Microsoft Band 2 released in the UK
Thursday 19th November is the official release date for version 2 of Microsoft’s Band, which has been available to readers in the US for a few weeks now. The update includes a new sensor (that makes 11 in total now!), some new functionality and improved partnerships (including RunKeeper, the ‘MyFitness’ apps, Strava and TaylorMade).
However, the biggest issue we had with version 1 of the device was the design and this is something that Microsoft has clearly addressed head on – although the battery life is still a little low at just 2 days. From the redesign of the band so that it no longer feels quite as bulky right through to to the toughened and scratch-proof screen, which is also now a curved. All in all, a big improvement in both looks and the comfort of the device.
The Band once again includes a host of different sensors, including a new Barometer to help track your going up or down stairs (or even mountains!). The welcoming green lasers also help to continuously track your heart rate throughout the day, as well as monitoring your calorie burn and sleep stats.
With a flick and a click you can also quickly track your ride, run, walk, workout or even gold game with the specific activity tracking apps built into the device – as well as the option to use some of the guided workouts. These functions all still work without the need for your phone too, which is a real benefit to people wanting to carry the growing weight/size of a phablet with them!
The Microsoft Band has always offered a little more than just a tracker though, with the ability to have your calendar, call, email, text and even app alerts come up while you’re on the go. This now includes some voice functionality too, to allow you to quickly reply to a text on the go for example. Although this appears to only be available Windows Phone and possibly Android (so no iPhone functionality at the moment I’m afraid).
Last, but by no means least for the data geeks among us, the revamped Microsoft Health online portal allows for much deeper understanding of your data, to allow for a better understanding not just of your number, but also how they compare to the norm/others. For example, you can compare your data to other people on the platform (anonymously) to see how your perform – whether it’s by heart rate, sleep quality or just the number of steps you take.
All-in-all, Microsoft has clearly addressed the major criticism of its first foray into the tracker/smartwatch market, in redesigning the form-factor significantly and seemingly improving it dramatically in the process. Although the battery life is still a little short for my liking, at just an estimated 2 days, the functionality and range of sensors is an interesting proposition. And at £200 it’s more than some, but less than plenty of similar devices on the market today.
We’re in the process of testing the device fully, so watch this space for a full review in the coming weeks…