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FitBit recently released their newest monitoring band, the Charge. They also announced in early 2015 they will release the Charge HR that includes a heart rate monitor. The newest entry into this health monitoring wearable computer devices is the Microsoft Band, which is now in the Microsoft Store for $199.99 US.
The Microsoft Band appears to include similar features to other health monitoring bands including step counting, calories burned, sleep tracking, and heart rate monitoring. Different from devices like the FitBit, the Microsoft Band is also stated to include other features such as built-in GPS tracking and UV monitoring. You can also personalize the display on the band with a background color of your choice as well as arrange the tiles to fit you choice.
If you have a smart phone, you can also use it to view text messages, see who is calling, get calendar reminders, and also get email notifications and snippets. You can dismiss messages without taking out your phone. Some of these features require a Windows 8.1 device; however, the Microsoft Band also works with iOS 7.1 and 8 and Android 4.3-4.4 (w/ Bluetooth).
For those of you using Microsoft’s Cortana, you will find that the Microsoft Band also supports Cortana features. You can get and set notes as well as interact to get news, stock, weather, and more.
The Band has a .43” by 1.3” (11mmx33mm) touch-enabled TFT full color display. It has 64mb of internal storage and works with an ARM Cortex M4 MCU processor. The sensors included are an optical heart rate sensor, 3-axis accelerometer, gyrometer, GPS, ambient ligtht sensor, skin temperature sensor, capacitive sensor, galvanic skin response, and UV sensor. A microphone adds additional input and a haptic vibration motor provides feedback.
While I can wear a Fitbit a week without charging, it appears that with its more intense screen, the Microsoft Band’s 2 lithium batteries won’t last that long. A full charge can last up to 48 hours. An 80% charge can be obtained in 30 minutes.
The health band market is once again heating up. With Christmas just around the corner, it will be interesting to see what other wearable devices are announced. Right now, the Microsoft Band is looking like it could compete.