I’ve worn my Microsoft Band 2 since it arrived on October 30, 2015 and have used it as a fitness tracking device every day. I’ve not missed a single day running since then and have also split between guided and non-guided workouts and biking. To be honest, this Band has taken some abuse. But, also to be completely honest, this is Microsoft’s second go-round trying to create a consumer fitness device and, considering v1 had structural issues, I would think that v2 would be a bit more durable.
The Microsoft Band doesn’t stand alone in construction problems. You have to expect any fitness wearable to take a fair amount of abuse if it’s actually used for fitness. I’ve seen reports where Fitbits eventually suffer from rips and tears. But, I’ve heard from many Band owners who have suffered through 2 or 3 swaps in a short period of time because of rips, gashes, and tears. Truly Microsoft hasn’t found a truly consumer-proof design yet.
My Band 2 held up pretty well and deep into February when I logged my first 100-mile week ever I was feeling pretty confident that maybe my Band was the exception and I’d never have to face the support gauntlet - or I was just better at babying mine. What I call the “support gauntlet” is where a Microsoft support person gets to decide if your Band was damaged due to normal operation or due to negligence. For those that have been through the gauntlet, some report instant and easy success and get an immediate swap while others have had to raise holy hell to get absolution.
After hearing constant reports of more and more Band owners, I was starting to get a bit scared and conceded the conclusion that this would eventually happen to everyone – including me. It’s a clear design flaw. I was on death watch.
Then, back at the beginning of April, I finally noticed the start of something – a small indentation in my Band’s molded strap. At the time, I invested in X-Treme Tape to protect the indentation against further deterioration. I was hopeful. And, I still truly believe the tape did its job and kept the Band’s state evolving quicker than it did. Due to how often I exercise, the X-Treme tape has to be replaced every few days to keep the Band clean. This also gives me the chance to see if my indentation has progressed. Up until May 5, there was no change. But, as you can see in the photo comparison, when I performed my X-Treme tape swap procedure, the indentation has finally turned into a gash.
Fortunately, I planned ahead and have a backup Band 2 for just this occasion. I know, most aren’t so lucky to have a spare, but being a journalist who writes about such things has its definite perks.
My plan is to take on the full experience of the support gauntlet and report back. I’m headed to Minneapolis for a tech conference in a little over a week, staying in a hotel connected to the Mall of America. There’s pretty nice Microsoft store on the floor level of the mall, next to the Lego store and right cross the hallway from the Apple store. I was there in November demoing the Surface Book.
The Microsoft Band is arguably one of the most full-featured and most accurate fitness tracking devices available - that's why I stick with it despite having tested almost every other device on the market. So, here's to hoping Microsoft can finally invent a consumer-proof version in v3.
I’ll let you know how my experience in Minnesota goes.