The Latest Microsoft Band 2

Peter Morrell gets hooked on the all-new fitness and productivity smartwatch that may be a life saver.

I must admit being a little sceptical about trying the new Microsoft Band 2 smartwatch, I imagined that it would be ideal for lycra clad gym bunnies whose idea of a good Saturday afternoon is a run in the park.

However after using it for a while it is probably more relevant to me than people who are already fit. I’m middle aged and split my time 50/50 between sitting at a desk writing and going to central London for meetings, events or just socialising.

The Microsoft Band 2 is very easy to configure, you create a free Microsoft account, download a phone app (Windows, Android or Apple), connect the Band with bluetooth and you’re ready to go.

It’s got eleven sensors to measure heart rate, temperature, elevation, position and even UV exposure. One of its most intriguing features is the Sleep Monitor. Switch into Sleep mode when you go to bed, tell it you are awake next morning and it will give you a summary of your sleep pattern. On your phone or desktop you get a full analysis of your night. You can see how long you slept, how many times you woke up and a graph showing periods of light and deep sleep. It will even tell you how long it took for you to go to sleep, in my case always 4 or 5 minutes.

Out on the road you can get some equally fascinating stats. I have been measuring the walk time to to my local train station and suddenly found myself trying to beat a personal best. So it was having a subconscious and fun positive effect. The analysis of the recorded journeys show you distance, duration, steps, calories burnt, loss and gain of elevation, min, max and mean heart rate, the cardio-vascular effect and a map with your route, colour-coded to show fast, medium and slow pace.

As the day progresses it also keeps a cumulative count of your steps, calories expended, distance walked and stairs climbed. The stats for this were real eye opener, the phone app allows you to set targets and I had set my total daily step count at 5000. On a busy day in London I easily beat this, doing 6000-7000 steps, covering 4 to 5 kilometers and burning more than the recommended 2600 calories for my height and weight. On the other hand my days in the office were shamefully sedentary which encouraged me to go for a walk at lunchtime which can easily clock up 2000 steps.

Apart from the walking measure (which most people would use to monitor a run), there are programs for biking and golf and Guided Workouts giving you exercise prompts right on your band.

It displays text messages, emails and all sorts of alerts and notifications including Calendar, Twitter and Facebook. There is a neat weather alert/forecast, the useful UV measure to stop you getting sunburnt and information on stock market indices. There is a stop watch for precise exercise, a reminder alarm and a very clever ‘Smart Alarm’ to wake you up at the optimal time.

The Band is comfortable to wear and features a bright, high-definition colour, touch screen and a simple two button interface. It is fully integrated with the Microsoft Health application which shows the history of all your activities and has the ability to compare these to see how you are improving over time.

I was very impressed with the Microsoft Band 2, firstly its functionality has been well thought through and it has been seamless integrated with both phone and desktop technology. What has been most important is the focus it has brought to my well-being, which is great for anyone who is not that health-aware. Even in the short time I’ve been using it my heart-rate is lower and I’ve lost a couple of pounds.

This would be the ideal Christmas or Birthday present for anyone who takes fitness seriously or for a partner who you want to nudge towards a healthier lifestyle in a fun and measurable way.

For more information about the Microsoft Band 2 visit
www.microsoft.com/microsoft-band/en-gb#

The new product is available for purchase in the UK now with and RRP of £199. You can buy it from the website above and from good electrical retailers.

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