Jawbone Up review (2012): a reboot and a shot at redemption
Jawbone has addressed many of the issues that plagued the original Up, but $130 is a steep asking price for a stylish pedometer and mediocre health-tracking app.
- Improved durability
- Excellent battery life
- Feature-packed app
- No wireless syncing
- App feels half-baked
- Sleep tracking is inconsistent at best
Second chances are rare in the tech world. Unless you're one of the big boys -- say a Samsung or an Apple -- one spectacular failure is enough to doom a product line or even an entire company. Just ask Gizmondo, 3D Realms, Helio, Palm, Netscape, DivX, Sega... the list goes on and on. All it takes is one mistake and a hyped device or marquee company can end up as little more than a nostalgic Wikipedia entry. After last year's debacle with the Up, we thought Jawbone might give up on the fitness market entirely. In case you missed the drama last holiday season, here's a quick recap: within weeks of launching, the Yves Behar-designed motion-tracking bracelet simply stopped working for many customers. We even had two units fail during the course of writing our original review. It quickly became apparent that the problems were not just widespread, but near ubiquitous. Up was pulled from the shelves, customers were issued refunds and Jawbone went back to the drawing board.
We have to hand it to the company for quickly taking ownership of the problem and cutting checks to the unfortunate souls who ponied up $100 to buy one. But, while seeing a company readily admit failure was a pleasant surprise, we were even more shocked when Jawbone didn't simply cancel Up entirely and cut its losses. Instead it tracked down the root issues -- water permeability, flexibility and a barebones app -- and redesigned the bracelet from the ground up. The basic functionality and aesthetic choices are the same, but the materials, the iOS data logger and actual internal assembly are all completely different. Unfortunately, all these upgrades mean last year's $100 bust is this year's $130 shot at redemption. And the real question is, even if it works, is the Up something you'll want or need?