Revamped and now boasting much-needed wireless Bluetooth syncing, the new $149.99 Jawbone Up24 pushes the old Jawbone Up aside as the company's flagship fitness tracker. It's a big step up (pardon the pun), as Jawbone also enhanced the companion mobile app, which for the Up24 offers even more personal and insightful advice, not to mention a very well-crafted interface. And just as good, Jawbone did not mess with the Up's light and comfortable design.
Yet, one of my gripes from the original model remains. The Up24's lack of a real display for stats at a glance dampens its overall appeal (I'm sure that you could add a screen without making the device too bulky). Also, while the original Up works with a handful of Android devices, the Up24 presently has no Android support at all (though that is supposed to change). That's why as satisfying as the Up24 is, I'd still pick the Fitbit Force as the most well-rounded high-tech health and wellness choice. It's less expensive ($129.95), and doesn't suffer from the Up's shortcomings.
Looking at the Up24 for the first time, my immediate reaction was to wonder whether this was indeed a new product. That's because, similarly to Fitbit's refresh of the Flex to the Force, the Up24 is almost identical to its predecessor. Just like the original Up, the Up24 is a thin bracelet-style gadget meant to be slipped around the wrist and worn all day long. It's also encased in a rubbery skin, which hides its sensitive motion-tracking and activity data-crunching components.
The Up24's ridged and textured surface also protects its high-tech interior from splashes and exposure to moisture. As a result, you'll be able to shower, wash piles of dishes, and stroll through torrential downpours care-free with the Up24 on your arm. The gadget borrows the Up's unique, and extremely comfortable I might add, buckle-less design.
Rather than having a fastener or pegs that snap together, the Up24's band isn't connected at all. Instead, the device's two open ends sit parallel to each other with the band's inherent spring firmly and softly gripping your wrist. Outside of a traditional watch strap, it's the most ergonomic wristband design I've used and a cinch to slip on. Also, it isn't at risk of becoming unhinged and perhaps lost like the Force.
Jawbone, however, decided not to give its flagship tracker an alphanumeric display, something competing products such as the Fitbit Flex and Nike FuelBand SE feature. While those devices can showcase important informational tidbits, including steps taken, calories burned, and the time, the Up24 is visually challenged by comparison.
Like the Up before it, the Up24's indicator light communicates its status only in colors of green, yellow, and red, and in starburst or half-moon symbols. Honestly, the Up24's lack of a display is a huge letdown for me since I like being able to check in a flash how active (or lazy) I've been. Often, rooting around for my phone in pockets or bags, then waiting to fire up an app takes too darn long, especially when I'm dodging slow sidewalk walkers -- you know who you are.
Unfortunately, the Up24 doesn't even gain much of a size or weight advantage by going without a screen. The gadget is a little less bulky than the FuelBand SE (1.28 ounces) and Force (1.28 ounces), but at just under an ounce (0.96 ounce), it's only slightly lighter.
Don't call Jawbone's Up24 a fitness tracker
On one end of the Up24 there's a big, flat, squarish button. Tapping or holding it will kick the gadget into its various modes for tracking sleep or simply confirm that the gizmo is alert and powered. The other tip of the Up24 houses what looks like a small 2.5mm headphone jack. The main purpose for the connector is to charge the device's battery using a bundled USB cord. It's a departure from the first Jawbone Up, which had a larger 3.5mm plug that served as both power resupply and a tool for data transfer (via smartphone headphone ports).
Key wellness capabilities
You can think of the Up24 as more of an evolution of its predecessor than a truly revolutionary fitness product. Both fitness trackers provide staple pedometer functions such as logging steps you take and resulting calories burned.
Additionally, you can log meals and snacks you eat through the Up mobile app in an effort to keep tabs on how many calories you consume, and whether they're canceled out by exercise. The Up platform, however, takes food logging a step further.
Not only can you pick dishes, drinks, and snacks from an extensive database, but you have the option of scanning bar codes of packaged foods to quantify nutrition in a flash. Alternatively, the application lets you snap photos of edible items plus select foodstuffs from a glossy Jawbone-curated image gallery.
Still, if you're looking for a serious scientific dietary- and exercise-tracking system here, the Up24 isn't what you seek. For instance, there's no way to parse your personal performance in terms of all Up users, those in your age, sex, weight class, and so on. The Up24 also does not link to fancy Wi-Fi scales to provide real-time weight, BMI, and percentage of body fat data. For that, you'll have to either jump on the Fitbit or Withings systems, which lean on the Aria and Body Scale, respectively.
Counting sheep is right in the Up24's wheelhouse, though. Like its predecessor, the wristband can log the length and quality of your sleep and report back with plenty of detailed stats. For example, you'll see how many times you woke during the night, how much light or deep slumber you had, and how quickly you nodded off into dreamland.