a de­vice with on­board GPS. If you are train­ing for a marathon, the UP2 is not the de­vice for you. Rather, it is a gad­get in the spirit of the orig­i­nal gen­er­a­tion of ac­tiv­ity track­ers. It quan­ti­fies ac­tiv­ity, so you can set a bench­mark and chal­lenge your­self to beat that bench­mark. You set a tar­get of steps and sleep time each day, and try to hit those tar­gets. The ‘Coach’ in the app nags and prompts you,

prais­ing you for a job well done. Tell the app what you eat, nudge it when you sleep, and you have your­self a good way of mea­sur­ing and im­prov­ing your lifestyle.

The UP2 is – in our ex­pe­ri­ence – good at notic­ing when you ex­er­cise. If we went for a run or a walk it no­ticed. The bands lights came on, and the app asked us to con­firm the du­ra­tion of the ex­er­cise, and make a judg­ment on how stren­u­ous it was. You can also tell it that you are ex­er­cis­ing by go­ing into the app and en­abling the ‘Stop­watch’ fea­ture. This is all well and good, but not en­tirely in­tu­itive. With a de­vice that is de­signed to quan­tify ac­tiv­ity as it fits into your daily life, hav­ing to en­able a fea­ture be­fore you head out is an­noy­ing.

Other good points in­clude the abil­ity to tell the app what your ex­er­cise was. Not re­stricted to the usual walk, run, cy­cle, the UP app will al­low you to be as spe­cific as se­lect­ing a ‘hike’ or even some­thing called ‘Zumba’. The app is brightly coloured and easy to use. It looks like the ex­ist­ing Jaw­bone app, but is a new piece of soft­ware for use with the UP3 and the UP2. Your stats are laid out clearly, and tar­gets are easy to set. We could live with­out the hints and tips, but it may be that a prompt from a vir­tual coach is what it takes to get you mov­ing.

Ver­dict

The UP2 is com­fort­able to wear, ro­bust and well priced. Most im­por­tantly, the UP app builds on the suc­cess of its pre­de­ces­sor, and is a great way of quan­ti­fy­ing and im­prov­ing your health.

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