I had the privilege of having my MS Band 2 delivered last Friday and have spent the entire weekend wearing it… so… here are my 48-hour thoughts.
First let me start by telling you what I *won’t* be covering in this post:
- The software – Microsoft Health and its ecosystem is awesome in my opinion. You want something more in-depth? Bing for it.
- Golf usage – I don’t golf.
- Exercise usage – I haven’t exercised w/ it on, yet. But when I do I usually go w/ the guided workouts vs having it simply monitor my exercising.
- Bike usage – It’s November. In Minnesota.
Mostly what I’ll be focusing on is the physical wearability of the Band 2. However, let me start by talking about unboxing.
Overall I was pleasantly impressed by the unboxing experience. I really liked how they put things together; it was quite unique. Rather than a standard “flip open” box, it was a slide-out style where the Band was revealed in form that was dang near glass-case-display worthy, I felt.
After that, you immediately notice the difference in how the band flexes and feels. They’ve fixed the issues w/ the inside “blocks” on Band 1 and the associated points of failure; now the whole band is one large flexible strap, nothing in the middle to split apart. This makes it much more comfortable around the sides of your wrist (I’ll get to top & bottom later).
You also immediately notice the clasp. Crikey. It’s a big ‘un. I’d estimate it at 50-100% wider than the original. That goes not just for the clasp, but the whole thing. Furthermore, if you were a “small large” in Band 1, you can get a Medium Band 2; there are more variable sizes w/in the Medium (and I assume Small and Large) in the Band 2.
The next thing you’ll find is the charging mechanism. While some say they’re glad it’s now in the clasp vs under the head of the unit, I find it much less convenient than Band 1. In v1, you could charge in either direction; there was no “special orientation”. As long as the magnets grabbed, you were good. With v2 that’s no longer the case. The charging mechanism is cumbersome at best. Not only is there one specific orientation, but you also have to land the unlocking “buttons” within the charging mechanism itself as well. I’ve yet to just “snap” the clasp on to the charger and have it go. Every single time I’ve had to “think” about it; which I don’t enjoy.
Once you put it on you’ll appreciate the curved display – it feels better right away. However, you’ll quickly notice those “blocks” of sensors that moved from the side of v1 to the clasp-area of v2. What I don’t like about this now is I notice the wear on my wrist much more than I did before. If the Band “rides down” toward my hand, it begins to rub in to the “wrist bump”. If I tighten it to ride in that spot and never move, it really wears – to the point of creating noticeable irritation.
Similarly, I can’t wear it between my hand and wrist bump due to the new large sensor pack. So I’m left wearing Band 2 much looser than I wore v1, though I’ve tested the heart monitor and confirmed it’s picking up my heart rate so that’s good news.
That being said, somehow last night I managed to royally jack up the wrist where I wear the Band. I don’t know if it is or isn’t related to the band and sensor pack placements, but holy shit it hurts. All day today and I don’t anticipate it going away for at least a few more days.
You can see from the above shots how Microsoft killed the side sensor packs in favor of making the one at the clasp freaking huge. To put in perspective why this is a problem for me in particular, here you go:
Notice how the sensor pack spans nearly my entire wrist now, where it definitely did not before. Another thing worthwhile pointing out on this view; they’ve done a disservice to a subset of users who wear the band with the screen on the outside – you won’t get UV tracking as the sensor on the clasp is the UV sensor (and it would be facing inward/downward if you wear the Band w/ the screen outward).
Beyond my wearability issues, the new Band improves on the old one in many ways. The new “Watch Mode – Rotate Only” is nice, helps conserve more battery when one wants to use it as a watch. The display itself is bigger and more durable, however I think they’ve screwed up the swiping mechanism by greatly reducing “inertia” in the gestures. With Band 1 you could really “scroll” the screen by “throwing” it; on v2 you can’t “throw” the screens nearly as far. It makes going through larger menus a pain in the ass.
Setting it up
During Setup of the Band 2 to Microsoft Health, I had a whole host of issues. It takes way too long. “Getting you all set up…” step took so long my screen shut off, which of course suspends the app and sends you all the way back to square 1 – pairing it up again. This experience could have been greatly improved.
In addition to the setup being arduous, I was disappointed my previous Band settings didn’t come forward. I was hoping to be really impressed when my tiles all flowed to my new Band, though I hadn’t had one configured for over a week (my last one broke a couple of weeks ago, unfortunately). Unfortunately I had to re-set up the tiles I wanted shown, and the order I wanted them. I didn’t, however, have to set up things like who’s in my VIP e-mail list so that’s a plus.
Overall Band 2 appears to be more accurate than v1. My heart rate monitoring makes more sense (particularly when reviewing the sleep tracking), new flight counting via the new barometer looks pretty good as well. I tracked my Halloween walk last night w/ my kids and the GPS holds up same as it did in v1.
I’ve yet to do a Guided Workout w/ Band 2, but if it can auto-count reps I’d be super-impressed and way happy.
Not sure if this is a Band 2 update or an update just to the MS Health app, but sleep tracking looks improved in instances where you go to bed past midnight. Take today for instance: technically I went to bed on 11/1 at 12:16am. However, in MS Health it has – accurately – tracked that sleep for 10/31, which is exactly what I’d want as a user. Previously, I had instances where this situation would’ve logged this sleep to 11/1, then tonight when I go to bed log yet another sleep instance to 11/1. Not optimal. At any rate, looks great now!
I have found a few apps like Band Sensor Monitor and Clear My Band don’t work w/ my Band 2, unfortunately. However I can testify that Awesome Band Backgrounds and Torch for Band still do, so that’s good! I’m looking forward to updates of Clear My Band in particular as it’s a great tool for keeping your band’s tiles “clean”.
The great news about Band 2, in my opinion, is they didn’t change anything chemically (as far as my body can tell) as I’m not breaking out or having any huge irritations w/ it and I literally wear it 24hr/day. The only time I take mine off is during my commute when I put it on the charger in the car. I’ve had no skin contact irritation issues. The only thing bugging me right now is the rubbing of the sensor pack on my wrist bump area.
Part of me, however, does miss the smaller size & stature of the Band 1 but alas, everything in Mobile appears to be going bigger nowadays so might as well suck it up, buttercup.