Microsoft Band broadens its reach

Inventory is on the way up as the $200 wearable heads to Amazon, Best Buy and Target -- and overseas to the UK.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Microsoft Band is now available in more places, in greater quantities. Sarah Tew

The Microsoft Band fitness and activity tracker is now more readily accessible.

Microsoft Band will start selling at Amazon, Best Buy, and Target on Tuesday, the software giant has announced. In addition, Microsoft said that it will boost the number of units shipping to stores as part of an effort to get more Microsoft Band units on store shelves for customers. The device was previously available only at the company's own brick-and-mortar and online stores.

And the gadget is heading to shoppers outside the US as well. Microsoft said Tuesday that it will begin taking preorders via the Microsoft Store for people looking to buy the fitness band in the UK. The device will launch in the UK on April 15 at the Microsoft Store, as well as a host of retailers, including Currys PC World, Amazon, and O2. It'll retail in the UK for 170 pounds.

Microsoft Band first hit store shelves in October and only in the US. The device, which costs $200, was available in limited supply as part of a "phased approach" by Microsoft. The wearable features an all-day heart monitor, tracks daily physical activity and delivers workout stats on its display. The Band also downloads fitness instructions and, via the Cortana personal virtual assistant, lets users take notes and set reminders. It coordinates with the Microsoft Health app, which is available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

The Band is one gadget among many in a crowded market of wearables and fitness trackers, including the Samsung Gear Fit, the Fitbit Surge and Jawbone Up. The Apple Watch, which goes on sale in April, will also come with some fitness-tracking features, like the ability to monitor a wearer's heart rate.

CNET Reviews editors Scott Stein and Dan Graziano took the Band for a spin in November and gave the device three stars out of five, or a "Good" rating. They lauded Microsoft Band for having "a ton of features" and working on Android and iOS in addition to Windows Phones. However, they found that Microsoft's wearable comes with "mediocre battery life" and that its "Bluetooth syncing and pairing can be buggy."

"Microsoft Band is an ambitious first crack at a smart health wearable that throws in a ton of features and cross-platform support, but it's just not as easy to use or as functional as it should be," the reviewers wrote.

The increased supply from Microsoft should help satisfy would-be Band owners. Because of limited quantity and availability, the Band has often been sold out on the Microsoft Store. (The listing there today says the Band will ship by April 1.)

Looking ahead, Microsoft says it will deliver more updates and improvements to Band, though it didn't say what users can expect.