One of the gifts I found under the tree this year was a Microsoft Band thanks to my dear wife who knows my passion for technology and gadgets.
The Microsoft Band has been very popular since it was unexpectedly announced back in October and finding them in stock has been a challenge both online and in your local Microsoft Store.
If you have tried to find one online then that is even more challenging since the initial stock ran out and now the Microsoft Store is indicating no new stock of the Band will be available online until early 2015.
Finding one in a Microsoft Store, if you have one nearby, requires a bit of luck and good timing for when they receive some stock. Hopefully, this difficulty in finding the band is truly enthusiasm and not just limited stock numbers overall.
My thought leans towards a little of both.
Anyway, I opened the Band up late on Christmas Eve and so have had just over 24 hours with the device and I wanted to share my initial impressions.
- The Band came out of the box with a good charge on it so I did not need to immediately charge it before putting it to use although I did plug it in to go through the setup process.
- Make sure the Microsoft Health app is installed on your phone before you begin the setup process. If you are using Microsoft Band with iOS or Android you can find links at http://www.microsoft.com/getband. That page also has a great collection of tips as you get started with Band.
- When you power up Band for the first time it defaults to pairing mode so you next need to start up the Microsoft Health app to continue that process. You are initially asked to set up some basic profile info and then pointed towards the Bluetooth settings on your phone to pair with the Band.
- Once BT is turned on you will see the Band and phone recognize your pairing attempt and you are then asked to verify the PIN code displayed on each device and that it matches. During my first attempt to pair I tapped on the verify button on the Band itself and it appeared to pair with my Nokia Lumia 1520 however, I could not get the two devices to connect and remain connected. So I deleted the pairing on the phone side and started over but this time I tapped verify on my phone first and they have been connected solidly since then. That may have just been a fluke but if you run into pairing/connecting issues give it a shot as it certainly can not hurt.
- Once the pairing is complete I tweaked the tiles that would display on my Band by using the Microsoft Health app on my phone. You will use this app to view detailed charts about the data your band collects relating to your various activities and it is where you customize the Band’s color, background and layout of the tiles.
The fit and comfort of the Band is easy to adjust using the clasp on the Band and I am finding it very comfortable on my wrist. I have opted to wear it with the screen on the underneath of my arm – this is the most comfortable position in my opinion because turning your hand over to display the Bandon your wrist places it in the right orientation for reading and interacting with the device.
Sleeping with the Band on that first night was no problem but I think sleeping with the FitBit Flex on my wrist for the last month also helped with the acclimation process. The Band is bulkier of course but has not disrupted my sleep. I have also used the silent vibrating alarm each morning so far and really like waking up that way. I am positive my wife is a fan of not hearing my beeping alarm go off as well plus I find I am waking up on the first vibration instead of snoozing 2-3 times.
Also a pro tip that I got from Simon Bisson about notifications – on the phone side you must have banners turned on in the Windows Phone Notification Center for each app you would like to get notifications for so they get passed over to the Band.
You will also find that if your phone is in Quiet Mode notifications are not passed to the phone which is very nice. I suspect notifications related to your Inner Circle would break through to the Band but I need to test this in order to verify that functionality.
Now while Band is great so far and just in the first day has allowed me to monitor things without having my phone open all the time there are some areas that are lacking/need to be addressed:
- Notifications do not clear on the band if you clear them on Windows Phone. You have to clear them individually on the Band which can be tedious – especially if you cleared the alert on the phone already. This seems like an easy fix since data is already being exchanged between the phone and the Band and would just need some extra functionality in the Microsoft Health app and the Band. An alternative could be a simple way to clear all notifications on the Band with a tap on the screen – maybe a special Clear Notifications tile or the like. Bottom line is it should be automatic between the phone and Band but if it has to be manual then it should be one tap to do so.
- As I mentioned earlier, I have been using a FitBit Flex for the last month or so and prior to that a FitBit Zip. The Flex monitored my sleep and I have had a couple of incidents where I forgot to turn on sleep monitoring until well after going to bed or to turn it off once I woke up. Using either the FitBit App or the FitBit website I could edit the start/stop time of my sleep cycle. That is missing for the Band and really needs to be sorted in the next update to the app/service.
- I am surprised that there is not a desktop version of the Microsoft Health app or even a companion website where I can view activity information from my Band. Of course, I have searched but could be missing this – has anyone tracked either of these down at this point?
My next step with Band is to try out the Guided Workouts – specifically the Couch to 5K to to see how that helps me pick up on my daily activities/health.
Did you get a Microsoft Band recently? Let us know in the comments what you find great about the Band and what needs to be worked on further.