Outdoor Fitness got the chance to review this smart band and the Microsoft Health app before its UK April 15th release date…
This week, Microsoft announced the UK release of their Microsoft Health app and it’s companion, the Microsoft Band. Created as a fitness tracker, the band gives detailed information on your fitness levels, heart health and sleeping patterns, painting a detailed picture of where you are now. It also encourages you to stick to pre-set goals and has the capability to keep you connected with email notifications, call monitoring and social updates.
We were given the opportunity to test out the band to see if it delivered as a fitness companion, and we’ve been putting it through it’s paces over the last week.
In our opinion, the coolest features are:
- 24-hour heart rate tracking
- sleep quality tracking
- recovery time calculation
- GPS route mapping
And the surprise features to look out for are:
- UV detection
- Stocks and shares information
- Weather tile
The band is lightweight and comfortable on the wrist and although slightly futuristic in style, it looks sleek and expensive. The functionality is excellent and we’ve not come across any tecnical snag thus far in our testing.
The battery life is 48 hours on normal use and only requires 1.5 hours of charge to be back up to 100%.
It is compatible with Windows Phone 8.1 update, iOS 7.1 and later and Android 4.3-5.0 phones, with Bluetooth and is available to pre-order for £169.99. You can do this through the Microsoft Store, Curry’s PC World and Amazon as well as registering your interest with O2.
With the Microsoft Band, you can leave your phone at home for running and cycling and the device comes with specific tiles to record your training data for each exercise. You can track your heart rate, distance and performance (with little snail or cheetah icons) and the GPS function can track your route. While running or cycling you can view certain stats (chosen by you in the Microsoft Health app) on the band, and then once your band has synced with your phone you can view details such as calories burned, duration, split times, average pace, average heart rate and recovery time.
The recovery time feature is fascinating in that it actually gives the hours and minutes you’ll need to fully recover from the exercise you’ve just done. The device’s metrics use heart rate, heart rate variability, duration of exercise and respiration rates to calculate this figure and it is surprisingly long after some sessions.
You can look at daily and weekly summaries of your progress and the band will let you know when you’ve achieved a new PB.
There’s also guided workouts in the Microsoft Health app from a selection of fitness authorities, giving sessions from four minutes to an hour that you can track on your band – it will also vibrate when you should be resting and when to resume.
If you can’t bear to be away from your phone, the device can monitor your calls, receive email previews, nudge you about calendar events and keep you updated on your social media accounts.
We were very impressed with the Microsoft Band and felt that having all that data about our performance helped to boost motivation and keep fitness goals at the forefront of our minds. Setting daily goals and pitting your performance against your PB is very satisfying and the bonus of leaving your phone at home while exercising is quite freeing.
The sleep monitoring is pretty addictive, as is reaching your daily steps goal with little reminders like ‘You can reach your daily goal by walking for just three minutes’ and comparisons on your weekly steps amount with climbs such as K2.
One of the only downsides of the band is that it is not waterproof. It is splash and sweat-resistant but is no good for open-water swimming or other water-based activities. It also performs better – in terms of connectivity – with a Windows phone and the addition of Cortana. However, the ability to sync with so many different phones gives it a broader appeal.
Having not tested out the Apple Watch we can’t make direct comparisons, but at nearly half the price, the Microsoft Band is a pretty tempting contender as your fitness companion.
WORDS: Katherine Weir