The original Microsoft Band was impressive when it debuted last year. It had a colorful touchscreen display, built-in GPS and heart rate monitors, and guided workouts—proving that a fitness device could be smarter than a simple step-counter or time-tracker. But it was far from perfect; you could barely use those features because of the Band’s awful, uncomfortable design.
Yet here we are, in an era of elegant Surface Pro 4s and Surface Books, and now we also have an elegant Microsoft Band. The new $249 device boasts an improved design, making it a more “wearable” wearable, new sensors that detect floors climbed and UV exposure, and an online dashboard for Microsoft Health where you can create your own workouts. As a hybrid fitness device with many smartwatch-like features, it’s hard to put the Microsoft Band into a (figurative) box. But Microsoft knew what it needed to fix the second time around—and what was best left untouched.
A much-needed design upgrade
The original Microsoft Band was hamstrung by its design. The Band was rigid, angular, and difficult to wear, but Microsoft has improved the situation with an all-curved design and a flexible, soft-touch band. The main module, housing the 320×128-pixel AMOLED display, now curves to better fit the natural shape of your wrist, while the silicone-like band hugs your arm comfortably. On the display’s edge sit the device’s only physical buttons: the power button, which can also turn off the display quickly, and the “Action” button that selects certain options on the screen.