So, picture the scene... I'm in Torquay, in a hotel not too far off being Fawlty Towers when in comes an email which is actually an O2 private message from @Toby, offering a Try the Tech review on a number of devices, including a Microsoft Band and the Lumia 640. Well, I've been itching for a Microsoft Band since they were launched, so of course I replied back within minutes (Although Toby claim's seconds and @Anonymous reckons there wasn't even a time lapse at all)... with the answer of "Yes, please!"
I should point out that I'm a Policy, Strategy and Nerd officer, managing sections of transport systems. The term "Gym", "Fitness" or "Healthy" are not word I usually mutter. Even after I said yes, I was wondering if I really was the right person for this review. I'll let you form your judgements.
So, here is my second Try the Tech Review... in pint sized lumps for your delectation. I'm going to keep updating this first post with my diary entries as I go through the next week or so, building this review up. You'll probably see a few dates and titles, which will hopefully give you something to look forward to.
The Lumia 640 is the device that was a surprise. It's bigger than I expected, with my own Lumia 925 a little smaller than the 640. The Back button, Windows Key and search are dynamic on the screen, appearing from the bottom when you flick up. I would have prefered them hard built into the phone, although it does leave the door open for Microsoft to reprogramme or newly install other operating systems. It has a very pretty box too.
The phone, when booting from fresh, has a very simple set up, requiring you to enter (or start a new) Microsoft Live account, as well as choose a Wifi unit, date, time and location. You can then use the phone after it has installed a couple of apps. It's also installing a few more apps in the background whilst you look to see that it has got pretty much all of the Nokia/Microsoft Specific apps installed already.
The phone itself have a rocker button for the volume and a power button for the hoover. I'm kidding, of course, I was just checking to make sure you had read this far. There isn't a dedicated camera button, a real loss if you like your camera akin to how you like your dinner - easy to access and quick to get open.
The battery is removable (a win in my book) and taking the rear cover off unveils a Micro SIM slot and a Micro SD card slot.
Others in the box are a charger and a quick guide - no headphones, which is not a huge loss to me, given I either use my Sennheisers or the bluetooth headset (I have a Plantronics Voyager for a Lync phone, my Nokia C2 and my Lumia 925... I'm awash with Bluetooth here).
Microsoft Band 1
This is what I was expecting. The box is slim and on the front is indicated the wrist size - M. Inside the box is a USB to Band cable, a Band and some starting instructions. Really good tip here - read the instructions first. I did and I am glad I bothered.
The Microsoft Health App is key to identifying what the Band is learning about you. The two devices - phone and band - periodically talk to other another via the Bluetooth, syncing up and making sure they know everything going on. The phone will also sync to the cloud.Charging the device is important, so when that was done, I installed the Microsoft Health App on the 640 and followed the setup to pair the Band with the phone.
The Band can be customised via the Microsoft Health App with colours and backgrounds... I've gone for a smart grey, although the default is purple. You can also name the Band to something a bit more personal than "My Band" via the App and can choose what else appears on the device - Facebook, Twitter, Cortana, Messenger, SMS, Email, Calendar... there's a whole lot there to explore and since I've got about two weeks... well, I'd better get on with it.
10/10/2015 - Day One in the Microsoft House
Its probably no surprise if you read my previous review (without falling asleep) that my whole house is driven by Microsoft products. The Windows Server (with Exchange), the Lumia 925 in my pocket, a Windows 7 Tablet, Windows 10 Desktop (purely for the projector) and now two more devices have joined in - the Lumia 640 and the Band1.
There has been some interest in the Band over the phone in the house. The younger members of the household asked why I had a new watch, whilst My Significant Other asked what it did. When I explained it is a fitness device that tracks your walking, running, cycling and training, her rather interested and slightly perplexed reply was:
You use a wheelchair, you barely stagger more than walk and you can't run or ride a bike. What is this device going to track?
Which was a fair point and I have to agree with the question - what will it track for me? At the time of writing, which is 20:35, the device has thought I had taken 2168 steps. I'm sure about 100 of those came from when MSO tried it on her wrist ("It's a bit heavy and you've put it on a bit tight") and the rest...? It seemed to react to my using the wheelchair periodically though.
I've tracked my heart rate a bit and now I'm going to ask it to track my sleep patterns (when I actually go to bed). I'll do that by just pressing this icon here () and then... I'll go to sleep, I guess.
11/10/2015 - Day (Oh) Two in the Microsoft House
So this morning I woke up with a bit of pain - I'd slept funny in the night and as I type this, Tiger Balm is (hopefully) working its magic through my shoulder to ease some of the pain and inflamation. It feels hot, anyway.
