31 Oct 2015

Microsoft Band 2 Unboxing and First Impressions

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I pre-ordered my Microsoft Band 2 via MicrosoftStore.com and it was just delivered, which leads us to our Microsoft Band 2 unboxing and first impressions. The unboxing of the Microsoft Band 2 is simple and straightforward, as the box and packaging of the Band 2 hasn’t changed all that dramatically from the original – although it does have improved presentation when compared to it’s predecessor. The Microsoft Band 2 box contains the Band 2 (in either small, medium or large sizes), a USB charging cable (just the cable, no plug is included), a licensing manual and a quick start manual. The Band 2 itself has a small sticker on the clasp which instructs you to plug it in via the included USB cable, which kicks off the setup process.

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Setup

The setup for the Microsoft Band 2 will be familiar for those that picked up a the original Microsoft Band. For those that aren’t familiar, don’t fret – because the setup is a breeze. When you first plug the Microsoft Band 2 in with the included USB charging cable, it will power on immediately and prompt you to set your desired language. Once the language is set, it will then prompt you to select the type of phone you’ll be using – the options being Windows Phone, Android or iPhone. Once you select your device type, it instructs you to download and install the Microsoft Health app from the appropriate app store (Windows Phone, Android, iOS) because to continue the setup you’ll utilize the app, once you have the Band 2 paired to your phone via Bluetooth.

ATTENTION: If you have an original Microsoft Band configured and/or paired with your phone, you will need to unregister the original Band from within the Microsoft Health app before pairing and syncing your new Microsoft Band 2. You may only have one Microsoft Band configured with the Microsoft Health app at a time. So you have to say goodbye to your original Microsoft Band before moving forward.

After pairing the Microsoft Band 2 via Bluetooth, you will need to launch the Microsoft Health app to continue with the pairing process. Once the Microsoft Health app locates your Band 2, it will then prompt you to enter a name for the device. After naming your Band 2 and saving your entry, it will likely notify you that an update for the device is available, which should begin downloading and installing immediately when selected. The update process takes a few minutes to download and complete, and once completed the Band 2 will restart and be ready for user customization and general use. The entire syncing and setup process only takes about five minutes.

First Impressions

The first thing I noticed when picking the new Microsoft Band 2 up is the change in the rubber strap. The original Microsoft Band had a very rigid construction, mainly because nearly the entire Band, including the strap, was crammed full of sensors and techno-wizardry. Well, with the Microsoft Band 2 it seems that has changed, and for the better. Nearly all of the components for the device now live in the housing behind the face/screen of the Band, and in the clasp of the Band. What does this means? It means that the rubber strap on the Microsoft Band 2 feels much softer and is far more pliable than that of the original Microsoft Band.

As I type this on my desktop computer, I have the clearly more comfortable Microsoft Band 2 on my left wrist. While I loved the original Microsoft Band, it wasn’t without it’s flaws – and comfort was easily it’s biggest flaw for me. Spending long hours tapping away on the keyboard with the original Microsoft Band wasn’t something I looked forward to, but the new Microsoft Band 2 is almost like wearing nothing more than your average wrist watch. I can see myself wearing the Microsoft Band 2 for an entire day without even noticing that it is there, that is until I get an email, text, Facebook message which will notify me with a short buzz of haptic feedback on my wrist.

The Microsoft Band 2 has a new charging cable connector, which initially kind of irks me. With my purchase of the original Microsoft Band, I also sprang for a second charging cable to keep on my desk at work, so I always had one at home and one at the office. During the business week I actually charged my Band while sitting at my desk at the office and only charged the Band at home on the weekends. This worked well for me because about halfway through the day my wrist needed a break from the bulky original, due to me typing away on a keyboard all day. Having two useless charging cables from the original is less than ideal, to say the least. However, the Microsoft Band 2 charges from a connector that attaches to the clasp on the strap (rather than the back of the face), where it firmly snaps into place thanks to stronger magnets and more surface area.

Admittedly, the original Band’s charging cable connection was pretty terrible, as it connected merely by magnets – and pretty weak ones at that. On more than one occasion I had my original Band die on me in the middle of the day because while I thought I had it plugged in and charging, the cable actually slipped off of the charging contacts and weren’t engaged and charging the device. The contact points between the strap and the charging cable on the Band 2 creates a slight male-to-female connection, which will help keep the charging contacts from becoming slipping and thus should eliminate the charging issues I had with the orignal. Long story short, the charging cable and the charging connector on the Microsoft Band 2, is likely far superior to the original Microsoft Band.

Forthcoming Review

I plan to provide a full and in depth review of the Microsoft Band 2 in the next several days. Luckily, the core functionality of the Microsoft Band 2 hasn’t changed all that much from the original, and I’ve been using (and loving) the original Microsoft Band since it launched one year ago. I do however want to put the new Band 2 through it’s paces before I give it a thumbs up or thumbs down, but my initial impressions for the device are very positive – especially when compared to the original.

For the full review, I’ll be taking the Microsoft Band 2 on a trip, a jog, a bike ride, a round of golf and more. Be sure to check back in a few days for that. Until then, let us know if you’ve picked up a Microsoft Band 2 of your own in the comments below, and if you do be sure to head on over to our new Microsoft Band forum. If you don’t think the Band 2 is right for you, head on over as well and let us know why.

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