Reviewed: Fitbit Flex, Jawbone UP, Nike+ FuelBand

Bodymonitorreview kicks off with three seemingly similar products:

  •  FitbitFlexHt50  the Fitbit Flex
  • JawboneUpHt50 the Jawbone UP
  • NikeFuelBandHt50 the Nike+ FuelBand

Despite the similarities, we’ll discover some genuine differences between these products, differences which may influence your decision about the device that’s right for you.

We’ve tried to be thorough and objective – all devices were compared using the same criteria and broken down into these categories: Data & Connectivity, Functions, Personalization, and Support. Most of the comments flow from this fundamental method. Also, note that the “products” are being examined, not just the devices. This means factors like customer support, personalization, and being able to download your data to a spreadsheet all come into play – just like in the real world. Let’s get to the summary results and then dig in:

 Fitbit FlexJawbone UPNike+ FuelBand
OVERALL SCORE29.53027.5
Data & Connectivity5.555.5
Functions674
Personalization12119
Customer Support679

In broad terms, these devices fit into the category of “activity monitors”, devices that detect your movements whether you’re asleep or awake, then store these data for transfer to a mobile app and/or Web-based app where the results can be displayed. Two out of three devices in this review are fairly opaque without intuitive visual displays. Only the FuelBand has an easily understood on-device display. Even so, the FuelBand has a richer presentation when results are viewed via mobile or Web.

Basic facts about these devices:

CriteriaFitbit FlexJawbone UPNike+ FuelBand
Product CategoryActivity MonitorActivity MonitorActivity Monitor
Form FactorFobWrist BandWrist Band
SensorsMotionMotionMotion
On-Body/Body LocationWrist, Clip OnWrist onlyWrist only
Algorithms by??MotionX?
MSRP$99.95$129.99$149.00

The hardware in these devices centers on the use of an accelerometer – the same thing that will protect your laptop’s hard drive if you happen to drop it. There’s also a battery, battery management software, possibly a radio transceiver and anywhere from a few to many LED’s.

The software in these devices, specifically the algorithms used to interpret your body’s motions, may be very different between these three devices. The result is that the accuracy of the results can vary – significantly. If you were to wear these monitors at the same time and walk 1,000 steps you’d most likely get different totals from each device.

Only one device is powered by an identifiable algorithm researcher specializing in measuring “natural human motion” and that would be the Jawbone UP, powered by MotionX. If you’re thinking that you’d be OK with a 20% error rate counting steps (quite possible), just ask yourself: would you be OK buying a ruler that was only 80% accurate?

In their form, the UP and the FuelBand are both straightforward wrist bands. The Flex comes in the form of a fob (or pod, bit, etc.) that fits snugly into a wristband. Alternatively, the fob can be clipped to your clothing and perform the same functions.

The differences continue, so let’s get to our first category, Data & Connectivity. Here we’ll consider how data are transferred from the devices, visual displays, connectivity and more: Data & Connectivity.

 

Quick links to buy at Amazon