New Device with a new purpose

So I am still in the middle of a re occurrence. NeuroSarcoidosis, Transverse Myelitis, whatever it is it knocked me on my butt literally. I have slowly progressed from using a walker and wheelchair to a walker and a Frankenstein like unassisted walk. I am in Physical Therapy and learning a great deal and making progress.

Sometime right before this hit, I had a problem with my Microsoft Band and gotten return approval for a replacement. A great deal of time has passed and Microsoft has discontinued the Band, which I think is very sad. I loved that device. Granted when I went from WindowsPhone to an iPhone a great deal of the joy was killed. Those reasons were mostly the “smart” part of the device, the activity tracking and the associated web service were still exceptional and I will miss them.

So as I mentioned I am in Physical Therapy and I started to feel better, at least at times. I want to monitor this, gauge my progress, push myself. Like my Lumia devices I found you could do this with an iPhone but making sure I always had it in my pocket was less then optimal. Even with the FitBit app you can create a device that uses the iPhone sensors. Don’t get me wrong this still served the purpose but I was looking for more.

Microsoft Band is not an option and I am no marathon runner, heck I have not been able to run a 5k run since the first onset over ten years ago so I don’t need a high end device. I did some shopping and I found myself back at Fitbit. Yes I have to admit that I looked at the Apple Watch but I am nor ready to throw down that kind of money and not being a hater but the feedback I have encountered indicates to me that it needs improvement and I am certain it will improve over time. I received a Fitbit Blaze and it is a nice device but I still prefer an actual wristwatch and I have several, I was looking more for a device I could wear as a watch but primarily a band I could wear on the other wrist. I used a FitBit flex before and until the Microsoft Band I was happy with the device to include the app and web service, and the social network to help me keep moving.

fitbit-charge-2-unboxed

So I have been wearing a FitBit Charge 2 for a few days now. This version is a nice combination of convenient form factor and functionality. It has only been a few days but I have to say the device is a great value. It will take a few more weeks before I post anything of detail about this device but so far I am a happy customer.

NOTE: I mentioned the social factor component of the FitBit service. Peer pressure, contests, etc are a handy component, that extra push when feeling lazy. Issue is it only works with other FitBit users. Interested in competing with friends or just the general community you might want to check out Inkin.

 

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Band 2

So Microsoft announced a bunch of new devices, Surface 4 Surface Book yada yada yada. The one that caught my attention was the Microsoft Band 2.
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I have blogged about my experience with the original version and the new features made it a natural upgrade, well aside from the price.

The original Band served me well and became my watch, so many watches collecting dust on my dresser now, as well as my activity tracker. I liked the device because it was my watch, a good activity tracker and then add the ability to interact with text messages and get the calendar notifications. Most of the day I have my phone in my pocket as I listen to podcasts, with the Band it could stay there and I was still able to interact with notifications.

Eager for the new model, well I added and removed it from the cart a few times because of the price but eventually pressed the buy, a pre-order. Watching the order status and hoping for an update… it shipped, then it sat then it went back to where it shipped from, in the meantime colleagues of mine received theirs. Uggggh.

Calling Microsoft and FedEx just furthered the confusion. I thought about cancelling the order and just going to the local BestBuy and picking one up but held off.

Finally in my hands or should I say on my wrist. The device is certainly an upgrade in terms of looks and feel. I do have to say the sizing of these things is not an exact science. I probably needed to go to a Microsoft store and done a real fitting but that just isn’t convenient for most. I went with the Large because I was using that size with the original model. Large does fit for me but barely, so I will wonder how accurate the heart rate monitoring is as I use it.

The look of the device is great, a little geeky and a little stylish. As with the original you can place it in a mode where it is always displaying the time, hmmmm a watch acting like a watch. The clasp is functional and looks good, there is an upgrade there. After a few months there are no blemishes or sratches, another upgrade. On the original it would get white marks on the rubber of the face, easily fixable with a Sharpie but something you couldn’t ignore. The Band 2’s more flexible strap and curved structure do make for a nice fit.

