Hello to all my fitness-happy readers from around the world. After much hype and an aggressive marketing campaign, Microsoft has released the Microsoft Band 2. Yes, similar to their plastic-encrusted brethren, it is a jack-of-all trades, master-of-none activity tracker. You can add this to the all-encompassing list that includes the Jawbone UP2/UP3/UP4, the Fitbit family, Garmin’s crazy Uncle Vivofit, Samsung’s Gear, and even a Misfit. No, seriously, there’s one called the Misfit Shine.
Regardless of the name or brand, I want to focus on the Microsoft Band 2. Last year, the big beige box surprised the world…heck, they surprised themselves with the release of the Microsoft Band. It was a unique entrance into the activity tracking market. No big entrance, no slick, over-post production commercials featuring young millennials committing themselves to outrageous activities in the middle of the day when they should be behind a desk…at work…like the rest of the world. No, the band was released like a bonus track on Drake’s latest album.
What Makes It So Special?
It’s from Microsoft and seriously, outside from a comfortable wireless mouse, they don’t offer much to society when it comes to hardware.
No Really, What Makes It So Special?
Okay, okay. My first disclaimer is that I’m writing this on a Macbook Pro, but that doesn’t make me an Apple fan boy. If you disagree, let me call you out on my iPhone or Skype my rebuttal on my iPad. What? Sorry, I can’t hear you with my iPod nano (the real matchbook size nano…a manly man’s nano) playing only the best hits this side of the Nickajack Dam.
But I digress. I honestly have a PC and did a lot of early work on an IBM ThinkPad. I actually applauded Microsoft for the Zune. That said, Microsoft has had a bit of a renaissance as of late. They completely skipped Windows 9 and went denary on us with Win10. Good move. They went on the assault with the Surface brand which is a step in the right direction as long as you don’t count that accident called Windows RT. Their takeover of the Lumia market gave them a decent foothold in the mobile phone market. Taking all of that into account and you have yourself a fairly decent portfolio to work with.
The Low-Down: Short Version
Maybe because it’s late and I have to get up at 4AM or maybe because I’m just being a bit lazy, the quick version is the Microsoft Band 2 is definitely an upgrade from the original, but if you don’t know…never buy the first version. Sorry Apple Watch, Apple iPhone, Zune, Surface RT…the price of being an innovator is just too high. Now is it worth the price hike? I’m not sure. Ready below for my comments on a few features and decide for yourself. I would definitely go to your local electronics store and try it on before purchase.
Compared To The Jawbone UP3
Right now, these are the two fitness trackers in my arsenal. Ready? Battle!
Microsoft Band 2
If you can get past the horrible background syncing, down server and sluggish response, the Jawbone app is a winner in my books. The UI is easy on the eyes and it provides a good overall view of relevant information. Plus, the coaching feature does a decent job of reminding and challenging you to commit to healthy habits. Also, the scrolling timeline works better than the chunky interface that is used by Microsoft; it just seems half-baked.
Microsoft Band 2
The Microsoft Band 2 boast 11 sensors while the Jawbone UP3 boast, well…3. Now with all that power comes great responsibility in the form of charging every 48 hours.
Microsoft Band 2
The Jawbone UP3 is just not as comfortable as the Jawbone UP24. I could go 7-9 days with the UP24, not so much with the UP3. I have to take it off because I always feel it there. It just bothers my wrist. Maybe it is due to the sensors, maybe it is due to the new hook clasp. Whatever the case, it’s just not as comfortable as I remember past Jawbones being. As big as the Microsoft Band 2 is, it is comfortable, like wearing a watch. The clasp is a bit bulky and not very appealing due to the battery and mine came scratched out of the box, but otherwise, no complaints. You will be surprised how quick you forget about the screen being on the bottom. And if you type, this will give you a great reminder to type with better form.
Microsoft Band 2
Microsoft wins by default. The screen is a nice touch once you get used to it being on the inside of your wrist.
Just in case I need to make a return, I don’t want to try this out. Now if Microsoft and Jawbone want to loan me out a test unit, I will gladly wash some dishes, run through the sprinkler and even take a shower with it.
Yeah, that is not very clear. By partners, I mean external apps that you already use. Jawbone has an extensive network of services that you can tie in to such as Runtastic, Strava, IFTTT, Nest, Pact and Withings. Microsoft seems to be a bit lazy on this front with only a few partners. Kudos for having built-in Crossfit workouts.
Jawbone has just three sensors and a few lights that really aren’t worth their salt now that you don’t need to touch it for anything besides cancelling an alert. That said, the battery last for almost a week, depending on your activity level. Meanwhile, I could only get 48 hours out of the Microsoft Band 2.
So What Does This All Mean?
No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative. Ultimately, I could call it a tie if since I didn’t get them wet. Now if you are wanting my recommendation…well, sorry, to each, their own. It really depends on your personal preferences. Do you need a screen? Do you need GPS? For me, I am happy with the Jawbone UP3. Most of my runs are tied to my Garmin 910XT. Are you an office dweller who can recharge as needed? If so, battery life might not be an issue for you. Me? I need battery life as I don’t always get to work near a power outlet. Do you have a Windows Phone? If so, you will maximize the features. Outside of battery life, this might be my only other sore point with Microsoft. With a year to get ready for the Microsoft Band 2, why did they not prep an app that could maximize all the features? There really is no excuse. It’s the same reason Eggo took years to start selling their own branded syrup. The app effort seems like an after-thought.
That’s all for now. Pictures will follow in the next few days or just pop over to my Instagram page here.