Playin’ With the Band (2 that is)

Like many of you I watched the Microsoft Windows 10 device announcements on October 6th. I was caught up in the buying frenzy that ensued and decided to order the updated version of the Microsoft Band (version 2). I received the Band 2 yesterday. This post is to summarize my initial reaction to the new device.WP_20151120_16_34_07_Pro

I have been using the Microsoft Band 1 since May 2015. My friend Todd Klindt (@ToddKlindt) picked one up for me and I received it at the Ignite conference in Chicago. I was not used to wearing any kind of device on my wrist – I hadn’t worn a watch for about 5 years so I wasn’t sure how I was going to like having a wearable on my wrist.  It took a couple of days for me to get used to the feel of it and aside from a few exceptions, I find it quite comfortable to wear.

I’ll start by saying what I like about my Microsoft Band 1. You’ll notice most of my benefits aren’t fitness related at all – I enjoy the “tech” part of the wearable as much as the fitness aspect:

  1. Tracks your steps. Does this well, enough said.
  2. Tracks your workouts. I’m not a runner, but I do use the rower and exercise bike so the ‘Workout’ app is used ALOT on my Band. During my workout, heartrate and caloric burn are the 2 key things the Band tracks very well.
  3. Sleep tracking – I’m fortunate to be a “pro-sleeper” so I don’t use this feature very much however it works great and reveals some interesting analytics on your sleep.
  4. Allows notification of email from a white-listed list of users.
  5. Calendar reminders – has saved me several appointment misses.
  6. Notifies me about incoming phone calls. (Really useful feature for me – I do not have a landline so my mobile phone is my only phone.  I don’t keep my phone in my pocket – it is often in the bottom of my purse or in another room so the Band ensures I don’t miss incoming calls)
  7. Notifies me about my Twitter activity. (Mentions, Favorites, DMs) I like this as I don’t have a lot of twitter activity throughout the day although I can see how this would quickly become overwhelming if you did.

One criticism I do have for the Band 1 is the battery coverings on the inside of the strap. It started to show significant signs of wear/peeling after only 4 months of use. They also started to pull away from the strap and I anticipate over time would come off. Time will tell if the covering on the Band 2’s battery (behind the clasp) will perform better.WP_20151120_20_07_35_Pro

 

I was generally very happy with my Band 1 and for that reason hesitated to spend the extra cash on the Band 2. However, the tech gadget girl in me was feisty that day and before I knew it the Band 2 was pre-ordered. Here are my initial thoughts on making the move and if it was worth it.WP_20151120_20_01_51_Pro


Setup

This went remarkably fast.  Its been a while since I’ve done a setup on the Band 1, but I can’t remember it going this smoothly or this fast. From initial power-up of the Band device to syncing with my Windows phone thru the Microsoft Health app it took under 5 minutes.390da144-de1a-4fc5-9fb4-400f613255f4_full

 


Physical Appearance

As you can see in the pictures below, the Band 1 (Left) is square and rigid whereas the Band 2 (Right) has a curved, flexible shape that is ergonomically designed to the natural shape of my wrist. This definitely makes it more comfortable and gives it the sleek look the first version was missing.5ded0ce2-9447-478b-bd3c-8d6ef70f58d1_full 1

This shows exactly how flexible the strap of the Band 2 is.
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Screen

The screen is beautiful.  It’s a curved AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and is quite a bit bigger than the screen on the Band 1. My recommendation is to still use a screen protector. This of course depends on use, but even though I’m not an abusive user of my Band 1 it was very scratched after 1 month of regular use. Microsoft recommends you wear the screen on the inside of your wrist. The effect of this is exposing it to things that may scratch it. For me, the biggest cause of scratches is rubbing against my laptop when I’m typing.

Picture below: Band 1 (top), Band 2 (bottom)d1f14f50-a777-4a44-8ccc-abf8a0c248bd_full 1

Here is my question to the @MicrosoftBand account on Twitter regarding scratches on the Band 2 and their response. The ‘it depends’ answer they provided tells me that a screen protector is still a smart choice.TwitterBandQuestion


Charging

Both Band versions came with their proprietary USB charging cable as shown below.

  • Band 1 (top) – approximately 1 hour from empty to full charge.
  • Band 2 (bottom) – I’m 36 hours in and other than the initial quick 20 minute charge I did when powering up the device I have yet to require a re-charge.  Nice! This indicates to me the battery life on the Band 2 is better than what I’ve experienced with the Band 1. I’ve heard from others the charging time is quicker with the Band 2 however I can’t verify that at this time.

2d98103c-691a-41fc-80ec-077f31450846_full

 


Weight

Although an almost negligible difference, it does seem noticeable to me; perhaps because I have a small wrist, not sure.

  • Band 1 (size Small): 60 grams (2.12 oz)
  • Band 2 (size Small): 57 grams (2 oz)

Interesting New Features

In addition to doing everything the Band 1 does, there are a couple of new features I’m interested in trying out on the Band 2. The elevation-measuring barometer will come in handy when hiking and the new VO2 measurement for aerobic activities will be something I’ll definitely want to track.

Still Falls Short

I’m a swimmer.  This wearable is water-resistant, not waterproof.  I have a Garmin waterproof watch I use to count laps and in an ideal world I would have one fitness device to handle all my fitness activities.

Is it Worth it?

  • Band 1 – $250 USD as of May 2015 / $99 USD as of Nov 2015
  • Band 2 – $250 USD as of Nov 2015

No doubt about it – it’s a hefty price tag.  With the introduction of the Band 2, the price of the Band 1 dropped significantly.  In my opinion, the difference in functionality between the two of them is not significant enough to warrant the difference in price and to upgrade to the Band 2.  However, I believe Microsoft has done a fantastic job improving the comfort and design of the device and that’s a very important factor to consider. I guess I’ve made my decision – you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the $150USD difference for you.

Thanks for reading.

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