The Jaybird Reign ($199) is a modern wristband activity tracker with some neat features for not only keeping tabs on how much exercise you get, but also prompting you to improve your habits. It can tell you, for example, how much sleep you got last night plus how much sleep you should get tonight. Another interesting feature is that it reads heart rate variability (HRV), which is an indicator of whether your body can handle the stress of a workout today or if you need a of rest. While those features are interesting, the Jaybird Reignis missing several basic features found in similarly priced
competing fitness trackers
and their companion apps that make them much more usable on a day-to-day basis. Until it incorporates those other aspects, there are simply better options on the market, including the
, which is our current Editors' Choice.
A clock on the display, for example, gives the Peak more reason to be on your wrist at all times, not to mention the fact that it takes your heart rate continuously throughout the day and night. Oddly, the Jaybird Reign doesn't even read resting heart rate or elevated heart rate during exercise, but only HRV.
The aspects of the Jaybird Reign that captured my attention are unique. I don't know of other fitness trackers that recommend how much you should sleep tonight to make up for sleep deficits from previous nights. That's neat. And HRV isn't really used anywhere at all except among athletes, although it's gaining a lot of attention lately, and I suspect we'll see it incorporated into more fitness trackers next year. If you care about HRV, however, you could just buy a separate device that measures only that, such as the
finger sensor, because it's a one-time reading rather than a continuous reading, the way daily step counts or heart rate should be. For the nearly $200 price, the Jaybird Reign doesn't seem to be the best option yet for anyone.
Design, Compatibility, and Use
The tracker device in the Jaybird Reign wristband measures about 0.5 by 1.5 by 0.5 inches (HWD). The band that comes included has three straps of different lengths that connect to a central piece, which houses the tracker, or "pod." In addition to the tracker and bands, you also get a USB charger, two sport bands, an ankle strap, and a clip cleaner, which is nothing more than a tiny pipe cleaner. The Jaybird Reign sells in two sizes: small and medium. It's available in black, white, and yellow. You'll need an Android or iOS device for the mobile app, and while a Web app is expected by the end of the year, it's not available now.
Read Our Basis Peak Review
Read Our Garmin Vivosmart Review
Read Our Misfit Flash Review
As with most activity trackers, you put the Jaybird Reign on and it counts how many steps you take in a day, how much sleep you get at night, and how much activity you get, such as running or swimming. Reign is fully waterproof and safe for swimming, but not for deep-water activities, like diving. (See my list of
nine waterproof activity trackers
for other options.) You see your data in the mobile app. I'll explain more about the activities in a moment.
There's a metal clasp, and it's hard to explain exactly how it fastens, so see the image below. The clasp is secure, which is great, but it's also difficult to close one-handed.
The top of the pod has a row of LEDs only, no display. It reminds me of the
($69.99 at Amazon)
. Both of these devices use indicator lights to show progress toward your goal, as well as the time. Learning to read the time on both devices is tricky because they don't use a conventional watch display. With some training, I figured it on the Flash, but I never got the hang of the Reign. There's a help screen in the app that explains how to read the time, but I maintain that it's absolutely baffling to do in real life. Figuring out what the green and red lights mean when you're in a rush and just want to know the time isn't intuitive and becomes frustrating quickly. It also seems more forgivable in the $49 Flash than in the $199 Reign.
The LEDs only light up when you tap the Jaybird Reign, although the action might be more accurately described as manhandle. I'll tap it, and nothing happens. I'll hit it harder, and still nothing. I'll bang on the dang thing like Donkey Kong, and then sometimes it'll light up, and sometimes it won't. The most reliable way to turn on those LEDs is to drop the Reign on the floor. It's super durable! How's that for a mixed blessing?
The sensor pops out so you can move it between the wristband and ankle strap if you like. You have to make the wrist band pretty snug—otherwise the pod might fall out. It doesn't snap in very securely. If you've ever seen the
, that device also pops out of its band for charging, and I've heard from numerous users that it was disastrously easy to lose. The Reign tracker is bigger than the Flex, but it sits even looser in its band.
