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Microsoft Band 2 Review – Function Over Design


Here is WT VOX review of Microsoft Band 2, after three weeks of usage. You might be confused by the word “genuine” in our title. There is a reason for that. Most online magazines post their “reviews” the same day the company launches its product. Sometimes even a week before. Reviews? No. At best, media speculations.
Microsoft released its first version of the Band about a year ago. It is not that Microsoft wants to compete against Xiaomi, Fitbit or any other fitness trackers. Its focus is on the upcoming digital health market. Via wearables, this time.
The first Band was powerful, packing more sensors than any other fitness tracker on the market. Sensors health orientated. However, it had one flaw. It was unwearable.
With Microsoft Band 2, the company is trying to remove the “cuff feeling.” Compared with the old Band, the screen is curved, the inside bracelet sensor is smaller, the materials are premium. Quite a lot of overall design updates. There is only one way to see if it worked. Read the review below.

Microsoft Band 2 Review – Design And Specs

microsoft band 2 review design and specs
To start with, the new Microsoft Band 2 is comfier to wear. When compared with the first version. The soft band that extends from the curved OLED display is still wide when compared with other activity trackers. It has a round and smooth feel about, still, it feels heavy and big at times.
The battery has been moved down in the metal band clasp, making that part quite thick. There is a nice improvement on the locking mechanism. The smart pinch-and-adjust buckle design allows a better adjustment, but the whole band still gives off an aura of a “Fitness Cuff.”

Not only that but if you’re like me, with thin wrists, you won’t be able to wear it. The sliding rail is too short, and my bracelet can’t be adjusted. See the gallery for more pics.
Let’s check out the screen. The new OLED display had the brightness improved, but the way you interact with it is the same. You still need to press the button to turn it on and start swiping around to access and check your data. On the positive side, the Microsoft Band 2 comes in multiple colours.
The same ten sensors, available on the first Band, are now back in the Microsoft Band 2. Also, we now have a barometer. See below the full list of smart sensors inside the Microsoft Band 2.

  • Optical heart-rate sensor
  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • Gyrometer
  • GPS
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Skin temperature sensor
  • UV sensor
  • Capacitive sensor
  • Microphone
  • Galvanic skin response sensor
  • Barometer

microsoft band 2 review sensors
If you like to train on the beach, you’ll be pleased to know that the UV sensor can now calculate your exposure over time. It can display the estimated minutes over an exercise. Except the UV sensor, all the other sensors are performing the same, as we’ve seen in the first Band.
So, in the end, you are not getting a new band, but a revision of Microsoft’s digital health strategy. A plan that has been evolving over the past months.

Microsoft Band 2 Review – Performance And Software

band-organization microsoft band-2
When it comes to the software part, the interface is also similar. Same tiles and apps placed out in a row. The same UI. However, the performance is improved. There’ is less lag when scrolling and the home button is more responsive.
We are happy to see that Microsoft improved the watch face with a mode called “Rotate on.” To start, you have to choose on which wrist you want to to wear your Microsoft Band 2. Then, much like the Quick View mode available for the Fitbit Charge HR, the clock appears when you turn your wrist.
All the previous functions are here. The new Microsoft Band 2 tracks everything you can imagine. Walking. Golf. Cycling. Weight lifting or even yoga. There is also an option to download pre-set workouts from brands like Shape magazine or Gold’s Gym.
microsoft band 2 pre-set workouts
If you are ambitious, you can even customise your workout in advance, something we wish more activity trackers offer. Then, via Bluetooth, the Microsoft Band 2 syncs your data to the Microsoft Health app.
The app can then display your most recent workouts, the number of steps you have taken, the burned calories and the quality of your sleep.
Do you want to find out your average daily steps? What your resting heart rate and peak heart rate levels are? How restorative your sleep is? How all that data compares to other people like you, in your age range, with a similar body mass index?
There is a solution to that. For detailed metrics, head over the Microsoft Health on the web. It offers more options than the app on your mobile. On top of that, Microsoft Health can share your data with other health apps. In my case, the workouts I do are displayed in my Strava account. Oh, Strava is a third party app that you can use to challenge your friends.

Unlike the Apple Watch, which requires you to have an iOS device, Microsoft Band 2 welcomes everyone to the health-tracking party. The Health app is compatible with iOS and Android phones, and of course, with Windows Phone.

Microsoft Band 2 Review – Battery Life

microsoft band 2 review battery life
If you are wondering how the battery life compares with the first Band, then you will be happy to know that I was able to get three days out of my Microsoft Band 2. With all the sensors on.
The magnetic charger fits fast and is a pleasure to use compared to the old cord. With the old Band, the charger had to sit a certain way, or it would fall off. Charging the Microsoft Band 2 is quick. It takes around 35 minutes. It is an improvement from its previous hour and a half for a full charge.

Microsoft Band 2 Review – Conclusion And Verdict

microsoft band 2 review conclusion
The first Band was unwearable. It was a dong bell on your wrist rather than a tracker. A fitness tracker that you are supposed to wear 24/7. With the new Band 2, Microsoft rises over that obstacle bringing a better device. The strap is comfortable, and the clasp is now easy to use. Even the screen is bright and easy to read.
Most important, the device points towards the new generation of wearable tech trackers, the healthcare based ones. VO2 max alone is the best indicator.
Your VO2 max is considered the most accurate way of checking your cardiorespiratory fitness level. It is done by measuring the total amount of oxygen you can process in one minute.
I am sure you have seen on TV pro athletes running on treadmills with masks connected up to all sorts of wires. Those are oxygen masks, in a lab setting, as the only method finding out your VO2 max score. Well, until the Microsoft Band 2.
The software powering the Microsoft Band 2 works well and is quite polished. It is a complex fitness tracker that gives you the extra data you need. However, the Microsoft Band 2 still feels heavy, and the $249.99 price might be too much when compared with the competition.

Microsoft Band 2 Review – Gallery

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  1. Honestly get the small size. You cant complain about it being too big when you don’t get the right size. Other than that I like the honest review, rather than the hate that Microsoft products get all the time.

  2. Typo “flow” should be “flaw” in first section.