Review: Microsoft Band Smartens Wearable Tech

A couple of months ago I attended the grand opening of the Microsoft store in Dallas. It is the largest one they’ve opened, and so of course the biggest would have to be in Texas. The manager and staff were enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about the many Microsoft products that are now available for you to test drive in-store. While there, the one that caught my attention was the Microsoft Band. They generously gave me one to try and to see how my husband and I would like it. This is Microsoft’s entry into the smart-watch, Fitness band market. It is aptly just called the Band because it turns out that it’s a bit of both.the-bandThe Microsoft Band can connect via Bluetooth with either your Android, or Apple smart phone and displays your texts, tweets, messages, and even the weather. If you happen to have a Microsoft windows phone, you can do even more with it. It’s limited to just display when used with my iPhone, but still convenient when my phone is in my pocket. For me, it serves mostly as a fitness monitor. When used in tandem with the Microsoft Health Cloud app that I down loaded on my phone, there’s quite a bit I can keep track of. It costs $199 and packs an impressive list of sensors. There’s an optical heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyrometer, GPS, ambient light sensor, skin temperature sensor, UV sensor, capacitive sensor, galvanic skin response sensor, and a microphone. It measures common metrics like steps and heart rate, and calculates some second order metrics like sleep quality and calories burned.Microsoft_Band_LifestyleMonitoring my activity and sleep provide me the best opportunity to fight the effects of the aging process which most of us worry about. Last night, I slept for 6.5 hours and awakened 4 times. This is only an 85% sleep effectiveness rating. I am feeling a little tired today, and tonight, I will be making a conscious effort to get more sleep. With the feedback gained, I can also try different sleeping positions and room temperatures to reach a more optimal rest pattern. These are things that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t think of doing if I didn’t have the great feedback I get from my Band. I have also begun setting goals for how many steps I walk in a day, and I am more likely to take the stairs just because I know I’m monitoring steps.microsoft-bandThe Band is a sleek looking device and I get comments from people all the time about it. It’s comfortable to wear, and over time, I don’t even notice it’s there until I feel the vibration alerting me to a new message. It has taken a little getting used to wearing it with the face on the underside of my wrist, but it is easier to read due to the horizontal display. I wish the battery lasted longer between charging, and I wish I did not have to take it off to charge it. Other than that, I really like everything about it. Personal health tracking is only getting more and more popular, and it seems everyone is getting into the market. With my Band, I have both smart watch and fitness capabilities, and I love it. I have to go walk now, or I won’t reach my 7,000 steps today!

Dallas Summer Musicals brings The King and I to Dallas

thekingandiDallas Summer Musicals continues their 75 anniversary season with their current production of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I.  Like last year’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, DSM is producing the show themselves.  This exciting new production features a revamped script, timeless songs, and a new physical production with an entirely fresh interpretation of the musical.  This is a great musical for both adults and kids.

If you’re not familiar with the story of the musical here’s a short summary: East meets West in 1862 in the country of Siam when a very proper English widow, Anna and her young son arrive at the Royal Palace in Bangkok to tutor the king’s many children and wives. The King, is considered to be backward and a barbarian by Westerner standards and wants Anna’s assistance in changing his image. Through Anna’s teachings and devotion to the King’s family the two grow to understand and respect each other in a unique and touching love story. The quizzical king and the English tutor develop a bond that transcends their cultural differences.thekingandimusicalBroadway veteran Rachel York, stars as Anna. If you shut your eyes you would swear that Julie Andrews herself is on stage, she’s that good. She has an incredible voice and has a delightful chemistry with the King who is played by Alan Ariano. The classic songs were a delight to hear again and made me want to sing along with them. The two actors who played the forbidden lovers were showstoppers when they sang “We Kiss in a Shadow”. The sets were fresh and colorful as were the beautiful costumes. One of my favorite parts of the musical is the extremely creative Jerome Robbins ballet, “The Small House of Uncle Thomas”. It encompasses the humor of the story and the exotic nature of a country that most of us Westerners can’t understand but appreciate. I would go see the musical again just to experience this performance again.

Did you know? In 1895, the second revival of The King and I opened at the Broadway Theatre, where it ran for 191 performances. It won Yul Brynner a special Tony Award for his 4,525th performance in the role of King.

The King and I continues through April 5th at Fair Park Music Hall, 909 First Avenue, Dallas, $98-$108.  214-346-3300, dallassummermusicals.org

The King and I JackieAs a former season DSM ticket holder, I am very excited about this year’s 75th anniversary line up of shows because it bring to town several new and classic shows that we haven’t seen in Dallas.  Tune in for Real Posh Mom Reviews for the upcoming shows at DSM:

Coming up next is The Illusionists, April 7-19, 2015.  This bestselling touring magic show is a mind blowing spectacular showcasing the jaw-dropping talents of seven of the most incredible illusionists on earth.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, June 9-21, 2015

