One month later and I'm still in love with the Microsoft Band

Is the Microsoft Band the must-have wearable this holiday season? If you can get your hands on one, I think it is. Over the past few weeks with the Microsoft Band, I've come to appreciate it more and more with each passing day. Here's a love letter to the Microsoft Band and a mini-review of the device after using it for a month.

Battery life

Battery life is never an issue for me and my Band. A quick charge of about 30 minutes will fill up your Microsoft Band battery to 80%. To get an extra 20% you'll need to leave it on the charger longer, but 80% is more than enough power to get through your day and any run/workout you do. Of course, your individual battery mileage will vary. For example, a really long run with GPS-tracking enabled will make you reach for the outlet when you're done.

For day-to-day use, the battery has never been an issue. I find it useful to just place the Band on the charger anytime I'm in the shower. By doing that over the past month, I've never run out of battery power. Well, during the second week there was one time I missed not one, but two charge opportunities (showers) and it died during a workout. But that was total user error and could have been prevented if I charged it. My bad little Band; it won't (and hasn't) happened again.

Comfort

Comfort is very subjective, which is why I recommend you try it out before buying it. Not only does this ensure you get the correct size, but it gives you a chance to see if you find it bulky. One complaint you've probably seen by some reviewers and users is that the Band is big and can be awkward.

I haven't had any issues with the Band and don't find it heavy or uncomfortable at all. At least not more so than any other watch or fitness tracker you might wear. I think part of that discomfort comes from wearing the display on the outside of the wrist and not the inside. For the past month I've only worn the Band with the screen facing inwards, and that could help alleviate any comfort issues. First, the display section of the Band is flat and doesn't fight you when you wear it on the inside. Second, I think viewing and interacting with the Band's display works best when it's on your inner wrist.

However, I do take the Band off when I'm at the keyboard. But that's not the fault of the Band. I've never found it enjoyable to type with something like a watch or fitness tracker on my wrist. But that's probably because of poor typing form. Brad Sams at Neowin recently interviewed the Band team and learned that a poor typing experience with Band is remedied by using proper typing techniques. I need to step up my typing game.

When I'm not typing and using the Band, I hardly notice it's there. While I recommend trying it out before buying, keep in mind that you might need a few days with the actual device to have it disappear into the background. Or habituation as neuroscientists call it.

Notifcations

Believe it or not, but I've been looking at my phone less and less since getting the Band. Initially, I only cared about the fitness and health aspects of the Band, while the notifications were there as a cool afterthought. Boy, was I wrong.

Before Band, my phone would buzz or vibrate in my pocket. I'd then have to pull it out, swipe down the Notification Center and see what that last intrusion was all about it. It could be important: text, email, etc. or not very important: another attack on my castle in Age of Empires or Swarm alert.

After Band, my phone primarily stays in my pocket after a vibration or buzz. I just need to glance quickly at my Band to determine if the notification is important enough to warrant me pulling out my phone and acting/responding. It may not seem like a huge difference, but it adds up to minutes saved during the day, which then add up to hours over the course of the past month. OK, my math may be off just a little bit, but it's hard not to appreciate having Band for notifications. It's also one of those things that you might not truly appreciate or get until you've actually used it for an extended period.

Where's my actionable data?

My biggest complain about the Band? After one month, we still haven't seen the power of all this data being collected. We were promised actionable data with not just the Microsoft Band, but Microsoft Health. The tagline is "Actionable insights for healthier living".

It's coming; I'm sure. But it would be great to see all this data collected over the past month do something. Right now I know I slept decent last night, but so what? It doesn't help me beyond making me feel guilty to get more or less sleep the next night. And while that's helpful, it is something that isn't unique to Microsoft or the Band.

The Band, in Microsoft's words, was designed to showcase the power of Microsoft Health. So far, we haven't seen that. I want to see it soon.

