Using the Jawbone UP3
The Jawbone website makes it seem that attaching the band to your wrist is a quick and easy procedure. It's not. The band has to fit fairly snugly on your wrist, and that clasp is difficult to operate when you don't have much room to get your fingers around it. I really struggled with it and found that the best approach for me was to slide the clip closer to the loop, connect the clasp, and then slide the clasp farther away from the loop on my arm, which was easier said than done. Not user friendly. In answer to people's complaints about the clasp, Jawbone posted a video on their knowledge base that makes the procedure look smooth and easy. Take it from me, it isn't. Also, to find that video I had to browse through reviews on Amazon. There's no obvious link on the Jawbone website.
Jawbone also acknowledges that the buckle may not always stay attached and it doesn't. They offer an activity clip to help keep the band together which, in my opinion, should have been in the box to begin with. I dutifully sent off for one, but it hasn't arrived yet so I have nothing to report.
Once I got the UP3 charged and wrestled it onto my wrist, it was time to do battle with the app. Installing it on my Moto X Android smartphone went smoothly. Connecting the band to the app… not so much. I selected my UP3 band, as requested.
Needless to say, yes, the band was charged, and yes, it was within range (the smartphone was about a foot away). So what was the problem? I tried again. Jawbone supplied an error message.
Yes, there was a perfectly good Internet connection. I was using it to check the website to see what I might have done wrong. As it turned out, for fixing the problem I was on my own. Fortunately I am stubborn and I like fixing things (for the most part) so I sat back and thought about it and took a second look. Oh, guess what? First problem? Silly me, I chose the UP3 which is what I had, but the app thought it was seeing an UP4.
OK, so I'll pick the UP4. That worked. Sort of. The app still thought I had no Internet connection. So I thought about that some more. Oh… silly me. I thought the fact that I had a Wi-Fi connection on the phone meant I had an Internet connection. Jawbone's programmers apparently worked for Microsoft and learned the fine art of non-helpful error messages. What I actually did not have was a Bluetooth connection. I had turned the Bluetooth off on my smartphone because I seldom use my ear hanger and didn't want to run the battery down. Fix that, fix the problem. Woo!
OK, the band's connected, the app is running. I was going to go out for a walk to see what I could see. And here I ran into the second thing Jawbone assumes about its customers. None of them want to wear a wristwatch. Now, this wouldn't be so bad if the band itself included a watch the way the Fitbit Charge HR does (see our review of this fitness band here ) but Jawbone only has the three small lights, none of which tell time. Well, consider me old-fashioned, but I am not an obsessive smartphone checker and I wear a wristwatch. I tried some of my watches to see whether the two devices could peacefully coexist.
My favorite watch… uh uh. Way too large.
My "it's OK if the toddler chews on it because it's an Expedition" watch… better but still too much stuff for the wrist.
In the end, the only watch I had that would fit was a vintage model that I didn't consider an everyday watch. But I do now. Let's hope the toddler doesn't notice. 🙂
Oh, and in case you are asking the obvious question, I could not just move the UP3 to the other arm because I wear a wrist brace on that arm when I am typing, and I type a lot.
Using the Jawbone Up app
The app is attractive, well thought out and offers a lot of information about yourself. But Jawbone doesn't supply any kind of user guide, so the setup isn't necessarily straightforward. My band arrived set up for metric measurements. But I live in the USA where we are dinosaurs who don't understand metric very well. Changing the units was easy enough once I found out how to do it, but that involved browsing several online forums. You press and hold on the metric measurement for your height, until you feel the band buzz, and then you can change it from cm to inches (or vice versa). That changes all the other measurements for you as well.
You're offered the opportunity to set a weight goal, but you can't really do it. It's either accept what the app tells you, or pick a lower weight. No option to choose something higher that might be a little more reasonably attainable.
Those were my only complaints, though. The rest of it was fine. The app tracks your steps, your resting heart rate (measured just before you wake up), and your sleep patterns. You can set a goal for the number of steps you want to take each day.
As you can see, there is also a "smart coach" that gives you advice on how you can improve what you're doing. It will offer suggestions for getting more active and getting better sleep, for example. I found the coaching worthwhile. But I am not sure how accurate the sleep measurement is. It's based on movement, as I understand it, and someone who sleeps on a waterbed with four active cats might appear to be moving a lot more than she really is. 🙂 Still, it is an interesting measurement and it does seem to get the times I get up in the middle of the night correct.
As I said, the only way you can get information from your band is to use the app. There is no online dashboard like Fitbit has. For people who are normally checking their smartphones all the time, this would be no issue. I am not really a phone checker, though, so I had to learn more than one new habit to get the most out of the UP3. This isn't a complaint, just an observation.
Observations about the Jawbone UP3
The band is made from medical-grade rubber (not latex) and doesn't cause problems on my skin. I can't wear those silicone bands because they make my skin sweat, but the UP3 didn't bother me at all. Jawbone cautions that there is a small amount of nickel in the contacts, but although I do have a nickel allergy I wasn't affected at all. The contacts make marks on your skin, especially overnight. They were noticeable but didn't bother me.
The band is thicker than my wristwatches and it's fairly rigid (you can't just turn it around your wrist without effort). This caused me some problems when it got caught in the sleeve of my jacket and especially when it got caught in the strap of my backpack, which actually gave me a bruise. That may or may not be a problem for other people so I'm not downgrading it for that.
The band is slim and attractive and you have a lot of options when it comes to choosing how it looks. It is clearly suitable for both female and male wearers. It claims to be "one size fits most." I did not test this out with other household members because getting the buckle set to the proper size is, quite frankly, a pain in the butt.
The UP3 is lightweight and it's easy to forget you have it on, which is a plus. It is water resistant but not waterproof. I tested it out washing dishes (not submerging my hand as far as the band), no issues. I did not push my luck by wearing it in the shower, which is something other people report being able to do successfully. It cleans up with alcohol, according to Jawbone, and I did that a couple of times.
The pros and cons of the Jawbone UP3
As I see it, here are the pros of the Jawbone UP3:
- Slim, lightweight, and a good choice of attractive styles
- Easy to clean
- Charges fairly fast
- The smartphone app is appealing to look at and easy to use after the initial setup
- It reports lots of useful information about your activity level and sleep.
And the cons :
- Not really compatible with wristwatches (this may not matter to many people)
- You might not know when it needs to be recharged
- Unhelpful error messages during setup
- No user guide and vital information isn't always obvious on the Jawbone website
- Really poor buckle and charger design
- It offers apps only for Android and iOS. Windows users are left out .
I really wanted to like the Jawbone UP3. I did like the design of the band and I got a lot of useful information out of the Jawbone app. The material it's made out of didn't make my arm sticky or sweaty, which I really appreciated. But setting up the band was way more difficult than it needed to be, and that buckle has indeed come undone multiple times. Fortunately, it never fell very far. The band isn't designed for someone who regularly wears a wristwatch (that would be me) and it tended to get caught on things, which hurt.
On the positive side, the Jawbone UP3 offers plenty of information about yourself, which will be helpful in improving your health and wellbeing. Also, its measurements seem precise enough for you to understand what is going on with yourself. The only downside is that you have to check the smartphone app a lot. There are no web dashboards or other sources of information outside the app. Of course, a lot of these observations are personal and may not apply to other people. But I have to say that no, sorry, Jawbone, you have not yet produced the world's most advanced tracker. You're on the right track but you still need to keep working.