Another day closer to Black Friday, and another batch of new fitness tracking activity monitors have been announced. This time the new group of hot trackers comes from Jawbone with two new devices, the Jawbone UP3 and UP Move, both slated to release before holiday shopping begins. For this review we’ll be focusing on entry-level UP Move they just announced, taking it toe-to-toe with two existing tough competitors. Read more as we compare the Jawbone UP Move versus Misfit Flash versus Fitbit Zip as three devices that all retail under $50.
Avid readers will know that I recently wrote about the Misfit Flash compared to the Fitbit Flex, where I scored the Misfit Flash highly. Admittedly I’ve been wearing my Flash daily since that review while testing other units at the same time, and really love the Flash overall. Last week I posted my holiday shopping guide, making mention of the Fitbit Zip which still remains a contender as it bares the same price as all three units here.
But most recently, and perhaps more importantly, the release of the new JAWBONE Up Move brings a fresh device into this quickly crowding entry-level segment. Where many new devices are pushing the $100-200 range with smart features, these three remain focused on the low-cost segment, with hopes of getting new users into the fold. Are any of them worth their rather modest price tag, and which one is the best for the cost?
All three of these devices are quite similar. They all use a coin battery (CR2032 for all but the Fitbit, which uses a CR2025), which is rated for 4 to 6 months of usage. All of them provide real-time low-energy Bluetooth 4.0 syncing with your smart phone device all day long. They can all track your steps, distance, calories burned. And all of them show the time, though in various different forms. The entire bunch work with a single, three-axis accelerometer sensor, and in turn all weigh almost identically to one another. And if you want to track your sleep,
they can all do that, too! you’ll get that in all but the Fitbit device, which lacks sleep tracking. (updated 04/15/2015 for accuracy)
But really at the end of the day it isn’t what makes these devices the same that matters, it is how they differ…
Broken down by device, here are the key differences, good or bad…
Fitbit Zip: What sets this unit apart from the rest in this group instantly is the LCD screen, which provides a display that shows a legitimate digital clock, as well as your other vitals. You also get the Fitbit app and eco system which is the largest in the market. However, what you lose by going with the Zip is versatility. Although this unit has a clip that can be placed anywhere on your body, there is no wrist-band option. And the device isn’t actually rated for non-step based activities, so don’t expect accurate data/feedback when doing cycling or other non-step activities. This is a good unit, but compared to these three, it’s my bottom pick.
JAWBONE Up Move: Lacking an LCD display, the Up Move brings a different approach by offering 14 total LED lights on the face of the unit. These flash and light up to indicate various items such as current time, charge status, and even your achievement towards your daily step goal. Like the Zip, the Up Move is splash resistant but is NOT waterproof, and that is a deal breaker for many. Although I’ll admit to being a Fitbit fanboy, the Jawbone app is one of the coolest on the market today. They offer feedback that most other apps do not, with daily info and coaching. Sadly, for the $49 you spend on this unit it comes only with the clip, and you have to shell out another $15 if you want the wrist-band holder. If you’re looking for a rich experience, the Up Move is worth checking out, and for me personally comes in at a VERY CLOSE 2nd place.
Misfit Flash: Leading the pack here, but just marginally, is the Flash. First off, you get both the clip and wrist band for the $49, so technically if you’re after a wrist tracker this unit is $15 less than the Up Move. Secondly, this unit is waterproof to an astounding 30 meters, and I’ve personally taken mine swimming with no issues whatsoever. Beyond that you get 6 colors (instead of the 5 offered on the Jawbone or 3 offered by Fitbit), and an ecosystem that also has their Beddit sleep system if you want a way to track sleep without your band. And unlike the Jawbone or Fitbit, where you must manually record non-step activities, the Flash actually encourages you to wear the device for these functions. You simply tell it what activity you’re doing in the app first, place the device into activity mode, and wear it per their suggested body location. I’ve had really good luck recording my stationary cycle with the clip on my shoe and feel fairly confident in the data/points rewarded for that activity.
Earlier this year various sites published data about marking share which indicated that Fitbit was commanding over 65% of the market, with Jawbone not far behind with around 20% at that time. If the shelving displays at the local box store and my friend’s wrists are any indication, I have a feeling that Fitbit is closer to 50% these days, and Jawbone moving up closer to 30% or more. But that is just speculation, and we’ll have to wait and see what data gets published Q1 2015. And with so many new players out in the last year, who knows how segmented the pie-chart will be.
Meanwhile, you’ve got to remember that all of these devices here are just beginning to skim the surface of what wearables are truly capable of today. Compared to their more expensive counterparts, none of these provide notifications, or interact with your smart phone beyond a basic sync feature. More so, none of them record actual heart rate, which is paramount for true understanding of your caloric output during exercise.
Still for the purpose of a great stocking stuffer, or inexpensive way to help encourage getting in shape, I’m a fan of all three of these items. If you’re looking for a device that will keep tabs on your steps and possibly help motivate you to be healthier, then all of these are wonderful. At the end of the day the Misfit Flash is my personal favorite, the JAWBONE Up Move a close second, and the Fitbit Zip slides into he final spot. Enjoy!