The new Microsoft Band 2 is the only fitness tracker that lets you test your own VO2 max, making it a pretty great contender for the best fitness tracker yet
We’ve professed our love for Microsoft Band before (it's one of 8 New Fitness Bands We Love). But the newest iteration, Microsoft Band 2—available for pre-order as of today and out October 30—has one new superstar feature making it the fit girl’s best friend: the ability to measure your VO2 max.
Your VO2 max is a measure of the amount of oxygen your body can process in one minute. It's widely considered the ultimate measure of your cardiorespiratory fitness level, so who wouldn't want to know their number? (Wanna improve your fitness? Here's some Endurance Rx: 3 Ways to Increase Your VO2 Max.)
The problem: You’ve probably seen photos of athletes on treadmills with oxygen masks hooked up to wires. That lab setting (that most of us wouldn't normally seek out) used to be the only way to find out your score—until the Microsoft Band 2. The tech giant's device takes your heart rate at your wrist and puts it into a proprietary algorithm to churn out your score. As of today, it's the only fitness tracker with this capability, making it way more accessible to the average person. While there are a few formulas out there that help you calculate your VO2 max using your heart rate, we prefer to leave our TI-89s at home when we do our long runs. The method may not be as accurate as heading to the nearest human performance lab, but it's definitely easier!
And if knowing your VO2 max isn't enough reason to be stoked about the release, Microsoft is rolling out other new features as well. The Band now includes a barometer to track your elevation changes in real time (great for hikers or those training for a hilly race), a UV monitor to help you detect the best times to slather on extra SPF, and dashboard syncing that allows you to upload your complete workout routine and receive step-by-step instructions on the watch. That's all in addition to the things you can expect from any fitness tracker, like continuously tracking your heart rate, exercise, calorie burn, steps, and sleep quality—oh and alerting you to calls, texts, and emails; and tracking your runs and bike rides via GPS.
Can we start putting in requests already, Santa?