By Eric Song
Despite strong competition, Polar is still one of the market leaders in the world of the running watches. It has been investing heavily in innovation since 1977, where it was the first company to offer wireless heart rate monitoring from a watch.
The new Polar M600 is also the company’s first Android Wear device, combining reliable sporting activity tracking with the functionality of an IPX8 waterproof smartwatch. This is a serious upgrade of their previous M400. The fact that it’s an Android Wear watch means the user will have more feature applications available from the wrist.
The Silicon wristband’s double clasp mechanism makes it sit firmly, even on wearers with thinner wrists.
After strapping it on for different activities for close to a month, here’s what we think of it.
Packaging plays a major part in selling a product these days, and the Polar M600 uses a nicely designed, white-based minimalist box to introduce the new owners to the sporty smartwatch.
The overall design theme is one of sleek functionality. Wearing it for the few times I went running, the watch holds snugly around my wrist. I’m sure any female wearers will achieve the same snug feeling which is the most important for a serious runner as we will hate to have any equipment malfunction or not read properly during a run.
It’s also genuinely waterproof, not just splash proof, so you can go swimming with it.
POLAR M600 POLAR FLOW APP
The Polar Flow app is the only app you need to install to start doing your activities on the M600. Following the easy steps on the instructional manual, I would describe more of these steps as a plug and play than complicated. I handed the instructions to my Mum who is turning 68 and she had no problem in carrying out the download and activating the app on the watch after. Kudos to the Polar team for making the process a breeze.
On closer usage of the Polar Flow app, it is complete with all the features you need including Training Benefit, Running Program, Running Index and Sport Profiles. I will not go into the details of each so as not to spoil the new users in experiencing their individual uses, but I will say that all the functions work well with highly intuitive interfaces. If you have used any form of sports app or watch before, you will adapt to the Polar interface very quickly.
Using the watch on a training run is quick an easy, thanks to the sensitive touch screen and good visibility of the display under all lighting conditions.
There is no 24-hour heart rate tracking functionality, but in our opinion it is not really necessary for fitness enthusiasts. We want to know our resting heart rates and the various zones when running, not when we are in an office meeting or sitting on the bus.
The most important question on everybody’s lips these days is about the battery life. It is the single most important reason why a product fails or succeed in the retail market. A battery that requires frequent plugging in to recharge will quickly become an annoyance.
Polar has delivered on this point and it doesn’t disappoint potential users. For normal regular usage including daily running session of below an hour, with GPS and the wrist-based heart rate monitor activated, users can get at least two days of usage without charging.
If everything is activated for a full marathon, expect to get at least eight hours of use per battery charge, which is more than enough for even the slowest paced marathoners amongst us.
The heart rate sensor now sports six LEDs to read off your wrist, up from the previous two LEDs on older models for better accuracy under bright and mixed lighting conditions.
You can also now store music files directly in the M600, and play back via Bluetooth headphones for a clutter-free training experience. There is about 2.5gigs of space within the M600 for use, though the device’s full capacity is four gigs, with the rest of the space devoted to the operating system.
The Polar M600 has all the functionalities with the aesthetics to match. Along with its ease of use, the Polar M600 should be considered the perfect Christmas gift to any running enthusiast. Serious high performance athletes may be looking for more data than available, but for any regular fitness enthusiast, it has everything you’ll need.