Microsoft's Band Looks Mighty Impressive
However like its only real direct competitor - the Samsung Gear Fit - battery life is going to be a big friction point for those who buy this over a more traditional fitness band.
In truth both Microsoft and Samsung have delivered something that sits in the middle ground between smartwatch and fitness band. Not quite the full smartwatch experience, but more than a plain fitness band. The big problem with this is battery life. The Gear Fit can stretch to three days without charging, but you're more likely to want to juice it up after two. Microsoft claims two days for the Band, but we'll have to see what it's like in the real world before taking that as gospel.
Two to three days without charging just isn't long enough to be better than a smartwatch - with the LG G Watch R already claiming two days battery life, whilst its so much less than the Fitbit and Jawbone fitness trackers which promise around seven days of battery life as to make the extra features a little bit pointless.
The Band does promise to make for an impressive fitness tracker though. It's loaded with sensors, including GPS for mapping runs without carrying your smartphone, and a UV sensor which could useful here in ozone layer-challenged New Zealand. Windows Phone users will be able to use voice control via Cortana on their phones, although I don't see any reason why Siri and Google Now couldn't be activated too, should Microsoft have the desire to do so.
Microsoft Health makes an appearance here as well, with the Band integrating nicely into the service, as well as supporting other exercise tracking services like MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper.
I like the look of the new Band, as I do the Gear Fit. They're both devices I might be tempted to wear as well as my watch, and if that was the category I was considering the Band outdoes the Gear Fit by being cross platform compatible.
Other than the LG though, I'm not seeing a smartwatch at any level that offers the looks and features that would persuade me to replace my traditional watch.