Build quality

There are no major scratches to report after a month of use. I didn't apply the included screen protector and decided to risk getting a scratch. Microsoft opted to not use scratch-resistant material in the display of the Band, which is a kind of a boneheaded omission if you ask me. The Band is going to go through more physical abuse than your phone, like when you're working out. Using a screen protector is lame and hopefully addressed in Band 2.0.

  • Related: Unboxing and hands-on tour of the Band

That said, I've been careful and don't have any major gashes in my display. However, there are those minor little scuff marks on the display after a month of use. Those are the kind of marks you expect after an extended period using a screen, so it's a little disappointing to see so soon.

The rest of the device is holding up well. The rubber band doesn't show any wear and the metal clasp is still working like it did when I first opened it. I'm curious to how the rubber band will age over time as it gets sweaty and cleaned and sweaty again.

Cortana

Cortana doesn't get much action on my Band. I'm glad they included Cortana, but the integration could be a lot better. You can set reminders with Cortana on your Band, but the action activates Cortana on your phone and turns the display on. It's a rather clunky integration at the moment. Asking Cortana the weather is possible, but again turns the display of your Windows Phone on and you can just check the weather with the app pre-installed on Band.

There's a lot of room for improvement between Band and Cortana.

Biggest love: Anything fitness on the Band

I bought the Band primarily for its fitness focused features, and I'm happy to say it lives up to those expectations. Guided workouts are probably the coolest feature on the Microsoft Band. I detailed Guided Workouts a few weeks ago, so go read up if you're curious. I would have like to see more Guided Workouts added after a month, but so far it looks like the selection is the same. You'll find workouts from Microsoft, Gold's Gym, Men's Fitness and other fitness brands on your Microsoft Band. The Band will then walk you through the workout, and it's an amazing feature.

The ability to track your heart rate, time and more during a generic workout has been beyond useful with regular days at the gym just lifting. I can just glance at my wrist to see time elapsed between sets while keeping an eye on my heart rate. Even while lifting I like to keep it above a certain threshold. Band helps me do that. Seeing the recovery time for exercise is a neat feature. This might be where we see a glimpse of the actionable data promised with Microsoft Health. The Band will tell you how long you should rest when you complete a Guided Workout, workout or run. It's cool, and it's never the same. It'll be interesting to see how it improves over time.

I love you Band

Band

Keep doing your thing and improving.

How about you?

Banditos and Banditas (that's anyone with a Microsoft Band) tell me what you think of the Band after a month of use. What's your favorite feature? Least used feature? Biggest surprise? Biggest disappointment? Oh, and yes, we're painfully aware that the Band needs to be available in more markets, but that's a topic for another time.

