It is always a good feeling when you buy a piece of technology and after what seems like an eternity (anything longer than 2 minutes), you find that you have been able to successfully integrate that tech into your life.
Some may remember asking what use could the iPod possibly have and why should I carry gigabytes of music? Who am I? The walking version of American Bandstand? Or what about the wi-fi enabled scale…do we really want to know how much that meal at Five Guys truly cost us? Or how about that little, battery-powered piece of flexible rubber that clips to your waist, or in this case, the wrist; counting all the steps we achieve or neglected on our daily trek called life?
Fitness trackers. A problem in search of a solution. Surely we could have just relied on pencil and paper to count calories. We have a myriad of GPS fitness watches that can track our mileage and combined with an optional heart rate monitor (HRM), heck, we are off to the digital races of fitness analytics. Yet here I am with a nicely marketed and over-priced accelerometer on my wrist.
Enter the Jawbone UP (original flavor).
I received this as a gift over a year ago. In that time I have gone through two replacements, truly a testament to Jawbones replacement and warranty servicing. Is it the perfect fitness tracker? Far from it, there are plenty of issues I had and still have with it:
- Not water-resistant
- Easy-to-lose caps
- The app will not count steps from a Jawbone UP-less run (you must run with both the Jawbone and GPS watch)
- Not very durable for the more-than-average active person
- Sync glitches every-so-often (fixed with the introduction of the UP24 via bluetooth low energy (BLE)
All those pesky annoyances aside, I have grown to enjoy my UP. It has a sleep tracker that I forget to use at least three times a week, but the app makes an educated guess when you sync. It has a stopwatch function (sort of) that you can use to time an activity which you sync, label and comment with the app. It has an alarm that wakes you up at the optimal time based on your sleep. Speaking of sleep, you can toss in a power nap when you feel like taking a break from all of those TPS reports.
That said, we come down to the new kids on the block (NKOTB if you grew up in the early 90’s…) the Jawbone UP3 and the Microsoft Band.
Enter gadget envy.
I have to be biased since I have the original Jawbone UP. I like the app, although I wish Garmin would get on board. The features of the original fit me and in turn, I have grown to fit the features. The new fitness band comes with improved sensors. The website reads:
- Bluetooth® 4.0 BTLE
- Tri-axis accelerometer
- Heart rate
- Galvanic Skin Response (GSR)
- Skin temperature
- Ambient Temperature
- Three single color LEDs: Blue for sleep, orange for activity, and white for notifications
- Water-resistant up to 10 meters
- Battery life: Up to 7 days
Sadly, your order will take 6-7 weeks. At least they are honest enough to mark it as a pre-order. With shipping times like that, you will need to find something else to serve as a moderately expensive stocking stuffer.
Oddly enough, Jawbone sent me an email for $30 off the Jawbone UP24, just a month before announcing the UP3. The code was good for not one, but two Jawbone UP24’s. It believe it expired at the end of October. Imagine if I took the bait…
Next up is a surprise to all. The Microsoft Band. I cannot think of anyone that was more surprised of this than Microsoft. Just kidding.
Microsoft typically does not do cool stuff like this. The last time I saw something interesting and really innovative was when they released Windows XP…or maybe the Zune. The MS Band (MSB as I like to call it) has a lot of business going on around your wrist. It takes the form of a dumbed-down smart watch. Yes, I just said that. In short, it looks like a great addition to anyone who is ready to enhance their fitness game.
According to their website, it has the following features:
- Text Messaging: Get your text messages right on your wrist.
- Calls: See incoming call and voicemail notifications on your band.
- Calendar: Microsoft Band stays in sync with the calendar on your phone, reminding you of important events throughout the day so you can be where you need to be.
- Email: Monitor and preview email activity right on your band, so you don’t have to pull out your phone in the middle of your lunch date.
- Smart notifications: Choose which alerts you get on your wrist. Change the notification settings on your phone and your Microsoft Band will match.
- Watch mode: Turn on “Watch Mode” to always display today’s time and date without pressing any buttons.
- Facebook & Facebook Messenger: Stay up to date on Facebook without having to check your phone. Get the latest posts, comments, photo notifications, and personal messages on your band.
- Twitter: Tweets, mentions, retweets, messages, new followers. Set your preferences on your phone and see it all on your wrist.
- Cortana: If you’re using Windows Phone 8.1, you can take notes and set reminders with your voice using Cortana personal assistant.
- Weather: Get real-time weather conditions and a 5-day forecast to plan your week.
- Finance: Create a watch list for select stocks in your Microsoft Health app. View the latest ticker activity right on your wrist.
- Starbucks: No need to reach for your wallet. Enjoy coffee on the go with your Starbucks card ready to scan at arm’s length.
- Timer & Stopwatch: Time your laps or your entire workout with the stopwatch. Set alarms to wake up silently or remind you to go for a run.
- Do-not-disturb mode: Tap the icon on your band to turn all notifications off.
- Personalization: With your choice of background designs and colors, let Microsoft Band reflect your personality.
- Display: The full color touch display is bright and easy to read, even in direct sunlight.
- Bluetooth 4.0: With Bluetooth 4.0, your data syncs to your phone in the background, so Microsoft Band is always up to date. You don’t have to log in to get the latest.
Unfortunately some features require Windows Phone, it is sold out, and initial reviews are mixed on features and battery life. Maybe the early adopters were just not ready for Microsoft to pull off something like this. Heck, I wasn’t. Whatever the reason, if possible, I will have to visit a Microsoft store or get my hands on a demo.
In all, quite the selection to choose from during the upcoming
holiday shopping season. Would I like to get my hands on both? Yes, but I will have to monitor both shipping dates and reviews to see which side I eventually choose unless they start falling off the back of trucks.
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