Four weeks with #Microsoft Band 2

I have been wearing a Microsoft Band 2 for four weeks now.  This post is a tour of the features I have been using.

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Microsoft Band 2 - Medium
Microsoft Band 2 - Large

The 'me' tile.
The 'me' tile shows the time at a glance like any good watch should.  You can also get the date, calories burned, steps taken, heart rate, flights of stairs climbed, steps taken and distance walked.

Swiping left brings up your tiles.  Maximum thirteen tiles can be pinned and three can be viewed at any one time.  Someone has just sent me a message - wooo! 
Tiles I have been using regularly in the order I have them pinned:

  • Messaging.  Lets me view the SMS arriving on my Lumia 950.  There is even an option to reply from this tile.
  • Facebook Messenger.  Lets me view my Messenger conversations.
  • Email. I get a lot of email. I can see from a glance if important messages are arriving without getting my phone out or logging into a computer.
  • Cortana.  This tile gives me regular messages from Cortana and lets me set reminders on the go by speaking into the microphone.
  • Calls. This lets me know who is ringing me with options to auto reply with SMS if I happen to be in a meeting or driving.
  • Calendar.  This is a digest of all my calendars and is very useful for seeing what is coming up next.  Notifications arrive for whatever reminders I may have set.
  • Sleep.  This tracks my sleeping patterns.  More about this later.
  • Alarms.  This tile lets me set alarms, reminders or run a stopwatch.  Useful for playing Cosmic Encounter.
  • Weather. A weekly forecast for my current location.
  • UV. Ultra violet light tracker.  Presumably useful for when I am sun bathing, but currently completely useless in the English winter.
  • Facebook.  See who is liking who.  Who's posting photos of their dinner.  Never miss a thing!
  • Twitter.  See who is following me.
  • Notes.  This is a third party app called 'Band companion'.  The notes app allows me to send notes from my Lumia 950 directly to my band.  It is the equivalent of writing notes on my hand with a biro, expect less messy.  This app also has features for remote camera shutter control and a battery indicator.
Stuff the band does but I don't use

I don't play golf.  I think that it is a massive waste of land.  In my opinion golf courses should be replaced with trees.  If we played cricket the same way we played golf we would play one over and then walk to another pitch to play the next one.  It just wouldn't be allowed.  Anyway, with that rant over, if I did play golf I would want my band 2 with me.  Not only does it know which golf course I am on using the GPS, it can also keep track of my score.

Most of my evenings are spent playing with computers, or other such geeky pastimes, but should I feel so inclined the band comes packed with apps for managing your workout, bike rides and runs.  It is not waterproof, so there is no functions for swimmers. 

The dashboard

As useful as the band is as a productivity tool, it really comes to life when you log into the Microsoft Health Dashboard.  Here you can track your steps taken or calories burned; organise workouts or compare yourself to other users.

Here was may last seven days in terms of how far I moved.  Verdict: could do better.

Here is my sleep record for the past several weeks. You can either tell the band that you are going to bed or the band will auto detect your sleep when it notices that you aren't moving very much and your resting heart rate has decreased.  I haven't had much sleep lately. Verdict: I'll catch up at the weekend.

The dashboard also gives you some useful comparisons with other people who are like you.  Here I can compare my resting heart rate and sleep efficiency with others in my age group.

Stuff the band 2 needs
I use Wunderlist a lot.  It would be useful if I could view my lists on my band.

Final verdict
Pretty awesome.  I love the health tracking element which is very useful even for someone like me who doesn't exercise much for fun.  The battery life could be improved.  I will get about 48 hours of constant use, but I'm lucky if my Lumia 950 will keep up with that.  There are some other features I didn't mention like the Bluetooth music controls which allows you to play and skip the music on your phone.  I don't have music on my phone - I keep it on my Raspberry Pi.

Plus one Geek Experience Point to Microsoft (who really don't need it) for the Band 2.

#microsoft #band2