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Microsoft Band Review ++O2s Try The Tech++

by Curr946 on ‎07-02-2016 00:59 - last edited on ‎20-12-2016 09:33 by Community Manager (2,757 Views)

 

Microsoft Band Review

O2 Try The Tech – Curr946

 

So, let’s make something clear from the get go. I am not a big fitness guru, in fact I am more roll than pole, but I do like to track my activities along with calories in and out. Disclaimer: I only used the band with windows mobile.

 

Unboxing / First Impressions

Well, the band is not unattractive but won’t win any beauty awards.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing. The design of the band makes me believe it should only be worn face down (see photo). The band is pretty thick, especially at the top and bottom.  This is where the charging port and heart rate sensors are located.  In the box you get a charger, quick start guide and of course the band.

 

Wearing The Band

As I said before, due to the design I believe the band should be worn face down.  Trying to wear the band face up not only makes it difficult to use, but also makes it uncomfortable.  Now the band is marketed as an all day and all night tracker, with smartwatch capabilities.  Although this is true, wearing the band to work became somewhat troublesome.  For example, using the band on my right arm interfered with using a mouse, and interfered with using a keyboard on my left (see photos).  Also due to its thickness, it made wearing a long-sleeved shirt awkward. 

 

Smartwatch Capabilities

The band is surprisingly useful in this area, which makes its awkwardness to wear even more prominent.  The band has a watch mode feature, which basically keeps the display active (in low power mode) to display the time.  Using this does decrease the battery life of the band, but more on this later.  The band will notify you of incoming calls, texts and other notifications.  Depending on your preferences, you can have notifications come to an app specific tile or into the general notifications tile.  For example, using the messaging app will allow you to read and reply to messages.  You can use predefined replies, the built in keyboard or by using Cortana voice support.  The onscreen keyboard is useful and very accurate despite its size.  The Cortana support is less accurate, but none the less useful.  There appears to be a number of standalone apps that can be used with the band, including a few games.

 

Personalisation

The band may not at first glance have much customisation options, however don’t be fooled.  The band can be heavily personalised using third party apps from the app store.  (See disclaimer).  I have set this one up using an app called GamerBand, this basically downloaded my xbox avatar to the band.  Another good app for customisation is PimpMyBand.  This app doesn’t just allow you to pick your own background, but allows you to create custom themes and quickly switch between them.

 

Activity Tracking

So here is where I have mixed feelings.  There are some cool features here, for example it can track your run via GPS and show you a map online.  It will tell you your peak and average heart rate and the calories burnt during said run (this could also be a walk, jog, bike ride etc).  But it doesn’t natively compare this with the calories consumed, or other activities you wouldn’t wear the band for, such as swimming.  Now, this is not the bands fault here, it’s down to the Microsoft Health app for not having these additional features.  You have to visit the Microsoft health website to log what you’ve eaten and so on, but it still doesn’t provide total calories in vs calories out.  Coming from the Fitbit app, this feels a bit backwards to me.  However, the Microsoft health website does have a vast amount of information and functionality, well beyond the needs of someone like me.  You can log cholesterol, blood sugars, medical conditions and much more.  You can dive into the band at any time to check on your steps, calories burnt and heart rate.  However, I’ve noticed that the heart rate tracker takes a while to read and is always a little off compared to my FitBit.  But, while working out these seems to come more in line with each other.  I can’t say which one is at fault here.

 

Sleep Tracker

Well, to be honest there is not a great deal to talk about regarding this feature. It does what it says on the tin.  When you get into bed, dive into the menu and put the band into sleep mode.  It will wish you goodnight and off to sleep you go.  During the night it will monitor your heart rate and movements to determine the quality of your sleep (see photos).  It’s a good feature but not exactly a unique selling point.  For the most part, this functioned well.  You can set silent alarms to vibrate on your wrist in the mornings which also worked well.  If you forgot to pop it into sleep mode, it still records sleep based on lack of movement and low heart rate.  Discovered this by accident, and great if you’re big into sleep tracking.

 

Sports (Mainly Golf) & Workouts

The band, or rather the health app will allow you download golf courses and track your score etc. I don’t do golf, so haven’t tested this feature.  But suspect would be useful if you’re into golf.  You can also download work out routines, such as aerobics etc.  The band will prompt you to keep pace, take breaks etc. Again, not being a massive fitness guru I tested a few for review purposes but personally didn’t find much use for this.

 

Battery & Charging

So with watch mode enabled you’re going to charge every other day.  But this will vary depending on how often you use GPS tracking.  I killed the battery one evening after only a 2-hour bike ride, but it had been on watch mode during the day.  You will get about 3 to 4 days with watch mode off, but again this will depend of what features your using and how often you used the GPS tracking.  The charger connection is magnetic and works either way round.

