Monday, March 23, 2015

Jawbone Up Move Review

Some time back, I lost my Fitbit One.

It was one beautiful morning and while in a cab, I pulled my phone to read some tweets. If you are in Metro Manila traffic, you better have something to while away the time for a commute of 13 km (some 8 miles) can take an hour or two...

So, I pulled my phone out and little did I know, out came the Fitbit One also. It was such a tiny, slippery thing that it might have jammed itself at one of the creases of the back seat of the cab.

So, I decided not to get another one. First, Fitbit is not available in the Philippines. Second, since the iPhone 5s can now track steps with its Motion Co-processor, I thought that that will be enough to track my fitness goals.



However, three inconvenient things presented themselves when I used the iPhone as a fitness tracker. First, not all of my short pants have pockets, so, I have to hold the phone during those occasions. Second, the iPhone is essentially useless as a fitness tracker if you are charging it. And third, I wish to track my sleep patterns also; it is a minor inconvenience to have the phone on the bed while I sleep - yeah, my phone took several tumbles to the floor when I used it to track my sleep.

So, I decided that I needed a dedicated fitness tracker.

The wife, then, was scheduled to go to the U.S. I thought that it was a great opportunity to buy a Fitbit Charge HR. However, the Charge HR just came out then and I wish to read reviews first. I specifically want to know if this time around, the band will not cause rashes...

I decided also to look at what is locally available here in the Philippines and one of the thing I considered was the Jawbone Up24. I read reviews online and I have never seen such polarized reviews for a product before... A lot of reviewers like the product but a lot of people also say that the Up24 breaks down easily. Some even lose the cap that covers the device's charging jack. Jawbone promises that they will send the first replacement cap but I don't know whether they will honor the same here in the Philippines.

A lot of reviewers say their Up24 break down after 3 months. Jawbone promises, in the US that they will replace the unit the first time it breaks down but, again, the warranty thing, and secondly, why does their product breakdown after such a short period of time?

But another glaring thing was the problem I had with wrist-worn trackers: they are still in existence even after three iterations of the Up. For example, if, say, you are carrying something or pushing a cart, when your arms are not free to swing, then, even if you walk a mile, it'll will still not be detect your steps (the same is true for Fitbit). Conversely, when you are talking and you have a habit of swinging your arms while talking, then, even if you are seated on your desk, the Up will count your arm movements as steps.

I don't like that...

Also, there are some people who said, in the reviews, that they wear their Up on their ankles when they run...

Hmmmm... What?!?

So, the Fitbit's out by virtue of it not being available yet and not being available in the Philippines. And, for me, the Up 24 is not a viable alternative because of its fragility and because the tracker can easily be fooled.

Then I saw the Jawbone Up Move.


This is a relatively cheap alternative to the Up24. At roughly ⅓ the price of the Up24, the Up Move is a fitness tracker that comes with a clip. You either clip it to any piece of clothing on you (or, in one of the Jawbone videos, even on the strap of your messenger bag) or you can put it in one of your clothes pocket.

The tracker is splash resistant so it's ok to run with it in the rain. Just don't swim with it. Jawbone even said that you can go to the shower with it though I personally have not tried that...



It runs on one coin battery and has an expected battery life of 6 months. This I also have not tried yet for my Up Move is just three months old.



My tracker is paired to my iPhone 6+ and, reviewers and I agree, that Jawbone has one of the best health tracking app out there, even much better than the iOS app from Fitbit.



You can monitor your sleep pattern with the Up Move and you just have to remember how to put it to Sleep Mode. (Long press on the button) Jawbone recommends that you put the tracker on the separately sold wrist band, but, since that is not available here in the country, I just clip the tracker on the collar of my shirt.


video

You can put the Up Move on workout mode by pressing the button twice, holding on the second press. The tracker's perimeter lights will blink and the running man LED will blink twice. After your work out, you press the button twice again, holding on the second press and the perimeter lights will blink and the running man will appear solid.