At least the band is relative sleek. It's slimmer than the Basis Peak, closer in size to the
( at Amazon)
Activities and Data Accuracy
One of the Reign's signature features is that it will automatically detect a handful of activities: walking, running, sleeping, and a few others. You see the activities and data associated with them, like how long you ran and how many calories you burned doing so, in the mobile app. In my testing, I noticed a lot of inaccuracies and bad data. I never swam while wearing the Reign, but a swimming icon showed up in my app more than once. When I scrolled through my day's timeline to see when the Reign thought I was in the pool, I couldn't actually pinpoint it because the report just said "sport" and in more than one place.
Go Zone and HRV
The sleep reports were also occasionally wacky, like on one day when I slept from around 11 p.m. until 6:30 a.m. The times listed for going to bed and waking up were correct, and the app showed very few tossings and turnings in the night, but the total sleep time showed only 3.5 hours! Someone needs to check their math.
Bicycling never showed up as an activity, even though I rode more than 10 times while wearing the Reign. For comparison, the Basis Peak automatically detects walking, running, bicycling, and sleeping, and it's never shown me bad information. If it did, I could easily edit or delete the activity in the app. The Reign app, on the other hand, doesn't let you make corrections.
Go Zone and HRV
Heart rate variability measures the variation in the time, or pauses, between your heart beats. More variation translates to a higher score, which is good, and a decrease in variation can mean that your body needs to rest before training again. The Go Zone and HRV reading is by far the best feature in Reign.
The device and app measure HRV on a simplified 0 to 100 scale (standard HRV ratings can go above 100) in a section of its mobile app called the Go Zone. To get your Go Zone measurement, you tap the app and then press one finger to the top of the Jaybird Reign pod while pressing the opposite side of the tracker to your wrist for up to two minutes. You have to sit still, and you're supposed to do it first thing in the morning. I wish there were a push notification that could remind you upon waking, as I tend to forget these sorts of things. Based on your results, your activity goal for the day will automatically adjust. For example, if the number is less than 33, Reign will lower your goal and recommend you rest.
For more information about heart rate measurements and why they matter, see my
interview with Liz Dickison, CEO of Mio Global
, one of the first companies to put a continuous, optical heart rate monitor into a consumer device.
Reign Mobile App
As mentioned, the Reign mobile app for Android and iOS lets you view the data collected by the device. The company says a Web app is on the way, but it's not available now. That's really too bad because the mobile app has several obvious omissions that I'm hoping will be corrected in the Web app.
The main page of the mobile app shows you your goal, which adjusts based on your Go Zone reading and other statistics, plus your progress toward that goal for the current day. Swiping brings you to the sleep report and Go Zone screens. Tapping the bottom of any screen brings up additional information, such as a timeline of your activities and FAQs.
The main Activity page adds icons to indicate which activities you did today toward your goal. As mentioned, and as shown in the image on the right, swimming showed up for me on days when I didn't swim. I also did not repeatedly swing my arms in a forward crawl motion for 11 minutes that day, for what it's worth.
The app doesn't show you your progress over time. Fitbit, Jawbone UP, and other activity tracking apps create bar graphs showing how many steps you walked on different days, weeks, or months, so you can see whether you have consistent habits throughout the week or year. That kind of insight is really important, and I hate that the Reign doesn't offer it.
Another big omission is a calorie-logging system. Knowing how many calories you burn is only half of the equation, as you want to subtract that number from your caloric intake. Other fitness apps that don't offer food-logging usually at least partner with
or other third-party apps for calorie-tracking, but Reign does not.
Make it Reign?
The Jaybird Reign does wrap a few unique features into a durable activity-tracking wristband, but at $199, it should do more and be more intuitive to use. For the same price, the Basis Peak, our current Editors' Choice, simply offers a better fitness and activity-tracking experience, although it's not necessarily the right device for everyone. For example, triathletes in training might be happier with the
, and runners who need to know their pace, splits, and other specific details about their preferred activity should look to the Garmin Forerunner series (the
($169.95 at Amazon)
is great for entry-level runners). And if $199 sounds like way too much money to spend, the Misfit Flash is an excellent, though simpler, device.
For more about wearable fitness devices, read my advice on
how to choose a fitness tracker
that's right for you.
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