Tag Archives: technology

One of my Favorite Things: The Mini Jambox by Jawbone

When I find something I love I want to tell everyone!

I’ve had a big Jambox for several years and I love it. I taught outdoor boot camp and I lugged this 3 lb. speaker with me everywhere (along with all of my other equipment.) At the time I didn’t mind at all. The sound was great, and the battery life was exceptional (at 15 hours).

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I started teaching indoor boot camp about a year ago and I didn’t have to provide my own speakers anymore. This was wonderful! I didn’t miss the extra 3 lbs. of baggage at all.

One day, however, I showed up to class only to find the cable that connects my iPod to the stereo was missing. It wasn’t a standard cable either, so no one had a substitute on them or in their car. Imagine telling your class that shows up at 5:30 in the morning that they have to work out with NO music. It was not a great start to their day (or mine). After that my 3 lb. Jambox once again became a staple in my bag of tricks. Now it was a love/hate relationship though as it took up a lot of space and added more weight.

This is what I typically haul around and carry the length of a football field and back to teach my class.

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Enter the mini Jambox! This was perhaps my favorite Christmas gift this year!

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The new mini Jambox comes in 9 colors and only weighs 9 oz. It’s much smaller than the big Jambox but the battery life is still very good at 10 hours. I think it lasted even longer than that for me though.

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To get a better perspective of it’s size, I took a picture of it with my iPod. Now this I don’t mind adding to my bag!

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The mini Jambox comes with a stereo cable and a micro USB for charging. You can also pair it with your device via bluetooth. Also, at a press of a button it tells you how much battery life is remaining. This is a feature I love!

The Jawbone website sells a carry case for $30, but I use an old sunglass case. Works for me!

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Although the club where I teach has since replaced the stereo cord, I will continue to carry around this portable speaker and never be caught unprepared again.

It’s amazing how happy a little device can make you feel!

The New UP App (Try saying that 10 times fast!)

I’ve had my Jawbone UP band for just about a year now, and of the 3 activity tracking bands I own, it’s my favorite so far.

Jawbone just introduced the UP24, the wireless version of the UP band (sold for $20 more – $149.99) and the new 3.0 UP App. While I’m not about to run out and get the new band yet, I’ve been playing around with the new app for about a week and want to let you know what I’ve found so far.

Last week I received an email telling me about the update and in very general terms what to expect.

The first change is the “Today I Will” Challenge and Milestones. The email said, “What will you achieve today? New insights help you conquer daily goals and celebrate meaningful milestones. Small changes today add up to big achievements over time.”

This excited me! I love a challenge and more importantly I love to conquer it. My excitement began to dwindle though because it turns out that you have to wait for the app to prompt the daily challenge. Total bummer! About 4 days later (after my update) I was finally prompted.

My first challenge was to add 500 steps to my biggest stepping day since my app update. I was asked if I would accept the challenge of moving 13,868 steps the next day. Challenge accepted! I like how the app keeps track of how many steps I still need to take.

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It took a little extra effort to conquer the challenge on this particular day. It was a Wednesday after all, and usually it’s a struggle just to get to my daily goal of 10,000 steps. I felt pretty good about this.

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So on to the next challenge!  Wait…what? You’re asking me to do the same challenge tomorrow? I wasn’t expecting this, but OK. Challenge accepted…again. So I clicked the ‘Tomorrow’ button. photo

Challenge conquered, again! Yippee! Again, it took a little extra effort, but it was worth it to get this little pat on the back.

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Now on the the next challenge! Wait…what? You’re offering me the same challenge a third day in a row? Sorry, ‘No Thanks’.

I declined the challenge, but wasn’t offered another one yet. It’s a little disappointing, but it’s just an app after all.

My husband received a different challenge: to drink 8 glasses of water that day. I love how the app keeps track of your progress!

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And of course, after completion of his challenge, he got a little pat on the back too!

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Of course after he completed his challenge, he was offered the SAME challenge again the next day. I suppose the app is trying to create habits with the repetitive challenges, which is good, but where’s the element of surprise?

Another change to the app is the activity log. I like this!

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Just scroll up and it gives you a list of your recent data. This is just YOUR data. When you have a ‘team’ like I do, everyone’s activity shows up on your ‘timeline’ similar to a Facebook newsfeed. The activity log is just like your home page. Your recent data at a glance.

