Microsoft Band 2 vs Apple Watch vs Samsung Gear S2

What’s the best wearable device you can get?

Microsoft Band 2

Microsoft has taken the wraps off of its latest and greatest wearable device, an updated version of the Microsoft Band. The fitness tracker/smartwatch combo looks to be even better than the hit that was the original Microsoft Band, featuring improved fitness tracking capabilities and a number of new smart wearable features.

Microsoft, however, isn’t the only company that’s been working hard in the wearable market.Samsung recently announced the Samsung Gear S2 and, but if we’re going to talk about wearables, it would be hard not to include the Apple Watch, a device with fitness features Apple doesn’t shy away from promoting (there’s even the rubbery strap for the Apple Watch Sport edition that’s suited exercise).

Of course, it’s important to mention that the Microsoft Band is positioned as a fitness tracker, while the Samsung Gear S2 and the Apple Watch are both smartwatches that have some fitness features. However, each are flagship wearables with top-notch hardware and software, which evens the playing field. If you’re having trouble deciding which device best suits your needs, read on as we compare the most important features of each against the others.

Microsoft Band 2 vs Apple Watch vs Samsung Gear S2: Design

Microsoft Band 2 vs Apple Watch vs Samsung Gear S2

The new Microsoft Band has an improved design with a curved display. Generally speaking, the Band offers a simple, sporty design, including a flat black strap that hooks together with a subtle clip.

The Samsung Gear S2, by comparison, looks like a real watch. It has a round face and offers a sporty design with the band itself made of plastic, a design element that helps it flow well into the main body of the device. Some would argue the Gear S2 is one of the best designed smartwatches on the market. It’s also fairly thin, coming in at 11.4mm (0.45 inches) thick.

The Apple Watch really is one of those devices that looks better in person than it does in pictures. It offers a square display, which seems to be out of fashion for wearable devices of late, however the multitude of color and band options is certainly a plus. The Apple Watch is a little thinner than the Gear S2: it measure 10.5mm (0.41 inches) thick.

It’s difficult to compare design of a device that’s clearly a fitness band with the design of a smartwatch. It’s even difficult to compare a round smartwatch with a square one. While it really comes down to personal preference here, for a subtle fitness tracker then the Band is the best option in terms of design.

Microsoft Band 2 vs Apple Watch vs Samsung Gear S2: Display

Microsoft Band 2 vs Apple Watch vs Samsung Gear S2

The new Microsoft Band display is 32mm x 12.8mm (1.26 x 0.5 inches), a rectangular display indeed but one that seems to work great considering the device is a fitness tracker. The display’s resolution is 320 x 128 pixels.

By comparison, the Samsung Gear S2 offers a display that’s 1.2-inches across, has a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels and a pixel density of 302 pixels-per-inch.

Finally, the Apple Watch is actually available with two display options. The first is 38mm (1.5 inches) diagonal, with a resolution of 340 x 272 pixels. The second display is 42mm (1.65inches), and has a resolution of 390 x 312 pixels.

When all’s said and done, the Samsung Gear S2 has the densest and therefore crispest display.

Microsoft Band 2 vs Apple Watch vs Samsung Gear S2: Processor, storage and RAM

Microsoft hasn’t listed the processor, storage capacity or RAM on the Microsoft Band, so it’s impossible to judge it on those front.

Exynos processor, and the Apple Watch features an Apple S1 chip. It’s a little hard to compare the two at this point because of the fact that Apple doesn’t generally offer much information about its processors. As far as storage goes, the Samsung Gear S2 has 4GB, while the Apple Watch packs 8GB. Both devices offer 512MB of RAM.

The Samsung Gear S2, meanwhile, offers a 1GHz Exynos processor, and the Apple Watch features an Apple S1 chip. It’s a little hard to compare the two at this point because of the fact that Apple doesn’t generally offer much information about its processors. As far as storage goes, the Samsung Gear S2 has 4GB, while the Apple Watch packs 8GB. Both devices offer 512MB of RAM.

Fitness tracking

Microsoft Band 2 vs Apple Watch vs Samsung Gear S2

This one is a no brainer. The Microsoft Band was built as a fitness tracking device, offering GPS connectivity, a heart rate monitor, calorie tracker and sleep tracker. These features are complemented by things like an accelerometer to measure altitude and a gyrometer. Not only that, it can also track VO2 Max, which is basically how much oxygen passes through the body in the span of one minute.

Microsoft also offers a pretty great dashboard, called Health, for health tracking metrics, which will help users watch and monitor of all the data the Band is collecting and storing.

That doesn’t mean the the Samsung Gear S2 and the Apple Watch don’t have fitness tracking features, though. The Gear S2 also offers an accelerometer, gyroscope and heart rate monitor. Not only that, the Samsung S Health applications is a big part of how the Gear S2 performs fitness tracking tasks. It works in much the same way as Microsoft Health to keep tabs on users’ activity and fitness goals.

