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At the beginning of February the official site Jawbone has at last published the detailed information about a long-waited novelty – a fitness-tracker Jawbone UP 3.
We have to admit that up till now the fellows from the world largest sports goods Company have been long waiting. The release of a unique tracker has been long postponing despite the start of preliminary bracelet sales.
We can’t say that it was something completely unknown, all information about the omnipotent bracelet has been already available. However, the buyers have been always taking interest in more details. That is precisely what the fans of Jawbone brand have been lacking. At last, we can learn something new.
What have we known before? What do we know now?
As we have already told, the device section on the official site of Jawbone has been renovated with the following information:
- the product card and detailed information about UP3;
- announcement of the gadget compatibility with the largest mobile ОС from Android and Apple;
- the updated price of the novelty amounting «about $150»; update: –$179,99.
- FAQ about all functions of the bracelet.
Some information has been long known (thanks to journalists). Something couldn’t even be imagined. The pieces of the puzzle called Jawbone UP 3 have become more numerous now. This time it is a really revolutionary gadget.
Why so? Read and know that:
1. The firm updated the activity sensors: they can distinguish «yoga» and «running», «bicycle riding» and «power loading»;
2. UP3 can work excellent under water: both in sauna and a pond with the depth up to 10 meters;
3. It measures the pulse by a revolutionary way of “bioimpedance” – slightly hits the carrier with current and measures the pulse by the resistance level of skin tissue!!! The body temperature measurements and the working time up to 7 days without recharging are not worth even mentioning here …, they are self-evident.
4. Jawbone improved fastening: now the tracker can’t slip off even the completely untrained hand;
5. The developers protected the button of the bracelet activation from outside injuries.
Sounds cool. There is only one shortcoming: fitness fans which have made the preorders still can’t test “the gadget of their dream” in fact and effect. And delights of the fans on forums and in social networks are changing gradually into discontent and perplexity…
Questions and fears: what are absentee buyers of Jawbone UP 3 afraid of?
It’s not only the term of the model release that enrages fans and causes sharp questions.
We have examined all the fears of future users:
1. Glitches and lags. The preceding models of Jawbone failed rather often in an absurd and perfidious way. In 5-6 months after purchasing they ceased to charge and synchronize with computers… even the hardest reset could do nothing.
"What was written much about happened with me. The battery stopped charging, the button began to dangle after having been pressed regularly, and what concerns the application it couldn’t recognise the bracelet even when turned up", - that was the anonymous review we have found in Net.
Our author Dr. Anatom has also recollected some cheeks of Jawbone:
"Yes, the bracelet looked very stylish and managed the announced functions of sleep and activity tracker well. Convenient both phone and tablet app with a good visualization of “successes”. But reliability leaves much to be desired. The first bracelet croaked in a month, the second one came under warranty died in half a year".
Will the updated tracker inherit these problems? We may only guess.
2. Unfulfilled promises. It is clear yet that before the start of sales the developers of the bracelet won’t have enough time to keep some of their promises. One of them is the realization of GPS function in the tracker. It is clear that it would impact the device charging, but then what for was it announced?
One more example is a “varied” design of the bracelet. The project official release has told about different colors of UP3, but till now… only black and grey models of the tracker are available. Many users have been upset by the fact.
3. Will the preorder be enough for all? The world stock-jobbing around the device is hard to overestimate. Fans and experts have already named it the “event of the year in the world of sports gadgets”. But the postponing of official sales start and the preorder procedure launched beforehand have struck a real phobia into buyers – what if the products don’t suffice for everyone?
"We too are tired to expect: so many preliminary orders and no bracelets. I am afraid that the first parties won’t be enough for all", - the owner of an internet-shop made the comment on the purchase situation for our portal.
4. Safety problem. We are talking about the notorious “electrical” measurement of heartbeat rate of the bracelet’s carrier. This novelty still causes much argument. The “bioimpendance” method provokes a large number of questions concerning its reliability and accuracy. It is left to trust the famous name of Company which would hardly arm itself with the unpromising technology.
It seems paradoxical but the subordinates of Hussain Rehman have become hostages of their popularity. As well as their slowness. The more popular is the product, the greater is the demand to its creators. Their new tracker can become the discovery of the year. Or the greatest disappointment of 2015. The number of questions and claims to them is increasing each month of sluggishness.
And how else? Nobody has abolished the eternal truth - “accuracy is the politeness of kings”. Jawbone devices have always been remarkable for their accuracy. This time we can’t say the same about their creators regarding the working term.