The Band last night tracked my sleep. I managed to get 6h and 46 minutes of sleep, of which 22 minutes was restful... apparently. Some sleeping stats:
It seems to have done a fair few steps, too.. which means I've been racing about the flat, possibly. I had a quick look into this and found that most of the "steps" had been done between 11 and 12, when I was wheeling about a lot trying to sort out children. Enough said. I took a quick screen shot of that for you, because I knew the excitement could be too much for you all otherwise.
The Lumia 640 has been tried as a media device today, with the children enjoying Pen Behind the Ear and My Marvelous Metronome - Tim Vine at his best. I also recorded a video (in 1080p HD) on the phone. I'll see how that has come out tomorrow though. Last of all - I put a SIM card into the 640 and to prevent a recent bad experience, I turned off the Mobile Data immediately.
12/10/2015 - Day Three in the Microsoft House and there isn't a magic number after all...
So after last night's diary entry, I took my jumper off, twisted my neck and had the worst night sleep of my week. That was a mistake. It's not relevant to this review, I'm just complaining about it to everyone who will listen or read my grumbling.
This morning the first thing I did was re-pair the band to my own Lumia device. I wanted to feel the prompts coming through on the Band from my phone and since my own Lumia is connected 24/7, I felt it was probably the better device for doing this. It was interesting in the car that the Bluetooth on my Lumia connected to the car and Band at the same time, meaning I could listen to music via the A2DP... sorry - Bluetooth - and have the band connecting up... I presume. Either way, prioritising the car is a good thing.
Other than one smart-alec comment about wearing a G4S tag, I had a couple of questions from colleagues who were interesting what it was doing, especially when emails came pinging in whilst I was talking to them or typing into OneNote with them.
Prompts of emails came thick and fast, reminding me I need to up my anti-spam system on the Exchange server... Text messages are the interesting one - considering I usually use WhatsApp, that is one item I consider to be "missing" from the Band. It does give me the notificiation when it comes through though. I got a text message from an unusual charactor, offering himself a coffee after work. I figured why not, so used the on-band options to reply. I've given the keyboard a quick try, which I'll cover better another day.
It has been tracking a number of "steps" again today, which I intend to cover better tomorrow when I'm actually going to be out and about. The other thing that you've got coming up is the actual band itself and how it wears, how it feels to wear and how to wear it
I suppose the other thing you want to know is my Sleep Report - yes, I know how much you are all waiting for that... here it is, last nights, taken from within the Microsoft Health App.
Not a hint of restful sleep (should I feel ashamed about that?) to be seen. I'm going to have to build a whole excel chart at this rate! I seem to take a while to drop off, too - maybe I need a better book? Answers on a postcard please to:
Throw the book at DaddyDoink
PO Box 3.14
Having spent the last few days not doing too much, I've got some exciting bits (also known as the titles for the rest of the week) for you to look out for:
Enough typed, I'd better go and cook dinner...
13/10/2015 - Day 4 in the Microsoft House and DaddyDoink is demanding hot water for the shower
I'm writing this in OneNote, to try out the typing capabilities of the 640. Today though is a comparison of my actual vs the Band. I've already been out and about before I started writing my entry for today, so I've had to capture what I wanted to using my geeky superpowers... I deduced quite quickly that I needed to write something down!
My start with the wheelchair is 221.19 miles. The Band reckons I have done 1.29km so far today, so I mark that as our start point. As well as this, that I can write about today, I've added the Run function back to the Band. I had previously removed the tile using the Microsoft Health App (I'll explain about this tomorrow) and as I needed it again today, I clicked in and re-added it. It took about 5 minutes end to end, including re-syncing. (I did it on the train and felt quite good about it, FYI.)
Even before I had boarded my train I had already learnt lesson number 1 - it is quite difficult to wear a Band with a SuperDry jacket. The thick cuff on a SuperDry Windcheater is very tight on any kind of wristwear you may or may not choose be it:
So my lovely warm jacket made the Band even more uncomfortable to wear than I thought could be possible.
Heading to London, I was able to relax, getting email notifications on my phone. Interestingly, the band thinks I have wheeled .04km since I wheeled forward and up the ramp onto the train (when I checked at an intermediate station).
Arriving in Stratford Intestinal, I turn ed on the FauxPro and as I approached Waterloo station, I turn on the run function to see if I can monitor my journey by map - adding in a bit of gps monitoring. It isn't an intended function of it, I just enjoy seeing where I went on a map... And then feel all impressed at the distance I went when I look back later...
Now, wheeling fast in a SuperDry jacket isn't easy and I am determined to make myself into a sweaty smelly mess by the time I arrive at my meeting... Actually, that's a lie. It's an unintended consequence.
