Last week I spent some time in and out of A&E with chest pains. It’s still not completely clear what the cause was; but the doctors seem to believe it’s not a problem with my heart. However, several ECG’s have shown an (intermittent!) unusual heart rhythm, so I’m currently awaiting for a 24hr ECG to understand what’s going on (maybe my heart rhythm is timed with IEEE floating point?).

Whether this issue turns out to be related to my heart or not; it’s been a bit of a wake up call. I eat a lot of junk food, do no real exercise, sit at a computer all day every day, and barely eat 5 fruit&veg per month! I decided it’s time to start being a bit more health-conscious, and I hoped an activity tracker might motivate me a little more to get active.

I did some comparing of the Fitbit Flex and the Jawbone Up24 and decided to buy the Up24 for two features the Fitbit Flex didn’t have:

  1. “Intelligent” Alarm: Wakes you up within a defined window when you’re in a light sleep. Apparently being woken up from a deep sleep makes you feel worse.
  2. Idle Alert: The wristband vibrates if you don’t move for a defined amount of time (eg. an hour). Since it’s easy to sit for a long time while programming, a reminder to get up and move seems like a good idea.

I had the Up24 for almost a week, and I was generally impressed. The app was relatively polished (if a bit sluggish), and the push notifications at various intervals were quite handy. The food tracking worked fairly well, but had some annoying quirks (especially around managing your own “library”). However, there were two fairly serious flaws that ultimately resulted in me returning the device today.

  1. The constant syncing of the band drains my Nexus 4 battery quickly. I used to get 2 days on a charge; but with the Up24 I was lucky to get 24 hours. Almost every day I woke up to a completely dead-and-turned-off phone, even sometimes if I’d charged it the night before.
  2. Every time the band synced with my phone, it would disconnected all other Bluetooth devices. This means almost every phone call to my wife on the way home from work in my car got disconnected (the call stays active, in my pocket, until the sync finishes).

Despite not selling them in-store, Currys told me this was the third one they’d had back recently; so I’m guessing others haven’t been happy too.

I don’t know whether either of these issues are Jawbone’s fault; it may turn out that the Fitbit Flex does the same (we’ll find out in the next few days!), though I did notice that on the Fitbit website it says that all-day-sync is disabled on my device by default due to battery drain issues. The difference here, is that the sync can be disabled. The Jawbone Up24 doesn’t have any ability to disable the sync (or reduce the frequency).

I do hope that these issues get ironed out (with software updates, or future versions of the bands/phones) and that Fitbit add the missing features I liked about the Up24. I think the idea of having a small piece of technology with us at all times to help us stay fit and healthy is a great one; and I think there’s huge scope for improvement in this area.