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Microsoft Review Roundup

News by Luke Jones on Friday November 21, 2014.

microsoft news · windows phone news · accessory news · luke jones

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Microsoft's Band has been with us a couple of weeks now and it has managed to be a dividing device. Microsoft says it has sold well, while some reports say stock was very limited, while the general consensus seems to be that the wearable is very much a first device in an evolution. It feels like a prototype many reviews have said, but after spending some time with it I think it is more of a vehicle for Microsoft's Health suite.

We decided to do a review round up from around the web to see the general consensus on the product.

All about Windows Phone

Unfortunately for those in the rest of the world, Microsoft Band is only available in the USA (and in limited quantities), though it does look very promising and, especially for Windows Phone owners (due to the tight integration and testing with Microsoft's own mobile platform), looks to be the best wearable solution right now. Cortana is, for example, demonstrated being accessed on the Microsoft Band in the video above.

The Microsoft Band has a capacitive 1.4" TFT full color (320x106 pixel) display, and sensors for heart rate, skin temperature and galvanic response and UV light, plus accelerometer, gyroscope and ambient light. Plus, slightly worryingly, a power-draining GPS - or perhaps this will turn out to simply be GPS support via the connected phone? There's no speaker, though there is a microphone (for Cortana). Battery capacity is 200mAh total and it's estimated that you'll need to charge the Microsoft Band every two days.

The Verge decided (like us) that the wearable is more of a device to push Microsoft's software instead its hardware capabilities.

The Band is the first hardware iteration of Microsoft Health, an ambitious and cross-platform attempt to centralize and utilize all the world's fitness data. Microsoft hopes to integrate it first with devices and apps and then with our calendar and email, to tell us everything about how we're living and how to live better. It's supposed to be the One True Source of health data.

Health is the trunk, and the $199 Band is the first branch. I've been wearing one for more than a week, and I've learned a lot. About the Band, about wearables, about health and tracking, about Microsoft. About myself...

...We're a ways away from a full-on health revolution. The Band hardware needs a lot of work, and the software needs to be fully realized and tuned before we'll even begin to see its full potential. If you're in the market for a fitness tracker right now, this probably isn't the one to buy. It's a prototype, and an expensive one. It's a first try, because Microsoft had to start somewhere...

The company has all the right ideas - be multi-dimensional, be prescriptive, be everywhere - and the company readily admits the Band is just a first step. You have to start collecting data somewhere, right? It's not all that compelling yet, but Microsoft Health is going to get better, fast. I'm not using the Band anymore, but I'm dumping data from my Jawbone Up24 into Microsoft Health, because it's already the easiest way for me to collect the most data about myself. I suspect that suits Microsoft just fine.

CNET wrote

Microsoft has taken the first step toward a promising fitness wearable, but throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Band has resulted in a product that does some things well, others not so much, and ends up feeling too uncomfortable, too high-maintenance and a bit too confusing to use easily.

There's hope for a next generation of the Microsoft Band: better battery life, better live suggested coaching, and an app that serves insights more usefully could make the next Band a real winner. It's an interesting experiment, and runners who want a smart band might want to take a closer look, but those who want to add a little more fitness to their lives will probably find this isn't the experience they're looking for.

The Apple Watch and Cupertino will be Microsoft's main rival in this niche and Apple Insider's take on the device that will also be compatible with iOS.

Priced competitively at $200, the Microsoft Band is clearly not trying to go after the same market as the Apple Watch, or even Android Wear. This is intended as a fitness and health device, and it's very much first-generation hardware, with a clunky design that may not appeal to all.

In the space it occupies, competing with products from Jawbone, Fitbit, Basis, Nike and others, the Microsoft Band offers enough to stand out. Anyone currently in the market for a wearable fitness tracker should definitely consider Microsoft's offering.

In many ways, Microsoft Health feels like the star of the show, tapping into the hardware features of the Band to offer a wide range of health and fitness data. This, along with the deep day-one compatibility with iOS, only bodes well for the Band and future wearable fitness accessories from Microsoft.

Of course, those looking for a more full-featured smartwatch should wait. Regardless of how well received the Apple Watch is when it launches in 2015, few could dispute the likelihood that the wearable devices market is about to get shaken up in a big way.

But a $350-and-up multifunctional wearable device isn't for everyone, and that's where the Microsoft Band carves its niche. As a first-generation product, it's a respectable entrance into the wearable market that seems to signal even better things to come.

Engadget offered

Despite having spent the last three years in development, the Band still feels like a proof of concept. The abundance of tech crammed inside makes it seem like Microsoft was focused on showing off all the capabilities of its new health-tracking platform, rather than on building a consumer-friendly wearable. If Microsoft were to sell the Band as some sort of demo unit for OEMs or a developer device, its physical faults would be forgivable. But the company insists that the Band is also a consumer-ready product and we couldn't disagree more.

That being said, Microsoft seems to be on to something with its Health platform. The software still has some kinks, and it's unclear how close the company is to delivering on its ambitious promises. But the focus is right. Rather than worrying too much about how many steps you took or how many calories you ate, Microsoft Health aims to provide insight into your broader well-being. That could mean helping you avoid skin cancer, or taking care of that balky knee you insist on running on. There's obviously room to grow, but compared to its primary competitors -- which happen to be locked to a single mobile platform -- Microsoft Health seems to have the most promise.

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About the author

Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Managing Editor at MobileBurn.com and is the person you need to speak to about the content on the site. Luke studied creative writing at degree level before carving out a reputation as a freelance tech writer. He settled here at MobileBurn, where he reviews devices and contributes to the news, as well as overseeing the site's content and direction.

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