The Apple Watch is similar to the Samsung Gear S2 as to what it offers when it comes to fitness tracking, including a heart rate monitor. Both the Gear S2 and the Apple Watch are good options for anyone who want a watch with some fitness tracking as part of the overall package. However, the Microsoft Band is the device for people looking specifically for a wearable that’s first and foremost a fitness tracker.

Battery life

The battery size of the Microsoft Band isn’t official, however Microsoft claims the Band lasts 48 hours, putting it square in the middle of the pack compared to other two devices’ batteries.

The Samsung Gear S2 has a battery size of 250 mAh, with the company claiming that the device will last two to three days.

The Apple Watch has a battery size of 205 mAh, however the device seems to be more battery-intense and only really lasts almost a full day (18 hours by Apple’s measurement) on a single charge.

Compatibility

Microsoft Band 2 vs Apple Watch vs Samsung Gear S2

All of this comparison doesn’t really matter if you don’t have a smartphone that one of these a devices works with. The Apple Watch only works with the iPhone, and isn’t really meant to be a standalone device. The Android Wear-running Gear S2, by comparison, is compatible with most Android smartphones, and is available as a 3G option, which would make it a full standalone device.

Last but not least, is the Microsoft Band, which is compatible with Android phones, iOS phones, and, of course, Windows phones. As a device that works with any phone, regardless of OS, the Band has the other two beat in terms compatibility.

Price

Of course, price also plays into the decision, with the Apple Watch starting at $349 (£299, AU$499). The Microsoft Band starts at $249 (£199, about AU$347), and the Samsung Gear S2 starts at $299 (about £195, AU$410).

Conclusions

For someone looking for a dedicated fitness tracker, the Microsoft Band is the best device among the three. For someone who is looking for a good all-around device, the Apple Watch or the Samsung Gear S2 are better options. Both the Apple Watch and the Samsung Gear S2 are great smartwatches, however the Gear S2 looks a lot more like a watch than the Apple Watch.

Telkom Indonesia and Sony to form Strategic Partnership on Smart Card Systems

BANDUNG, Indonesia and TOKYO, Japan – October 15, 2015 – PT Telkomunikasi Indonesia, Tbk (“Telkom Indonesia”) – a leading telecommunications, information, media, edutainment, and services company in the Republic of Indonesia – and Sony Corporation (“Sony”) – a leading manufacturer of electronics, information technology products and component devices – today announced that they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and will partner to develop an “NFC common platform” based on Sony’s FeliCa technology, targeted at the Indonesian market. The two companies will also collaborate in order to promote the platform and encourage its adoption across a variety of industries in Indonesia.

Telkom Indonesia and Sony share a vision for smartcard systems, whose introduction they see as making people’s daily lives considerably easier and smarter. With smartcards, customers will be able to use their cards, mobile phones and devices of other shapes and sizes at various locales, such as public transport stations, retail locations, and schools.

The two companies have thus agreed to collaborate on the development of the NFC common platform, which will serve as a secure all-in-one solution platform for service providers. It will realize greater convenience across various applications, including electronic prepaid transactions, security access, and loyalty rewards services.

“Telkom’s cooperation with Sony -a leading manufacturer of electronics information technology products and key devices Including FeliCa- is expected to increase the use of NFC technologies base in Indonesia,” said Indra Utoyo, Innovation and Strategic Portfolio Director of Telkom Indonesia.
Indra Utoyo added, “Telkom has experienced and understands the market conditions in Indonesia, therefore I am optimistic through this MoU both companies can further enhance the cooperation developing FeliCa service both for the consumer and professional segments.”

“We are very pleased to have come to this agreement with Telkom Indonesia – a powerful and influential solutions company in Indonesia,” said Mr. Kazuyuki Sakamoto, Senior General Manager at Sony Corporation’s FeliCa Business Division. “We will work hard to make a positive contribution to and enhance the solutions that Telkom Indonesia provides, using Sony’s FeliCa technology. We will also leverage the wealth of experience that we have accumulated in Japan and Hong Kong, where many services – from transportation to e-payment to NFC-enabled mobile services – have utilized our FeliCa technology.”

As the first initiative under this MoU, Telkom Indonesia and Sony will work together with Trans Metro Bandung to implement a trial run for this NFC common platform, for the purposes of automated fare collection.

About Telkom Indonesia

PT Telkom Indonesia Tbk (Persero) (“Telkom”) is a State Owned Enterprise which is engaged in the field of telecommunications and network services in Indonesia. Telkom’s shares are listed in the Indonesian Stock Exchange (IDX: TLKM) and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: TLK). Serving millions of customers nationwide, Telkom with business portfolio TIMES – Telecommunications, Information, Media, Edutainment and Services, provide a broad range of network and telecommunication services, including domestic and international basic telecommunication services, mobile communications, fixed wireless as well as interconnection services used among other license operators (“OLO”). Telkom Group also provides various services in the field of information, media and edutainment, including cloud-based and server-based managed services, e-Payment services and IT enabler, e-Commerce and other portal services.

