The $199 Microsoft Band looks to grab a significant share of the relatively young wearable technology market just in time for the holiday shopping season.
The Microsoft Band, the first wearable device for the company, has similar functions and style with most activity trackers that have already been released into the market. However, with a few unique features, a price tag that makes it more affordable than most smart watches and the potential to appeal to a wider audience, Microsoft seems like it is taking a novel approach compared to what Apple and other tech companies are doing.
The first difference between the Microsoft Band and the Apple Watch is that Microsoft's wearable device is not being sold as a replacement for the wristwatch. The device, which will keep track of the user's activity and sleeping patterns, was designed by Microsoft to be worn the whole day on the user's less dominant hand. This is already a significant difference with the Apple Watch, which was designed to serve as the user's sole wristwatch and is seen as a fashion item as much as a piece of technology.
One more important feature that sets the Microsoft Band apart is that it works across several platforms. While the Apple Watch will only work with Apple devices and Android Wear smart watches will only work with Android smartphones, Microsoft Band's corresponding platform Microsoft Health will be available on any smartphone running on iOS, Android or Windows Phone.
The Microsoft Band also has a few unique features, including the ability to track the wearer's heart rate. The activity tracker also has a UV monitor, which will be helpful to users that have sensitive skin, and a GPS feature, which can track the wearer's route when running, without the need to connect the device to a smartphone.
The Microsoft Band also features guided workouts to assist its wearer on how to further optimize workout routines and, for users of Windows Phone devices, the ability to access the Cortana smart assistant entirely through the wearable.
The price tag of almost $200 for the Microsoft Band is not cheap, but it is more affordable than the Apple Watch, which starts at $350. The price puts the device in the higher end of the spectrum for activity trackers in the market, but it is still a good deal because it has several smart watch capabilities when it is paired with a smartphone over Bluetooth.