Microsoft Band 2 review: An improved but still flawed technology

Steve Hogarty
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The Band 2 is more comfortable than its predecessor

Even Microsoft (very quietly) admits that the previous iteration of its flagship fitness band was a clunky old thing, about as comfortable as wearing a Twix around your wrist. The Band 2 is Microsoft’s second attempt at designing an everyday wearable you might actually want to keep strapped to your arm, with this version featuring a curved OLED touchscreen, a sensibly positioned battery and a more flexible strap.

The result is a device that fits nicely on my tiny, bird-like wrists, one that’s comfortable enough to wear around the clock; while I’m typing, while I’m puppeteering, and while I’m high-fiving all of the orphans at the orphanage where I help the orphans. It is undoubtedly a better built band than the last one, though like most wearables it’s still far from stylish. You’ll want to keep your sleeves rolled down.

A fitness monitor first, and a smartwatch second, the Band 2 continuously tracks a host of different metrics throughout your day, filing all of your vital stats away in the cloud for you to peruse and analyse later using the accompanying Microsoft Health app.

Steps, heart rate, galvanic skin response and altitude, it will actively monitor the lot during workouts. Like Santa, it will track you while you’re sleeping. And it will take an informed guess at how many calories you’re burning while you’re awake.

As a smartwatch it’s limited to the basics. With a Windows phone you can issue voice commands to Cortana, but no matter your choice of phone you’ll get wrist-buzzy notifications from a handful of apps.

The health information it spits out is enlightening enough too, even for the chronically lazy. Did you know that drinking a load of gin before bed is bad for your sleep? Or that just 25 minutes of stomping back and forth to the tube station is an above average amount of walking, somehow?

That the Band 2 is comfortable enough to slip on and forget about means you can start to track precisely how active your normal routine is, before considering what you might do to become more healthy. Be that drinking less gin, or drinking gin much earlier in the day.

From £199,