Microsoft Band to be back in stock at U.S. Microsoft retail stores this Saturday Jan.3

Microsoft-Band---official-images

For those of you looking to score a Microsoft Band you may be in luck this weekend.  According to Windows Central, US Microsoft retail stores are set for a resupply this Saturday January 3.

This applies to US retail stores only and Online Microsoft Stores will still be out of stock for the time being.  Windows Central provided a photo in which an email sent out to Microsoft Store staff says the following:

“Customers in our email database will receive an email announcing Microsoft Bans availability this Saturday January 3 to drive traffic to our stores.  To support the intended increase in traffic over the weekend stores will receive additional inventory of Microsoft Band Friday January 2”

So there you have it, if you live near a Microsoft Store and are looking for a Microsoft Band this may be your chance.

Source: Windows Central

[UPDATE] Want a Custom Start Screen on Your Microsoft Band? Pimp It!

Update – December 15, 2015 – We’re happy to report that the Pimp my Band app developer has confirmed to us on Twitter there is an update with great features coming coming soon.

If you are one of the lucky ones to have scored a Microsoft Band here in the US then you know this is an impressive device. Bristling with sensors and sophisticated abilities, like App Notifications, Cortana integrations and Band-specific Apps, it’s a highly functional and useful device.

Nice, but this could use some pizzazz
Nice, but this could use some pizzazz

One thing it isn’t though, is particularly attractive. It has a minimalist, Utilitarian design that is similar to many less capable fitness bands, and stands in complete contrast to what is expected from the upcoming Apple watch which is much more about form and less about helping you live a better, healthier life.

Still, Microsoft has tried to allow for some customization of the Me Tile display in order to allow you to make your Band pleasing to YOUR eyes. You can choose between 10 Colors (plus 3 Black with a different colored stripe) and 12 different wallpapers out of the box – a healthy start.

But what if you are used to putting your favorite photographs on your device displays? Well it’s been hinted that this would be possible, however the still somewhat limited interfaces available for the Band (basically the Microsoft Health App) have not allowed this.

"Like me, You Need a Dragon On Your Band. Admit it!"
“Like me, You Need a Dragon On Your Band. Admit it!”

Besides, what would you be able to do with such a small display, right? It’s only .43” x 1.3” inches, so there would seem to be little worth doing with it. Considering that a lot of the available space is understandably taken over with text, particularly if you enable the “Watch” function, it might seem not worth bothering. And what about the display resolution? Surely such a small and utilitarian device would not have a very high resolution, the kind that would make a photograph a useful background. After all, Microsoft didn’t include any photos in the display choices, and their not shy of loading such photos onto Lumias are they?

Looking a bit at the display specs, you get a hint that photos might not look too bad. The Band has a 320 x 106 ppi display. That gives it an overall resolution of 240 ppi. That’s not exactly High Def video, but its higher than the 3rd Gen MacBook Pro (227 ppi) and almost as good as the 4tth Gen iPad (264 ppi). In more MS terms, it’s the same as the current Lumia 530 (245 ppi), way better than the Lumia 630/635 (218 ppi). You have to climb up the Lumia Ladder all the way to the 700 top get a better resolution (312 ppi)! And the full color TFT LCD technology used in the display is no slouch either. Clearly, this was built with the capability to do more than a simple geometric pastel background.

"Much Better than that Kid kicking the Soccer Ball"
“Much Better than that Kid kicking the Soccer Ball”

After looking thru all this I became interested in customizing the displayed image on my Band. As a semi-pro Photographer I have a large library of personal images I rather like, and all my capable electronics immediately have the manufacturers’ stock backgrounds replaced with ones of my own I find pleasing. The inability to do the same with my Band was a little irritating, particularly once I realized that it should have the capability to do a good job with an image of the correct proportions.

So I was very excited to discover that an App to do just this, “Pimp My Band” was just released into the Windows Phone Store. It’s a very simple, easy to use App that does just one thing, allow you to crop (the original image is untouched) and upload photos from your Windows phone to your MS Band Me Tile.

