To say I’m a fitness-tracker fanatic would be a bit of an understatement. As I mentioned in November’s column, I’ve been using a Fitbit for almost three years. In the last few months, I’ve also had a chance to play with a Misfit Shine, a Jawbone UP, and a Samsung Gear Fit. When Microsoft abruptly announced its new Health Band last week, I had one in my hands within 12 hours.
You might ask why I’m so obsessed with these gadgets. The Fitbit helped me lose weight; what else could I possibly want to monitor? First of all, there are plenty of studies that show people that lose weight tend to gain it back, so I’m really diligent about watching what I eat and making sure I still get a decent amount of exercise. My goal is to walk about 5 miles a day (usually along a trail near my home in Newcastle), and an accurate fitness tracker is critical to help me make sure I’m counting all the steps I take. I’ve also become obsessed with my sleep; some nights I sleep like a rock. Other nights, I wake up 12 times. Is it correlated with my daily exercise? What I eat? If I take a shower before bed? If my husband gets a cruddy night of sleep, too?
The Microsoft Band promised to answer these questions, and more – such as if there are certain times a day I get stressed, which means I should take a “breather” before having that weekly conference call with a client. After wearing the band for two days, a few things became clear; it provided better metrics than any other fitness tracker out there, but it also was the most ugly and uncomfortable.
It also either worked too well, or not well enough. The band syncs with iOS, Android, and Windows phones (duh), so I was getting a buzz on my wrist with every email, tweet, and notification center. This was doable when working at home, but at a recent lunch with a client at Lot 3 in Bellevue (I’m addicted to their grilled cheese and tomato soup), I actually had to take the band off to focus on our conversation. Of course, when I needed it to work on my hike this past weekend to Rattlesnake Ridge, the GPS didn’t even reach beyond the first half mile up the mountain (though it did keep counting the steps).
I really want to love the Health Band (I really, really do) but it ultimately comes down to the fact it’s a very early version of something that will be great – but isn’t yet. It’s clunky and actually hurts to wear, leaving imprints where the sensors touch the inner wrist. As the holidays approach, I’ll be more inclined to take it off during parties and galas. Unfortunately, that means I’ll be less likely to put it back on — rendering what it currently does very well (counting steps, tracking my sleep) useless.
While Microsoft promises great things with this device – and I can’t wait until they deliver – for now I’ll stick with my tried-and-true fitness-tracker favorites. At least those work when I need them to, and let’s face it – have managed to incorporate form and function. I may be a gadget geek, but I’m not willing to forsake comfort and fashion just to have the latest and greatest technology – especially if it just doesn’t work.