When I received the device I was still a WindowsPhone user. Nice and seamless connection and operation.

The interaction with the device did not change which was nice because it was already well thought out. Some differences where additions not changes, such as how you acknowledge calendar notifications.

A new update has come out and I have to get into that but sadly I have not gotten on my bike or hit the Bowflex in a few days so that will be a later post. The new Band tracks stairs climbed. A small thing but this was a frustration I had going back to Fitbit when they removed it from the Flex.

So for all of the talk of Windows Phone not having apps… for a few reasons I moved from WindowsPhone to an iPhone. Wow do I miss two Band specific apps. fanband for starters (no Powershell logo on my Band is very saddening), there is a windows app alternative but then your Band has to be paired via Bluetooth to that computer so I have gone without so far. Then there is  “Clear My Band” which is a very simple utility but something I used several times a day. The Microsoft Health app on iPhone is nice and effective but the daily use going from a WindowsPhone to a iPhone is just missing something.

Another cool upgrade is the mode. So before you picked workout, run or bicycle tile to start a training session. I have to say I ignore the analysis the Band does for my Bowflex workouts. I understand why but still frustrating after a gruelling workout to be told it was a Light or Maintaining workout. Now when you select the dumbell tile you start a workout, there are options. I need to test that not to mention get back to working out 🙂

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Yeah not a big fan of the iPhone camera but this image shows the Band interaction to select a workout type.

Back to apps, I really miss Gym Builder and have not found an iPhone app that compares. That leads me to another post and something I have to look into but… one reason I stuck with the band is the software and service. The Microsoft health dashboard is great. I wish it had the social feature that fitbit has, hey seeing your friends stats can be a great motivator. One of the new features of the Band and the service is building workouts. In the past you could select from some pre-defined workouts but I am an old dog stuck in old habits. I have tried to build a workout and use it. I am still learning but it is pretty cool but I am not sure I want to interact with my band that way so we will see but that the feature is there and could replace some apps (which sadly with an iPhone you have to buy without trying) is enticing.

 

What’s new.. so much

I have been away for quite some time… and really don’t have much time for this… but I want to get two new “What I am using” posts but to test this new WordPress app (still trying to get the new LiveWriter working) here is a quick blurb. First post I am working on is the new Microsoft Band and the other one… hold on yeah it’s an iPhone. The quick statement for this post is, I love the Microsoft Band (1 and 2) but pair it with an iPhone and it really gets boring, IMHO. For all of the chatter about no apps, wow do I miss the apps I used on WindowsPhone (hmmmmm I sense another post on that one).

Kicking the tires #microsoftband

So I have had a chance to test this device in the last few days. Obviously still not at 100% my testing has been limited but with that said I am really liking this device.

First test was a quick bike ride… a very quick ride. Actually two, as I realized quickly I had not done spring maintenance on the bike after a long winter, had to ride back home and fill the tires… Then a quick run with the bike. The band asks if you want to use GPS.. nice… the data when I was done was pretty detailed… a map which included location but also a color code of how fast in certain areas, then the grade changes (not much on this ride but I really like this feature) and all of the heart rate stuff.

Next was my preferred exercise method, strength training. I went down to the gym set my band into exercise mode and did a quick, but spirited, workout. The information again was what I would expect. How hard I was working and how well my body was recovering. Granted currently the recovering is a little more important to me considering all that has happened the last week or so, but even when healthy this is a great indication of your physical conditioning. Another workout last night, this one a more established routine and done using my old friend the Bowflex. Tracking the Aerobic and Anaerobic results was very interesting. Sure I did know without the use of a device that I got in a pretty good workout for someone who was just laid up in the hospital, but the numbers are interesting and something I look forward to tracking as I progress.

Then there is this news which makes me even more excited about my decision to go with this product. You can see there is a great deal of technology in this product and as expected it appears it is not just released and forgotten, even for a Gen 1 product.