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THE Lowly Peon

My History with a Jawbone UP 
16 December 2011, 3:40pm

Note: this is not a review of my UP by Jawbone, but simply a (long winded) summary of my history with it them.

I first read about the UP by Jawbone, a super-accurate pedometer that you wear on your wrist, a day or two before it became available. After living in Houston for about eight months, I was intrigued by the idea that an activity tracking gizmo could encourage you, merely by bringing your attention to it, to be more active. I read whatever I could about it, and concluded that the device was pretty incredible, but the software to analyze the data was still in its infancy. As a guy obsessed with tracking data, I was confident that tools to better analyze the data would come around eventually, but the data I didn’t track would be lost forever.

My wife thought it was a bit silly to spend a hundred dollars on a thing that measures essentially what my iPhone already can, but I saw much more to it: the UP can track your sleep activity and quality, it can wake you up when you’re in light sleep by vibrating on your wrist — much gentler than a noisy alarm! — and it can track your activity even when you’re not moving geographically, like on a treadmill or when indoors. So after she approved, I decided to get one.

I bought an UP directly from the Jawbone website, jawbone.com/up, and in anticipation for an upcoming trip to China, for which I was very eager to track my activity for comparison with life in Houston, I paid a bit extra for expedited shipping. Knowing the release date was the following day, I was excited to receive my new gizmo in 72 hours.

After I clicked submit, on the screen appeared an estimated delivery time: 4-6 weeks. I always feel like a sucker paying extra for speedy delivery when it won't even leave their factory for several weeks. And I felt even worse because that meant I wouldn't have the UP for my trip to China. I let it go and continued with my life, knowing one day a box would appear at my door and I'd be excited to open it.

But then my generally inactive lifestyle in Houston made me very curious to compare my daily activity in Houston — where I try so hard to take the stairs instead of the elvator, walk instead of drive, and go running at least five times a week — to that in Hangzhou, where you don't even need to think about being active, because it's a such a wonderful requirement. So I called a few Apple stores and Targets to see if they had any in stock. And while it may not be as difficult as this of http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/e-mail-addresses-it-would-be-really-annoying-to-give-out-over-the-phone">email addresses, trying to explain what an "UP" is over the phone is not easy. And it surely didn't help that no one at any of these stores had any idea what an UP is.

Then Apple released their new iOS app for shopping at Apple stores, and while thinking of random goods to check inventory on, I thought of the UP. And sure enough, the Apple store near my work had one in stock, and in (what I thought was) my size. So I bought it using the new iOS app, and eagerly drove to the mall with my wife, figuring I could just cancel my order with Jawbone, since it wasn't scheduled to ship for a few weeks.

I set up my UP on a bench in the mall and started walking around. The UP tracks data, but doesn't display it — you need to plug it into your iPhone (required) to see your recent activity. So I knew it was best to be patient and wait until a good amount of data was available before impatiently checking it out.

Later that night, I synced, and it was fun to look at! I was amazed how accurately it tracked my activity, and somehow knew the difference between walking and driving on a bumpy road. Then, before bed, I put it into sleep mode, designated by a blue moon LED, excited to see how it thought my sleep was.

This continued for a few days, and it worked very well. I was, and am, continuously amazed how accurate it was, and I even used GPS to compare how far it thought I went with how far I actually did. It considers seven hours of sleep to be a good night's rest, which for me is never enough, and it only suggests 5000 steps per day of activity, which leaves me feeling like a turd. But I mentally changed the scale of requirements and was very happy.

Then I woke up after a night of awful sleep (it's so HOT in Houston!), and checked the logs to see what my UP thought. Strangely, it didn't think I slept at all. In fact, it tracked no data between when I got in bed and when I left it. Patiently, I waited until the next day to see if this was a fluke or a pattern.

And it was not a fluke. It happened every day for over a week. I opened up tickets with Jawbone, spent much time with their (awesome) customer service. And only after a few emails back and forth in my second ticket, they told me how to force reset the device. Following that, I've never had a problem with missing data.

I forgot to mention — while on the first call, I canceled my existing order with Jawbone. Remember, I bought this one from Apple? They said no problem, it should be cancelled in an hour or so. I checked my status and it didn't really say much as to whether it was open or not, but I didn't worry because the scheduled ship date still wasn't for three or four weeks. And then a few hours later, I got a confirmation email: "Your UP has shipped!"

Great. So now I need to either find someone to buy this from me, or I need to swallow the shipping costs and take it to a UPS store and mail it back.

(Note: my UP just vibrated, reminding me that I haven't gotten up in an hour. I'll be right back.)

My second UP arrived while we were in China, and sat there, lonely, until we returned. And then it sat on my kitchen counter for a while longer. The UP has made me more aware of being active, but it still didn't stop me from being too lazy to do some things, like going to UPS to return my second one.

A week or two later, I received an email from the CEO of Jawbone:

We recognize that this product has not yet lived up to everyone's expectations - including our own - so we're taking action: The UP No Questions Asked Guarantee

This means that for whatever reason, or no reason at all, you can receive a full refund for UP. This is true even if you decide to keep your UP band. We are so committed to this product that we're offering you the option of using it for free.

I love my UP, and don't want to return it, but this gave me the opportunity to return my second UP with much less trouble! Hooray! I sent my wife a text message exclaiming how wonderful this company is, tweeted a few times about it, and went about my day happy that there are still good companies in this world.

And then my UP died.

In this hilarious bit of irony, I was ecstatic that I was too lazy to return my second UP, as it simply served as a replacement for the broken one that lost the last six or so hours of my activity data. I returned the broken UP using their no questions guarantee, for which I'll receive a check in the mail soon.

Which brings me to now.

[16 December 2011, 6:08pm]

[21 December 2011, 6:13pm]

well, a few days ago, my second UP died. because two UPs, from different places, times, and probably production times, both died at different times, i figure it may be best to get a refund on that one instead of a replacement. i'm excited for jawbone to release their 2.0 version of this, as i believe it will be really solid. i just can't afford to risk a third UP dying after they end the no questions refund.

so i got a fitbit instead :)

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