In the crazy world of new Microsoft — where Surfaces are now more fully-fledged laptops and Lumias turn into complete PCs — Band 2 was met with little fanfare. But getting a closer look at Band 2 helped convince me that Microsoft has something brewing inside this little wearable, but it's not quite there yet.
The biggest hurdle crossed by the second generation band is that you'll actually want to wear it. Now with a curved AMOLED display, the Band 2 is radically more comfortable than the first iteration, which had that flat display that winged off your wrists so horribly. The Band comes in three different sizes — small (143-170mm), medium (163-185mm), and large (180-210mm) — and the biggest one was actually way too big for me at even its smallest setting, so the first two versions seem like the go-to for most.
But the ergonomics of the Band 2 are still frustrating. Because of the landscape display, if you wear the band upright like a watch, you'll be contorting your neck or your wrist to see the display (see below). You can wear the band with the display on the inside of your wrist, which actually makes reading the display much easier, but then you have an ugly clasp on the outside of your wrist with no real function. With smartwatches and fitness trackers quickly evolving to be something useful and something you'd want to wear, I'm not exactly sure the Band 2 is traversing those two worlds quite as gracefully.
But the Band 2 has incredible promise. Eleven different sensors — including the new barometer than can track your elevation — Cortana on your wrist, the beginnings of third-party app integration, VO2 Max readings for serious athletes, and up to 48 hours of reported battery life during average use, the Band 2 feels like a real product where the original Band still had that air of "beta" around it.
The Band 2 is a Microsoft wearable fully realised, even if it does have a few things to iron out. You can preorder it not, and buy it from the US from October 30th. Local availability and pricing is to follow.
But you might not want to pull the trigger on that pre-order too quickly. We won't exactly know how much work that Band 2 really needs until we get this thing on our wrists for review.
Images by Michael Hession