Microsoft Band (1st version) 6 months on

Back in April I got myself a Microsoft Band, I was ready to start testing the waters of smart watches and it seemed like a reasonably priced way to do it.

The Microsoft Band 2 had just been released so the price of the Band 1 was around £100, but Amazon being the way it is the price suddenly dropped below £100 so I bought one – it didn’t seem like a bad price for any decent watch, but the Band 2 was just too expensive at around £200

Overall, I’m really pleased with it, I’m glad I’ve got it and when it dies I’ll most likely get the newer version, or possibly look at similar things from other manufacturers.

I don’t think I’ll ever get an Apple Watch, they seem way, way too expensive – but I do like the idea that I can text or call from my wrist and maybe just ditch my phone all together… I’ll have to see how things go in the future.

In the mean time, my bargain, last years model little Microsoft Band is great, for the following reasons:

  • I can put my massive iPhone 6+ in my bag, not in my pocket, so it wont get bent and explode – instead the Band just tells me who is ringing, texting, emailing, slacking, whatsapping me etc
  • The above benefits also mean when I’m at home I leave my phone alone, and spend more time with the kids and not googling stuff I don’t need to know. I can see if it’s anyone important, and choose wether or not they’re more important than having a tea party with my kids and their teddies.
  • I like going for a run with it, it’s easier to read when running, checking my pace, timing etc and it’s more comfy than a big arm band
  • I feel less vulnerable when reading messages and checking the time when I’m out and about. Not having my phone out means it’s not going to be snatched out of my hands.
  • It’s actually really comfy, I’ve got used to wearing it, I even sleep with it on sometimes. Battery lasts a couple of days, I can take it away for the weekend and leave the charger behind
  • My kids love choosing the background colour of the watch for me. Currently, it’s green, I’ve had purple, blue and pink as well so far.

There are some downsides to it though, some of which kind of cancel some of the pros…

  • The GPS seems to be shit – It’s ok relative to itself but apparently the Bristol Half Marathon is 22km not 21km. It’s ok for training, it tells me the same distances for the routes I run so I can shave time of my previous runs… but I can’t compare it to anything else.
  • The charger is weird – I think it’s just specific to the Band so I can’t use anything else, if it goes flat at work then it’s just an ugly bracelet. The chargers aren’t particularly cheap either. So far, I’ve coped ok with just one. Went flat a couple of times but I’ve just got better at managing it.
  • The watch is always on and backlit – it drains the battery. I wish I could just tap the screen and get a few seconds of lit screen to see the time. I know the Band 2 has an auto rotate clock thing (basically when you look at it, it unlocks to show you the time) but I don’t have the Band 2 yet… so it’s not the Best watch ever. Leaving the screen on all the time would just kill the battery.
  • You can’t reply to text messages with it on an iPhone. I think a Windows phone can, not sure about Android, and it might just be short pre-set messages, but even just being able to say yes/no/maybe/call me would be great.
  • I can’t wear it at my desk – it’s too bulky and I can’t rest my wrists on the table to type properly. It just sits on my desk looking at me, buzzing occasionally so I know I can ignore the phone in my bag.
  • The screen gets scratched as fuck. God knows how. It’s covered in scratches, my iPhone screen is way, way, way more robust. That is 14 months old and has no marks on it. The watch is 6 months old and is covered in them.
  • It’s a bit flimsy… maybe I should have got a Medium not a Small, but the edges look like they’re separating a bit where I have to flex it over my bulking, massive man arms…

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Overall I love it, it’s really useful, more so in every day life than for running I think. I wear it most days now, charge it over night. I do run with it, I’ve learnt to use it more as a stop watch/lap timer and not worry about the GPS stuff.

I wish it could list more runs than just 1 previous one and I think the screen could do to be a bit bigger – oh and being able to play music from it would be awesome for running. I think I could cope with strapping headphones to my arms, or getting bluetooth ones maybe.

I would thoroughly recommend one as a starting point into fancier smart watches, and I’ll definitely look at newer versions of it and other types when I come to replace it.

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