158 Comments
  • One month later and I'm still not going to buy one at near $500 cnd to bring it to Canada. #BringTheBandToCanada
  • Nice to see you in another place other than MobileSyrup. Ya it would be cool to bring to Canada, but they made such a limited supply. I assume that the Microsoft Band is a pilot project for what is going to be a more available product in the coming months. What I am glad to see is the amount of respect the Band is getting. On Ebay, you're seeing bids of over $300 on each item. This is crazy! I'm still wondering if the Band is also a way to release a watch at some point. I actually like the look of the Samsung Gear S, but it ain't Windows.  #BringItAllToCanada
  • Mobile hell ;) There are a few of us who cross back and forth. MassDeduction is another. He noticed me a few weeks back so I fixed my name on the other site to my gamer tag. I enjoy reading on many sites, only way to learn. :). Btw shipping is the one that I see pops it up near $500
  • Everyone on Mobily Hell is in bed with Apple and/or Blackberry. Any Windows mention has the word FINALLY attached to it. Anyways, cheers!
  • The gear s is a great idea it reminds me of a souped up sWaP rebel. to bad Samsung has yet to port the required app for their wp8 handsets
  • Here in the US and I'm still waiting too... Finally Microsoft launches a device that everyone wants from day one and it's not available :/
  • I literally just got one on eBay for just over the regular price. I'm willing to pay more to bring one up here... (I'm Canadian as well)
  • I'm living in Eastern Township near Sherbrooke, Qc, and my band cost me 200$ USD no more ... shipping included ! Why are you talking of 500$ ???
  • EBay.ca. $427.06. For one. Shipping is $28.46. That's near $500 cnd not us... For an item that sells for $199.00 USD is to high for me yet. I'm waiting for my Microsoft store to bring it in. There is import duty's and taxes at the border sometimes.
  • They are not even making enough for the US market
  • I'm sure I would be in love with it too. Unfortunately I cannot buy it here in Europe.
  • Don't feel bad, we can't buy it in the US either.
  • Just wait like the rest of us for the MSB2... I'm sure it will have a more widespread release... And, it will be MUCH BETTER.
  • I'm not sure why your comment was downrated once. I agree. The fact is that it is in limited production.  This seems a tactical decision.  Being so well received, MS will have data to decide whether to increase production long term for MSB1 or to iterate and improve for a v2 mass availability release launch.  None of this is bad (other than MSB1 limited availability).  Eitherway, its neat to see something like this come out so unexpectedly without leaks.
  • #BringTheBandToEurope
  • Audio Technica - awesome headphones.
  • It's good to see he values sound quality over what's "hip".
  • But they don't have the b on them, therefore they *must* be worse.
  • Heh
  • I like AT hardware. I personally have some Sony studio headphones. Wouldn't trade them for the "B" headphones at all. :)
  • But its so ugly
  • You are so ugly
  • No, I am so ugly.  Get it right!
  • I think its ugly too. I want it to have all it has and look something like the moto 360
  • It is not ugly at all, it is minimalistic, but not ugly.
  • hey guys this is not watch it's a band you will never find it as moto 360 design
  • Its a band that can turn on a watch interface to see the time all the time.
  • It's a band. Not that ugly. But for sure, not a fashion accessory
  • It is no worse than other fitness bands on the market.  It weighs only 2 oz and it is quite comfortable to wear.  After a day or two, you will get used to it.  The mechanical watch I retired weighs 3.5 oz.  But you don't have to worry about charging every other day.  After almost one month use, I think the tradeoff is way worth it.
  • Are we "typing wrong" Sam?  Great article. I've had mine less than a week, but I love it.  I'm anxious to get at more of the data, so I hope some software updates for the phone app and desktop program are incoming. As for your weather complaint, I use the on-Band weather tile, but I had the same issue with Cortana in that I didn't expect it to turn the phone screen on.
  • I find Cortana texting on my Band more useful if I have my phone on the charger and I'm busy doing something else. My humble abode is small enough my Band and Lumia maintain a connection everywhere I my house. So using Cortana then is a big plus.
  • @bobsentell - excellent point. I use Cortana in similar fashion. Mostly, I use it when I have the phone plugged in to a speaker and I can control the music with voice.  I'm still hoping for a simple music tile on the Band, though.  Just Fwd/Next, Back/Repeat and Play/Pause buttons would be awesome! :)
  • Happy 1st month anniversary !!
  • I too love my Band.
  • You won't love it when the MSB2 comes out....
  • Of course not! We'll buy the 'Band2' and love that instead. Until then, the Band rocks! People like you completely miss the point. If we all waited until the next best thing is released, we'd never buy anything in the first place!