"It's a Start"
“It’s a Start”

Upon opening the App it connects to your Band and shows you an image of it with your current Me Tile displayed. Tapping on the image opens your photo library on your Windows Phone. You can swipe up or down, left or right as usual in order to find a photo you like. Tap on one, or press the camera button on the bottom if you would rather take a new photo. After selecting the picture you wish, the App will move on to the next step.

You are then presented with the photo you selected, which is scaled to fill a frame of the dimensions of the Band’s display. Using you finger you can then slide the photo up and down to frame the photo as you would prefer to look on the Band. When you’re done, tap the checkmark on the bottom of the screen. You are then taken back to a page that looks like the one you started on, except that there is a “Save” icon at the bottom.

"10, 9, 8, 7..."
“10, 9, 8, 7…”

Thumba_2014-12-14_02-49-46

You tap on that, the screen dims and it report that it is “Changing your background” and the familiar moving dots fly across the top of the screen while the data is uplinked to your Band. Meanwhile your Band screen indicates that it is syncing with the App. Once this is complete, which takes 10-15 seconds, and then a splash screen shows up confirming that he screen background has been changed. Tap the “OK” and you are done! That’s it!

 

If you like texture, now you can have it.
If you like texture, now you can have it.

I’ve played around with the App for a few days now, uploading dozens of images. I’ve found it to be fast, predictable and stable. Only once did it seem to hang for a bit, then reported a failure and suggested that my Band wasn’t connected and I should verify that Bluetooth was on and my Band paired. I checked, and everything was fine. I killed the App, reloaded it and all was well. I’ve not seen an error again, which is a pretty good track record for a Bluetooth data transmission. I’ve demonstrated it working from about 10 feet away, but not sought out its limits. It’s certainly reliable enough to allow you to update the display from your chair while your Band is charging on your desk. Oh, and I checked, it works while your Band is charging.

"I have a thing for Leaves. Now you know."
“I have a thing for Leaves. Now you know.”

In terms of image resolution, I’m actually very impressed with how good photos look on the Band. Of course taking megapixel images and reducing them to a (cropped) 320 x 106 pixel image scaled down many times can eliminate many image quality issue, but at the same time the downscaling can be done well or badly. In this case it’s exquisite – so far I cannot detect any artifacts in the resulting backgrounds on the Band. Color replication is more than acceptable, and to my delight, the black levels on the display are excellent, regardless of whether the brightness is set to high or low or automatic.

"NOW I've got my Badass Band on"
“NOW I’ve got my Badass Band on”

The real challenge is picking an image that will look good cropped and overlaid with the text on the Me Tile. If you have the Clock option on as I have, a lot of the left side of the Me Tile is dominated by white text. Best not to put your Wife’s face in that area, or a bunch of white clouds either. So choose your photos with care, but with Pimp My Band, it’s so easy and quick to change backgrounds that it’s no bother, really kind of fun actually to change to a new one until you’re happy with the new look of your Band.

wp_ss_20141213_0001I have only a few quibbles with PMB. At the moment the colored stripe on the right side of the Me Tile cannot be changed from within the App. If you want to change it to go better with your photo you have to go back to the Microsoft Health App, change it, which will also change the background, then return to Pimp My Band and reload the Photo. This may be a limitation imposed by Microsoft, but if not it would be a good thing to improve in the next version. Sometimes the taping on the image is not clearly called out, it’s just referred to as “below”, which could be called out a bit more clearly as there are other action icons in the bottom of the page at the same time. These are small issues that could easily be tweaked and shouldn’t cause anyone to wait before trying the App.

Pimp My Band is available in the Store for $0.99, and its well worth the Buck!

Download Pimp My Band for Windows Phone here

BandSalesGate: the (Semi)Final Chapter

The stealth launch of the Microsoft Band will probably go down in History as the most successful, and occasionally baffling, new product launch in Microsoft’s history. If you’ve been sleeping in a cave for the last few weeks here’s how it unfolded:

"Bands Away!"
“Bands Away!”

