So last week, after a lot of pondering, I decided to take the plunge and get myself a Microsoft Band. I paid an excruciatingly large amount to get one specially imported and it arrived on Thursday. Then, today Microsoft go and announce that the bands are going on sale in the UK next month, at considerably less than I paid to get mine. Wah. Order yours here.
The good news is that I really like the Band. It just works. All day. In fact I reckon I could easily get a second day out of the device if I forget to charge it. I paired it with my Lovely Lumia 1520 and, apart from a hiccup that meant I had to set the region of the phone to US to get the app, I had the program working in no time.
It does pretty much everything that the Android wear devices I've been using do. I get notifications to my wrist, I can do voice searches using Cortana and it tracks my heart rate and activity quite handily. It's very light and pretty comfortable. It exerts a slight grip on my wrist, as if it is taking my pulse all the time, which is actually what it is doing I suppose. I've not tried any of the scripted workouts that are available, but the companion app does a good job of presenting the data that is captured and I can also view it via the web.
I can preview incoming emails and texts and there is a "quick read" view that shows each word of a message in sequence on the screen. I can also create and send canned responses to calls and texts and even enter messages using a tiny keyboard (although this is bit fiddly).
Last night I took a quick look at the SDK and it looks easy to use. A program can get all the information from the band sensors into the phone including accelerometer, gyro, heart rate, skin temperature, UV levels and even skin resistance. And the app can push back tile designs and bind these to actions.
The Microsoft Band is not really a direct competitor to the Apple watch, but then again it is less than half the price. However, I think it does enough to make it worth considering. And it really does last all day.