Following lunch, a meeting and a quick run around the tube, I had achieved several things. The first was a substantial amount of run data. The second was smelly arm pits and an advert for Lynx. I checked first the miles on the wheelchair, which showed me it was now at 223.08 miles, which equates to having travelled 1.89 miles or 3.0417km. The Band was showing 6.9km - a whole 5KM.
What is interesting is I suspect all the additional wrist action of eating, typing, etc is probably not helping the distance. I'll find out over the next few days and report that back.
Typing this has been a joy. The big screen is very clear and (This is going into tomorrows entry - ignore it please. I couldn't be bothered to delete the text and waste 28 seconds of thinking power.)
And finally for tonight I reach the segment I expect you've all been waiting with baited (morning) breath - it's not poetry competition time - it's...
How Deep Did I Sleep?
Ahhh - have a poem anyway:
As I wake in morning time
I struggle to make up a good rhyme
It won't be just my breath that will smell
Hearing my poetry hurts like hell
Just be happy you are no where near
When I look for a victim to hear
Of the terrible tripe that I declare
For my family, this isn't fair.
Last night's stats:
It may have been good, the coffee at 06:49 was better.One last thing - you might have noticed I mentioned earlier about the FauxPro... well, whilst I went for a race about, you can have a ride with me. The reason today's entry is so long (and full of waffles... mmmm, waffles) is because I've also been rendering and editing up some video from today. Have a great evening all...!
14/10/2015 - Day 5 in the Microsoft house and it's like a copy of Cosmo.
I promised a quick entry tonight, following a busy day in training, about the look and feel of the devices.
The 640 is the first up. The phone is quite large compared to my Lumia 925 - by about 8mm. The 640 has a substantial screen, too, which is very welcome compared previous mid-range phones. You can see from the photo that my hand isn't that small and the phone sits comfortably in my palm. It is also a joy to type on as well as watching videos with the device. The sound is sent from a single speaker through a hole in the rear cover. The internal memory (8GB) can be bolstered by an SD card which gives options to those who might be a bit more space hungry.
I found using it for OneNote and email, this device worked quickly and efficiently. The lack of pen, compared to the Galaxy Note 4, isn't really felt and the device sits well in the day to day business. NFC at London Bus Stops is a benefit, too.
Side on, the dedicated camera button is a sorely felt absence for me - I like to be quick off the mark with loading the camera app and I feel that to have to press one button, slide the notifications down, click camera... it takes a bit too long. The buttons are part of the rear shell rather than part of the overall physical phone. A personal observation - the plastic is incredibly resilient.
The Band requires a bit more of a considered approach. I'm wearing a medium, even with my tiny wrists. I'm a 5.5mm wrist person, so fit into the medium category. You can see the Microsoft Band sizing on the Microsoft websit e and they have also opted to a "round the wrist" measurement for the Band2.
Once on, the band can be minutely adjusted with each little clip space being about 2mm apart. This allows for around 25mm of travel.
Given the flat screen, the Band is not the most comfortable thing I have felt around my wrist. It can feel a bit loose or tight depending on how you have been moving around. Wearing the device during the day, it was near impossible to wear with my SuperDry jacket, was on with a hoody and is fine with a shirt sleeve.
The black colour means it goes with just about anything you might choose to wear - that doesn't mean you can wear it all the time. I'd suggest avoiding some faux pas including:
My feeling is that it does look good. The Band2, with its brushed metal and black appearance, looks even smarter still. Most people won't recognise the power of it - and that can only be a good thing. Understated, in this case, keeps it subtle and therefore less like someone will take a second glance. I really like where they hid the logo too.
Fashion advice over, I'm only going to report I managed about 4 hours sleep last night. I did finish my book though... it appears the butler did it.
15/10/2015 - Day six in the Microsoft House and Cortana has come to the diary room...
So initially I was going to write all about how you can use Cortana with the Band, as I noticed that I could do this whilst I was having a bit of a play about... then I learnt a lot more, so it has become a "what can you do with a Band without running away with yourself" sort of thing.
The initial thing to know is that the Band being a device is more than fitness, although the primary focus is the fitness reporting. The term "Internet of Things" or IoT gets bandied about a lot and I see quite a few bits of information about IoT in my day to day working life. Band2 is going to probably evolve into a primary IoT device or even Band3 - I'll come to that in a bit.