After months of rumors pointing to Microsoft developing a SmartWatch, or a Fitness Band, out of the blue an App appears on the iOS Store for the “Microsoft Band”. Within minutes similar Apps populated the Android and Windows Stores, and at 12:01am the Band was offered for sale on the Microsoft Online Store.

If you hadn’t been so lucky as to be looking at the all this unfold online you were unlikely to have bought a Band as they sold out online very quickly that day.

The great reviews the Band garnered, combined with its being sold out on line, and having limited availability in Microsoft Stores, led to much speculation on the internet that the Launch had taken place with an unusual, maybe, unprecedented, small amount of stock. Many voices speculated that Microsoft did this intentionally to make the Band look like it was more desirable than it was.

Now, here at MSPR didn’t agree with that, but the clear mismatch between the supply and demand made the question of launch volume worth looking into.

About two weeks after the launch I was told by a MS Service Rep for the Band that they only had 5,000 on hand at launch. He was quite certain, but we would not take the word of a single Service Rep for granted, so we reached out to MS for confirmation. They replied twice, once to say they would not comment, and the second time to try and give a bit of perspective. As we reported earlier, we were told that:

“we don’t officially share or comment on specific numbers but, so you’re aware, we have built and have sold well beyond 5,000 units.”

"Uuuuhhhh... I Think I Read That Right'''"
“Uuuuhhhh… I Think I Read That Right”'”

So we ran the story, in which we at no time stated that Microsoft claimed to only have 5,000 bands at launch. In fact, we were very clear that this was a statement from a Service Rep, and the Official Microsoft position was quite different.

Certain other websites who picked up our story, apparently read our Article before they had their morning Starbucks, because they incorrectly claimed that we did state there were only 5,000 Bands at launch, then following in our footsteps, they also contacted Microsoft, and got the same answer we had already published, but presented it as if it was something new they had dug up themselves.

"Hey You, Yah the WC Guy. You'd Agree We Were Here First, Right!"
“Hey You, Yah the WC Guy. You’d Agree We Were Here First, Right!”

Besides ‘discovering’ that more than 5,000 Bands had been sold, in the same sense that Columbus ‘discovered’ a continent with inhabitants that had already been there for 40,000 years, and visited by Europeans at least half a millennium before, what other sites missed in all this was that this statement was made two weeks AFTER the initial launch, so you could read it to mean that the amount available at launch could have been anything, but that two weeks after launch, the total of those available at launch and those built and sold after launch exceeded 5,000.

Since the situation was still upon to interpretation, we reached out again to Microsoft and asked them to clarify, once and for all, the number of MS Bands available at launch, or at least, to be unambiguous regarding whether it was more than 5,000. They told us this:

“… correct. I was referring to numbers available at the time of launch”.

"Building As Fast As Possible'
“Building As Fast As Possible’

So there we have it. Microsoft has unambiguously stated they had well more than 5,000 Bands available at launch, just as we originally wrote. So from now on, we will have to wait for some Financial statements to try to learn what we can about sales numbers. Let’s just leave it that certainly Microsoft would have loved to have had more on Launch day, and you can be assured that somewhere, people are working very hard to bring more Bands to the legions of fans clamoring for them here in the US. Given the number of people in other Countries where it is not yet available who are also clamoring for it on line, any that they can make between now and the end of the Holliday Season, is likely to be snapped up quickly.

 

Woman wants to use her FitBit fitness tracker data in court

fitbit-flex-xlIn what appears to be the first court case of its kind, at least in Canada, a woman who was involved in an accident four years ago is looking to present the data from her FitBit wearable health tracker to show “how her physical abilities have been limited since the accident, with data showing that her activity levels are now lower than the average person of her age.”

The woman’s lawyers from law firm McLeod Law think they have a good chance as they plan to present the device as a reliable and trustworthy information.

Data from such devices has never been tested in Canadian courts and it will be interesting to see how the judge, if at all, will find this sort of evidence and if it holds any legal grounds.

“It’s an interesting tool that the plaintiffs are using. They’re voluntarily giving over a lot of private information that this woman has collected about her health and her fitness,” says Civil litigation lawyer Matthew Pearn of Foster & Company. Pearn also adds “It’s an interesting tool that the plaintiffs are using. They’re voluntarily giving over a lot of private information that this woman has collected about her health and her fitness.”

