Looking for a last-minute gift for your favorite Windows geek? Consider the new Microsoft Band; here’s a tour.
A cross between a smart watch and a wearable fitness tracker, the Band packs in considerable technology.
Putting tech where it’s most easily accessed
At one point, it seemed that the smartphone would put an end to watches. But technology is returning to the wrist. Until recently, the “wearable” technology market has been defined by two camps: smart watches and fitness bands. Smart watches such as Motorola’s Moto 360 (site) have offered a robust set of features, but have also suffered from exceedingly short battery life. The Moto 360, for example, lists battery life as “All day (mixed use),” which means you essentially have to recharge its battery every night.
Fitness bands such as the Fitbit Charge (site) offer much better battery life (reportedly 7 to 10 days for the Fitbit), but its only non-activity smart function is Caller ID notifications when linked to compatible devices. So Microsoft had to jump a relatively low bar to come up with a clever wristband that has multiple applications.
Announced in October, the U.S. $200 Microsoft Band (site) is the company’s first wearable device in over a decade — since its SPOT devices. The Band combines productivity tools, such as email previews and calendar alerts, with fitness monitoring. It’s crammed with 10 different sensors: optical heart rate, accelerometer, gyrometer, GPS, ambient light, skin temperature, UV, capacitive, galvanic skin response, and sound (it has a microphone).
All that technology makes the Band a bit chunky. But for a first-generation device, it’s an impressive feat. Its “band” shape also makes it seem less imposing than some of the massive sport watches.
The wristband has a comfortable rubberized texture, and the double-pinch clasp mechanism makes one-handed adjustments quick and easy. Interestingly, the Band’s screen is meant to be worn on the inner side of the wrist, reportedly to help keep notifications and workout progress private, but also because the flatter surface of the inner wrist better fits the device’s relatively wide screen.