The new Microsoft Band: More comfort, more tech, and more data

The new Microsoft Band adds another sensor while also improving the fit and finish. It's a fitness buff's data dream and works with iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile.

microsoft-band-2.jpg
(Image: Microsoft)
Microsoft announced several new exciting products yesterday, including the Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, and Lumia 950 phones. One other new device that interests me more than the others, because of my affinity for wearables, is the new Microsoft Band.

I purchased the first Microsoft Band last year, see my full review, the day it was released and since then have used it off and on with my Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone devices. As I mentioned in my review, the Microsoft Band has a dizzying amount of sensors inside and offers more than any other fitness band available.

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The new Microsoft Band offers even more than the first generation model with a more attractive, refined design that is also intended to provide a more comfortable fit. It is available for pre-order now from the Microsoft Store for $249.99 with a 30 October estimated ship date.

Microsoft Band 2 improves on the first generation Microsoft Band by providing a more flexible strap, 48 hour battery life with new charging system, Gorilla Glass 3 display, and a curved 320x148 pixel AMOLED display. There is also a new sensor inside.

The Microsoft Health website and dashboard have also been greatly improved since the first Microsoft Band launched so you can view and manage all of your data from the comfort of a big screen. This was listed as one of my cons in my review last year.

The only thing that concerns me a bit about the new Microsoft Band is that there is no high water resistant rating. That said, I've taken my current Microsoft Band out running in the rain without issue and I don't swim so this new Microsoft Band may be perfectly adequate for my needs.

Specifications for the Microsoft Band 2 include:

  • Band material: Thermal plastic elastomer silicone vulcanite (TPSV)
  • Display type and size: 32 x 12.8 mm AMOLED at 320x128 pixels
  • Battery life: 48 hours, GPS use will lessen
  • Charge time: Full in less than 1.5 hours
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Supported phones: iPhone, Windows Phone, Android

ms-band-tech.jpg
(Image: Microsoft)

There are 11 sensors in the Microsoft Band 2. While this is very impressive and blows away the competition, 10 of these were in the first Microsoft Band as well. A barometer has been added to the new Band. The barometer adds the ability to measure elevation, which is a huge deal for me as that motivates me to take the stairs more often and over a long period of time can contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

  • Barometer
  • Optical heart rate sensor
  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • Gyrometer
  • GPS
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Skin temperature sensor
  • UV sensor
  • Capacitive sensor
  • Galvanic skin response
  • Microphone

You can use the microphone to speak to Cortana, but only with a Windows Phone device. While Cortana is also present on Android, it is not supported through the Microsoft Band.

I placed my order for the new Microsoft Band this morning. One of the first things I plan to test is the ability to connect my GPS run data with RunKeeper. The current Microsoft Band supports this, but doesn't bring in the GPS mapping data and I hope the new Microsoft Band and Health system supports full export and sharing of data.

The new Microsoft Band is not designed as a smartwatch, but as a health tracking device. While it can serve both functions, I am pleased to see Microsoft focusing on the health aspects with the vast array of sensors present in the device.

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