The Microsoft Band has been on the market since last November and I finally got my hands on one by driving to a Microsoft Store in a neighboring State. I've had the Band for a little over a month and as inventory levels start to climb, I wanted to share my impressions of the Band.
For the most part I have been very impressed with the Band, but as we often seen with first generation devices, there is always room for improvement. But was it worth calling Microsoft Stores in neighboring States and driving two hours to finally get my hands on one?
As far as fit and feel are concerned, it does take a little time to get used to the thickness of the Band. The Band does have a bit of heft to it but nothing that makes you feel as though you are wearing a boat anchor.
I did find that the Band is sized a little smaller than other fitness bands. I'm not sure if it's the bulk of the electronics or just a sizing discrepancy. Where I wear a large with the Fitbit devices, a large Microsoft Band was noticeably too large and I had to go with the medium for proper fit.
The Band's fit doesn't need to be snug and a little wiggle room will not cause issues with the sensors. However, if the wiggle room is too great the sensors won't be able to do their thing and you will start receiving "Where did you go?" messages.
As far as what I like the most about the Band, I really like the large display and feel it's just about the right size for a fitness/smart band. It compliments all the features of the Band nicely and, for someone with aging eyes, is easy to read.
I do wish Microsoft had used Gorilla Glass for the display though. If you purchase a Microsoft Band and it does not come with a complimentary screen protector, buy one. I'm using the Invisible Shield protector that was a freebie with the Band. It is easy to put into place, doesn't impact the screen's view or sensitivity and protects it from those pesky hairline scratches.
As far as functionality is concerned, step counts are fairly accurate and the heart rate monitor is about par for a skin sensor. I do like having the ability to disable tiles/features that I don't use through the Microsoft Health app. This ability helps reduce some of the clutter un-used tiles can create. It would be nice to be able to move the settings tile towards the front of the line though.
I did have a little concern over the Band's battery life. Two days sucks when compared to the seven days other bands get out of their batteries. However, I'm finding that this isn't that big of an issue. Much like Sam Sabri discovered, I spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer during the day - time where the Band is simply keeping track of time and my heart rate.
I can keep track of time on my computer and as long as I can do that, I know my heart is still ticking. So for those times I'm camped out in front of my computer, I have developed a habit of putting my Band on the charger. I don't think my Band's battery has ever dipped below 40%.
While I am impressed with and like what Microsoft has done with the Band, there is always room for improvement. If I had to pick three things to change about the band they would be adding the Gorilla Glass, make the Band water proof and enable the accelerometer to activate the Clock mode.
The Microsoft Band replaced my wristwatch that was waterproof. I wouldn't think twice about washing the dishes, taking a shower, going swimming or any other activity that involve water while wearing my watch. I now have to make a conscious effort to remove my Band before hanging around water activities. I know with the exposed sensors it might be difficult to make the Band water proof but it sure would be nice.
While I like the Watch mode, I would like to see Microsoft enable the accelerometer to activate the clock display. Garmin's VivoSmart has a feature that when you flick or raise your wrist, the time is displayed briefly. I don't always have a hand free to press the button to activate the screen and having a hands-free glance feature would be a welcomed feature.
Bottom line, was the Band worth the headache of finding one in stock and $199 price tag?
I still think Microsoft dropped the ball in a major way by not having enough inventory to meet demand, but after all the frustration, irritation and effort to get a Band I think it was worth it. After using the Microsoft Band for a month, I have no regrets making the purchase and feel a little out of place when I don't have it on.
Favorite feature? That is a tough one to answer but if I had to choose the one feature that tipped me off the fence with the Microsoft Band it would be the caller notifications. I don't always hear or feel my Windows Phone for incoming calls or text messages. Having the Band vibrate when I receive calls or new text messages helps my day to day life a lot. The downside of it all is that I no longer have an excuse for missing my wife's calls.
If you are new to the Microsoft Band or have been sporting one since day one, let us know in the comments below what your impressions are with the Band. The Microsoft Band is available at Microsoft Retail Stores (best to call first to make sure they are in stock) and should be back in stock through the Microsoft Online Store "in early 2015".