By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
While Jaybird is well known as a maker of sports and activity focused wireless headphones, their latest product, the Jaybird Reign is a stylish all-day activity tracker that serves as a ‘power-meter,’ for your body.
The presentation, look and feel of the Jaybird Reign is quite premium and luxurious. The tiny sensor comes with a proprietary dongle, a microUSB to USB charging cable and a variety of bracelet types as well as various size bands right out of the box.
The black rubber material for the band is the type of silicone that tends to attract dust, pet hair and grit. Thankfully, it is easy enough to wash off. Once the sensor itself is fully charged, which takes around three hours initially, you can insert it into the band.
The band is designed in a unique way as to be able to take various size magnetic clasps. It is an interesting design that uses magnets to hold it all together. The problem is that it isn’t very easy to put on by yourself and it can disengage if something rubs against the band. I’ve been using the Jaybird Reign for two weeks and while it stayed on most of the time, it did mysteriously fall of once while I was brushing my teeth and got snagged when I was putting on my jacket. I feel a more traditional buckle or clasp might have made more sense for a wearable that’s expected to be worn all the time.
Using the Jaybird Reign revealed a few things to me early on. The device itself is surprisingly frugal in terms of battery consumption and only engages with my iPhone 6S when I check on the app. The sleep tracking function of this device is the best I have tried, and part of the reason I have continued to use it long after the honeymoon period when most fitness trackers seem redundant to what my Apple Watch can offer.
As an activity tracker, the Jaybird Reign doesn’t work the way many of the competing products do. It tracks steps and running accurately, has a heart rate variability (HRV) pattern which helps understand how much more energy you have left in the tank, which could benefit athletes, cross trainers and more serious levels of personal training.
“Recovery is an essential part of any workout routine; it not only helps repair and build muscles, it’s fundamental for increased performance and continued improvement.
Reign measures the variability in time between each heart beat (Heart Rate Variability – HRV). Reign’s propriety patented technology can detect patterns of fatigue or recovery.”
For regular people who just want to keep tabs on their activity, however, the Jaybird Reign and its corresponding app, do have a few glaring holes.
While the device can gauge general activity and even determine if you’re swimming (it is water resistant, too.), it isn’t very smart at figuring out exercise machines.
I use an elliptical trainer at home, which I can tune my Apple Watch to track quite accurately, but this activity doesn’t even register with the Jaybird as anything but general activity and as a result, the amount of activity, calories burned and actual exertion fails to show up on the readings.
So, after a fairly rigorous 35-minute elliptical workout where I was quite tired at the end, the Jaybird Reign still thought I had a lot of gas in my tank to go further. Tracking steps, running and other cross training exercises might be the Jaybird Reign’s forte.
The key to understanding how the Jaybird Reign works is by focusing on the user’s Go Zone, which means using the system while training for around two weeks until the sensor and the software has refined a user’s information.
“Chart your daily, weekly, monthly or yearly progress and compare your Go Score with your activity and sleep patters. Your body has a voice – start listening,” the product’s website explains.
Focused on performance, there’s no way to enter food or water intake into the app, which negates the more holistic health-tracking approach of other, more sophisticated systems.
The Jaybird Reign also doesn’t seem to be compatible with third party apps.
I do like that the app’s graphics are sophisticated and easy to read and that Bluetooth only engages when you want it to, saving a lot of battery life. Something Jaybird has learned from their Bluetooth headphone expertise.
So, while the Jaybird Reign offers sleek presentation, forward thinking design and style plus an innovative way to track health and train, it really is a different animal from the hordes of fitness trackers in the market today.
I will continue to wear mine and use it for my training goals, I feel the sleep tracking feature is accurate and most of the physical tracking is good enough to serve as a complement to my Apple Watch, which has become my main exercise tracking tool.
If you need to set activity goals and want to understand how much your body is capable of achieving, the Jaybird Reign is worth checking out. Just don’t count on it for tracking activity on specific gym machines or for integrating with third-party weight loss apps.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5