Surprise! Microsoft’s fitness bracelet, the Microsoft Band 2, is actually coming to Canada, unlike the first Microsoft Band which skipped a trip north of the border.
While at Microsoft’s big Windows 10 devices keynote event in New York City, I had the opportunity to go hands-on with the next iteration of the company’s fitness band. While I haven’t used the first Microsoft Band for an extensive period of time, the latest version of Microsoft’s wearable seems to solve most people’s complaints about last year’s device.
With this said though, the Microsoft Band 2 continues to walk a fine line between being a time-focused notification wearable and fitness bracelet, falling in a slightly awkward use case space somewhere between the Apple Watch and the Fitbit.
The first thing I noticed about the Microsoft Band 2 is unlike last year’s Microsoft wearable, its strap is extremely flexible, which makes the device considerably more comfortable to wear. One of the major issues with last year’s Microsoft Band was how awkward it felt to have attached to your wrist.
The strap’s material is actually reminiscent of the ultra-comfortable fluoroelastomer used in the Apple Watch Sport band, although it’s unclear what type of synthetic the Microsoft Band 2 actually consists of. In an interesting twist, the device’s battery is also now located inside the strap, which helps make the top of the Microsoft Band 2 feel less cumbersome.
The Microsoft Band 2’s display also seems to be an improvement over the original, both in terms of its screen curvature and its ability to respond to subtle button presses.
In terms of other upgrades, Microsoft has also added a barometer to the device, bringing its total sensor count to an astounding 11. The device’s technical specifications include a curved 320×128 pixel AMOLED display consisting of Gorilla Glass, as well as a reported 48-hour battery life.
The wide variety of sensors featured in last year’s Microsoft Band also make a return with the Microsoft Band 2: optical heart rate sensor, 3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, ambient light sensor, skin temperature sensor, UV sensor, Capacitive sensor, galvanic skin response and a microphone.
Still, for all its design improvements, put the Microsoft Band next to the Apple Watch or Huawei Watch, two excellent looking wearables, and it looks like an awkward looking toy. With that said though, the Microsoft Band is an extremely observant device thanks to its numerous sensors, which could help it appeal to fitness and health minded individuals.
In Canada the Microsoft band will be available for pre-order on October 6, with a full retail rollout on November 20. The device will retail for $329.99 CAD.