Unveiled on 6 October 2015, Microsoft Band 2 is the second generation of smart fitness wearable Microsoft Band released last year. From a pure visual perspective, the new band has an improved design with a silver metallic finish instead of plastic in the earlier version. Thanks to Band 2’s curved AMOLED display, which comes covered with Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3, the new band fits the natural curve of your wrist more comfortably. As per Microsoft’s official blog, they have paid heed to feedback from customers to deliver a comfortable band.
Functionality-wise, all the features of the original band have been retained in Band 2, including built-in GPS mapping, gyroscope, accelerometer, UV detection and heart rate sensor.
What’s new in Microsoft Band 2:
Barometer: Barometer tracks elevation changes with precision during activities like hiking, mountain climbing, or even climbing stairs.
VO2 monitor: While running, VO2 max tracking lets you know the amount of oxygen your body can process in a minute, which gives you an indication of your true fitness level.
Third-Party Apps: Along with the apps available with the original band, with Band 2, Microsoft has announced new partnerships with fitness apps including MyFitness Pal, Strava and MapMyRun, as well as non-fitness apps such as Subway, Starbucks, Facebook Messenger, Uber, Twitter, among others.
Golf Tile: Band 2 includes special features for golf enthusiasts, including automatic shot detection, tracking golf swing and creating score card.
Microsoft Band 2 is cross-compatible with iOS, Android and Windows Phone. It also includes Cortana integration, enabling voice-based commands. To be able to use Band 2, you need to be running iOS 8.1.2 on an iPhone 5 or newer, Android 4.4 and Windows Phone 8.1 or later. Priced at USD 249.99, per Microsoft’s official blog, Band 2 is now available for purchase in the U.S. at microsoftstore.com, more than 110 Microsoft stores and select partner retailers.
Hot or Not?
What’s Hot: Microsoft Band 2 tracks every kind of activity be it running, biking or golf. In case you need to add any other type of workout, you can do that by tapping the generic exercise tile. Microsoft Health mobile app has also been updated in the Band 2 to collect health and fitness data. Using Bluetooth, it connects with your band and displays at a glance your recent workouts, steps taken, calories burnt, among others. Cortana integration makes it more than just a fitness band as with a voice command you can reply to your texts, read emails, set reminders, or schedule a meeting. Cortana also acts as your personal fitness assistant and reminds you if you miss a workout. Adding to the Desirability Quotient, integration of Cortana with apps like Uber, Starbucks and Facebook will let you book a cab, order coffee, or post a status right from your wrist.
What’s Not: The biggest downside is that you can’t use Cortana with the band if you are using an iPhone. Battery life is still short—you can use it for around 48 hours with regular use before having to plug it to a charger. If you use GPS features, the battery may drain even earlier. Per our research, 80% users feel the metal clasp is chunky. Note, Microsoft Band 2 is only water resistant and not waterproof, so you can’t wear it while swimming or taking shower.
Microsoft Band 2 comes packed with fitness tracking functionalities, making it a solid contestant in fitness tracker market. At Greyhound Research, we believe that Microsoft Band 2 has the potential to be more than just a fitness band, it’s almost a smartwatch as you can respond to messages, set alarms or get notifications from phone. Having said that, there is room for improvement in battery life and design (although improved over the last version). Also, with Cortana integration off the table, the band may not appeal to iPhone users.
Would you want to invest in a smart fitness band like this? Leave us a line (or two) to let us know.
Picture Courtesy: Microsoft.com
About The Author: Sanchit Vir Gogia is the Chief Analyst & CEO of Greyhound Research, an independent IT & Telecom Research & Advisory firm. He also serves as Chief Futurist, Founder & CEO of Greyhound Knowledge Group that operates under four brands – Greyhound Research, Greyhound Sculpt, Greyhound Technocrat and Greyhound Vivo. To read more about him, click here.
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