The new Microsoft Band activity tracker aims to help people "live healthier and achieve more," and it's now up for pre-order, offering several neat features.

Microsoft's previous activity tracker was rather clunky, with a design that was criticized as looking more like a prototype than a finished product, but the new-generation Microsoft Band definitely takes things to the next level.

Available for pre-order now from the Microsoft Store, the new Microsoft Band 2 sports a price tag of $249.99 – $50 more than its predecessor – so here's what you get for this price.

First of all, the Microsoft Band 2 does away with the design drawbacks of the first. It's a sleek and smooth wearable featuring a curved, touch-enabled OLED display with Gorilla Glass 2 protection.

Secondly, the latest Microsoft Band boasts integration with Cortana – Microsoft's digital assistant – and will even remind users if they miss a workout.

"Cortana helps you get things done, working across Windows 10 and your Windows 10 devices," according to Microsoft. "Talk or type naturally to have Cortana help you with things like setting reminders, responding to text messages, and sending email." 

The new activity tracker provides a barometer for measuring elevation when hiking or climbing stairs, and also offers the same slew of sensors as its predecessor. More specifically, the new Microsoft Band comes with GPS, heart rate, sleep tracking and calorie intake tracking, smart notifications and guided workouts, just like last year's Band.

According to Microsoft, its new Band activity tracker will prove useful to both serious athletes and people who simply want to improve their regular health and fitness routines. The Microsoft Band even collects metrics such as VO2 Max for tracking oxygen use, which is typically something offered in watches for seasoned athletes.

Indeed, the Microsoft Band seems more like a smartwatch hybrid that looks like a fitness band. It offers support for a slew of apps including RunKeeper, Uber, Twitter, Starbucks and more; it has voice integration, provides notifications just like a smartwatch, and might well be the most feature-filled activity tracker currently on the market.

As expected, the wearable works with Microsoft Health, allowing users to keep track of their workouts, step counts, sleep quality and more — either right on their wrist, or on the website dashboard. The displayed data will be easy to grasp — detailed with neat charts and visuals that help users understand their fitness level and overall health progress.

Check out the video below to get a better idea of what the new Microsoft Band has to offer.


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