My focus today though - Band1. As I said, it does more than fitness, as the tiles available are:
Health and Fitness
Already my point becomes clear about it can do more. You control choosing the tiles through the Microsoft Health App, which also manages the Band in it Sync'ing to your phone and onwards to the Cloud. This means you don't have to be connected by USB to your device (thank goodness) and it can be done "on the fly", allowing for you to add or remove tiles that are or are not needed - like I did with the Run tile on Tuesday. You can also customise the tiles, such as the Mail restricting to just a VIP circle, that again you set up in-app.
As well as the tiles, you see in there our life friend, Cortana. The Action button on the base of the Band will bring up Cortana and the built in microphone enables you to talk to the band, asking a question and it coming up on the band and on the phone. It just works and has a large opportunity for expansion.
Internet of Things - IoT
Bluetooth, particularly BT4LE, is a powerful conduit for communications, especially compared to NFC, which is lower powered and still not fully ratified compared to Bluetooth. NFC is very near, too - for the right amount of power, your typical desfire chip needs to be within about 5mm for it to function. On top of this, quite often the transaction time can be anywhere up to a few seconds, which requires the device to remain connected for that time. Bluetooth offers something a bit more versitile.
So what isn't to say that as you walk or wheel through a particular location, a beacon picks up you are there and registers itself with an application in your band or phone? What about if you walk into Tesco, can it immediately recognise you are there and when you arrive at the till, your purchases are recorded to your phone and data uploaded to the cloud? Or even as you walk round, the RFID tags in food... see where I am going? Think I'm being too futurologist about this, too?
You might be surprised. The Band is incredibly powerful, which I believe will only be exploited given time in the future generations. The AppleWatch is showing what it can do as a Watch - I suspect the Band could do better...
Last night's sleep now...
I've noticed a trend about my sleep restoration here... this could be interesting come the end of the week.
16/10/2015 - Day 7 in the Microsoft house and I can still see Noddy's bell
147 bells to go, if you get the Adrian Mole reference. I've got something else that requires my attention though.
17/10/2015 - Day 8 in the Microsoft house and Davina has suggested that she might blow the b****dy doors off
So, I am feeling sad because I didn't get to review the on-screen keyboard of the Band1 due to something needing my attention last night. Sorry about that and I hope someone else can maybe pip me to the post - I might be able to insert it later. Right now, my mood is somewhat sombre. I've had an incredibly busy week and next week promises to be more so, with work taking me all over. I've grown used to the Band more than the 640LTE, as I usually use my Lumia day in, day out (and I didn't want to tarnish the 640's gorgeous, beautiful screen) and I feel our time is coming to a sad close (Toby, can I keep it.... pleeeaaasseee???). I've got a shopping list open in OneNote on my other screen, too, which needs my attention shortly.
Sleep, sleep, counting sheep...
I do need to conclude this bit of study as I've possibly realised something really important, using the band - my sleep gets early in the week and from Weds/Thurs only then does it improve. I've got about 5 days sleep tracking on the Microsoft Health Dashboard now, showing me my typical sleep patterns.
|Average bed time
|Average time to sleep
|Average wake-up time
9 h 11 m
|Rest sleep efficiency
|Average sleep efficiency
|Average resting HR
I would love to see how this compares to a number of things, including stress and seasons. Perhaps a motivation to buy my own... I've also looked at the observations in the Microsoft Health Dashboard, which I think becomes a whole review of its own. Microsoft aren't kidding when they say it is data-rich. It's hugely data-rich and drilling down, you identify so much about your own body.
This has been a really interesting week for me. I've do some speculating on the future, monitoring sleep, monitoring my movement, video and of course, reminding people about nights they want to forget.
The Band was the big element of the my review. The Lumia 640 is a great phone with a wonderful OS that is stable and simple to use - the Band was the new-to-me element. It was fun, finding things you can do, including replying to a SMS without touching the phone (Yes, No, I'll call back or using the keyboard).
I believe that given IoT, wearable devices and Bluetooth, we are on the cusp of moving closer to the Star Trek world of communicators and life signs being sent back to the Medical Bay.
I learnt bits about me, I found it useful in telling me when I had an email or SMS. It didn't track my steps and KM as accurately as something on the wheelchair, sure - I didn't expect it to be able to though.
It wasn't as comfortable as a normal watch, the screen will benefit being curved on the Band2. The clip could also be a little less flimsy. The screen is very resilient to day to day life and the strap, being a rubberised strap, is very good at staying put on your wrist.
The big question - is it a very expensive watch? Only if you don't use it for the primary purpose. Would I get a Band2? Money no object... yes, I probably would. Where is my Christmas list....
Last of all - a huge thank you to O2, Toby and Meri, to all of you who left such lovely and nice comments about the amount of waffle I can type. I hope you've enjoyed this week in my life. You're all welcome back any time.
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