Probably, the point here is that they don’t have worthy competitors in sports gadgets market. No one can compare with Jawbone in the industry of fitness trackers. That is why Jawbone can indulge itself in taking a pause. Though … everything is not so simple. The same Basis Peak smart watch is stepping on the heel – their devices have been already beating Jawbone at certain parameters!
While we can only wait. If their product meet the expectations of fans in the end, they will soon forget about all unpleasant moments. As for the fame, it will remain. Such is the market and such are the rules of game. Nothing to be done. :)
And now let's compare the central competitors: Jawbone UP 3, Fitbit Surge and Basis Peak
Let's have a clash of titans! And we'll see who is going to win. Will its competitors pull the carpet from under Jawbone, the pet of society? Let’s start with its history.
History of the Jawbone, Basis, Fitbit brands
All of us perfectly understand that the user often pays not for the functionality of a gadget, but for the logo of a reliable company featured on it. That is why the first point of our comparative analysis consists in models' advantages on the market. Of coarse, Fitbit, Basis and Jawbone are far from Chinese clandestine cliques, these are greats of the portable gadgets market! But they have their strong and weak points.
This company seems to be leading in the race of brands.
Firstly, it works solely for the portable gadgets market, and it is the development fitness trackers that has lent eclat to it. Secondly, it is a great deal older than its competitors: Jawbone has existed since 1999 and over these years guys from San-Francisco have had time to collaborate even with the US Army and big research centres! Well, Jawbone UP (2011) and Jawbone Up 24(2013) fitness bracelets have become genuine bestsellers. The quality and functionality of bracelets is constantly improving.
Jawbone engineers were the first to tackle social functions of bracelets and carry out experiments on sensing the pulse. Fitbit has always been lagging behind them regarding pulse sensors and quality of software. But the only slight hitch: the previous developments by Jawbone were breaking down faster than their competitors' ones. This «black mark» can't be called the brand's curse but the rivals can score a couple of points in this respect if their developments turn out to be built truly to last a lifetime!
The Basis company would be upstaged by these two giants – Jawbone and Fitbit – if there weren't a slight hitch, to be more precise, a contract concluded with the Intel corporation having recently taken over a bum company in the hi-tech world. Before this the Basis developments were not figuring in users’ tops. Though, the audience performed a certain interest towards Basis, as it was the first company to position its gadgets as “smart watches”!
An experimental model of B1 even possessed quite a passable functionality, while mediocre software and odd design spoilt everything, which resulted in B1 falling behind the hits by Jawbone and Fitbit in many respects. It is clear that with the presence of Intel professionals the situation may considerably improve. The brand confidence is certain to soar up, but will the quality of the development itself improve? We’ll see it very soon.
As far as Fitbit is concerned, it has always competed with Jawbone. This younger company (founded in 2007) is also specializing at portable gadgets. They released their first pedometer in 2008 and then updated its new versions. But they have started working on a bracelet form quite recently – in 2013, when the market has already seen both a Jawbone UP and the latest models by Basis. Before this Fitbit preferred to release tracker clips that were fixed to the belt or hip pockets.
As for users’ point of view, Fitbit has only a few advantages over Jawbone, which are more comfortable design and longer lifespan. Well, they also were the first to attach a screen to a fitness tracker. Three small “pluses” that don’t save the day.
Prices for devices: smart watch by Fitbit Surge, Basis Peak and the Jawbone UP 3 tracker
It is clear that the functionality of «smart watch» is an evident competitive advantage over Fitbit Surge and Basis Peak. But it simultaneously is reflected by the prices for the devices. It is Jawbone UP 3 that is the most affordable gadget among our leading trio. Its price is expected to be around 170-200$ per item. It is not much more expensive than the previous developments of the American company. Besides, marketing specialists from Jawbone are positioning the tracker as a mass model which both experienced sportsmen and fitness newbies will be able to use.
It is right the opposite situation with Fitbit Surge Firstly, its price exceeds Jawbone's one by 80 $! Surge's average price is around 250$. Secondly, the developers are positioning their model as a gadget for professional sportsmen only. Their intentions are practically nothing to do with the functionality of the device (we're going to cover this issue later on), but advertising is a great power! The reputation of a non-diversified gadget can deliver a significant blow to Fitbit which has always worked with mass buyers.
Well, and Basis Peak represents a compromise in a price aspect. They cost slightly more than Jawbone UP3 and are much cheaper than Fitbit. This goes hand in hand with good functionality of the tracker, «smart watch» services and advertisement targeted at mainstream audience. After all, 200$ for a fitness bracelet can be paid both by the Old World citizens and the US population, and even people from the Third World countries. Regarding the functionality-to-price ratio, Basis seems to be more beneficial than most of its competitors!
