Microsoft Band 2 [Review]

Microsoft Band 2 is perhaps the least noticed fitness band in the market, partly due to the lousy marketing effort by Microsoft and also the terrible reputation from its wearable and mobile platform. 

But after using it for about two weeks, here is the best that I could summarized the wearable.

FITNESS BAND THAT FEATURES A LOT OF SMART WATCH CAPABILITIES AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE

Microsoft Band 2
Anyway before I get into the user experience, the official price tag for the device is at USD249.99. There was occasional discount of USD75, which means it usually cost about USD174.99 (about RM723). 

Unboxing of the band 2.





As shown on the photos, the Band 2 is not a free size for all kind of wearable. There are three different sizes, the S, M and L. For me, I'm using the S size given my body frame. 

If you are wondering what size suits you, here is a quick guide that could help you make your decision:

Here's a quick guide on the right sizes for you if you are interested in the Band 2

There are some guide at the back of the cover and here's the device:




It comes with a charger...and this device could really charge and power up in no time, one of the things that I love about it given that I'll be wearing it almost 24/7.


THE FEATURES OF BAND 2

I think at this price, the features and sensors that are packed inside Microsoft Band 2 are simply awesome and it works great.

ACTIVITY TRACKING

Like all available fitness band, activity tracking is important and it's pretty accurate. Love it even more because the activities go beyond just ordinary steps of everyday life (although that's what most people will use most often) but there are the ability to track activities based on your preference such as running, biking, golf, custom workouts, exercises, and even hiking (explore). That's what Microsoft call it.

My personal view is that both the biking, custom workouts and exercise, hiking and even running are extremely useful. 

In the Microsoft Health dashboard, I could see my performance.

Here's a week of my steps record
I could easily look at my other activities such as running, hiking, etc. 

One could easily find a workout from the Band app or custom a workout using the available exercises on Microsoft health dashboard and sync it with the Band. It's really very useful as a guide especially for those workouts that involved sets. The device also track these workouts and helped to see the calories burnt and time spent on it.

CONTINUOUS HEART RATE MONITOR

The tracking device also comes with a heart rate sensor which is extremely useful in my point of view. I'm not sure how accurate it is but so far, it has been pretty great. From my workouts and activities, I could also look at how my heart rate is reacting to the intensity of it. Even during my sleep in fact.

CHECK YOUR CALORIES BURN

This is perhaps useful for people who want to monitor their diet especially those who want to lose weight or reduce their body fat level. By knowing how much calories are burn on a daily basis, one could adjust their own diet and food intake level. It's too bad that the device couldn't allow a way for one to input the calories and food taken for the day. (I believe Fitbit has this feature....so it'll be useful for third party apps or an app that allows this input to be keyed into Microsoft health dashboard or the Microsoft Band app.



SLEEP QUALITY TRACKING

This is another feature that I love the most about Microsoft Band 2. While other fitness bands also have the sleep tracking ability, it comes together with the heart rate monitor, which helps to monitor better on your sleep quality, in my point of view.


It also comes with the Smart Alarm, which vibrates when the band thinks I have enough sleep. However, I've yet to find it useful so far given the soft vibration. I'm someone who sleep very soundly and very difficult to be awaken by these little vibration. Hopefully, there will come with the ability to ring my phone so that I could awake. 

NOTIFICATIONS

The one advantage that the Band 2 has above a lot of other wearable is the notifications linked to your smartphone. It could preview email, calendar, text notifications and a lot of other app notifications that appear. It also linked with Cortana, showing some important stuff that I would like to know on the go. Love the feature so much that I don't bother it drains my smartphone and Band 2 battery as compared to when I don't on my Bluetooth all the time. 

CUSTOMIZED WALLPAPER ON BAND 2

I also enjoyed using third party app to change the wallpaper on my Band 2. 

Here is the one that I edited, with a Manchester United logo at the side.


Anyway, here are some of the photos that I took on my Band 2:

When I got a Whatsapp notification from Denise:


Here's the Band 2 checking at my heart rate...69 when I took this.


Other notification including my weather app that tells me about the weather for the day...very important especially if you are travelling to other countries that you are not familiar with.





This photo was after Manchester United drew with Stoke City. I have a Manchester United news app that updates me on some of the latest news, comments and interviews with the Manchester United football club. In this case, Herrera was not sure why Manchester United couldn't win against Stoke. (I feel the same way),


This was my custom workouts, with a total duration of 59 minutes 10 seconds.


It shows the calories burn from the work out, the peak of my heart rate and the average of it throughout my workouts. Very impressive!!



Overall, I think for its money, it's really a great wearable that I would love wearing 24/7, which I am at this point of time. One of the negative is probably the less attractive design of Microsoft Band 2, especially in comparison to those available in the market today. Nonetheless, with its features and good battery life (1 day plus even after using all these features), I'll use Band 2 over any other wearable, fitness tracker or watch for that matter.

For battery life, here's what I did....I'll took it off everyday whenever I shower (not water proof) and charge it. But I'll wear it when I sleep (to track my sleep) and other stuff. Occasionally I'll turn off the Bluetooth especially if I'm on the go to avoid my phone's battery from going down. It also helps my Band 2 lasts longer without the need to sync all the time. Overall, a very good experience. Will continue to use it for my Project Fitness until something better comes up in the market...

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