Microsoft Health app

Right from the onset, the Microsoft Health app is rich with all sorts of fitness tools and information to cater to advanced users.

One specific quality about the Microsoft Band that we really appreciate is its compatibility with the majority of mobile platforms, which not only includes Windows Phone, but also Android and iOS as well. For being a new player in the fitness space, we have to give Microsoft credit because of how comprehensive and in-depth its Microsoft Health app really is from the get-go. Essentially, it’s a powerful, all-encompassing service that goes above and beyond in giving us the tools we need to proactively gauge our level of activity.

In our review, we’ve mainly used the Windows Phone app, but the Android and iOS versions are pretty much identical – save for the Cortana integration of Windows Phone, of course. Going with the typical Modern UI design style of the platform, the Microsoft Health app is categorizes the main screen into tiles that consist of steps taken, calories burned, distance covered, sleep, and other relevant workouts. For the most part, the organization of the app makes sense – without being too complicated in how it presents data to us in a meaningful manner.

Microsoft is really all about gathering as much fitness data from the Microsoft Band, where it’s all dissected and presented through numerical data and graphs in the app. An example of this is found in a workout summary, where the data gathered by the Microsoft Band is meticulously broken down to things like our average heart rate throughout the workout, calories burned in that time frame, and total duration time.


There’s even a section where we can browse through various workouts that can be programmed into the Microsoft Band. From cardio workouts to strength training, there’s a rich variety to give novice, intermediate, and advanced fitness folks some needed variety in their training. An area of opportunity, however, is the potential addition of a calorie tracking section – where users can input what they consume, to better have an accurate net calorie figure. And lastly, it would also be nice to include some sort of social-competitive aspect to the entire experience.

Connectivity


Pairing is established through its Bluetooth 4.0 LE connection. Generally speaking, the connection is needed only when we’re syncing data or accessing Cortana. In our experience, it’s able to maintain a connection for roughly 20 feet, which is more than ample we’d say.

Performance

Calorie burn is calculated more accurately because of the always-on status of its heart rate sensor during workouts.

First and foremost, we’re happy to report that the Microsoft Band doesn’t fall victim to phantom steps. You know, it’s when a fitness tracker is tricked into believing that a step is taken when we wave our hand in the air – so it’s great that it doesn’t do that. At the same time, too, we’re glad to report that the Microsoft Band is pretty accurate in measuring our steps. However, it’s meant to be worn strictly on your dominant hand.

Other aspects of the Microsoft Band that makes it an outstanding fitness tracker is its built-in GPS for tracking our movement during a running excursion, how its heart rate sensor is constantly on during workouts, and it various “light” smartwatch features. Starting with the first, it’s nice that we’re able to view an area of a map where we traveled during a run – a common feature we see in many other running apps. Secondly, the heart rate sensor never times out during a workout routine, which means that it delivers an accurate calorie burn based on our level of engagement. This is utterly valuable, honestly, seeing that other fitness trackers only provide an estimated figure that’s based on our height, weight, and steps activity. And lastly, we do appreciate how Cortana can be accessed to accomplish a handful of operations – while text messages and email previews can all be read directly from the unit’s display.

Oh yeah, it can also track our sleep as well! Again, the data it acquires is impressive, seeing that we get informative things we don’t get from other fitness trackers – like our efficiency, differentiation between light and restful sleep, and also the amount of calories we burn as we sleep. Unfortunately, though, the initiation is a manual one, which requires us to manually set the Band into sleep mode. Nowadays, we’re seeing more and more fitness trackers doing this automatically.

Battery


Factoring that it’s packing a touchscreen display and a hear rate sensor that’s on a good amount of time, the Microsoft Band clearly suffers from poor battery life – albeit, it depends mostly on how you look at it. During our time using it, the Microsoft Band’s dual 100 mAh battery generally gets us two days of juice before it’s tapped out. Naturally, that’s a disappointing mark for any dedicated fitness tracker, as newer ones can last up to 7 days, but it’s still better than the one-day tally we see from the majority of smartwatches we currently have in the market.

Conclusion


Clearly, the Microsoft Band is more than your traditional fitness tracker. In that regard, it’s quite compelling that for something new, it’s already a versatile option that’s also rich in its app ecosystem. Yeah, it also blends in some smartwatch functionality, like Cortana integration for Windows Phone, which allows us to do things like set reminders, ask for weather conditions, and even do some mathematical calculations.

With its sticker price of $199.99, it’s undoubtedly expensive for just a fitness tracker – easily encroaching smartwatch territory. It’s certainly a costly investment for something that’s first and foremost a fitness tracker, but it has a considerable advantage over the majority. In fact, it’s evident by its touchscreen display, constant-on heart rate sensor, and all the other sensors included in its package. Still, there are several areas that are concerning, like its uncomfortable feel and poor battery life that make it tough to classify it as the perfect fitness tracking band.

Ultimately, though, the Microsoft Band is an insanely intelligent tracker filled with some serious tech inside of it, but it’s simply not built for the rigorous and arduous activities that diehard fitness junkies need to keep pace with them.

Pros

  • Display offers us quick glances at relevant data
  • Compatible with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone
  • Accurately measures calorie burn thanks to its always-on heart rate sensor
  • Microsoft Health app is diverse and comprehensive
  • Offers some smartwatch-like functions

Cons

  • Hefty size and odd fit makes it uncomfortable to wear
  • Expensive for a dedicated fitness tracker
  • Poor battery life
  • Needs to be manually set for tracking sleep
  • Weak water resistance construction

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

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