NEW YORK — The first Microsoft Band had so much promise, but made so many seemingly simple mistakes.
A flat screen and two bulky batteries quite literally made for a square device meant to be worn on round wrists. My wrists, as it turned out, just didn’t fit — and I don’t think many people’s did.
So I was pretty happy to see a new Microsoft Band this morning that looks entirely different from the original. Those batteries have been moved out of the way. The screen is curved and it has a sleeker, metallic finish.
To put it simply: Microsoft hit everything on my wish list, and without any noticeable tradeoffs on performance. It does cost $249, or $50 more than the original. That’s a bit steep for a fitness tracker, but it does more than competitors like Fitbit with features such as email and push notifications.
The Apple Watch boasts a large library of third party apps, which the Band still lacks, but the Apple Watch also costs $100 more.
I have loved my original Band and still wear it almost every day — but as far as I can tell I’m one of the few. Even I find myself taking it off several times each day. I’ve never been able to sleep in the thing.
But I don’t think that will be an issue with the new Microsoft Band.
The first thing you notice when you pick it up is that it’s much lighter and the straps are more flexible. It feels like something you’re supposed to wearing around your wrist — and that’s the most important improvement.
The company also added some new functionality, like a barometer that measures elevation and stairs climbed. The screen also now automatically illuminates when you pick up your wrist, which is much appreciated after I’ve spent the past few months fumbling to hit a button whenever I wanted to check the time.
One thing I can already tell will continue to annoy me about the Microsoft Band is how long it takes to pick up a GPS signal. The original can take about 10 minutes to lock on before you can run and things didn’t seem much better when I tested the redesigned version.
I’ll need more time with the new Band to really get a feel for the battery life and fitness tracking accuracy. But as an avid Microsoft Band user, I can already say this is a big step forward.