Its been a week since I got my hands on (rather got the band on my hands ;-)) with Microsoft band 2. If you haven’t heard what this device is about, its high time you check out their official page Ever since Microsoft band was released last year, I was so much enthusiastic to buy it off, but all the reviews out there made me wait until the second version gets launched. And as that happened this year, I pre-ordered the device and to my surprise, the band got delivered the very same day (Oct 31, 2015) it was made available to public. Since the band is not available in my country yet (at the time of this writing), I had to wait for another couple of weeks until I get it on my hands. Finally, my wait was over on November 16, 2015
I was really super impressed at the first look of the band (One – being my first wearable; two – a long awaited device and three – a Microsoft fan boy :-)). The packaging was cool, neat and clean. I had to connect to the power for the first time, to switch it on.
I had to use the companion app Microsoft Health on my Lumia 925 to setup the band. One of the most significant and differentiating factor for this device is that, it can be paired with any mobile OS, viz., Android/iOS/Windows Setup was pretty straightforward. Just turn on Bluetooth in the mobile device which you want to pair with, Open the Microsoft Health app and you will see options to Add Microsoft band. Follow through the 2 step process and get it paired with the device.
Once the band is paired, clicking the hamburger menu to the left of the health app will bring up the menu like the one in screenshot below
Renaming the band
Clicking on the “My Microsoft band” link will open the below screen where you can change the name of the band.
Clicking on “Personalize band” will bring up the below screen where you get to choose some preset themes/wallpapers to choose from. Band also allows customization via band SDKs.
Clicking on “Manage Tiles” will bring the below screen where you can rearrange and select which tiles you want to show up on the band. Currently band allows a maximum of 13 tiles to be displayed in it. There are built in tiles available for Message, Mail, Calendar, Calls, Reminders/Alarms, Cortana, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Running, Biking, Golfing, Guided workouts, Sleep tracking etc., and also some third party tiles. I am still trying to figure out why there is a restriction in the number of tiles to be displayed.
What does the Band do ?
Personally, I feel the Band is more of a fitness tracking device and less of a smart watch. It has the very basic smart watch features like messages/mail/calls syncs which I found to be more than enough on my wrist. But the Band is packed with a lot of sensors which continuously monitor too many parameters of the body and syncs the data to the Microsoft Health Cloud. When you open the health app, you get to see a high level overview of your fitness in different tiles
You can set goals for yourself (like steps, calories burned etc.,)and keep tracking them through out the day (like any other fitness device out there).
One of the coolest things I like about band is the Sleep tracking. Since, I am not a great fitness freak, I am quite happy that I could track my sleep quality at the least ;-). The statistics it provides definitely amazes and energizes me. Band features something called Smart Alarm – which recognizes your sleep pattern and wakes you up in a such a way that you are not awaken from a deep sleep. Depending on how well you are asleep, it will find the right time to raise the alarm 🙂
Another cool thing, I have liked so far is the guided workout, Yes you can search for guided workouts in the health app and sync them to the band. You can simply start the workout from the band itself and work towards completing it. Also, Band comes with built in GPS – that means you don’t have to carry your phone along while you run/bike.
Cortana integration is currently available only for Windows phone. Cortana is the digital personal assistant (similar to Siri in iPhones / Google Now in Android) You can talk to Cortana via your band and pass on the commands like Call/Remind etc., Though you can just initiate the call from band, you have to take out the phone to speak through the actual call. Setting up reminders, searching for stuffs are really hands free with Cortana on band
Since the data that’s captured via band is uploaded to the Microsoft Health Cloud, the data can be viewed via Health app or also via Web dashboard when you login with your live/outlook id. You gotta see the data to believe it 🙂 I felt Its intriguing to analyse my own fitness data.
There are still a lot more cool features that band offers which I am still exploring day by day. So far, this Band has always been a head turner and I had a chance to boast about this awesome device to many of my friends and colleagues.