Fitness trackers are becoming more popular and are containing more and more sensors and provide for ways to collect some very personal data about the user’s heart health, sleep patters, diet, weight, mood, etc. If this data can be used in courts, it potentially opens up a swath of legal questions on how to “balance the user’s privacy and the relevance of the information in a legal proceeding, such as a personal injury lawsuit” according to the report.

Although in this ace the FitBit data is being submitted voluntarily as it could help the plaintiff win her case, it is not too far out of reach to imagine a day when courts can size such data or request summons from the technology supplier/data collection services.

For instance, Microsoft’s Band was recently released and it contains ten sensors including a heart-rate monitor, GPS and temperature sensor to name a few. The data from the Band, as well as many other fitness trackers is sent to the cloud where third party applications and services can (assuming with the user’s permission) analyze and use the data to help the end-user live a healthier lifestyle. With all the data being recorded, one should definitely keep in mind that nothing is 100% private and confidential forever.

Will wearables such as FitBit and Microsoft Band eventually become “black boxes” for the human body? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Source: CTV

Today's online stock of Microsoft Band sells out in 15 minutes!

Microsoft-Band---official-images

The Microsoft Band has been back in stock today for online orders, but sadly it sold out again and this time in 15 minutes to consumers on first-come first-serve basis! We don’t know how many Microsoft Bands were brought back in stock today, but we’ve reported earlier that it would be a limited number once again.

Microsoft Band has been in short supply since the  initial launch and due to this, many people are selling them on eBay for rather high prices-some of them upwards of $500.

Microsoft stores are taking down names to notify consumers when the Band becomes available again, but we’ve heard reports that these lists are endless as many consumers are eagerly waiting for Microsoft’s new wearable device.

Must read: How Many Bands Did Microsoft Have at Launch? Would You Believe 5,000?

Microsoft has reported earlier that they will be receiving regular shipments of the Band throughout the holiday season, but we don’t know if these will be in large quantities so we suggest you order as soon as the option becomes available.  We will keep you posted if any new regarding new shipments comes in so stay tuned.

Microsoft's online store to receive a limited number of Microsoft Bands Tuesday

Microsoft-Band---official-images

For those of you waiting to get your hands on Microsoft’s newest wearable device, you may be in luck this Tuesday, but you’ll have place your order right way.  The Microsoft Store website will be selling the Microsoft Band at 1PM Eastern Time, and quantities will be limited again.

“Limited availability this Tuesday, November 18 at 1:00 PM EST. Get yours while you can, available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last.”

Microsoft expects to have more Bands arriving throughout the holiday season so if you happen to miss out on Tuesday, you’ll have plenty of chances to get more.

The Microsoft Band is set to be a hot item this holiday season, and we’re curious if Microsoft will end up releasing sales figures for its wearable by the end of the year, as the software giant still has hasn’t officially disclosed any official information on the topic.

However,we did end up speaking to a Microsoft Band support rep and the number they gave us was quite surprising.

Source: Microsoft Store

Microsoft Wasn't Lying About Battery Life For Their New Smart Band

Oh it gets great gas Milage. Trust me!
Oh it gets great gas Milage. Trust me!

One of the vexing aspects of modern wearable electronics is that they are electronic. Hence, they require batteries, and batteries have finite capacities. We’ve all seen and read of the claims and counter-claims about this phone or that one’s battery life, and in many cases have found that such claims are about as accurate in the real world as a Hyundai mileage sticker in the dealer’s showroom.

Your mileage may vary indeed.

So when the Microsoft Band burst upon the scene two weeks ago the question of its battery life was of concern. Surely a device keeping track of up to 10 sensors including GPS would need a huge battery to keep it going, and where was there room in the Band’s sleek packaging?

MS Band w Batteries LabeledWell it turns out that Microsoft has been very clever, packing in not one but two batteries into places you might not have expected. The wrist band contains two batteries, one on each side of the wrist, that also serve to ‘grip’ the Radius and Ulnar bones in a form-fitting cradle that keeps the Band from slipping around the arm without having to be too tight.