The last change worth mentioning is the sleep recovery mode. Raise your hand if you occasionally forget to set you band to ‘sleep’ mode. Me, Me! Just last night in fact! The updated app lets you easily recover your sleep summary and even breaks down your light and deep sleep just as if you had set it. Awesome!

All in all I think the new app has a lot of great potential. I was a little disappointed with the repetitive nature of the challenges, but who knows, it could really help someone else. I also wish I could prompt the challenges instead of having to wait for the app to get around to it. I do appreciate the beautiful graphs and the occasional pat on the back though.

I can’t expect too much from it. It is just an app after all!

I Need Some ZZZ’s! – A Look at the Sleep Tracking Abilities of the UP and Fitbit Flex

I would love to sleep 8 hours a night. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Sleep is so precious! And it’s very important for a healthy lifestyle and weight loss. One of the reasons I love activity tracking devices is they give me an overall picture of my total well being, including my sleep pattern.

Before I wore both the UP and the Fitbit Flex I thought my sleep was horrible. Well, I still kind of feel that way, but they tell me a slightly different story. The fact that the two devices agree with each other, for the most part, makes me feel a little better about my sleep. Hey, I might feel tired and sluggish, but the graph shows I slept well! The power of positive thinking goes a long way, or at least until nap time!

What Exactly do they Tell You about your Restful Night?

(I have an iPhone 4s and all information here is based on the iPhone apps).

The graphs show the same particular night’s sleep.  The UP is on the left, the Flex on the right.

UP Sleep Graph.  The dark blue estimates deep sleep, the light blue estimates light sleep, and the orange shows getting up and moving around.

UP Sleep Graph.
The dark blue estimates deep sleep, the light blue estimates light sleep, and the orange shows getting up and moving around.

The Flex Sleep Graph. The dark blue shows sleep. The light blue shows being awake and the red shows being restless.

The Flex Sleep Graph.
The dark blue shows sleep. The light blue shows being awake and the red shows being restless.

The Breakdown

The UP App

  • The graph is easier to read and gives a lot of detailed information.
  • I really can’t argue with any of it, except it says I woke up 2x. I really got up 2x, but woke up many more times without actually getting up. The app tends to show your awake time as light sleep.

The Flex App

  • The graph leaves a lot to be desired compared to the UP. It’s very general.
  • The only specifics it gives is how long you slept and how many times you woke up.  On this particular night it says I woke up 9x. This is very sad, but probably true!
  • The Fitbit website is more impressive than the app. The website will also tell you your sleep efficiency. (The % of time you spend in bed that you’re asleep). On this particular night my sleep efficiency was 93%. Not bad IF it’s true! Still, I wish all the info. available on the website was available in the app as well!

Despite the Differences, Both were very Similar in Estimating Total Hours Slept

  • 50% of the time they reported total time slept within 6 minutes of each other. This is pretty impressive to me as I generally lie awake for at least an hour every night.
  • For the most part, the Flex told me I slept longer than the UP.

3rd Party Apps

There are 3rd party sleep apps that you can sync your devices with to supposedly improve your experience. Once linked, your device automatically sends your sleep data to the app.  Here’s the scoop on what I found.

Sleepio for the UP

Sleepio is a 6 week program ‘clinically proven’ to help you overcome poor sleep. You don’t have to have an activity tracking device to use this program, but it does import your sleep data if you do.

They give you a one week free trial. After filling out a questionnaire about your lifestyle habits, you are directed to your first interactive session with The Prof (who is animated and has a dog named Pavlov). This session lasts around 20 minutes, clarifies your goals and explains how the program works. Near the end of the session, The Prof creates a case file for you like the one below.

This is my Case File after my free Sleepio session

This is my Case File after my free Sleepio session

You can only have one session with The Prof per week, so to continue the program you must upgrade. Prices range from $10 per week, to $80 for the entire course with a 12 week access, to $120 for a 24 week access.

You set your own goals, but their goal for you is to get your sleep efficiency to at least 90%. Since mine is shown here at 92%, I really can’t justify continuing.

The program also includes an extensive library of links to articles on sleep and an online sleep deprived community who support one another.

I’m not panning this app at all. It might be helpful to some people, but not to me at this time.

SleepDebt for Fitbit Flex

This description of SleepDebt is taken directly from the website.

