When we originally reviewed the Microsoft Band, we felt it was more a proof of concept than an actual consumer product. We liked the potential of Microsoft Health as a cross-platform service that went beyond fitness to track your lifestyle for a more comprehensive picture of overall wellness. But we found the hardware to be lacking in one key area: comfort. In particular, we described it as "an ergonomic nightmare," and we weren't alone in our assessment. PC Mag called it "wildly uncomfortable" while CNET compared it to a shackle or handcuff.
However, while the critic response to Microsoft's first fitness tracker has been rather lukewarm, consumers have come out in droves to tell us of their own positive experiences with this new wearable. We certainly found the Band ambitious, but we didn't think it would be this contentious: While our own review gave it an Engadget Score of 65 (out of 100), the user review average currently stands at 8.8 (out of 10). And plenty of you left comments to tell us why it ranked so highly with you.
As a tracker, the Band was well-liked, with Spineless finding the sleep function "amazing, even though you have to tell it when you are ready to go to sleep." Not everything worked perfectly, though. Civan93 says, "The GPS antennae are too small, so it takes forever to get a signal." He also had issues with it counting his steps while driving or on the subway. ChillEDog even had to return the Microsoft Band to the store due to a faulty heart rate monitor. Indeed, Spineless felt it was "more of an activity assistant" than a fitness tracker, and kehoz says that it's a "great personal device, but a poor fitness tracker." He says he would have returned it already if it were just a tracker.
"I wouldn't call it a fitness tracker; it's more of an activity assistant."
However, the user experience generally left a good impression, with jtovar liking how intuitive the physical controls are and ssaaxx says that the "simplicity and friendliness of the UI is a blessing." But even then, not everything was a match made in heaven. Ionothanus thinks that a few of the apps "are slightly less than intuitive," and DRGDC was "disappointed that alerts will pile up on the Band and not be cleared when they are read/cleared on other devices such as my phone." Despite that niggle with the notifications, the ability to receive alerts on the Band might have been one of the most-loved features of the device, with kehoz finding them "really, really useful."
However, users who like to view and analyze their stats walked away unsatisfied, with jtovar noting that "data collection is great, but right now Microsoft does not really give you the ability to do anything with this data." And ALEXSWLI, who mentions he works for Microsoft, laments that the "only way I can analyze the data is to look up the data night by night and punch it into a spreadsheet on my own."
But despite the Band's plethora of features and a friendly user interface, PC Mag notes that "none of that matters if you can't stand wearing the thing." And our users certainly weighed in about how they felt. Or rather, how it felt on their wrists.
Many users reported feeling uncomfortable when they first got it, with kehoz noting it's "a bit clunkier than I would like and can get caught on my jacket cuffs." CAL127 also found it "a bit bulky at first and it won't fit under tight hoodie sleeves," but he also said that after about a day "you will forget it is there." Many compared it to getting used to a watch, with onetwright feeling "it disappears as much as any wrist wearable does" and civan93 finds "I don't even notice it 90 percent of the time." Ionothanus says that it's uncomfortable only if you wear it wrong, and says that despite your natural instinct to cinch it tight, you shouldn't, because "fetishists and felons wear handcuffs this way." Instead, if you "adjust the Band to be worn loosely as you would wear a watch, it's suddenly just as comfortable as one."
"It's built very well, but I wish the screen were as scratch-resistant as my phone."
Not everyone was a fan of the ergonomics, though. Xler8r says that the charging port caused allergic reactions, and "it was only comfortable when facing down (which isn't super useful since it scratches when it's down)." A highly scratch-prone screen was an issue for many users, with xler8r noting the screen mars "super easily with very light use," and civan93 says his screen is "pretty well thrashed." Microsoft does provide a free screen protector, but civan93 feels the scratching issue could have been easily fixed by recessing the screen a bit. The Microsoft Band is well-built otherwise, with boykodaniel reporting that his only had one scratch on it despite him "constantly hitting the Band on something as I'm working" in an R&D lab. Agkremper even beat it up "pretty bad" while doing yard work "and it still keeps going."
The Microsoft Band's battery life is about two days -- short for a fitness tracker, but not bad for a smartwatch. User reactions were highly dependent on what they expected out of the device, with jtovar calling it "good enough" and calpdx saying it's "adequate unless you want to use the Band for sleep tracking on a daily basis, then you essentially have no time to charge it." Ionothanus disagrees, saying that "if you can't find 30 minutes a day where you are sitting in one place and can plug in the band, buy two, because you're too active." Mnm20 just "incorporated charging into my daily schedule so it doesn't cause much disruption in my usage."
Ultimately, few users encountered any issues that would be considered dealbreakers. Even minor issues they chalked up to being typical of a first-generation device, with CAL127 saying that though it is "not perfection, it is on the right track." Dholster feels it "is a great device" for the price. Jtovar says the Band has "a lot of potential, but it definitely is a first-generation device," while Gmaimone looks forward to "how MS will evolve the next iteration." But even the Microsoft Band as it currently exists has left a lot of users pleased with their purchase, and ionothanus simply calls it "a magical experience."