Dirty Dancing, June 23-July 5, 2015

Pippin, July 7-19, 2015

Live Nation Will Open The Music Factory in 2016

Last night at the House of Blues, Live Nation Entertainment, the world’s leading live entertainment company, announced that it will open an all-new, state-of-the-art concert venue in Irving, Texas.the-pavilion-at-the-music-factory-indoor-theaterThe Pavilion at The Music Factory lifestyle center, will open in Spring 2016 and will play host to world-class artists! The Pavilion will be the perfect anchor for Irving’s highly anticipated new entertainment and restaurant complex known as The Music Factory. It was Irving that decided it needed to have an entertainment-destination development such as The Music Factory. Live Nation looked throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth before landing in Irving as a regional destination. The 17-acre site sits adjacent to the Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas has proximity to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, State Highway 114, State Highway 183, Interstate 35E and Interstate 635. The proximity to roadways wasn’t the only appealing aspect, he added. The Pavilion at The Music Factory also will be located near rail stations on the newly completed DART Orange Line, include 4,200 dedicated parking spaces and 15 valet stands.Irving Music FactoryThe innovative new venue in Las Colinas will convert from a 4,000-seat indoor theatre to an 8,000-person capacity boutique open-air pavilion! Can’t wait until it opens – live music just got bigger and better in DFW! The convertible concert venue gives Live Nation the ability to bring in a wide variety of concerts ranging from A-list headliners to growing artists by using electronic doors that fold up horizontally before being lifted vertically at the back of the venue to open up in a panoramic view to the grassy lawn.
the-pavilion-at-the-music-factory-outdoor-open-air-pavilionThe live entertainment company plans to hold 60 to 70 concert events at The Pavilion at The Music Factory each year. The Pavilion gives Live Nation the ability to round out its venue portfolio in the region, which is the fourth largest metro area in the United States. The Pavilion at The Music Factory is scheduled to open on April 1, 2016. Live Nation plans to begin marketing shows at the concert venue in fall 2015.

12 Days of Christmas at Dallas Arboretum

Arboretum12DaysofChristmasCelebrate the holidays at the Dallas Arboretum like never before with this $2 million centerpiece exhibit entitled The 12 Days of Christmas featuring an elaborate collection of 25-foot Victorian gazebos filled with the charming costumed characters and whimsical animals that are made famous by the beloved Christmas carol. Each gazebo is encased in glass and extravagantly decorated on all sides to provide a dramatic, three-dimensional experience, and will feature mechanical parts and festive music that will assist in bringing the characters to an even more life-like state.GazeboEnjoy the .75-mile walk through the garden exhibit, as you witness these handcrafted gazebos spread across a winter wonderland.Dallas Arboretum 12 Days of Christmas Mansion.jpg2During the day, visitors can enjoy the lavishly decorated DeGolyer Estate, filled top to bottom with a collection of Byers’ Choice Ltd. Christmas Caroler figurines. This exhibit runs from November 26, 2014 – January 4, 2015 | Daily | 10AM-4PM Visitors can also stroll the gardens to view seasonal plantings and enjoy a variety of family-friendly activities.ArboretumGazeboDuring the evening, the garden will remain open for extended hours for The 12 Days at Night, where the beautifully illuminated gazebos will be showcased for magical nighttime viewing. During this time, visitors will be even further immersed in the Victorian-era holiday theme as they enjoy live carolers and holiday themed treats.

The 12 Days of Christmas daytime exhibit is included with general garden admission:
Adults | $15 non-members
Seniors | $12 non-members
Children ages 3-12 | $10
Children under 3 receive free admission
Parking | $10 at the gate | $5 online only
Member Parking | Free
Member Admission | Free

Other Holiday Events at The Arboretum

Special Weekend Holiday Festivities
November 29-December 21, 2014 | Saturdays and Sundays | Noon-4PM
Enjoy visits with Santa, reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Holiday Tea
Starting November 28, 2014 – 11AM and 2PM daily
Enjoy an elegant, three-course holiday tea for a special Christmas memory for those 13 and older. Prices range between $47 and $57 and include parking and admission to the garden. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 214.515.6511.

Make this a new Christmas tradition for your family; it will be a truly magical experience!

Microsoft Opening in Dallas

RPMMicrosoftStoreMicrosoft opened its newest and largest store in the nation last weekend, November 8, 2014 in NorthPark Center in Dallas. The opening marked the 106th Microsoft store and the 10th in Texas. “NorthPark was a place we have wanted to be in for a long time,” said Store Manager Mike Williams. “We just couldn’t find the right deal but right now is the perfect time to be here.” The 5,323 square foot store is located between Nordstrom and Macy’s and not too far from the Apple store.Microsoft openingThousands of people were lined up early Saturday morning for the official grand opening ceremony that started at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. The first 2,500 people in line for the ribbon cutting ceremony received a pair of tickets to see Tim McGraw and The Band Perry perform live at 1PM. Some people camped out in the mall’s parking lot in order to be the first 100 in line to win a Meet and Greet with performer Tim McGraw prior to the concert.microsoftstoretexasopeningOn hand for the opening ceremony were Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone Darren Laybourn and Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins. As part of the grand opening, Microsoft donated a software grant to community organizations more than double the size of its usual amount. The company’s technology grants totaled $2,125,000 and checks were presented to representatives from the following organizations:

MicrosoftProductsThe store offers an assortment of products including Windows 8.1 desktops, tablets, laptops, Windows Phone devices, Xbox One, Office 365, Surface Pro 3, and W HP’s Sprout.  Also available are Microsoft Surface Pro 3, a PC with built-in project screen and touch pad, only available in 20 of Microsoft’s stores, and Microsoft’s Band, which has various capabilities including GPS, heart rate monitoring and sleep quality tracking. The latest smartphones including Microsoft’s Lumia line and Blu Win HD, which can load SIM cards from two different carriers are available.microsoft-bandThe store has a living room area, where shoppers can play with the Xbox One and try various demos, a theater, which is designated for business training sessions and special events, and its answers desk, where customers can go to check out or find more information. The store’s 51 employees have received at least four weeks of training and will keep learning from two or more teacher staffers in each store.  Customers can receive service, get recommendations and receive help with PC setups.  The store also offers free computer tune ups and free virus removals.

Since 2009 when Microsoft opened their first store in Scottsdale, Arizona they have opened 104 retail locations in 189 countries worldwide. They have welcomed more than 400 million customers to their full line and now count Dallas as one their newest and premier locations!