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In these modern times we live in life is not only about being connected, it’s about being in touch conveniently. For most people that means having a smart phone that they carry with them everywhere to be instantly alerted of an email, a social media message, a bank transaction, an injury in their fantasy football lineup, a change in the prices of their stocks, etc.
While phones that are always connected are definitely helpful, manufacturers pondered the question to themselves of how could they make them more convenient? Not everybody likes to lug around the sizeable phones in their pocket and we’re officially in the age of the accidentally sent ‘butt e-mail’. The solution – the smart watch.
There is the Google Watch which literally puts a phone on your wrist but for this review we’re going to explore an innovation in the smart watch field – the fitness band. The fitness band still works in connection with a smart phone or tablet but with much more convenience.
Gone are the days of the step counters that would literally click over with every drop of the foot as the fitband revolution monitors not only activity but also sleep, diet, and a number of other different tallies. It will even give the wearer an alert if they’ve been idle and lazy for too much of the day.
Two of the leaders in the smart watch / fitband breakthrough are Nike and Jawbone. Most people are aware of, and likely own a pair of shoes manufactured by Nike but Jawbone is a respected developer in their own right.
If in your searches for a foray into the fitband world or a replacement for your current device you’ve narrowed down the choices to the Nike Fuelband or the Jawbone Up, let this guide help determine the winner based on your needs.
Breakdown – Nike Fuelband
One thing about the Nike Fuelband is that its style is right on par with its functionality. As is the norm with the company’s modern line of running sneakers that are being worn in both the boardroom and the board walk the Fuelband offers a sharp, yet sleek look.
The product is available in a number of sharp color combos such as black/gold, black/pink, black/rose, black/crimson, black/volt, and the covert black/black. There’s nothing worse than a watch that doesn’t fit to a wrist tight and that annoyance could be compounded with a fitness band that slides as you run.
Nike takes care of that by offering three different sizes in addition to links that can fine-tune the fit.
While you don’t want an eyesore on your arm as you work out, the real reason for the fitness band is to improve your workouts. In a nutshell what the Nike Fuelband does is count your movements during a workout or just over the course of the day.
If you’ve been in a lull it will alert you to get some movement and while you’re on the treadmill or doing HIT workouts it will display your progress and intensity. The aggressiveness of your workout is measured in NikeFuel which are points that accumulate as you work out.
These point totals can then be shared and compared with friends through the Nike application. Other features include the counting and tracking of calories burned in a day and a sleep monitor that lets you track how restless you were the night before.
Breakdown – Jawbone Up
Jawbone’s first incarnation of the UP fitness band in 2011 was by their own accounts a massive failure. The band wasn’t very durable and had limited features but easily the most glaring problem was that the electronics and accompanying app simply didn’t work.
The manufacturers and engineers went back to the drawing board and the results are much better. The latest model has a similar discreet design but it is much more sturdy and reliable. The app has been reprogrammed and the band is loaded with dozens of new and improved features.
Speaking of features, it’s hard to find something the Jawband Up application doesn’t do. Just take a look at the different ways to use the Up:
- Activity tracking – the Jawband Up has 24/7 tracking to measure distance, amount of calories burned, time active and how intense that time was.
- Sleep tracking – by pressing a sleep button the device will then track how long it took to zonk out, how restless the night was, and whether it was a deep or light sleep.
- Idle alert – if you’ve been sitting too long for instance at a desk chair, the Up will send an alert to get up and take a walk.
- Food tracking – input daily meals into the app and compare calories in versus calories burned.
- Mood tracking – if you’re in an especially good or bad mood, log it on the app and then monitor the instances that led up to or caused the swing.
- Power nap mode – if you accidentally fall asleep during the day Up will wake you up at around 26 minutes for an optimum power nap.
- Insight engine – discover hidden patterns in your everyday life such as your most productive time of day, your most active day of the week, and how your sleep affects your activity among other things.
Of course very few wearers put all these apps to use and it takes some time to master them all but it’s nice to know the availability is there.
Jawbone Up vs Fuelband Head-to-Head
Two heavyweights duke it out with the title belt in this situation being your money but also the duty to turn you into a fitter individual. For the most part the basics of the two models are very similar meaning that they track your movement and let you analyze it. There are specifics though that set the two apart:
- Looks – Style is actually kind of important with a device that you’ll be wearing 24 hours a day and possibly 7 days a week. The Jawbone Up has a very simplistic design made of TPU rubber but is very noticeable. The Nike Fuelband on the other hand is much better looking and appears as a stylish bracelet/watch which helps if you want your fitness tracking to be discreet.
- Features – In fitness bands the functionality either comes down to the band or the app. When breaking down the Nike Fuelband versus the Jawbone Up they fall on exactly opposite sides of the equation. With the Nike model you can view how much activity you’ve done during the day and set and monitor goals. The Jawbone wrist model has no communication at all and simply tracks movement – the results aren’t seen until you plug the device into your phone and use the application. Conversely the Nike app offers minimal customization as you can’t upload food logging data or state which activities were done during the day.
- Social Media – The Nike Fuelband counts ‘Fuel Points’ and allows them to be uploaded easily to the increasingly popular Nike online community. One of the things that the Jawbone app lacks at this time is the ability to easily update and share to social media, something many people look for in a purchase.
- Price – The Nike Fuelband lists at $130 while theJawbone sells for $99. Depending on the intended uses the extra $50 might not be enough for some people to pay for a more stylish design.
|Feature||Nike Fuelband||Jawbone Up 2|
|Tracking functions||Motion & calories||Motion & sleep|
|Sync type||Wired, bluetooth||Wired|
|Battery life||Up to 4 days||Up to 10 days|
|Weight||1.13 ounces (large)||0.81 ounces (large)|
Possible Cons of Both Devices
If the two products were combined they might just be one of the best fitbands on the market. The Nike Fuelband is stylish and sleek but lacks a lot of the data entry ability of the Jawbone app for optimum customization.
Customers of both products have reported problems in syncing the devices to their phone apps and the life span of both has come into question. Another issue of wearing a fitness band on your wrist is that it doesn’t fully track all workout movements such as time spent in a plank pose or an intense mall walking with stiff arms. In the future perhaps arms and leg devices will sync up.
The limitations on output information is understandable too as a large screen to scan calories, sleep, goals, etc. would take away from the convenient discreetness of the device.
Fuelband vs Jawbone Recommendation: Which is Best?
If your network of friends all have the Nike Fuelband app it is a great purchase as a way to share and compare activity data through the Nike community. Plus the Nike band looks cooler and is a little more comfortable to wear on a daily basis.
Jawbone though is doing some great things through their app and although you can’t see or communicate much data in real-time with the wrist band, inputting data at night can lead to some great fitness gains. I’d give the slight edge to the Nike Fuelband as it does everything just a bit better.