A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced that it was bringing its health- and fitness-focused Band wearable to the United Kingdom, in its first international launch since the device went on sale in the US last year. Pre-orders have been open for the Band in the UK for some time, but today, the device has officially gone on sale.
Priced at £169.99, you can pick up the Band direct from the Microsoft Store, or from one of the other leading UK retailers that have committed to stocking it, including Amazon, Currys PC World, Dixons Travel, Harrods and O2.
The Band performs many of the functions that consumers might expect of a wristbound wearable, including call, text and email notifications, social media updates, calendar synchronisation, and even the ability to pay for your coffee down at Starbucks. There's also Cortana integration, helping you to keep track of stuff like news alerts, stocks and weather, as well as being able to set reminders and take notes on the go.
- Optical heart-rate sensor
- Skin temperature sensor
- Galvanic skin response
- Capacitive sensor
- UV sensor
- Ambient light sensor
- 3-axis accelerometer
...and it's also splash- and sweat-resistant - but not completely waterproof.
Sleep tracking and 24-hour heart-rate monitoring are among the many features that Microsoft hopes will appeal to health-conscious buyers. Microsoft is especially proud of its Guided Workouts feature - whether you're completely unfit and want to get yourself into slightly better shape, or you're a fitness fanatic that loves to train, guided workouts are available to help you to improve your fitness over time.
For its UK rollout, Microsoft has partnered with leading non-profit health care provider Nuffield Health to develop a range of guided workouts for the Band. Nuffield told Neowin last week that it has worked hard to offer workouts for all fitness abilities, so even if you're a beginner with limited experience of working out, you'll be able to start with the basics and build up your fitness over time.
If the workouts aren't your thing, you can also use the Band to track your regular jog, run or cycle, including GPS support. Leaving the GPS on will impact upon your battery life, but under normal conditions, you should get around two days of use before the Band needs to be recharged.
Everything is connected to Microsoft's Health platform, which the company aims to eventually develop into a one-stop shop for all of your health monitoring needs, including actionable data and recommendations to help you improve your health and fitness over time.
The Band is compatible with Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 devices with Bluetooth 4.0, Android 4.3/4.4 devices with Bluetooth 4.0 and iOS 7.1 and 8.x.