“SleepDebt connects with your Fitbit to analyze your sleep data and debt. Set what time you want to wake up and how many hours of sleep you are aiming for per night, and the site will let you know what time you should go to sleep. Each night, it helps you catch up on your sleep, until you clear your sleep debt. We encourage you not to try to catch up all at once, so the site will only recommend 30% of your sleep debt at a time. Catch up on your sleep finally!”

So I input my information, and this is what came back:

After telling SleepDebt I want to aim for 8 hours sleep as well as catch up on my 'debt' a little, they suggested I go to bed before 7 pm.

After telling SleepDebt I want to aim for 8 hours sleep as well as catch up on my ‘debt’ a little, they suggested I go to bed before 7 pm.

They suggest I go to bed before 7 pm?  This is not helpful. I’m not impressed at all.

Usually I give sit-UPS on a scale of 1 to 5 to rate things.  This app doesn’t even make the sit-UP scale.  I’m giving it a DOWNward Dog. Sorry SleepDebt!

The ReCap

I like having a visual of my sleep in the form of a graph.

Do I believe I sleep as well as they say? Not usually.

Does it make me feel better to see that I actually did sleep when I think I didn’t? Absolutely!

The sleep tracking abilities are far from perfect but I find them helpful.  I love that the 2 devices, made from different companies, give me a very similar picture of my sleep.  Although I do prefer the UP app over the Flex, they both do a pretty good job.

The 3rd party apps don’t seem helpful to me, but perhaps to someone!

Until next time, wishing you sweet dreams and uninterrupted sleep!

There’s a New Band in Town – The Fitbit Flex

The Fitbit Flex - pretty packaging

The Fitbit Flex – pretty packaging

The last thing I need is another activity tracking wristband.  I’m still hooked on both the Nike+ FuelBand and the UP by Jawbone. But I got so excited when I discovered there’s a new product available, the Fitbit Flex.

I first saw the Fitbit Flex online a few weeks ago. It has many features similar to the UP.  I kept wondering if it’s ‘as good’ as the UP (it costs $30 less. This is great news!).  When I spied it in Best Buy, BOOM, I had to get one.

It’s only been on the market a short time and I’ve only had it for a few days. But here’s my take on it so far!

Initial Impression

Despite how excited I was before I opened the package, we did not get off to a great start. My biggest frustration came with trying the band on.  A picture is worth 1,000 words!

The inside of my wrist was bright red by the time I successfully got the thing on.

I’ve since learned it works better to secure it wrong side up on your wrist and then twist it around. I highly recommend this approach!

The activity tracker is a tiny piece, about an inch long, that inserts into either the large or small band.  There’s a tiny, almost invisible arrow on top of the tracker, which guides you in inserting it correctly. This is very different from both the Nike+ FuelBand and the UP where the the activity tracker is part of the band.

 The Set Up Using the Fitbit App

When I downloaded the App I discovered that this is where they hide all the instructions! A little late, but good to know!

Initially I had problems setting up my band with the App. (I have an iPhone 4s. It’s also compatible with iPhone 5, select other Apple products and select Android phones).

After several frustrating attempts I had success and all was well with the world again!

You Can Also Sync to Your PC or MAC

If you don’t have a compatible phone or device, you can sync your Flex to your PC or Mac. This is also true with the Nike+ FuelBand. Unfortunately, with the UP you have to have a compatible phone. 

See you progress on the app throughout the day

See you progress on the app throughout the day

The App

Once you pair your Flex to the App the fun begins!  Every time you open the app it syncs your data like magic! No need to take it off your wrist (thank goodness!) It tracks your every move, you can set goals, it estimates calories burned, and more fun stuff I haven’t figured out yet.

So far, the app looks cool. Similar to the UP, it does have food log, (which is key with me).

I learned the hard way, though, that if you don’t completely close the app out in your phone when you’re not using it,  it really drains your phone battery.

Fitbit Flex Facebook Page

I was excited to discover the Flex has a very active Facebook page where users share both their praises and their misery. Occasionally their inquiries are answered by a Fitbit guru. Also, yesterday I saw that users were trading band colors here. Since everyone ends up with one size that doesn’t fit, people were trading that band for one in another color that does. “Anyone want to trade a large black for a small slate?”

https://www.facebook.com/fitbit?filter=2

I’ve just begun to dig into the Flex. More to come on this one!

