The Microsoft Band 2 is the manufacturer’s second go at entering the fitness wearables market. The original Microsoft Band, released ayear ago, isonly available in the US and UK.
The band 2 has been restyled since the original and upgraded prior to its release into the Australian market, but at $379.95, it doesn’t come cheap.
Dubbed as a ‘smart’ band by Microsoft itself, the wearable designed for active-minded people, earns its hybrid claim via the added ‘smart’ features that place it somewhere on the spectrum between a fitness wearable and an advanced mobile accomplice, but is it enough to tempt fans of both?
At 56 grams, the band is lightweight and we found it was easily slapped on the wrist and quickly went unnoticed. This was a major plus as the wearable can measure sleep and daily exercise; two activities that require constant wear for accuracy in data.
The curved AMOLED screen features a 0.5-by-1-inch display and allowed for a comfy fit. It's available in three options - small (143-170mm), medium (163-185mm) and large (180-210mm) - and the sliding, adjustable bezel helps to find the right amount of snugness on the wrist.
One major drawback we noticed was that the band felt more natural for reading the LCD screen with the display on the inside of the wrist, yet to have the clasp facing on top, was not visually appealing.
Another issue with this, was that the material of the band scuffed and discoloured considerably, making it feel less like a high-quality product.
With the option to customise 12 wallpapers spanning 10 different colour schemes, there is no doubt the LCD screen can be made aesthetically pleasing for any user.
Features and Performance
The band is compatible with Windows, Android and iOS and boasts 11 sensors that measure heart rate, UV exposure, skin temperature, calories burnt, stairs climbed, steps taken, the GPS circuit of your run or golf circuit and sleep quality. For gym junkies, it even measures the wearer's maximum oxygen uptake.
We found the choice of customisable and pre-set guided workouts from the Microsoft Health app to emulate the feel of a personal trainer quite literally at your fingertips.
The band will tell you what exercise to do, how long for and, within the Microsoft Health app, demonstrative videos show the user proper form.
The touchscreen is responsive, user-friendly and customisable. At once, 19 apps or “tiles” can be customised including Guided Workouts, Twitter, Facebook, Messaging or Mail and more.
In particular, we found the Golf tile to be impressive. The band tracks the circuit via the GPS sensor, presents distance graphs of individual holes and keeps count of your scorecard by sensing every club swing.
However, with a 48-hour battery life, we had to admit a little bit of disappointment. If the wearable is designed to be slapped on and forgotten about whilst tracking sleep and all-day activity, having to charge it so often was frustrating.
For a person in the market to track their fitness with a couple of ‘smart’ extras, the Band 2 strikes a good balance.
In terms of its fitness design, it could be easily enjoyed by a gym junkie as much as the casual individual looking to track or improve their health.
In many instances of particular alerts that come through, especially in terms of social media customisation, you end up just checking your phone as the band is text-centric in nature and rather limited in the words it shows. Essentially, you can expect to preview a couple of lines of an email or short text message.
As such, it is best described as a hybrid; a fitness wearable and phone accomplice.