Activity trackers' design: what do similarities and differences between them consist in?
The key distinction of Jawbone UP3 from its conpetitors is the absence of the above-mentioned display which not only serves as a watch, but also allows you to see tracking results without getting your smartphone from the pocket.
Yes, this reduces the time of device's one-charge operating. Yes, this makes the device heavy and increses a breakage hazard… But the advantages of even the smallest screen are obvious. What other differences can be found in UP 3, Peak and Surge if their external characteristics subjected to closer examination? Let's have a closer look at them.
So, let's start with Basis Peak. The strong points of this model include a heavy-duty Gorilla Glass 3 and relative waterproofness at a depth up to 50 meters. It is called relative because the developers still «don't recommend that the device be dived into water», so you'd better choose another model as a swimming fitness tracker. The tracker has no physical buttons.
The bracelet is of a standard size of 22 mm, there are two colour layouts available, the one in a dull black case with a red or black silicone bracelet and the other in a silver case with a white or grey bracelet. The watch are equipped with a high-contrast monochrome display with a possibility if finger-on-glass control which economizes the energy (of compared to colour screens). A couple of words about the battery: the label time of one-charge independent work is over four days. The full-charge time is around 100 minutes.
Then let's move on to the external parameters of Jawbone UP3. Yes, it has no screen… But instead, the bracelet itself is made of anodized aluminium, stainless steel and thermoplastic polyurethane. It is a kind of a T-1000 terminator in the world of fitness trackers! It is waterproof at a depth up to 10 meters, but with the top waterproofness rate! And as for the UP 3 battery, it has no trouble holding a 7-day constant usage, which is quite a realistic figure if the absence of the screen is taken into account :).
What can we say about Fitbit Surge? The characteristics of its screen are almost the same as Peak's one, which is a touchtone LCD screen of decent size. The tracker has no physical buttons. We failed to find any information relating collision protection. The case colour is black while the colours of silicone bracelets vary, at the moment a black, orange and blue ones are available. Besides, the company seeks to launch another set of design options for the gadget.
Waterproofness rate is the same as by Basis Peak. The label operating time in active mode equals 168 hours. The time of the charge is 120 minutes. In our opinion, Fitbit is a bit worse and old-fashioned than the Basis' development.
I dare say that it will be difficult to determine the winner in this round. The appearance and its perception are very personal. The more important is what hardware is hidden under this design!
Comparing functionality of trackers by Jawbone, Basis and Fitbit
Let's start with the main services of fitness trackers. Jawbone, Basis and Fitbit are equipped with a fairly similar set of sensors. None of the developers forgot about an embedded three-axis accelerometer (a pedometer). Customarily, sensors by Jawbone and Basis are acknowledged to be the most accurate. The previous models of Fitbit were regularly inaccurate in counting steps and deliver serious imprecision. However, UP 3 is lagging behind its competitors in one aspect. It is the only among the leading trio incapable of counting stairs and stairwells. Both Surge and Peak possess this function which is useful for those living in tower-blocks.
The most important sensor embedded in these three trackers can be called a new-generation heart rhythm sensor. What differs it from the similar sensor of previous generations, is the label ability to sensor the pulse faultlessly while heavy training (the previous trackers used to glork if the heart rate was going up abruptly). Besides, our trio of developers cross their hearts that their offsprings will be able to meter their proprietors’ pulse 24 hours a day! This is a promise millions of healthy lifestyle fans have dreamt of.
In this respect Basis and Fitbit rely on classical optic sensors (slightly upgraded). And Jawbone decided to show off by registering the technology of «bio-impedance», constant discharges, which human can't notice, sensoring heart rate with improved accuracy. The solution turned out to be controversial. Firstly, a lot of users got scared by the contact with electricity. Secondly, even now there it is rumoured to be a screw-up with a twenty-four-hour pulse sensoring. The bracelet is alleged being unable to provide constant operating of this function. The information is unchecked but very unpleasant!
All these three bracelets are perfectly operating with sleep tracking. Jawbone and Basis again have the most accurate sensors for the analysis of night period of life. They distinguish more dream patterns and provide their proprietors with the most accurate reports. But the leader of the race, too, has its screw-ups. The Basis company, vibrosensor embedded in the gadget notwithstanding, somehow never taught it the smart alarm function. And this service is fantastically popular among fitness bracelets fans. After the first wave of customers’ indignation Basis promised to embed such an alarm in coming upgraded models. But the image of the development was already tainted.
Let's have a look at other functions of the trackers. All the devices possess a body and environment temperature sensor, a galvanic skin response sensor (in theory, it would be possible to determine even the mood of a person with the help of this sensor).
