Fitness wearables: Microsoft Band 2 falls at first hurdle

Microsoft's latest fitness tracker is hard to read and uncomfortable to wear. Pity, that.

I wanted to love the Microsoft Band 2.

On paper, the Band 2 is everything I wanted the Apple Watch to be: a wearable that focused on doing one thing well, in this case fitness, while still connecting to your phone to show push notifications and media playback controls. To that end, the Band 2 is the best fitness tracker I've ever used, but the fantastic software is let down by the cumbersome, chunky hardware it runs on.

Microsoft's latest fitness tracker isn't a race winner.
Microsoft's latest fitness tracker isn't a race winner. Photo: Supplied

If you're the kind of person who watches cricket for the statistics, you'll love the information you can glean from the Band 2. The amount of data Microsoft syncs back to its companion health app and website is incredible. The Band 2 tracks everything from steps, distance, resting heart rate, sleep, even your golf swing. As you use the tracker, Microsoft Health will analyse your fitness levels and draw useful patterns from the data. A personal trainer can even create workouts for you to follow that can be synced to your wrist. It's all very impressive. So far so good.

The Band 2 features a crisp OLED screen that displays time and push notifications from an iPhone, Android or Windows phone. A limited number of activities are represented by the modern UI-style Microsoft squares – simple icons used to tell the band you're about to go for a run, ride or round of golf.

By choosing a bracelet form over that of a watch, the Band 2 is left with a thin horizontal display. That's fine for displaying the time and simple metrics such as steps walked, but incredibly annoying for longer notifications, making the Band 2 a frustrating experience for anything but fitness.

And, unfortunately, the Band 2 is just uncomfortable to wear. It's huge, chunky, and inflexible, and the battery bulge on the band irritated my wrists on hotter days.

Microsoft Health is an amazing service, but the Band 2 does not do it justice. Bring on the Band 3.