Microsoft's second stab at health and wellness wearables, the Band 2, is now available for purchase, according to an Oct. 20 company announcement.
Revealed alongside the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 during Microsoft's hardware event in New York City last month, the new Band is a massive overhaul of its blockier predecessor. Despite an early burst of demand and a wealth of functionality, the first Band drew criticisms for its bulky dimensions and a flat screen that contributed to an uncomfortable fit.
Featuring a sleeker profile, a curved display and an extra sensor, the updated hardware is meant to be brought along for more activities, with or without a companion smartphone.
"The Microsoft Band now features an eleventh sensor, a barometer, to measure elevation gain and loss with even more precision. Great for hiking, biking or even floors climbed," said Lindsey Matese, senior public relations manager for Microsoft Band and Health, in a company blog post. "Plus, built-in GPS stores your data right on your wrist, so you have the option of leaving your mobile device at home while you hit the trail or the road."
The wrist-worn device retails for $249.99—$50 more than the original Band—and is available at Microsoft Stores along with Amazon, Best Buy, Dell.com and other online sellers. A total of 11 sensors, including the new barometer, enable several health monitoring capabilities, including continual heart rate, ambient light detection and galvanic skin response, to name a few.
A 1.6-inch OLED touch-screen allows users to cycle through the device's modes and functions, including the voice-enabled Cortana digital assistant when paired to a Windows Phone. "The new, curved Corning Gorilla Glass 3 display provides notifications directly to your wrist so you can stay up-to-date with customizable call alerts, email, calendar, texts and social updates," she said. The Band 2 also is supported on rival devices including the iPhone 4S and above and Android 4.4 "KitKat" phones with Bluetooth 4.0 (low-energy) compatibility.
Naturally, Band 2 also works with the company's health and fitness software initiative, dubbed simply Microsoft Health. "Once you have synced your new Microsoft Band with Microsoft Health, you can analyze your data anywhere you go with the Windows 10 Universal App," said Matese. The Microsoft Health platform encompasses apps and cloud services that act as a health information and analytics hub for users. It syncs with a variety of third-party services, including MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper and MapMyFitness.
In addition to helping golfers improve their game, Band 2 also can serve as a tool to help shed pounds and keep an eye on calories.
"We are delivering on our promise to bring first party nutrition to Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band with our brand new partner, Lose It!," Matese stated. "This comprehensive and personal weight-loss experience can help you lose weight by getting to know your goals and the nutrition and exercise you need to reach them."