Over the past few years I've owned a number of smart bands or watches or whatever you'd call them. It started with my Casio Calculator watch. I've owned a Microsoft Spot watch, a few Fitbits and a Pebble Watch. I think it's only a matter of time till we are all wearing some kind of stand alone device that is collecting body telemetry (heart rate, steps, sleep), developing insights from that data (in the cloud) and also notifying you of information. Today we all check out phones constantly when they buzz, and this modality will seem silly in 5 years. I few days ago I picked up the Microsoft Band [$199 @ the Microsoft Store]. I was honestly surprised when it was announced. I didn't know Microsoft was making such a device. Color me impressed that this was mostly kept a secret up till the launch.
What is it?
The Microsoft band is somewhere between a Pebble Smartwatch and a Fitbit in terms of functionality. You wear it on your wrist like a watch, and the only comfortable way I can wear it is with the screen facing down.
I've used it for a few days now and the main features I like are:
- Watch - you can turn the time on so that it's on all the time. I assume this is responsible for my terrible battery life (about 24 hours)
- Notification - when your phone buzzes, you can also have this information sent to your Band so you can glance and see what's up
- Calendar reminders - I love this as I can find what conf room I need to go to without using my Phone
- Color screen - the screen is awesome, and color unlike many of the other solutions out there
- Useful apps - Weather, Stocks, Starbucks
- Body Telemetry - I like seeing how many steps I've walked, and I also enjoy seeing my heart rate. It's just cool to know what's going on there
- Clasp - the clasp mechanism is like the band on a watch. It's adjustable while its on which is neat.
- Notifications are reliable - unlike the Pebble, this thing is rock solid.
- Everything else - I don't run, or use much else like calories burned, GPS etc.
What I dislike:
- Comfort - it really need a curved band. The flat screen is rather ridgid. Although I'll admit that after a few days I've gotten used to it
- Battery life - It claims 48 hours. That's probably true if you disable the notifications and watch features I enabled
Here you can see the tile layout and weather app
There is quite a lot of customization!
Why did you get it?
It's a neat toy. I'm not a fitness person per se, but if you are (and have a Fitbit) and were considering the new Surge, this seems like the same capabilities, except available today.
My prior experience with the Pebble ended with me selling the Pebble on eBay. That's the same thing that will happen with the Microsoft Band after a few months. This technology is changing so fast, that this device will appear ridiculous in 2-3 years. Just look at an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 and you'll know what I mean. Not to mention that the Apple Watch launch is around the corner.
But... I want to experience this journey, like I have all the others. Mainly for the perspective on how technology like this grew up. The Microsoft Band is a decent click stop on that path.
How has it made your life better?
It hasn't. I mean, I enjoy playing with neat toys and it's cool to see Microsoft going after this nascent market.
Are you going to keep it?
Till I get the Apple Watch
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