Microsoft is finally ready to expand the reach of its fitness tracker and smartband to outside of North America, with the UK the next country to get the device. And because the Microsoft Band has been updated a few times since launch, adding new features along the way, us Brit's get a more complete and rounded version than was originally first unveiled.
The Band will be available in the UK from 16 April, with pre-orders now being accepted. It costs £169.99, works with Microsoft (and Nokia) Lumia smartphones, iPhones and Android devices, and Pocket-lint was invited to try out one of the first in the country for a quick test before a more in-depth review when we've lived with it for a bit longer.
Considering that it has been available in the States for a while and Microsoft claims to have sold out of its original batch, there are plenty that already know of its talents. However, us Brits are catching up in that respect so it's all new for us.
It might come as no surprise that a couple of its features are locked to Windows Phone, but they are communication applications - Cortana support being the main one - so it is still completely usable as a fitness band and much more no matter what mobile platform you own.
That includes notification alerts, calendar synchronisation and text messages, but we'll leave those functions for now as we've not had time to test them properly - we'll explore them fully in the full review. For now, it's the Band's sensors and personal training ability that immediately intrigues us.
Its design is fairly chunky with the device bigger on the wrist than others we've worn before. But there are a couple of reasons for that. First up, it is jam-packed with sensors to garner plenty of data in order to ensure your fitness plans are based on actual progress, not guesses. There is a heart rate monitor in the strap that can be set to constantly monitor your heart rate all day everyday - even when sleeping.
This is important in order to accurately judge how vigorous an activity (or rest period) actually is, which will provide a more accurate estimation on how many calories you are burning.
The other exciting and enticing sensor inside is a GPS monitor. Few if any rival smartbands are able to track GPS (some sportswatches can), which means they require a phone to be present at all times when performing an outdoors activity. With the Microsoft Band, you can go for a run or cycle without your phone and the device tracks your progress.
Also, as it knows where you are and the actual distance travelled it can give you suggestions and data while you are on the move. For example, it can accurately read your pace and give you suggestions to speed up or slow down at 1km markers.
We haven't yet had a chance to take it on a run to find out more, but there are other benefits to having so many sensors on board.
The heart rate sensor, for example, is very handy in order for you to know how effective more stationary workouts can be. And coupled with a personal workout training routine, which can be sent to the Band through the phone application, you can get personalised activities that work specifically with the type of training you need - be that weight loss or whathaveyou.
Other sensors include one to register UV light to prevent you from staying in the sun too long and one for skin temperature. And all data is accessible through the full-colour OLED touchscreen.
Microsoft is working with third-party developers too to add potential apps to the device. There is a Starbucks app, on which you can flash a barcode to pay for your coffee if you've left your wallet at home, but we're yet to try it out.
And thanks to Microsoft's traditional trait of updating devices regularly with new features - just ask Xbox One owners - you can bet the Microsoft Band will expand in talents as time goes on. It already has a new cycling programme which was added after the US launch.
Battery life is perhaps a little short for a fitness tracker - claimed to be two days between charges - but you get around a day's charge for a 30 minute blast on the magnetic charger (90 minutes for a full charge). You might have to do this while you're showering if you want to wear it 24/7, but you'll have to take it off then anyway as it's not waterproof (only splashproof).
Our nine minute plank and sit-up session was an easy way to show us some of the benefits of the device. We're now looking forward to testing it, and our bodies, in more rigorous fashion.