Microsoft Band – first look

Fitness smartwatch packs lots of sensors, including heart rate, skin temperature, GPS and more (sweat rate, anyone?)

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Less than two months after the launch of Apple Watch, Microsoft has just introduced its own fitness-oriented offering, which it says will track heart rate, skin temperature, position, activity and sweat rate, among other metrics.

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Microsoft Band promises around two days of battery life with the heart rate monitor on 24/7 (using optical technology similar to the TomTom Runner Cardio we reviewed recently), though GPS will deplete its juice faster.

The device is already available in the US for $199, but there’s no word yet on when it will be available in the UK. It will also be able to screen incoming calls and texts, and should work with Android and iOS devices as well as Windows Phone. All in all, not a million miles away from the new Fitbit Surge smartwatch.

The differentiator could be the accompanying Microsoft Health app (Windows/iOS/Android) which pairs up with the Band via Bluetooth and collects data including sleep quality, calories burned etc, then displays it graphically on the mobile device.

“This is just the beginning of a multi-year vision for Microsoft in the health & fitness and wearables category,” the company said in a statement to the BBC. “Nobody else has the big data or machine learning to attack fitness and productivity challenges in this way.”

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More details and first impressions when we get our hands on one…