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Like many other wearables this year, the Microsoft Band 2 is the result of a ton of smart choices that have greatly improved the device.
It's still not a looker nor is it the comfiest. But, the Band 2 is all-around far better than the first iteration – which was already a pretty decent fitness tracker to begin with.
The design this time around is a lot more sturdy than the previous Band, which was prone to falling apart. The battery life has also hit slightly above the average fitness tracker mark, especially for one with a screen, notifications and GPS. I'm sure it will vary depending on what you use the Microsoft Band 2 for, but generally two and a half days is nothing to scoff at.
Health Dashboard is also much better, providing more insights and thus incentive to use it. The addition of VO2 max adds another layer of metric complexity that gives users even more information and motivation to continue wearing the new Band.
I would have liked greater functionality for non-Windows phones, so that Android and iOS users can take advantage of Cortana and the virtual keyboard. On the opposite end, further integration with other Microsoft platforms would have been nice, too.
The Band 2 is also on the pricier side, as far as fitness trackers are concerned. This could be a problem for some, especially since the first Band cost less.
In some ways, the Microsoft Band 2's $249 (£200, AU$380) price tag is justified, since there's an improved design and new screen on top of another sensor. It also costs the same as a Fitbit Surge, but it looks a tad better with its color touchscreen – though the Band 2 can't control music from your wrist and has a shorter battery life. The Band 2 is also cheaper than high-end sports watches – but it's not waterproof.
Basically, there will always be some sort of caveat with the fitness tracker you choose. With the Microsoft Band 2, you get a comprehensive health dashboard with a whole lot of sensors packed inside a device that doesn't look too bad or fit too uncomfortably.
I feel like the Microsoft Band 2 would have been better as a sports watch, since it almost has the same amount of features. But, alas, it remains a band. Still, it's a much better device than its predecessor and a more than capable fitness tracker to pick up if you're a fitness enthusiast or looking for a reason to be.
Original review written by Lily Prasuethsut
Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.