So, two batteries, but what about those sensors? Well Microsoft has released a bit more information about the clever power-sipping scheme they have devised to make optimal use of the Band’s sensor capabilities while maximizing its endurance.  In the case of the heartbeat sensor, it is turned on and off at intervals that vary depending on the activity and setting of the Band. It is turned on a lot when you are running, less often during the day, and even less while you sleep. In each case a useful heart rate profile is captured, without wasting battery life on unnecessarily high resolution. Clever.

First CarBut hopefully, not too clever.  It would be of little consolation if the resulting device was too limited by its electrical frugality to be effective for its intended use. So far, the MS Band is getting rave reviews for its functionality, so the only question would seem to be, what about those battery life claims?

Well Microsoft told us to expect 2 days worth of battery life in typical use, which included a run with GPS activated and sleep monitoring.  I’ve been wearing my Band for 10 days now with a use profile very much like the one Microsoft suggested would be ‘typical’. To be frank, I actually use it at least as much as a smartwatch, receiving notifications, Texts, Alarms and Reminders all to my wrist, with the Haptic feedback on the “High” setting.  Throw in occasional Cortana use as well and I’m demanding a lot from it, with Bluetooth enabled 24/7.

"Seems a Bit Excessive"
“Seems a Bit Excessive”

In my experience so far, Microsoft’s claims are quite accurate.  Unlike certain car companies, Microsoft’s claims that the Band will last 2 days have been completely in line with my experience. On days where I have charged the Band fully at night, the battery holds between 60-40% at the end of the day.  Running it for two days flat takes the battery down to 10%.

Ten days and one user is hardly a statistically valid sample but at least so far I’m happy to see my Band delivering on the battery life Microsoft claimed.

Microsoft hummerNow if only they made cars…

 

 

 

Well, maybe it’s better if they stick to electronics.

Microsoft Band Gets An Update – But It's For Another App's Notifications

microsoft-bandIf you’re one of the lucky ones to have a sold-out Microsoft Band on your wrist when you get to your computer or tablet and open up the Band syncing software you may think you’re in for a treat – an update is waiting for you!

I happily ran through the update procedure without any issue, just follow the onscreen prompt to connect your Band and it’s really as simple as that.

I couldn’t detect any changes to the Band, and the Build: 1.1.1933.0 09 R was the same as before, so I contacted Microsoft Band support to ask was was updated.

It turns out that the update was not to the Band per se, but rather was related to an app that accesses the Notification Center and sends a notification to the Band.

When an app on your phone wants to send notifications to the Band, it has to be modified to do so, as well as the software on the Band has to be modified to accept it.

The Service people tried to find out what app was involved, but apparently it’s only possible to do so indirectly. If you’re interested in finding out, on your Windows Phone, open up the Store and then tap the three dots on the bottom right corner, select “Downloads”, then swipe right to “History”.  There you should see a list of the apps that have been downloaded or updated recently.

In this case, one or more of these apps have been updated to send Notifications directly to the Band.  In order to receive the Notifications, the Band has to update its list of acceptable incoming notifications.  So that’s what the ‘Update’ on your Band was about. And with the popularity of the Band, I expect we will be seeing more of these “Updates” in the future.

When Microsoft does update the Band firmware, we’ll be sure to let you know!

Ordering at Starbucks with the Microsoft Band!

If you’ve taken delivery of your new MS Band, or picked one up at your local Microsoft Store, you will have received a $5 gift card from Starbucks and there’s a good reason for that. Starbucks is a launch partner for the Band, with their own dedicated App pre-installed on your new toy. Using the card is as simple as going to the Starbucks Site, opening your account or registering for a new one, adding the card to your account, and you’re all set. You can also add value to the card by credit card or PayPal, and enable an autorefill option should you wish.

