Microsoft has rebooted its popular fitness tracker, bringing us this year’s new Band 2. Packed with 11 sensors, including a heart rate monitor, a UV monitor, and on-board GPS for tracking runs, hikes, and bike rides, it’s one of the most capable wearables on the market. The Band 2 isn’t perfect, but if you can deal with the bulk (it’s huge) and the $250 price (it’s expensive), the bracelet can be purchased from Microsoft and ships within a month.
LED-powered heart rate monitor adds a welcome extra data layer to workouts and sleepy time. Curved touchscreen is responsive, making it fast and simple to check your stats or incoming phone notifications (texts, emails, events, and calls). Clasp is easy to manage; I could put it on or adjust the fit with one hand. Battery life is excellent; it lasts three days between charges. The all-platform Microsoft Health app is one of the better activity-tracker companions.
Bulk around the clasp is immediately off-putting; even after a few days of letting myself get used to it, the band still felt clunky. I ended up spinning it around, positioning the screen on the inside of my wrist—the clasp-out configuration improves the comfort, but it’s unsightly. Two-button control layout is confusing, and Microsoft probably could have gotten away with using more gestures and just one button. Switching between activities (like starting a bike ride) is a process involving too many swipes, taps, and button-presses. Simplify the design, drop the price.
6/10—A solid product with some issues