video

After monitoring your sleep or after your work out, you should sync your tracker with your phone's app. With the Jawbone app, you will be able to see the quality of your sleep, assign the type of workout that you did and the amount of exertion that you made. The type of workouts is fairly limited though. One of my favorite activity, and the wife's also, is badminton; that is not one of the options. So I just assign running as my workout - hey, badminton is one of the fastest sports there is. ;)

The Up Move can also give you the time, something the Up24 cannot do. Just press twice on the tracker and a solid LED light will give you the hour while the blinking LED will give you the (approximate) minutes.


video

One of the things I don't like about the Up Move is the selection of colors. I don't know what went inside the minds of the designers of the Up Move, but our taste in colors do not agree. Some people might like the color schemes but some color combinations are too kitsch for me. So I chose the most palatable color combination for me: a blue tracker with an off-white clip. I would have chosen the grey tracker with the yellow band but when I bought my Up Move, that color was not yet available.  

Another thing I don't like? This Up Move cannot track the stairs climbed. Is putting an altimeter really that difficult that only Fitbit can do it (that I know of). Even with the iPhone the altimeter only appeared in the 6/6+.

Oh, the device will also not tell you if you have been sedentary...

But one good thing about the app? Challenges! The app will challenge you to sleep earlier, to add more steps to the previous day's, etc. if you meet the challenge, you will be challenged to do more the next day. If you fail the challenge, the app will tell you to do better the next day.

I like that a lot. And people who are extremely competitive will benefit from the challenges... ;)

Anyway, the iOS app has other functionalities like adding the food you eat, the calories you can still consume, the glasses of water drank, etc. But for me, the tracker's, and the app's, most important functionality is their ability to tell me how many steps I've done and whether I have been inactive or not. And every time I meet my goal, I get very, very happy. 

My Jawbone Up Move is now on its 3rd month. So far, it has exceeded the life span of the more expensive Up24 based on reviews. I will update this post on the longevity of the device and if it will last a year, then I will be extremely happy.

Highly Recommended!!!

And if Jawbone Philippines will be kind enough to send me a sample of the Up24, then I will happily test the devices longevity and whether the fitness tracker can be gamed or not.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My First Philippine International Pyromusical Competition

Got treated to some great fireworks when the wife and I and my niece and her boyfriend watched The 6th Philippine International Pyromusical Competition. It's an annual event and this year was to be the 6th.




The barge where the fireworks will be launched was located at the Manila Bay.










So, we reserved a table that has a great view of the fireworks, albeit slightly blocked by a speaker and a tree... The competing countries that night were Grupo Luso of Portugal followed by Göteborgs FyrverkeriFabrik of Sweden. Before the competition and in-between the two countries, we were entertained by fire dancers. That was also a treat.






It was a great experience and it was a great way to celebrate the wife's birthday. And, yeah, I absolutely love photographing fireworks!
















Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Converse Chuck Taylor

For one reason or another, I haven't had a Converse Chuck Taylor even if I've always wanted to own one. (Or if I did, I certainly do not remember it now...) But I needed a new pair of everyday shoes so I decided to get one as a Holiday gift to myself. And I got really excited when I saw the pair that's colored black but has orange accents. That decided it for me!


But before I wore it, I decided to make some product photos of my shoes (before it starts smelling of feet instead of shoes...). I have decided that I wanted to do a simple set up for this product shot: just light coming from a north-facing window, a white reflector and a white cloth to cover the table top. I used a white cloth so that it can also serve as a reflector for the bottom of the shoes. I also used the white reflector to accent and to fill in the shadows in the shoes.



My camera was set on a tripod and I used a 100mm macro lens. The photos were post-processed in Lightroom though using the term "post-processed" is really a stretch: the only thing I did in Lightroom was adjust the white balance (a must for product photography) and changed the crop of the photos. That's it!



I am so happy I (finally) get to own a pair of Chucks. And for some reason, whenever I think of it, song It's Still Rock and Roll to Me by Billy Joel comes to mind and vice versa: 


"Don't waste your money on a new set of speakers,
You get more mileage from a cheap pair of sneakers"


Though not exactly cheap, this pair of shoes is now my favorite! :)

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