"Our Motto here at MPR"
“Our Motto here at MPR”

Well, I was getting a bit draggy after lunch here today, time shifted from the daylight savings time clock change and staying up late shooting the unboxing video the other day, so I decided I’d try out the Starbucks App and use my $5 on a BIG cup of coffee! Once you have registered your card, opening your Starbucks Band App will get the ball rolling automatically, so Band on wrist, I straggled out to my local Starbucks to get caffeinated! Opening the App is as simple as pressing the Power Button to wake the Band up, swiping right to the Starbucks symbol, and tappingSBucks App Logo on MS Band on it.

This will open up the App which just displays your card number as a bar code. The display keeps this in screen for about 15 seconds, and given how fast the process is you might as well hold off on this until you have made your order. When my turn at the counter came, I received a couple of nice surprises. I was holding my phone and activating the camera to photogra

Did you think I was going to let you buy your coffee on MY Account?
Did you think I was going to let you buy your coffee on MY Account? 

ph the process when my Barista spotted my oh so subtle banana-yellow Lumia 1020 and said:” Oh! Is that a Windows Phone? I’ve been seeing a bunch of them and I think they’re really cool.” Coming only a few weeks after the launch of the new iPhone the recognition of my Lumia was a nice indication of the increasing presence of Windows Phone here in the US.

“Yes it is.” I said, “and it is a really great phone, but the coolest thing I have is actually this.”, pointing to the MS Band on my wrist. “Oh! Is that the new Band thing? That’s so cool. We got a Memo about it today, you’re my first. Can I see it?” So a small group of curious Baristas and Customers began craning their necks to see the Band in action. “Sure”, I said, “Can I use it to pay first?”

"And He waveth His hand, and Lo! Caffeine was Delivered!"
“And He waveth His hand, and Lo!                                            Caffeine was Delivered From Bondage!”

And so I tapped the Starbucks App, the Bar Code appeared, and I turned the inside of my wrist (Yes, I’m an “Innie”, not an “Outie”) at the scanner. My Barista hit the button to activate it, it picked up my code with a discrete beep, and it was all over. Coffee paid for, people began quizzing me about the band and looking it over.

Now, ordinarily, I love being a quasi-Ambassador for most Microsoft products, but in this case,

"Is that the Large size MS Band you're wearing?"
“Is that the Large size MS Band you’re wearing?”

I was unprepared for the questioning and almost fawning over my wrist that insured. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a good-looking, ok, a GREAT-looking wrist, which leads the eye seamlessly to my large hands (Hello Ladies!), but I can’t remember the last time I was asked to trot it out for a crowd of gawking strangers with lustful longing in their eyes. OK, yes I can, but that’s the stuff I write about for another Site.

"You have no idea the risk you're taking"
“You have no idea the risk you’re taking”

In this case, I had to struggle a bit to retain my composure and answer their questions patiently with some degree of accuracy. Didn’t these people realize I hadn’t had my daily coffee yet? This was not my most sociable hour and being besieged like those guys in the Hai Karate commercials from the 60’s was something I just wasn’t quite ready for.

But I persevered, answered their questions, and prayed my Grande Skinny Latte would arrive soon, with a large-bore IV needle so I could handle the onslaught. Sure enough, the coffee arrived, I gulped it gratefully, and strolled out of the store with the warm embrace of caffeine spreading thru my brain.

"Fantastic! But didn't I order this with an IV?"
“Fantastic! But didn’t I order this with an IV?”

So there you have it. Using the Starbucks App to claim your free coffee via your new MS Band is a quick and easy process, and one that may serve as a great sign of things that may come as other companies develop Apps for the Band, making various activities and transactions as easy as this was. Just make sure you’re ready to be the center of attention for the next few weeks until this high-tech jewel become everyday.

It’s a burden, but someone has to wear it.

Microsoft Band Unboxing & First Impressions Video

Microsoft has just entered the wearable market with a bang, and their take is rather interesting. The Microsoft Band is a wearable fitness tracker and smart watch which they say will make you a healthier person.  Microsoft wants to create a way to help you stay healthy and change your life for the better with providing useful information to you through the data that Microsoft Band is able to capture.

Here’s our quick unboxing and first impressions of what may be the start of something big in the wearable market.