Quick Comparison: Fitbit Charge and Jawbone UP24

I was looking for a new caffeine-tracking app to replace one that had recently stopped working with the latest version of iOS and stumbled onto an app called UP Coffee. Aside from doing an admirable job of tracking caffeine intake, I learned that it also syncs with the Jawbone UP app and wearable fitness devices. I wasn’t in the market for a fitness device and had never heard of Jawbone UP products before then, but the idea that simply tracking my steps might help with my sedentary lifestyle seemed intriguing enough to buy a Jawbone UP24.

The UP24 app has a useful timeline that makes it easy to track food intake, steps, exercise activity, and sleep. The sleep reporting is especially good, with delineation between light and sound sleep. But there is no web interface, and no alphanumeric display on the device itself, so reading and managing things can sometimes be cumbersome. Even so, before I knew it, I was doing “diet and exercise” because it was fun and easy, not because I had to.

After reading some positive Fitbit Charge reviews, I decided to try one of those and donate the UP24 to my wife instead. I like the Fitbit better in every aspect except sleep tracking. Hopefully they’ll improve sleep reporting to work more like the Jawbone in future versions. The Fitbit Charge’s LED display means that the status of activity is available at any time right on your wrist. It also functions as a watch, shows incoming calls from the iPhone, and makes tracking exercise much easier.

Discovering the MyFitnessPal.com web site was fortunate. The site does a much better job of tracking food than either device’s software, and it syncs equally well with both Jawbone and Fitbit. The free service includes the ability to store and recall meals as collections of food items, and the app has superior UPC detection. The Jawbone app’s UPC reader routinely stumbles with questionable lighting and focus, where MyFitnessPal’s app locks on quickly every time. The MyFitnessPal accompanying app does some things better than the web site, and vice versa, but between the two it all feels flexible and very well thought out. And the food database seems rather complete compared to Jawbone’s. I started using MyFitnessPal before switching from the UP24 to the Fitbit Charge, so I have yet to evaluate Fitbit’s food database.

I’d probably be happy with either device, but the Fitbit Charge is a clear winner to me at this point.

(Originally posted here for day 2 of the YourTurnChallenge)