  • People like me... Lol.. As if I apply that theory to everything... SMH, Mark.
    ...........
    Now, a beta product like the MSB1, that has a big list of shortcomings, which have been listed by WC themselves, and isn't yet confident for a worldwide release,,,, you go ahead and beta test that for us smart shoppers, give your feedback, and make the B2 a smarter choice.... Do, what you want with your $200, but IN THIS CASE it's a good idea to wait for V2... That's how "people like me" think..
  • Rodney I think the expression you were looking for there was "cautious shoppers"
  • Cautious is smart in this case.. That'll work too.
  • Rodney help me out here; Let's work on some hypothetical scenario. Say all of us windows fans are smart shopper as you have defined, MB Ver-1 comes out, we all abandon it to wait for ver-2, kindly tell me what MSFT improves upon or what do you think in general will happen to the band as a whole? You stated WC have stated lots of the band's short comings, I'll go on a limb here and dare say there is absolutely no device without shortcoming(s), also argue that WC stated a lot of its strength and pleasant surprises more than its short comings. I am sure you'll agree this is one of MSFT finest moment product in a long time that have received good reviews even from hating sites. What I have heard and seen the most about this Ver 1 product is that it was too limited in supply and that it should have sampled rest of the world instead of U.S only. Looking forward to enjoy your eloquent response.
  • Dude.. You're thinking to hard... Who ever said that NOBODY should buy the current band?.. Who said that?... And, that's really irrelevant at this point as we know that people have already bought the original band... I was just suggesting to this guy above that he wait for the next one because it will be greatly improved on.... I can't stop you, or Jay, or anyone else from buying the original band, nor do I care to.. So, quit panicking... I don't know why you guys always think grown ass men on WC are so hard of understanding... Read comments first, then reply.
  • My never said you you alluded to nobody buying (You read my comment well) It clearly states an HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO. using your definined Smart Shoppers as an inference. That is is why the scenario states (again scenario that potentially will never happen but which states let's just say it did. That is what if We are all smart shoppers (Which we are all not, but in this case, an hypothetical one) and if we are per your definition, we will all wait for Version-2. I read your comment very clearly. And why would you say I should not panic, I don't see where any of my response denote a sign of panic..
  • I see your point.. Understood... Im just not interested in bringing up hypothetical situations.. It just deters from the main point, and complicates things.. Thanks though. I see what you're saying.
  • Had mine for a couple weeks now and never leave home without it. I use it a lot and always look at my wrist before opening my phone to see if texts, emails or even phone calls are worth replying to. Battery life is freaking amazing! Anyways my only complint is that yes, its a bit bulky and its not the most comfortable thing in the world but im used to it already and dont even notice like i used to. Great buy!
  • I love my band. And I agree I initially purchased it for the fitness trackers (lost 37 pounds since September and I just wanted to keep track of my workouts) but the notifications are such a blessing now especially when trying to pull out a 1520 from your pocket everytime the phone vibrates. I sometimes answer texts via voice though (thanks Cortana) but that's a novelty feature/party trick for the most part. I love charging it in the shower and it hasn't died on me yet! Three weeks strong! Definitely recommend! Got my dad one as well.
  • 37 pounds in 13 weeks?!!! That's about 3 pounds a week. I didn't know people can lose weight so fast. I thought 1 lb/wk is pretty good and 2 lbs/wk is pushing it exteremly hard.
  • It was 33 in 8 weeks actually and I've tapered off since hitting my goal at the end of October :D. Cutting out beer was a major part!
  • That's 4 lbs/wk or 2000 Kcal deficit per day, almost a full day's calorie intake for average person. Wow... Anyway, congratulations on your results!
  • Thank you! It took tons of willpower. No regrets though.
  • I'm expecting Microsoft releases the Band outside of US, dates at least. I think when I can buy it in Spain, Band 2.0 will be announced.
  • Wish they had more... It is already out of stock!!!!!!!
  • I've got a feeling its going to be just like the surface and should wait until surface 3 instead of buying surface 1
  • That's how every modern electronic device is...
  • I bought mine the night it was released. I returned it the day I got it in the mail. I have an AT&T 920 with 8.1 Cyan. Cortana didn't work, all email/text/push notifications didn't work. Build quality was superb, comfort was amazing, the screen quality was super. But those issues made it a 5/10 instead of the potential 10/10.
