LARKLIFE LARK BAND REVIEW
The LarkLife Wristband is a fitness bracelet that tracks activity, sleep and diet, and tries to beat out its competition by taking a very individualized angle to the insights it provides.
Like other fitness bands, the LarkLife band tracks your steps throughout the day and tracks your sleep throughout the night, and translates your data into calories burned, distance traveled, and quality of sleep. Similar to the FitBit One and Flex band, sleep data includes time to fall asleep, time asleep, and number of times awoken. It doesn't tell you information on deep sleep versus light sleep like the Jawbone UP does -- but it does feature a silent vibrating wake up alarm. The alarm is not "smart" in that it can't be set to wake you up within an optimal point of your sleep cycle to leave you feeling most refreshed, as the Jawbone UP does.
Unlike other fitness bands, it suggests your optimal bed time based on your observed circadian rhythm and daily activity patterns; it also makes many other individualized health suggestions -- a feature that is the hallmark of the LarkLife fitness tracker. Paired with periodic encouragement and praise that the app offers, the individualized suggestions may be enough to win over those who are less concerned about its lack of social integration.
The band is much wider than the Nike+ FuelBand and the Jawbone UP. While some women may find the width masculine, others may feel comfortable wearing it like a piece of bold statement jewelry. In either case, it's large enough that it leaves no space on the wrist for another item (bracelet, watch). To track your daytime motion, snap the tracking device into the flexible plastic day band. To track your sleep, slip it into the soft sleep band. Whatever you do, don't wear it in the shower - it's only splash-proof.
The LarkLife wristband app serves up your data, health tips, and offers mood logging and very basic food logging, but has no social interaction. On the positive side, your data syncs wirelessly.
One big caveat: It's only available for iOS. There is no way to view your data via Mac or PC. Heavy smartphone users may love this, but the rest of us might find it irritating to only be able to view our data on an iPhone or iPod Touch screen (one reason I prefer FitBit to Jawbone UP).
A battery is located in the day band and night band: when you're wearing one band, the other is theoretically charging via a wall charger (included). According to Lark, the device has a battery life of about 2 days.
LarkLife in Light of My Experience with the Jawbone UP band and the FitBit One
On a personal note, I own both a Jawbone UP (since March 2013) and a FitBit One (since November 2012). The FitBit is discreet: no one ever sees it, and it never sparks questions. The Jawbone UP band visible to the public, but even then it doesn't look like a medical device (BodyMedia product line) or an obvious piece of electronic gadgetry (Nike FuelBand). For the most part, it goes unnoticed, or if noticed people assume it is just a bracelet. The chunky profile of the LarkLife wristband gives me pause.
Based on comparison of fitness trackers I've owned, I have a few personal thoughts to share on the LarkLife band. Having to transfer my FitBit one from a day case to a night wristband is a pain: easy to forget to do, easy to lose the night band and get stressed out right before trying to snooze, which is not good. So if that describes your personality and you plan to use the band to collect sleep data, you may have similar feelings. I have loved the convenience of the Jawbone UP's 24/7 form factor (also available now via the FitBit Flex band), which avoids all the wristband swapping.
On the other hand, the manual syncing that I have to do with the Jawbone UP is a pain. The Larklife band definitely wins on that front (as do FitBit's One, Zip, and Flex band).
Another positive from my perspective are the LarkLife's individualized pokes and prods to make healthy choices and habits. This is somewhat akin to the Jawbone UP's "insights" which I look forward to each morning (and miss when they occasionally skip a day).
Charging is a pain with both the Jawbone UP and the FitBit One, and they each only require a charge once a week at most. I couldn't imagine having to charge something every two days, or to fiddle with plugging day and night wristbands into a charger on a daily basis.
I love the versatile silent alarms that both the FitBit One and Jawbone UP offer. It's great to see a similar feature in the LarkLife band.
The social competitive features of the FitBit are very important to me; the LarkLife app does not have social features.
LET'S BREAK IT DOWN
Features & Added Benefits
The Larklife wristband tracks steps (and also displays that as distanced traveled), sleep, and calories burned. You can also log food you've eaten, though the food logging capability is more limited than the Jawbone UP, FitBit, and other competitors.
The biggest differentiator of Lark's tracking bracelet is its individualized messages unique to you and your daily patterns. According to Lark: "Larklife learns your unique internal clock, or circadian rhythm, and finds the small changes you can make, like moving your exercise time to when your energy is at its peak, or adding in a snack when you hit a low."
The LarkLife band will also notice you've been sitting for a while and suggest you go for a short walk or jog. The app periodically encourages you, offers praise, and provides info about how to live a healthier life.
It also offers a silent alarm that can wake you up in the morning.
Hardware & Wearing
Lark's LarkLife band has a bracelet / wristband form factor. It features a tracking device that snaps into a flexible plastic wristband by day and a fabric band by night. A battery resides in each band, rather than in the tracking device. The band comes in three sizes (S, M, L), though is still only available in one color: blue. It is splash resistant, and cannot be used in the shower.
Battery Life & Charging
The LarkLife activity tracking bracelet is rechargeable via a wall charger that ships with the device. A battery is located in the day band and in the night band, so while you're wearing the device in the day, the night band charges and vice versa. The charge only lasts for about 2 days, which is on the short end compared to competing products.
Your data syncs wirelessly via Bluetooth to iOS devices. You can force-sync by pressing a small button on the device.
You can view your data via iOS devices. You cannot view it via Mac or PC. There is no API, so the app does not interface with RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, or other popular fitness apps and websites.