First of let me be clear. I don’t own and competing smartwatches or fitness bands. I own few Pedometers that came with my purchase of Xbox 360+Kinect as a giveaway with the promotion in 2010 and 2011. I tried the Nike Fuel + Band, but its limited functionality didn’t let me continue owning for a long time. Yes, Mobility Digest fellow blogger and my colleague David K reviewed and his opinions are accurate about the product and might be correlated to many users’ experience. My experiences are totally my personal and the band suits my daily needs, and of course it is missing few, because it is just first generation of the product, but it might be something I could overcome without any issue.
Disclaimer: I am a Microsoft Fanboy and if you hate Microsoft totally, don’t blame me for reading this piece of opinion.
Now let us move on to my story. So, when Microsoft Band was launched on the October 30th, I was in dilemma whether to get it or not. I stopped wearing a watch long ago and decided to not to buy any type of smartwatch even if it is from Microsoft. I was planning to get a Fitbit or UP24 just to monitor my health and fitness and still waiting for the time get to one. On October 31st, I decided to go to Microsoft store and check the band in person. I went there and found they sold all their shipment (they 74 of them) just in few hours on launch day. The rep there said she would take a pre-order and I decided to pre-order and see whether I would like it or not after using for few days. She said they would get a shipment on 31st itself or next day. And when I checked there are already few hundreds of pre-orders and thought I wouldn’t get one. To my surprise, the next day I got call from Microsoft store that my goods had arrived indeed. So I went to the store and picked up one. Here are my experiences with it after using it for 8 days. Please note that I am not wearing it continuously, or performed any battery testing to validate Microsoft’s claim.
The screen even though it has tiles for various activities, it just looks like a thinned rectangular tile of Windows Phone. And even if it is compatible with iPhone, Android in addition to Windows Phone, I tried with Windows Phone only. I didn’t use it with my iPhone or Android devices because I don’t want to lose the Cortana capabilities of the device.
Setup is pretty simple. Download the Microsoft Health App on your platform of choice, iOS 8 or Android 4.4 (I suggest using the latest would give best results) and turn on Bluetooth, if it is not already turned on. Turn on the device and pair it. And you are ready to go.
The interface is pretty simple and straightforward
The brightness of the screen is pretty awesome.
Haptic feedback and notifications come pretty handy. Say for example, you are working out and you don’t have BT headset with you. You could just glance on your wrist who is calling you or what type of message you got and respond back. Are you are on a track walking with your significant other and without disturbing your partner you could check the messages or notifications.
Configuring tiles is pretty straightforward and configuring what type of notifications you would like to receive is pretty awesome. Read here and you will know how easy it is.
Using Cortana for a variety of activities is pretty awesome. If you have a Windows Phone, you would know what I mean. Check this video on how to use Cortana on your Microsoft Band.
The sensors are pretty good number. I’ve not used the galvanic sensor and heard and read about it a lot. This device checks my sleep patterns and also it showing the lack of sleep when I have a lot of stressful work. The skin temperature sensor is great too. I haven’t tested how much accurate it though. The heart rate seems pretty close for me, even though some of the people claimed it is close enough for them.
I go to Starbucks regularly and to pay there now I just have to show my wrist.
The following on the downside, yes it also has some obvious gaps and some of them Microsoft could fix using firmware upgrade.
The shape of it is little on clunky side. Probably I’ve not used a rectangular gadget on my wrist before for a long time.
The battery life, even though I’ve not tested it thoroughly, I found it might not be great for some people who are used to 4 to 5 days of enough juice with their UP24.
GPS, I haven’t tested it, but read, when you are on trekking, it is no use.
UP3 of Jawbone claimed they are coming with bio-impedance sensor, which gives your hydration level. Since I’ve not used the galvanic sensor before I am not sure whether it could give any hydration level in my body or not. If Microsoft clarifies this, that would be really great.
Also if Microsoft could clarify how accurate is optical heart rate sensor, it would be really great.
Band right now comes in black color, but if Microsoft would let the user choose a different color band like pink, cyan, blue, red, green, yellow in addition to black that would be great.
Xbox integration would be really useful. There are great video games with Kinect support, if Microsoft lets the band could use that, and give the analytics on Xbox while working out using Xbox games, that would be really awesome.
More social integration will give an opportunity for people who wants workout with their friends and share their progress
And if I could tell the Band with Cortana what I am eating and where I am eating, adding the calories I ate, it would be great addition.
Integration with Blood pressure monitors or hand cuffs, and body sugar level monitor will be a great thing for many.
Finally, but not the least, if Microsoft can partner with accessory makers, to get few bling blings and faceplates to band, would entice good number of fashion conscious people, even though they are no use to me. .