The Microsoft Band took many by surprise when it was unveiled late last year. Although a smartwatch was rumoured for release, there were no leaked images nor was there any sign that it was complete. Just one day out of the blue, Microsoft announced the Microsoft Band.
Thanks to the kind travellers at Black Marble Ltd., I managed to get hold of one of the fitness bands which are now in short supply. After using it for just a couple of weeks, I must say that it has taken me by surprise.
Smartwatches that are emerging on the marketplace usually fall into two categories. A fitness band, like a Fitbit device, that’s core function is to track your health & fitness, and then there is the smartwatch, like the Moto 360, which is a companion to your smartphone. The great thing about the Microsoft Band is that it is the best of both worlds. What’s even better about it is that it is one of the first smartwatches available that is compatible with all the major smartphone OS’s. That’s right, you can use the Microsoft Band with your iPhone 6, Google Nexus or your beloved Lumia Windows Phone.
Although the features of the Band allow you to use it as a smartwatch, Microsoft’s intentions are that it is a fitness band and to get folks started with their new years resolutions of getting fit, the Band is packed full of sensors including a heart rate monitor, accelerometer, GPS, skin temperature and many more. With these integrated sensors, it’s quick and easy to start tracking your progress as you workout.
Speaking of workouts, among the Band’s integrated apps is guided workouts. Using your smartphone, you can choose from a range of fitness regimes that have been produced by trainers for you to use on your device. Each workout has as set calendar for when you should be performing the exercises and come in a range of difficulties meaning that the unfit can get up and go. As well as the guided workouts, you can also track your own workout if you’re doing a home workout DVD for example. You can even track your runs or walks which takes advantage of the in-built GPS sensor.
It’s not all about getting healthy though. When you’re not out for a run, you’re most likely to be sat at your desk working or possibly studying at college or university. Well the Microsoft Band has that covered too. The Band provides notifications for your emails, calendars, text messages and missed phone calls.
Not only do you receive a rumble on your wrist with a quick notification, you can drill into that notification by tapping on it to see more information. As long as the email or message isn’t too long, you can read the thing right on your wrist meaning that you don’t have to take your phone out of your pocket. This is something that I have noticed more since wearing the band and while it may seem odd, it has improved my interaction with the people around me.
If you’re a Windows Phone user like myself, the Microsoft Band provides you access to your digital personal assistant, Cortana. While it can’t do everything you want on the Band itself, for example giving you your search results, you can take notes, set reminders and even send a text message using the in-built microphone. You’ll even get your notifications straight to your Band like your sports results or traffic alerts.
When you’ve finished for the day after all your hard work and exercise, the Band is all set to track your night’s sleep. The first night wearing the band was slightly uncomfortable but what is there to expect when you’ve strapped something new to your wrist. After a couple of nights you get used to it being there. The great thing about the sleep tracking is that it tells you how many times you woke up during the night, how deep of a sleep you had and how long you slept for. It’s surprising when you’ve tracked your first sleep how many time you actually are awake during the night, even if it is just for a couple of minutes. I apparently woke up 7 times one night but when I woke up in the morning, I had no idea that I had.
At first, the Microsoft Band could be difficult to get used to, especially if you aren’t used to wearing anything on your wrists everyday. After a couple of days with it being on your wrist, it feels right and you get used to it being there. One of the great benefits to the Microsoft Band is that it can just stay on your wrist for around 3 or 4 days. The battery life on it is absolutely fantastic and the charging time is so short, you wouldn’t believe it lasted so long even with the sensors that are running to track you 24/7.
I’m very grateful for the chance to get hold of one of these devices though, especially with the short supply. If you’re lucky enough to find one, don’t miss the chance to buy it! You won’t be disappointed!