Thoughts on Microsoft Band

My introduction to fitness trackers was the original Nike Fuel Band which I really liked but after a year I switched to a Fitbit Flex because the Fitbit website provides better analysis capabilities. I’ve missed being able to use my tracker as a watch which is a limitation of the Flex. I’ve always wanted to track heart rate also.

When I first saw the Microsoft Band it appeared to solve both these issues and I knew I had to try one. I used it for 2 weeks. I saw a review of it done by Katherine Boehret and completely agree with but I think in terms of bullets rather than long form reviews so here are my thoughts from a Fitbit user’s perpective.

The Good

  • The color display is high contrast and easy to read.
  • The touch screen makes navigation easy
  • The heart rate function works great and seems accurate
  • The sleep function tracks sleep and resting heart rate which is great
  • Having vibrating alerts on my wrist instead of on my phone was fantastic

The Bad

  • Wow is this thing uncomfortable. It is not stiffer than my Nike Fuel but infinitely less comfortable. It was not just uncomfortable when sleeping but I often had to take it off when typing.
  • To get heart rate you have to wear it pretty tight so it does not move around like a watch which adds to the discomfort.
  • The battery life is an issue. If you use it to track exercise you have to charge it everyday and if you use it for sleep tracking that can’t be at night.  Since you also want to track steps it’s hard to charge during the day. Makes it hard to find a good charging routine.
  • Access to the data is super-basic.  You can only look at the data on your phone (no web interface) and it has the most limited stats. For a device with so many sensors the ability to analyze data is pathetic.

In the end I gave up on it but it will have a lasting effect on me.  I was an original backer of the Pebble smart watch which really soured me on smart watches due to it’s poor user interface and lack of functionality. The Microsoft Band really changed my perception of what a smart watch could do and I find it infinitely more useful than the Pebble. And it is fun to use.

Hopefully some of the new defines coming out from Apple and Fitbit will give me the capabilities of the Microsoft Band with better ergonimics.

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