10 Things To Know About The New Microsoft Band

Microsoft Joins The Party

Many big-name players already have entered the wearables ring, including Google, Samsung, Motorola, LG and Apple.

Microsoft is now joining the fray, saying it also will be competing in the market with the launch of the Microsoft Band.

Each vendor has either released or said it will be releasing a smartwatch or wearable platform that brings something a little different to the table. Samsung's latest of its six smartwatches, the Gear S, features 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities, while the yet-to-be-released Apple Watch offers an impressive user interface and a deep array of customizable hardware options. The Microsoft Band is also different from the rest and offers many unique features as the company looks to make an impact on the growing yet suddenly more competitive market.

Different Approach

While other companies entering the smartwatch space do their best to make a watch look-alike, Microsoft is doing things a little bit differently.

The Microsoft Band looks more like some fitness bands on the market than it does a smartwatch. Microsoft is embracing the health and fitness capabilities of wearables while also offering some key smartwatch features as well.

With smartwatches such as the Moto360 and the Apple Watch try to resemble a watch, the Microsoft Band looks more like a Nike+ FuelBand than a wristwatch.

Smart Features

Although its strength lies in health and fitness, the Microsoft Band aims to make users less dependent on their phones.

Users do need their phone nearby to use the wristband to receive notifications from their smartphone. The band will show call and voicemail notifications right on its bright display. Also with their phone nearby, users can view texts, emails, social media alerts and messages and a number of push notifications over the band's Bluetooth connectivity. Users can respond to messages with preset responses. Users also can view weather updates, finances and calendar alerts on the band.

Without the phone nearby, users can enjoy the built-in GPS to track location and use the Starbucks app to scan barcodes and make purchases at Starbucks.

High-End Fitness Band

Without having a phone nearby, the Microsoft Band is still a high-end fitness band.

In partnership with Gold's Gym, MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper and MapMyFitness, users can download workouts to do with the band worn and chart the data with Microsoft Health. With its built-in GPS, users can track their steps and distance. The band can monitor heart rate, count steps, track calories burned, track sleeping, and even has a UV monitor to let users know if it's a good idea to slap on the sunblock.

The band can even tell when users are doing lunges or pushups and track that activity. Once users are done with their workout, they can log all the data on their smartphone and chart performance.

Microsoft Health

Microsoft Health is the software platform focusing on the health and fitness aspects of users. It gathers data based on activity tracked from workouts with the devices. Microsoft said the software platform is compatible with any device; it works with any smartphone or wearable, and this includes, of course, the Microsoft Band.

The health tracker gives users in-depth advice on workouts such as which burned the most calories and how long their body needs to recover from the last exercise.

All the activity done on the Microsoft Band is stored securely in the cloud for users to access at any time, according to Microsoft.

Compatible With The Phone You Have

As mentioned earlier, the Microsoft Health platform is compatible with any device, but a real strength of the Microsoft Band compared with the competition is that it connects with Windows Phone devices as well as Android and iOS devices. That is something the Apple Watch doesn't offer. The many smartwatches currently on the market that run on Android Wear also aren't compatible with iOS and Windows Phone devices.

If users own an Apple Watch, they have to own an iPhone, and if they own an Android Wear smartwatch, they have to own an Android Phone. With Microsoft Band, users don't need to own a Windows Phone.


The Microsoft Band boasts a nice user interface, but it’s the hardware that is raising eyebrows.

The list of sensors in the device is extensive. In addition to the already mentioned heart rate sensor, GPS and UV sensos, the Microsoft Band features an accelerometer, gyrometer, ambient light sensor, skin temperature sensor, capacitive sensor and a galvanic skin response mechanism.

The bright full-color display of the device is 11mm x 33mm with 320 x 106 resolution.

Battery Life

Microsoft said the smartband has 48 hours of battery life, though using the GPS may cut down that time a little bit.

However, 48 hours is pretty good compared with some of the other smartwatches on the market. The Moto360 must be charged nightly, and Apple has yet to reveal the battery life of its smartwatch. The Microsoft Band, however, will last for two solid days.

Not only is the battery impressive, the charging time is also impressive as users can enjoy a full battery in just 90 minutes of charging.


The Microsoft Band comes with Cortana, the digital voice assistant on Windows Phone.

With the built-in microphone, users can command Cortana to do simple tasks such as set appointments or view messages. Cortana can take notes, set reminders and give notifications on traffic, sports, stocks, weather and more.

The added feature is designed to make users less reliant on their phone as they can give a quick voice commands without looking at their screen.


The one knock on the Microsoft Band is that as it moves away from the watch design and toward the fitness band look, it's not as light, thin or flexible as popular fitness bands.

Comfort is obviously important when it comes to wearables, especially ones that are designed for users to wear 24 hours a day. The Microsoft Band isn't as large as a typical smartwatch, but it's not as small as a fitness band.

Price And Release

The Microsoft Band retails for $199 in the U.S. and was released Oct. 29.

The band quickly sold out on the first day of its launch as it was released in limited supply. The date for the mass release has not yet been disclosed.

A $199 price point is quite competitive compared with other watches on the market and is on par with high-end fitness bands currently in stores. The Apple Watch will start at $350 when it is released early next year. The Moto360 retails for $250 and the Samsung Gear S will be $300 in stores when it is released this month.