  • Odd. Mine worked out the box with my At&t 920. But am on Developer Preview so maybe that helped.
  • Yeah, mine worked great with my 822.
    I have the 830 on AT&T now and it works no different.
  • That's weird mine works perfectly with my 920. Love the notifications and custom responses. Bloody brilliant piece of kit.
  • They say the honeymoon lasts three months!  It does seem to be a keeper, though.  Sam, how is the accuracy of the HR monitor?
  • I can answer this (at least comparing it to one of those blood pressure/heart rate monitors they have at pharmacies and the ones they have at gyms). It's been pretty spot on with measurements usually off by a few beats bpm. Then again who knows which one is actually correct. I've been satisfied so far!
  • What's to say the other devices aren't the ones that are off and the Band is actually correct?
  • Just a few days after getting the Band I compared it to a machine while at the doctor's office. It was spot on.
  • I am really enjoying mine as well, minor niggles aside, the Health app gives you a vast amount of data, and comparing it with the hrm on the Xbox Fitness app, they both seem to be fairly close, which I was surprised about. The charging every day is different since I came from a Force, but all in all I think it's a great product that will get nothing but better in the future.
  • I love mine too. I really didn't think I'd go for a smart watch/fitness band, but I'm really convinced that this area of digital tech is more than a niche market. The Band is a very nicely made device that has added to and improved my day to day living.
  • i wanna love it!! wash her and bring it to me!!
  • The Band is my first fitness device. So far, I like it. But, the integration with myfitnesspal is still lacking.
  • I've had it since the second launch a couple weeks ago. I have to say I definitely don't look at my phone as much. I personally like everything about it, except one thing that annoys me....quick reply on text messages can only be done at the first glance of the text message on the band, but if the text is longer you have to click the message, than read the message, but CAN'T quick reply from that point. So in other words, if a text message is three to four words long you can reply to it using the preset messages, but if it's long you can't, unless you ask Cortana to send a message, when at that point, I would just pull out my phone. All and all I love it tho.
  • Yeah those Cortana "bug" is annoying. It happens also when she's triggered by earphones button, turning on the screen in my pocket. I mean, use the proximity sensor: if I trigger Cortana in my pocket, the screen has to be off.
  • Imported a band to the UK through eBay. Totally worth it! Have had my band for almost a week now and it's something I never want to leave the house without. Great for notifications, calendar, workouts, steps, sleep information. It also tells the time!
  • I have a friend in Texas, £160 posted! Received it yesterday though...
  • Because there is no alternative?
  • There are several alternatives, but none as good.
  • Band has been working out well for me, having much the same experience as Sam. Heart rate and steps have been spot on every time I've compared them to actual. I do note that the step count has a delay before counting, which I presume is to avoid counting steps that aren't really steps. Microsoft definitely needs to crank up production, and make all that "actionable data" accessible to the user. However, I am taking advantage of the data that is available. My nightly sleeping heart rate has been gradually climbing, which correlates exactly with the lack of excercise since the colder weather hit. So, I am working on adjusting my work schedule to accomodate 1-2x weekly trips to the health club. Have the step counter is a mixed blessing, as now I know how truly sedentary I am. That said, I've been making an extra effort to get away from my desk and walk more, and I do find myself feeling a little more engergetic during the day as a result. I do wish the Starbucks app worked at my local 'Bucks. Part of that is the app's fault, and part is their scanner's fault. (Their scanner has issues with other bar code apps.) As for the other exercise features, I'm still exploring. Like Sam, I reach for my phone a lot less. Could I have gotten away with a less expensive, competing product? Probably. But considering most of the other options don't play well with Windows Phone, the Band has been a good purchase for me.
  • I enjoyed mine for nearly 2 weeks, but returned it. I needed a medium but the size chart said large. My only complaint is that my cell phone (Lumia 1020) battery suffered terribly with notifications active. I couldn't make it through a work day without needing to charge it, which means traveling would be impossible if I didn't have access to an outlet.
  • Muted SMS alerts are annoying, apart from that I have no other complaints.
  • mine is sitting on the kitchen all the time. too huge and heavy. too much of a freaking pain to wear. it is an ergonomic pain.
  • Send it to me..