Microsoft Band 2 review

Microsoft Band 2 Review

Microsoft Band 2

Microsoft Band 2

In all honestly, the original Microsoft Band wasn’t perfect, and the Band 2 isn’t either, but does take care of most of the flaws starting with its battery life. This Microsoft Band sequel is appointed with a curved color AMOLED screen coated in Gorilla Glass 3 and boasts and updated design. This new iteration of the Band tracker by Microsoft is also a lot more attractive and comfortable than its predecessor, and is packed with a new sensor – a barometer for measuring altitude.

In short, the Band 2 is everything the original Band should’ve been – powerful, connected and a joy to use. The band is backed by great software and is outfitted with a wide range of sensors including skin temperature sensors, heart rate sensors and onsite GPS. If you’re a fitness buff, the Band 2 also measures maximum rate of oxygen consumption (VO2 max), and even has a sensor to track elevation. Additionally, it even offers smartphone notifications such as email, texts and calendar alerts right on the wrist, making it an all round fitness solution.

Microsoft Band 2

Microsoft Band 2

The Band 2 is designed to track everything from golf to cycling, and you can even configure this fitness tracker to record other types of workouts/activities such as weightlifting, yoga and you can even load pre-set workouts from brands such as Shape Magazine and Gold’s Gym onto the device. The Microsoft Band 2 uses Bluetooth to sync all your data to the Microsoft Health Mobile app, from where you can view several metrics including the number of steps you’ve taken, most recent workouts, how much you’ve slept and the number of calories you’ve burned.

Highlights of the Microsoft Band 2

  • 11 onsite sensors include GPS, UV monitor and barometer
  • Email, calendar and call alerts
  • Compatible with iPhone, Android and of course Windows Phone
  • Activity tracking
  • Sleep quality tracking
  • Track calories burned
  • Continuous optical heart rate monitor

What’s in the Box?

  • Microsoft Band 2
  • Quick start guide
  • USB magnetic connector cable

Microsoft Band 2 Design & Features

Microsoft Band 2

Microsoft Band 2

Almost everything about the Band 2 Microsoft fitness tracker is changed compared to its predecessor except for its narrow, rectangular display. Microsoft has ditched the bulbous all black design and flat display, and opted for a 3.5mm curved AMOLED display. The clear screen is encompassed by metal edges, and even the adjustable clasp is crafted of metal. Furthermore, the Microsoft Band 2 fitness tracker is outfitted with a Gorilla glass protected screen complete with a metal body compared to the plastic screen on the original Band fitness tracker.

The push button release, sliding clasp is easy to take on and off and adjust on the fly, making it even more comfortable to wear the Band 2 when exercising. The Microsoft Band 2 is not waterproof, but is sweat and splash resistant, meaning you can’t take it with you in the pool or out in the rain. Charging the Band 2 is still done via the included proprietary USB cable, but unlike the original Microsoft Band where the cable attached to the rear of the display, the charging cable now plugs into the end of the strap.

Microsoft Band 2

Microsoft Band 2

What’s even better about this new charging design is the Band 2 charges from empty to roughly 80% in just half an hour and when fully charged powers the device for 48 of regular use, but less if you use GPS related features. While the original Band fitness tracker was appointed with 10 sensors, the new Band 2 comes in with 11 sensors – a barometer. With the barometer sensor onboard, the Microsoft Band 2 can measure the number of stairs or floors you’ve climbed during the day, and the altitude you gain or lose on your runs and rides.

Apart from being able to measure your skin temperature, heart rate and galvanic skin response, the Band 2 fitness tracker is fitted with a three axis accelerometer and gyroscope, a microphone, an ambient light sensor and GPS. Owing to this range of sensors, your raw data can be streamed to the Microsoft Health app on your smartphone and eventually to the Microsoft Cloud. While most of the data can be viewed on the device itself, you get a clear and detailed view on the app on your phone or web app.

One of the noteworthy features of the Microsoft Band 2 is its ability to create custom workouts and upload them to the device. After uploading, the fitness tracker can track your progress either through time or reps. The Band 2 also excels at its smartwatch skills, and provides you with text notifications, call alerts, social media alerts from Facebook and Twitter and email and calendar updates. The Band 2 also features Microsoft’s very own personal assistant Cortana, which provides you with guided workouts, workout reminders only when paired with a Windows phone.

Microsoft Health App

Microsoft Band 2

Microsoft Band 2

The Microsoft Health app is available for Windows, IOS and Android devices, and there’s even a desktop version available for your browser. The browser version of the Microsoft Health app offers a ridiculous amount of data based on the device’s recordings, and all well laid out. The app is somewhat similar to the Google Fit and Apple Health app, and serves as the ultimate hub for all your health and fitness data.

It is not only limited to streaming data from your smartphone, but also from third party apps and hardware such as Strava, Jawbone, MapMyFitness and RunKeeper. The app allows you to search build and sync workouts, analyze your GPS routes, and also compare your data with other people in your BMI/Age and Activity segment. The display of the Band 2 shows the time by default, and stroking it to the right provides you with a quick glimpse of whether the heart rate sensor is active, Bluetooth connection and the remaining battery life.

Pros of the Microsoft Band 2

  • Continuous heart rate monitoring
  • Sensor packed
  • Sweat resistant
  • Smartphone notifications
  • Highly customizable

Cons of the Band 2

  • Not waterproof
  • Battery life could be better

Final Thoughts

The Band 2 is a greatly improved version over its predecessor and many other devices in its segment. It is very comfortable to wear and offers smartphone notifications right on the wrist. Although it is not waterproof, the Microsoft Band 2 fitness tracker is sweat proof and is backed by robust software. When paired with a compatible smartphone or with the desktop version of the Microsoft Health app, the Band 2’s recordings can be viewed in great detail and analyzed.

Microsoft seems to have nailed it with this version of the Band 2 fitness tracker and if you’re looking for a fitness tracker that will track your sleep, heart rate 24/7 and also a wide range of sports, this is the device worth exploring.

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