Microsoft's new wrist wearable is getting slammed by critics

Microsoft band 2YouTubeThis is Microsoft Band 2.

Microsoft earlier this month debuted the second-generation of its smart wrist wearable, called Microsoft Band 2.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, it doesn’t look like critics are warming up to the new device just yet.

Lauren Goode from The Verge says the Microsoft Band 2 “sort of baffles me.” It’s $US50 more expensive than last year’s model, and even though it’s been redesigned, Goode says it isn’t worth the $US250 price point.

“It’s still unbending and uncomfortable to wear, especially to bed (it tracks sleep as well as exercise). Its battery life is two days at best… I felt like I was always charging the thing. And it requires a proprietary charger. Also? You can’t store music on it and use it with Bluetooth headphones. Given that it’s designed to work well without a phone, that’s an odd feature to leave out.”

As an activity tracker, Goode notes that “Microsoft took the trouble to add a golf mode but not a yoga or weightlifting mode.”

In his review, Chris Velazco from Engadget says the Band 2 is an improvement over its predecessor, but still suffers from flaws — like a less-than-intuitive interface.

“It’s the little things really,” Velazco said. “Let’s say you want to fiddle with the screen’s brightness — just pop into the Settings tile, right? Almost! Brightness controls (along with vibration level, reading speed and more) live in a Settings window inside of that first Settings window, presumably because Microsoft didn’t want us scrolling through a too-long list of options. I also spent a good 15 minutes wondering why I couldn’t change my colour preferences from the Band before realising — oops — you can only do it from the app. I appreciate the sentiment at play here, but some of the layout logic seems a little suspect.”

Mark Hachman, senior editor of PCWorld, called the Microsoft Band 2 “the Microsoft Zune of wearables: a proudly specialised device that hasn’t yet realised it’s on the wrong side of history.”

Hachman explained three major facets that hold back the Band 2: “Along with the lack of apps, there’s a slightly awkward form factor, and a user interface that lacks the graphical appeal of its competition.” He added that Microsoft Band 2 is really more of a fitness tracker than a smartwatch, since its productivity apps don’t work so well on the small display.

“Don’t expect to be able to read your email on the Band; the Mail app will give you little more than subject lines or a quick cascade of single words that fill the entire display. Don’t expect to be able to see photos that a friend posted to a Facebook feed; the Band is primarily text-only.”

Of course, other publications like Ars Technica have praised the Band 2 as a fitness tracker, thanks to its 11 different sensors to measure all sorts of activities — but even that review notes it is “far from perfect; you could barely use those features because of the Band’s awful, uncomfortable design.”

Microsoft will almost certainly improve the Band for next year, but it will be interesting to see if the company addresses the uncomfortable form factor in any way. After all, the same design didn’t seem to work well for Samsung. Tech Insider looks forward to breaking down the Microsoft Band 2 for a full review.

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