One of the important advantages of Surge can be an embedded GPS sensor (runners will appreciate it, they use GPS running fitness trackers) which is certain, however, to consume godlessly the battery charge. Moreover, together with Peak it can receive information about unread messages and missed calls on a smartphone! Furthermore, Surge solely has the function of controlling music player of its paired gadget. It is not so important, but still pleasant.
Software for gadgets is as similar as three peas! «Smart coach», daily detailed reports and system of social awards are present in each device. Basis Peak has this system as a MMO game. It consists in setting a goal for a day/week/month and trying to achieve it. Aims can vary from a certain number of certain trainings to a trite «Wear the bracelet for 12 hours». The more goals are completed, the more slots for the new ones are available. You gain experience points (Habit Points), reach levels, so, everything is like in any modern MMO. Your results synchronize with your account on the Basis website and you can, of coarse, share them in social networks.
This very set of parameters seems to be crucial for us to determine the best gadget. But it is not as simple as that… Often the label functionality doesn't correspond to the real possibilities of the device. Fortunately, Basis Peak and Fitbit Surge have already been launched on the market. And this means that we have an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with reviews of their pioneer buyers.
Fitness bracelets: buyers' reviews
Generally the sole fact that models have been launched to the market so fast is a huge advantage of Basis and Fitbit. Jawbone had drafted its UP3 long before its competitors did, but they haven't launched it to the market yet! This is bad, because every week Peak and Surge are attracting more and more of its potential buyers! Only the most faithful fans of the label stick to the brand.
Well, let's not speed things up. Let's see what observers and fitness bracelets users. Let's start with smart watch Fitbit Surge. Surprisingly, the most expensive bracelet, has suffered the most intense criticism on the Net. Even the highest marks of the experts from the endgadgets.com portal (it scored 8.0 out of 10.00) didn't improve the situation. Just listen attentively to these words:
«It meters the pulse normally only in peace, commits errors while counting floors, steps (whilst in a car it adds thousands of steps), the battery charge covers three days while five are promised, GPS being turned off», - writes an anonymous user at one of the online markets.
«It is not waterproof, i.e. it will survive a slight rain on your hand, but washing hands or taking a bath – never, which I consider to be a serious disadvantage. The bracelet is thick, about 3 cm wide, though the rubber is pleasant to touch, if a slight bead of perspiration gets under it, there rises the desire to remove…” – argues his companion in misfortune.
The design of the model (too thick frame of the watch) and constant lags of touchscreen have gor a scolding, too. So much for a tracker of a dream for such an amount of money…
What do people say about more affordable Basis Peak? In this respect reviews are more optimistic. And this occurs amid the worse marks that the experts from endgadgets.com (7.8 out of 10).
«I have been using Basis Peak for around a month. The number of functions brings me joy. Rarely do you come across trackers following perspiration and body temperature, with basic functions being fulfilled in a very accurate way. Moreover, its design is just super, frankly speaking, I bought it because of its design, but its functions are at the same high level. I think it is one of the best existing activity trackers», - writes a user of a geek forum.
«I'm satisfied with everything, though the calculation of stairs misbehaves from time to time. I haven't found any more screw-ups yet…», - answers another fitness trackers fan.
Indeed no serious remarks, apart from a couple of problems with a pedometer, have been found.
So, if you compare Basis Peak and Fitbit Surge, the following idea comes to your mind: why pay more for what lags behind in quality? The first place in this review race goes to the development by Basis and Intel! Jawbone scores nothing in this round, as its fans are enjoying UP3 only in their finest dreams…
Summing up: what tracker is better?
Despite the fact that today Basis Peak seems to be a compromise, this clash of gadgets is far from its end. Firstly, the developers will take their time to release a couple of upgraded versions before they will rival their severe competitor, Jawbone. Secondly, market advantages of Fitbit and Jawbone can overshadow all the objective advantages of their competitor. Thirdly, the crucial role might belong to the most unexpected functions: from a GPS tracker to social supplements in MMO style…. Well, fitness fans are unpredictable guys. It is not fairly clear what trend they are going to chase for in 2015!
What is clear is that the very fact that hybrid models have entered the market marks an interesting tendency. Portable devices seem to have set off on the road to powerful integration. Smart watch acquired the functions of a fitness coach and are currently acquiring the simplest means of the GSM connection. In future they might challenge ordinary «brick» gadgets requiring separate control and special attention. Perhaps, it is combined bracelet devices or earphone devices that will be able to detach human from the screens of their smartphones and offer them a more open and comfortable world!
This will be a battle we all will follow with a great pleasure!