Jim is an accomplished triathlete and endurance cyclist, and has raced in more than 35 USAT-certified races. He is also an avid trail runner and endurance gravel bike rider. Jim is a founder of Complete Tri and frequent writer on triathlon and cycling.
The Microsoft Band 2 is an impressive alternative to, and maybe a better product than, Fitbit. Here is our review.
We are big fans of the Microsoft Band 2, a fitness wearable that debuted in late 2015. The first Microsoft Band came out in late 2014, and featured an impressive array of features and functionality even though the launch was relatively quiet. The Band 2 combines nice pricing, great performance, and a sleeker design. While not a multisport watch per se, it provides enough fitness tracking ability to be really useful for a triathlete.
We think many fitness enthusiasts will find it to be a great alternative to the Fitbit (see our comparison of the most popular Fitbits), and many will find it quite a bit more useful. Combined with a reasonable price, the value that buyers get is really outstanding.
Purpose: The Microsoft Band 2 is marketed as a fitness band, but it has so much more functionality than tracking your workouts. Meant to be worn continuously, it also integrates with a smart phone to tell users when messages are being received as well as many other integrated features.
Size: The Band 2 has a great form, much smaller and more compact than some of the other choices on the market. Compared to the Garmin watches of old, it is downright tiny. While at some times you might desire a larger display, for example when you are cranking on your bike at 24 mph, most of the time the sleeker size is only a positive. The Band 2 comes in three size options – small, medium, and large. Getting a good, firm fit is important if you want to use the heart rate functionality, which we thik most people will.
Features: The feature list on the Band 2 is impressive. It has everything you would expect in a wearable – heart rate, speed, distance, etc. – and many, many more. We especially like the UV detector, a very practical feature that can actually save lives by making you aware of harmful rays that you might have ignored. The golf swing tracker is nice, too, for those who hit the links. Pairing the Band with your smartphone allows one to know when messages come in, check alerts, and view the calendar. Those make the Band 2 move from the fitness realm into more of a cross-functional category. The screen is easy to see, bright in many settings, and we found it to be very sufficient in all situations.
Comfort: The Band 2 feels great on the wrist. It has much more flexibility than the original Band, and doesn’t have nearly the stiffness that the first version did. The sleek size allows the Band 2 to not be an anchor on the wrist, and the display still has a screen size of 32 x 13, plenty of space to give a good view. Perhaps the ultimate sign of comfort in a wearable is if you can sleep with it on. We tried wearing the Band 2 to bed at night, and had no problems with it.
Concerns: After wearing the Band 2 for a few days, we have very few concerns. We heard from others than the clasp on the band did not always work well. We did not experience such issues, but it is something that has been reported more than once. Getting the right fit is important, as having a good snug – but not tight – fit makes the clasp secure and lay flat. We also would love to see the Band 2 be waterproof – it is only water resistant. You will likely see a waterproof version come out in due time, but until then you can’t take this swimming, a slight annoyance for hardcore triathletes. We also wish that the battery life would have been extended from the 48 hours in the first version, but it is the same in the Band 2.
Value: At $250, the Microsoft Band 2 gives you a great value compared to other options on the market. The improvements made from the version a year ago are significant enough that we highly recommend it for most users. The combination of comfort and functionality give the Microsoft Band 2 a great package for the $250 price. Most users will quickly find themselves using the Band for around-the-clock purposes, not just during workouts or fitness pursuits.