About Sony

Sony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, game, communications, key device and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. With its music, pictures, computer entertainment and online businesses, Sony is uniquely positioned to be the leading electronics and entertainment company in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $68 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2015.

Apple’s ad-blocking move causes big problems for retailers like Walmart

Did you download an ad-blocking app? Good luck buying stuff online.

When Apple  AAPL 1.81%  last week released a new operating system that permits ad-blocking extensions, all sorts of media publishers protested. But a much larger outcry may soon some from retailers and those who use their iPhones to make online purchases.

A Fortune investigation shows that an iPhone enabled with Crystal — the top paid iOS app right now – is unable to fully render the e-commerce sites of many major retailers, including Walmart, Sears and Lululemon.

The issue was first brought to our attention by Chris Mason, CEO of Branding Brand, a Pittsburgh-based company whose platform powers mobile commerce sites and apps.

“This upcoming holiday season… content-blockers are going to cause a lot of problems,” Mason says. “First, the experience for customers will be lessened. Lots of sites will be missing content, have broken links or customers won’t be able to add certain items to their shopping carts. They’ll probably just think the site is broken, but it’s really their content blocker. Second, retailers will be data-blind, or at least data-dark. It will really impact their ability to make quick judgments.”

Mason sent us a list of retailers with Crystal-related glitches, and we replicated them on our own iPhones. For example, check out this page for a pair of hunting boots on the Bass Pro Shops mobile website (as rendered on an iPhone 6 using iOS 9):

bass-crystaloff-520px

Now when the same page is loaded on the same device — but this time with Crystal enabled — the image of the boot disappears:

bass-crystalon-520px

But that’s only the tip of a giant iceberg that the USS Retail is hurtling toward.

For example, here is what happens when we went to Sears.com on mobile Safari without Crystal:

sears-crystaloff-520px

Now here is what happens when we went to Sears.com  SHLD 0.45%  with Crystal:

sears-crystalon-520px

Notice anything missing? How about everything!

Walgreens.com  WBA 0.28%  had a similar problem to Sears, when using Crystal. The homepage worked, but the Safari browser went blank after clicking the “Shop Products” link.

And, as Mason said, this issue goes far beyond just image rendering. For example, everything (mostly) loaded just fine on the mobile sites for Lululemon  LULU -0.71%  and Walmart  WMT -0.04%  with Crystal enabled. But it was impossible to add any products to the shopping cart. So if you just went to browse the pretty pictures, then there’s no problem. If you want to actually buy something, however…

Even for mobile websites that are working properly from a customer perspective, such ad-blocking technology also can strip out back-end code like Google Analytics or Adobe’s Omniture, which provide retailers with real-time insights into customer behavior. And then there is the whole matter of how retailers generate around 60% of their mobile web traffic inorganically, via online ads that Crystal and other ad-blockers are designed to eliminate.

“Retailers can work around it on the consumer side by doing a lot of recoding, but a lot of them freeze their codes on November 1, ahead of the holiday shopping season,” Branding Brand’s Mason says. “So that gives them just over a month or so to get it done. On the back-end they could use different sources of information for sales — kind of like checking the cash register instead of receipts — but it is a different process and also depends, in part, on if the sites are hosted on servers in-house or not.”

For retailers, this all presents a real and present danger. Even if only a small number of people so far have downloaded ad-blockers, there are two trends worth remembering: (1) The percentage of e-commerce being done on mobile is increasing; and (2) A disproportionate percentage of mobile purchases are made via iPhones rather than Android devices (which have allowed for ad-blocking apps for quite some time).

As for Crystal specifically, creator Dean Murphy said last night that he can remove select e-commerce sites from his app’s “blacklist,” and that he’d look into some of the examples we provided (four or five retailers already had contacted Murphy on their own, as of last night). In fact, several hours after we spoke, the Sears.com homepage was rendering properly with Crystal enabled, although we were unable to click through to many items. We also told Murphy about the Walmart shopping cart issue, and are now experiencing a similar problem as with Sears (i.e., product pages not loading at all). In short, these fixes seem to be tricky and ad hoc.

As for the back-end analytics, Murphy said that he was considering whether or not to create some sort of “tracking opt-out” functionality for users, but that he hadn’t yet made a final decision. He declined to say how many downloads Crystal has had, except that it topped 100,000 during a 12 hour promotional run in the App Store.

The trouble for retailers, of course, is that Crystal is just one ad-blocker. Another, Purify Blocker, currently sits at #5 in the App Store, and all of this is just one week after Apple unveiled its new operating system. Even if retailers reach out directly to one, they may be playing whack-a-mole. Moreover, they are entirely at the mercy of the ap

When media folks complained about ad blockers, we were called dinosaurs that had to change our business models. Does this mean, therefore, that retailers must abandon the mobile web? Or at least expect artificially deflated sales figures this holiday season? Perhaps. Or perhaps Apple will realize what it has wrought, and change its mind.