I do have a good feeling so far!

Follow me on my journey!

What’s UP with the UP Band by Jawbone?

I got the UP band in December, 2012. Granted, I had been wearing the Nike+ FuelBand for 6 months. But the UP promised to be different. Maybe even better. More features and less   money?  Sold!

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What is it?

  • A wristband you can wear 24/7
  • Comes in 8 colors: onyx, mint green, blue, light gray, navy blue, red, orange, hunter green
  • Comes in 3 sizes: small, medium, large
  • Compatible with Apple iOS devices (5.1+) and Android (4.0+)
  • Price tag: $129.99

What does Jawbone say the UP does?

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The home screen shows progress of sleep, activity, and meals throughout the day.

         Band + App + You = the UP System

  • The band tracks your movement  and sleep
  • The app displays your data
  • You add things like meals and mood
  • The result = insight into YOU

The Features are Numerous! Here are some that initially peaked my interest:

  • Tracks sleep – light vs. deep sleep and waking moments
  • Tracks activity – distance traveled, calories burned, both active & idle time
  • Tracks food & drink
  • Smart alarm – wakes you at the right moment in your sleep cycle so you feel refreshed
  • Idle Alert – gently vibrates if you’re idle too long
  • 10- day battery life
  • Water resistant

My Experience – Does it Deliver?

What I like Most

(Click on the images for an enlarged view)

The UP App

Graphs and Logging Workouts

The graphs in the app are pretty amazing and give you quick insight into what you’re doing all day (or night).  Take a look at the middle graph. The long orange bars near the end of the day indicate my run. I was able to log it as a workout afterwards. That action produced the 3rd graph which gives details about my run.

Also, unlike the Nike+ FuelBand, you can log and get credit for non-step-based activities including yoga, spin, weights and so much more. (Sorry Nike, they beat you out on this big time).

And this just in: The UP app is now compatible with popular weight loss apps. You can link your accounts through the UP Ap.

Tracking Food & Drink is a Snap!

Logging food is an important part of a weight loss journey and the UP app makes it so easy. It has a massive food data base, and also the option to scan the bar code on an item’s package to input the nutrition info. – Cool!

Adding Teammates to your App Makes it fun!

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I got my husband an UP for his birthday and we’ve been in a friendly competition ever since.

When you add Teammates you can view their activity as well as your own. But don’t worry, you don’t have to share everything.

Here is our activity on a particular day.

Oh, so close!

Long Battery Life

The UP does have an impressive battery life and averages 8-9 days. It also sends a reminder on your phone to charge it when you’re within the last two days of battery life.

Excellent Customer Service

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to talk about contact customer service at this point, as I’ve only had the band for 5 months. However, about 4 months in, the battery wouldn’t hold a charge for even a day.

I contacted Customer Service by email and I had a brand new UP on my wrist within a week. I was super impressed! No hassles at all.

What I don’t Like

Power Nap Feature

This feature is suppose to wake you at the optimal time, anywhere from 25-45 minutes after you fall asleep, so you feel refreshed.  I tried it twice, you know, for research.  Well, it’s true there’s no sleeping on the job.  Both times it gently vibrated 25 minutes from the time I set it. There is too much pressure to fall asleep so fast and actually get some shut eye in such a short time. This feature doesn’t work for me.

No Visual LED Display

Checking your progress throughout the day isn’t as easy with the UP as with the Nike+ FuelBand. There is no display you can see when it’s on your wrist. You have to take it off , plug it into your phone, and wait for the data to upload. This is a drawback for the impatient.

Is the Sleep Data Really Accurate?

If you generally lie awake at night for hours on end, like I do, I think the UP will paint a much brighter picture of your ‘restful’ night. Unless you actually get out of bed, the UP tracks the time you’re lying there awake as light sleep. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see the breakdown of your sleeping pattern.

The ReCAP

All in all, I love this band.  It has more features than I’ve shared here. It has features I haven’t even used yet. In my opinion, the strengths greatly outweigh the weaknesses. It’s a motivator in getting enough activity in each day and it’s really fun to add and compete with teammates. Although the sleep feature isn’t perfect, it is helpful.  The bottom line is that this little band can aid in leading a more balanced life.

On a scale of 1-5

I give the UP 4.0 sit-UPS