After a royal pain in the ass trying to get the bloody thing, I thought I’d write a review of the Microsoft Band 2 and my thoughts so far. I won’t go into the difficulties I had getting it as it was purely the incompetence of another company, nothing to do with Microsoft or the product.
First points to note are the packaging of the product. I’m not going to do an unboxing video because i’m not a sad bastard, so you’ll have to do with words instead, sorry about that! But I will embed a youtube video of someone elses for you…
The box is pretty basic, very simplistic design and is consistent with Microsoft’s other product boxes at current, including the Surface. Once you slide the outer sleeve off, it reveals the band, sitting firmly inside of the packaging. It looks great, sleek and surprisingly thin. The only other thing to note in the packaging aside from all the usual bits of paper that you toss to one side, is the charger, it’s a strange thing but then you can kind of see why they had to opt for a propriotary connector and not micro USB.
The bits of paper crap that come in the box are literally that, totally useless and don’t even tell you how to setup your band with your phone. I was surprised about that and thought it kind of shows Microsofts usual haphazard way of handling things, very unpredictable.
Just don’t expect some kind of “Well done on your purchase” kind of scenario with the packaging, as it’s just built for purpose, pretty much like Microsofts ethos, which I suppose is good, but for £200 you’d like to be titilated just a little and made to feel special, but that’s just my opinion, and I’m sure I’ll get over it.
The device is noticibly well built, it’s awesome in-fact, sleek, great quality materials, closer inspection doesn’t reveal stray bits of glue or shoddy protuding seams, it’s built with care and attention, but with modesty. I say it’s built with modesty because it’s not trying to be an overpriced, pretentious Apple Watch competetor, it’s a fitness band which does EXACTLY what it was built to do, monitor your health, not boost your ego.
Comfort / Fit
I’ve seen several reviews saying that the device feels bulky and uncomofortable. Bullshit! I’ve not worn a watch in years and I hardly notice it’s there. If you feel it is a bit bulky, maybe you’re just weedy and can’t handle a few extra gramms of weight on your wrist, or you’re fat and have big slabs of meat for wrists, do some weights, go on a diet and shut up moaning, you’d probably find one of those fake child tattoos bulky and heavy.
I’m wearing the smallest one via recommendation of the sizing guide, I have it on almost the loosest setting even though I have skinny wrists, as well as not being particularly heavt built (I’m a programmer, what do you expect?), and it feels as comfortable as any watch I’ve worn. The last watch I wore was a Citizen with a metal, but elasticated strap, it would always catch on my arm hairs and fucking hurt, it would also catch on my girlfiends hair (when I had one), so yeah, and that was a high quality watch that cost way more than £200.
Now if you think the Band 2 is a “smart watch” think again, or just don’t buy it. It’s a fitness band. It will monitor your health, which is why I bought it, it won’t let you browse the internet on your wrist, and quite frankly if you want to do that then you are a bellend, use your phone you bellend!… Anyway, so yeah, it’s a fitness device, if you’re like me and you feel you need to start taking care of yourself, get one, otherwise don’t.
In terms of fitness related features, what it does is great. Off the bat it monitors my steps, the amount of floors I’ve walked up, my pulse, my sleep (this happens automatically providing you are wearing it at the time), the amount of callories I’ve burned, the amount of UV light I’ve been exposed too… There’s probably more there yet to be tapped into but that’s the general gist. After pairing with my phone I can use the Microsoft Health app to then view charts of my logged data, including my sleep. It’s bloody handy and has encouraged me to take the stairs more often, as well as to take longer routes when walking. When corrolating the data directly with your pulse, you can certainly see the benefits of your efforts.
In respect of non-fitness features, so far It’s quite limiting. It works as a watch, displays email and sms notifications, allows me to access Cortana, see who’s calling me and a bunch of other things that I’ve not used yet, such as pay for Starbucks… because I’m not a hipster twat. If you want this device for that one feature alone, I feel sorry for you.
One of the many things I read in reviews was that the heart rate sensor was massively innacurate, is it fuck, it’s spot on all the time for me. The only time I can see it failing to work is when it’s sloshing about on your wrist, if it is then I suggest you eat more pies, or buy a smaller one, what do you expect? If the thing literally has to shine a light on your veins then you’d expect to need it to fit well.
I haven’t gone jogging in it because i’m not that keen to exercise, I walk fast but have no need to don long white socks, a sweatband and spandex shorts, that’s just not how I roll, plus I don’t think the world needs to see that shit. If you want to use it while jogging, you will more than likely sweat, unless you’re not pushing yourself, the sweat on your skin will probably affect the light, but I’ve not tested that theory to know. Before I put it on, I use hand sanitizer on my skin to make sure it’s not greasy or dirty, cheap and can’t do any harm.., I think!
The step counter is also spot on, and the “flights” counter also seems to be quite accurate. I was previously using my Lumia 930 to count my steps and that worked great, this is even more accurate and very snappy when doing so, more than the 930.
So my impressions so far have been that of pleasure. It met my expectations, and as a totally cynical, misserable bastard, that’s quite an achievement. Even though it’s not running Windows 10 which I really wanted it to from a developer perspective, it’s still superb.
From a developer perspective I haven’t done anything yet, merely formulated some ideas which I’m yet to test out, I don’t really know exactly what I can do with the device as yet but am looking forward to finding out.
The battery life is excellent, it charges very quickly (< 2 hours) and will last for about 2 days. Bear in mind that’s without GPS being enabled, I haven’t used it on the Band as my phone is handling the GPS side of things.
I think you can tell from my general review that I wasn’t after a “smart watch” like the Apple Watch, I don’t want this thing to consume my life, I want it to help me, which is exactly what it’s doing. I had to enable VIP mode on the email notifications though as it was vibrating every time someone sent me junk mail, and to be honest I don’t want to be told when prince abawalljubang in Africa wants to transfer £10,000,000 sterling to my bank account.
There are certainly improvements to be made but as a fitness device, I feel it’s helping me and making me more aware of my stats.
Buy one, now… LOL!