 

Overall

I really wanted to love the band, and not just because it was made by Microsoft, but because it seemed like a good middle ground between a fitness band and a smartwatch.  I found the band worked great as a smartwatch, but wasn’t practical to ware around the office thus defeating the point. If you push past this, your going cause a considerable amount of ware on the screen by bumping and rubbing against your desk.  The tracking features are great, but not any better than the alternatives out there.  The companion mobile health app is lacking and seriously lets the side down when compared to the FitBit’s offering.  However, the MS health website really does go beyond what the average user would need, making this a serious contender for athletes and the like.

 

Should You Buy

Well, this depends on what you’re looking for.  If you’re really into fitness but also want some smartwatch features, then yes.  Especially given you can now pick one up for 50 round pounds from the Microsoft store.  For me, I still can’t make up my mind.  There are two things letting the band down for me, the mobile health app and the thickness.  If I were to purchase one, I would want to replace my watch with it, and I don’t think its quick there.  The price reduction certainly helps persuade me to pick one up.

 

 

 

 

Pros: Reasonable battery life, shed load of features, highly customizable, only band to offer a UV sensor, backed by Microsoft health services, supports windows mobile/phone, IOS and android, price

 

Cons: Big and bulky, can’t sync with more than one device, companion app lacking key features

 

Comments
by jonsie
on ‎07-02-2016 01:10

Nice balanced review coming from a Microsoft fan. If I had any serious thoughts about buying one, those thoughts have now gone Smiley Wink

by Cleoriff
on ‎07-02-2016 09:10

Well I have made my mind up...I wont be buying one anytime soon. Seriously, I find it interesting that no-one seems to like these bands 100%. The one main comment most people make is they are uncomfortable/bulky to wear and create problems because of that.

If honest I am not a fan of 'health tracking' apps as a general rule. Unless they are used holistically (Looking at the clients health as a whole)...then users may interpret results wrongly. (I also like a watch to look like a watch...but hey....I am old fashioned like that) Smiley Happy

by MI5
on ‎07-02-2016 12:42
Well written review.
by Ian_
on ‎07-02-2016 12:58

Another very good review  Smiley Happy

 

I've never really understood the trend towards wearable technology though, and I resent having to charge my phone every day, never mind having a draw full of chargers for everything else that we're expected to buy these days. It seems like manufacturers are trying to create a solution to a problem, that wasn't really there before.

 

But I'm probably missing the point somewhere  Smiley Wink

by jonsie
on ‎07-02-2016 13:08

I enjoyed trialling the S Gear though I didn't find a great deal that I found it useful for. At least they are stylish and you are the focus of attention talking to your wrist in the pub...Smiley Wink

Wearables for fitness are just a gimmick in all fairness but I can see some fanatics getting addicted to and living by them.

by Biggypopper
on ‎07-02-2016 13:58

I just posted my review of the Band,  I just couldn't live with it on my wrist, it was uncomfortable and no amount of fidgeting could get it to the point where I didn't notice it was there. 

by Cleoriff
on ‎07-02-2016 14:18

Biggypopper wrote:

I just posted my review of the Band,  I just couldn't live with it on my wrist, it was uncomfortable and no amount of fidgeting could get it to the point where I didn't notice it was there. 


I have commented on your review @Biggypopper. Seems everyone finds this band uncomfortable. Smiley Sad

by jonsie
on ‎07-02-2016 15:06

It does look a little like the ankle tags that the more unsocial elements are required to wear. ....

by Curr946
‎07-02-2016 17:27 - edited ‎07-02-2016 17:27

jonsie wrote:

It does look a little like the ankle tags that the more unsocial elements are required to wear. ....


hahaha, now you mention it Smiley Very Happy

by Curr946
on ‎07-02-2016 23:36
Thanks for your replies guys, and gals Smiley Very Happy
by gmarkj
on ‎08-02-2016 06:31
Nice review, as mentioned good to see that even a windows fan has the same problems as everyone else.

Do you think that the Band 2 would be any better? Checking online the size and shape seem to have improved, but compared to some (Fitbit especially) they still look cumbersome.
by Curr946
on ‎08-02-2016 08:39
Yeah, the band 2 does seem to address some the issues. However, you can pick up the Fitbit surge for less, and it's companion app is much better. In fact, you can pre order the blaze with a stainless steel band for the same price. And it looks much more like a watch but without cutting back on the features.

Having said all that, the original band is now only 50 bucks. That's cheaper than even the basic Fitbit flex.
by Head of Community
on ‎08-02-2016 10:34

Awesome review @Curr946! Good to hear this level of details on all the points, especially the battery life (something I would be obsessing over with any wearable tech)

 

Lovely job mate Smiley Happy