Saturday, November 01, 2014

48 Hours With The Microsoft Band

Day 1

I ordered the morning on Oct 30th but there was no anticipated ship date thoughout the day.  After lunch on the east coast I noticed bloggers were posting photos online of lines at Microsoft Stores across the country and I read that they were being sold in stores. So I called the local Microsoft store when I got home from work and they had the small band in stock.  I’ll be there in 30 minutes, will there be enough stock? His answer was yes, c’mon down.

Upon arrival all the small bands were *not* in stock and I tried on the medium band and it was acceptable on the tightest clasp setting.  It was tight enough on wrist but I could look down into the band and see gaps.

I purchased the medium band, downloaded the Microsoft Health App while the transaction and bag packing occurred and rushed back to my car to set the band up.

Setup was fairly simple.  I first plugged the included usb charger into my usb port in my car and to the pogo pins (mag safe-ish) on the underside of the watch and it turned on.  There was typical bluetooth pairing, pins, etc.  45 seconds later it was done.  I paired the band with the app and started customizing and connecting to the connected apps.

I left the mall parking lot and drove home.  The haptic vibration motor is *very* strong.  I actually was a little started with notifications.  Calendar notifications definitely get your attention.  I took in a movie late in the evening and notifications discretely came in and were not obnoxious nor disturbing in a dark theater.  I discretely looked down at my wrist at the notification and either manually pressed the sleep button or just turned my wrist over.

I worked out after the movie and the data captured was fairly accurate.  I was shocked that was was gathering estimate reps completed!.  My ending heart rate was not able to be calculated.  I don’t know if that was because I was sweaty or the band wasn’t tight enough with loss of water weight and/or sweat.

I took the band off to shower.  I watched the news and it was time for to sleep.  I hit the sleep icon and action button and I was in light sleep within 6.5 minutes.  What was disturbing was that I “woke up”  6 times throughout the night and my sleep was only 91% efficient.  But I burn a whopping 487 calories while I sleep.

Day 2

Early work day.  I didn’t miss a meeting because I was promptly alerted by the calendar for a pending meeting.  I didn’t need to look at my phone for notifications.  I could discretely see what was going on with a slight glance of my wrist.  Nothing more to report here.

I completed a quick workout before bed and it was very accurate.  Ending heart rate was captured this time.  However, the data synced to run keeper only contained duration and calories burned.  Major bummer there. Shower then sleep.  95% efficient sleep with only 3 wake ups.

Day 3
I completed sleep tracking took the band off to shower and I forgot it on the night stand.
I finished running errands and put the band on upon returning home and decided to go to Starbucks and test out the Starbucks Card QR Code Functionality and it worked.  I turned the band around with the display facing out and scanned it up to the reader and boom it worked.  Major win.  I can now be wallet-less and now phone-less to get my Starbucks Fix!

With enough caffeine I tackled a 2.5 hours and 2.30 miles in Ikea.  What’s sad and disturbing is the capturing of only 320 steps in an hour.  That accounted for me waiting in line and walking to my car.

Currently I’d give the Microsoft Band a B+ or a 86/100.  It got a lot right and some minor things wrong.  By now if it was a dud I would have taken the thing off and banished it to the junk drawer but I’m still wearing it and hoping for great things from the device.  The time before the Apple Watch comes out it critical for Microsoft.  If they can add some polish to the UI and sync apps.  It could be a great Apple Watch contender.

Device came almost fully charged
48 Hour Battery Life
Strong Haptic Vibration Motor
Hypoallergenic Silicone/Rubber Coating
Great BT LE 4.0 Power Management

Bulk - (I’m wearing the medium band on the tightest clasp setting)
Not Water Proof
Health App
My Zagg Screen Protector that was supposed to be included was missing in my bag
Physical Action Button Required for Certain Activities - Touch UI should accomplish most of this
Wonky UI
No Direct iOS Healthkit Integration
Health iOS App takes a battery hit with the continuous background syncing
UV Detector Didn't Seem to pickup any UV Radiation :-(

Current Connected Apps/iOS HealthKit Integration Status

HealthKit Integration is done by syncing workout duration currently and it might trickle into Healtkit.  I have Runkeeper and MyFitnessPal connectivity setup and not all the activity data is being synced.  I can manually enter the active calories burned but it’s a pain.   You cannot currently use the Microsoft Band as an external heart rate monitor using MyFitnessPal.

My recommendation for Microsoft would just be to continue to use the MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper partnerships but start logging the data directly to Healtkit.  It’s easy to gather the data and let the partners consume what they want but all the valuable fitness metrics are being lost.  The following values can go right into HealthKit and the apps can pickup the data for their logging,dairy etc from the devices as well:

*Active Calories
*Cycling Distance
*Electrodermal Activity
*Heart Rate
*Number of Times Fallen
*Resting Calories
*Sleep Analysis   - A Major Plus for Me
*Walking + Running Distance

I do have a Small Band Coming in the mail sometime next week.  So the fit issues might be resolved come Wednesday.

Supposedly HealthKit Integration is coming but it should have been there on day one.

Some Warnings and Frank Criticism for Microsoft.  Please milk Cortana for all that she’s worth but please do not neuter the Voice Features for iOS and Android.  Simply allow the microphone to be used a handsfree device and let it trigger Siri and Google Now respectively. If you disable this in favor or Cortana notes, etc; people will not buy your device.  Right now there is integration with iOS and Android and that is perfect.  Just sync the data and display the notifications and go! Work with Apple and Google to figure out how to properly integrate with their Health Offerings with the data that you collect and you don’t have to frustrate customers working with third party app makers and their limited APIs.  Figure out how to get the heart rate data sent to MyFitnessPal or RunKeeper