In September of 2015 I helped a friend who was shopping for new tech. She didn't end up making a purchase, but I came home with a Microsoft Band 2.
No, it wasn't exactly an impulse purchase, I had been considering a "smartwatch" for some time. I really wanted an Android Wear watch from the first time I saw one, but I never found one that wasn't way too big for my wrist. So, I had been keeping an eye on the MS Band, and based on what I'd read I thought maybe the medium size would work for me.
One of the stops we made was the Microsoft store. While my friend checked out the tablets, I tired on a MS Band. It turned out that the medium was a bit too big, but the small was just right.
Things Went Well, For 6 Months...
It started out good. Easy to set up, lots of options to try out, and once I got the notifications to a useful level, I was pleasantly surprised at how useful the MS Band 2 is:
- I liked being able to check at a glance to see if a notification needed to be handled now or if it could wait.
- It was handy to be able to dismiss phone calls without taking out my phone.
- It was great to be able to check the time and day/date with a turn of my wrist. (Don't judge me, you try working 7 day weeks and see how long it takes you to lose track of what freaking day it it...)
- Being able to set timers & alarms was another huge bonus.
- The band's charge lasted at least a day and half, sometimes 2 full days.
- The screen was crisp and easy to read.
- I liked being able to customize the display a bit.
- I liked the freedom that came with this Band working with Android, Apple, Or Microsoft devices.
Then, one morning, 6 months to the day, I woke up to find the band was dead. But I figured, no problem, it just needs a charge.
Then I hooked it up for a charge, but the happy, reassuring little "whoohoo, I'm plugged in" buzz didn't happen. Not good.
So, off I went to the Web to see what to do. And I tried all the things. All of them. But nothing helped.
After work I stopped off at the local Microsoft Store. They also tried to revive the Band without any luck. After some discussion and a trip to the storeroom, they handed me a new one and helped get the old one removed from my account and set up the new one.
And Here We Are - 6 Months After That
The replacement MS Band 2 is still humming along nicely. Good thing, since Microsoft has stopped production of the Band, and isn't going to have a MS Band 3. Of course, that also means if anything goes wrong, there won't any chance of a replacement this time.
Will I Get Another Smartwatch?
Well, maybe. There's a lot I like about this first experience, but I do have some issues and concerns that keep this from being a slam dunk:
- The battery life on my replacement Band isn't nearly as good as my first. If I wear it all day and night without a little battery "top off" - it's almost dead when I wake up.
- The focus on "fitness" functionality is misplaced )for the whole industry, not just the MS Band). First, the tracking isn't all it's cracked up to be - fine for a general idea, but certainly not precise. Second, fitness isn't what I would want a smartwatch for (alarms/timers, notifications, phone control, time/date/date, etc. is).
- The Band is a bit clunky. Forget thinner phones, thinner bands are the future.
- Not being able to replace the battery is a bad, bad, very bad idea. This is a practice that needs to end - phones, tablets, wearable - every battery should be able to be replaced by the owner. No special tools, no "send it back" or "bring it here" or service charges involved.
- Not being able to replace/swap out the band for different colors or designs.
- Cost. It's hard to justify paying several hundred dollars for a device that seems to have about a 1 year lifespan when for under $50 I can get a really nice basic watch that will last for a decade or more.
I'll keep using my Microsoft Band 2 until it dies. After that, well, I guess time will tell...
(Oh, come one, I had to go for that one! ;-) )