Five things to know before buying the Microsoft Band

During game seven of the World Series, Microsoft launched its play into the wearable segment with the Band. The device, which has a huge focus on health - and a lesser, but still important, focus on productivity - blends the line between fitness tracker and smartwatch.

With there being high demand for the device and low stock, it may take some consumers a little bit of time to get their hands on the device. And seeing as we are now in the holiday shopping season, the Band could very well be hard to find during the entire holiday period.

So, if you are going to buy a Band, here are five things you need to know and consider before putting down $200 to take one of these devices home.

1. Comfort

It is worth the time to try and wear a Band before buying one if at all possible. Some will find the device comfortable and others will complain about it. While this is an obvious statement that some will enjoy it and others will not, the debate is quite heated.

First off, you have two options for wearing the device, with the display on top of your wrist or on the inside. I like to wear it inside the wrist as on top, it feels too wide and is not ergonomically shaped to contour to your arm. The screen also fees quite wide on the top as well, it's hard to explain until you try the device on but for me, it's on the bottom or bust.

Being on the bottom has some issues, specifically when trying to type. When your hand is placed on a flat surface, the Band works well but if you try to roll your arm left or right while typing (and I had no idea how much I roll my hands/arms while typing until I got the Band) it gets in the way. It's not the most comfortable experience and I have to use the band on my left arm as using the band on the right arm with a mouse is even more cumbersome.

With all that being said, I have personally gotten used to the device being on my wrist and have not had any major issues with it so far. But, this will not be the case for everyone as the hardware is a bit bigger than I expected.

2. Limited Apps on Device

The Band is a low-power device and has a small amount of memory. Because of this, you can't have lots of apps on the device. For example, you can't even enable all of the default apps that come with the device.

It looks like you can have 13 apps on the device and after that, you will see the prompt above saying that you are out of space. While there are not many options right now for putting new apps on to your Band, if this device becomes more popular, you may be forced to make hard choices about what apps will work with your band.

3. Use a screen protector or be prepared for scratches.

No matter how gentle you are with the Band, seeing that it is on your wrist, it will be bumped and dragged across hard surfaces. If you don't use a screen protector, the display of your Band will scratch easily as we have already shown.

Seeing as I wear the device on the inside of my wrist with no screen protector, it was only a matter of time before the device scratched. Consider this your warning that the display will scratch very easily.

4. Proprietary charging cable

The Band uses a magnetic charging cable that is proprietary to Microsoft. This means that if you want another charging cord to keep at the office, you need to buy it directly from Microsoft.

The reason behind this choice, per Microsoft, is that if they would have gone with a USB solution, it would have impacted the device's ability to be water resistant. The magnetic cable is easier to use than a microUSB cord but at $20 a piece, they are not cheap.

5. Fitness first, everything else second

If you are buying the Band hoping it will be the best smartwatch on the market, this device is likely not for you. Based on how Microsoft is marketing the device, the focus is on your health and everything else is an added bonus.

Notifications work on the device but it is far from an optimal experience on the tiny screen. And with the limited number of apps that can be installed (although the option for turning on the notification center does help), you will always be juggling what content is shown on the band.

From a fitness perspective, the band hits all the marks you would expect and then even goes above and beyond those expectations with unique attributes like the UV sensor. If you are looking for a fitness band that does more than simply count your steps, the Band should be high on your list.


With all of the above being said, we have been using our device non-stop since we got it and the impressions are more positive than negative. The above points are intended to make sure that if you buy the Band, you know exactly what to expect to make sure your expectations are in-line with reality.

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