Watch a great fitness tracker but a bit clunky

The Band 2, Microsoft's second-generation wearable, is a fitness band that wants to be a smartwatch — or is it a smartwatch that wants to be a fitness band?

It certainly has the credentials to be a great fitness band, with 11 sensors, including an optical heart rate sensor; three-axis accelerometer; gyrometer; GPS; ambient light, skin temperature and UV sensors; capacitive sensor; galvanic skin response sensor; a barometer; and a microphone.

The built-in GPS means you can map your run or cycling trip with the Band 2 and leave your phone at home. The trip info will be saved to the Band's internal memory and synced to the phone when it's back in range.

The Band itself looks small, but its design is semirigid and kind of clunky. Microsoft says the Band 2 was designed to be worn with the screen on top (like a traditional watch) or inside the wrist. The pulse sensor works in either orientation.

The Band 2 is powered by a lithium-ion battery that goes about 48 hours between charges, which is done with a proprietary USB cable, magnetically connected to the clasp. If you use the GPS daily for your workout, you're likely to be charging it daily, though.

From the smartphone app, you can add text messages, mail, call history or upcoming appointments, weather or stock prices. You can browse from more than 100 preset workouts and sync them to the Band 2 to complete when you're ready.

You can even monitor your sleep.




Classic toy now offers virtual reality

Mattel has teamed up with Google to update View-Master to offer a virtual reality experience. The new viewing process is simple: Download one of several View-Master apps to a smartphone and then secure the phone inside the View-Master. Looking at the app through the View-Master starts an immersive exploration of, for example, Liberty Island, the African savanna or outer space, including photos, video and minigames. The starter kit includes the viewer and a preview reel; additional "experience packs" are available for $15.