This year’s updated version of the Microsoft Band is sleek and more stylish, but what else does it offer other than an updated design?
Microsoft has taken note of the less than exceptional design of the Band it released last year. The previous fitness band suffered from the awkwardness of having a flat, rigid display, not a whole lot to offer in the way of aesthetics, and a sometimes unresponsive touch screen display. With the Band 2, we can put a check mark by all three of those issues, but let’s look into what they’ve not just fixed, but added first.
For starters, the Band 2 comes equipped with a barometer sensor to measure elevation. Hikers and bikers should be pleased. Microsoft keeps the software up to date in the Band 1, so the two versions should be quite similar in that respect, but MS will include some new features for golfers to monitor their game. No, not an automated golf-clap, it makes use of the sensors to give you info related to your swing, the distance from hole to hole, and more.
Cortana, the Band’s dear automated assistant, gets a boost and upgrade. She’ll be smarter and more helpful all around, so don’t be shy. You can disable her though in case you two don’t get along.
The Band 2 can measure something called VO2 Max, which indicates how much oxygen your body can consume while exercising strenuously. Normally, if you wanted to find this metric out, you’d have to be manually hooked up to a machine with sensors attached to you through a bunch of wires. Using algorithms, Microsoft’s Band 2 enables you to track this using just the heart rate monitor.
The material of the wrist band has been improved for added comfort. It’s a bit softer on the wrist, and feels more natural. The curvature of the slightly larger 32mm x 12.8mm, 320 x 128 pixel display (the original Band measures 33mm x 11mm, 320 x 106 pixels) also makes it more wearable. Protected by Gorilla Glass 3, the AMOLED display should be more durable and significantly more responsive to touch.
The silver metal lining of the clasps and edges of the display lend the Band 2 a big hand in terms of fashion. It’s attractive new design will arouse friend’s curiosity.
How much functionality does this flashy fitness bling have? Well, just like the old one, you can gather health and fitness data from a broad range of categories, which will be automatically collected in Microsoft’s proprietary Health app. Don’t have a Windows phone? Don’t despair, the app is available on iPhone and Android as well. Just like the first one, data includes sleep monitoring, calorie counting, distance traversed, heart-rate info, and much more. You can receive notifications from your phone as well of course.
An hour and a half’s battery charge will power the new Band for 48 hours, which is reasonable but not impressive compared to other fitness bands on the market. It’s not very water resistant either, so make sure to protect it if you get stuck out in the rain.
The updated Microsoft Band 2 currently costs around $220 compared to roughly $110 for the original Band, and is currently sold online.
All in all, Microsoft has given us in the Band 2 what the first band was missing and more. It’s fashionable, versatile, and presents itself as a formidable challenger for this year’s other high-end fitness bands, such as the Samsung Gear Fit 2, or the Moto 360 Sport.Check Current Price on Amazon