Polar Loop Review
Long before Garmin got into the fitness tracker game and Fitbit made them a stylish new trend, Polar was already in the fitness tracking business. Their company was built on producing heart rate monitors for athletes and their governing bodies since the 1970s. It is only natural that they would eventually make the jump from providing high end heart rate monitors to providing wearables for even novice athletes to enjoy. The Polar Loop presented their first attempt at this as Polar’s very first wearable fitness tracker, and those familiar with Polar had extremely high hope for it. However, every first attempt must have room for improvement as we have seen from every single other brand, but how does Polar stand up with their Polar Loop? Find out in our Polar Loop Review
You can tell at just a glance that the Polar Loop borrows a lot for its aesthetic from fitness trackers that were already on the market. The hard rubber wristband sits innocuously on the wrist displaying an array of red LEDs that make up the display. With the touch of a button, it can activate the display and toggle which screen you are seeing. However, that button is occasionally difficult to find with just your fingers and even then so flat that it can almost be difficult to press. This makes switching or turning on the display while doing for intensive activities, like jogging, a bit more difficult than it should be since it will likely require you to stop or slow down in order to try to find and push the singular, but well hidden button on your wrist.
As for how the band clasps the wrist, it uses the old school metal buckle that folds in and out so that you can secure and remove the band as needed. While the design is nothing particularly stunning, that’s okay. For many who use fitness trackers seriously, the aesthetics of the design usually isn’t such a big deal. However, how the band secures and how snugly it fits can make or break whether the tracker gets used, this is why that old school metal clasp is such an odd choice.
What likely was a huge shock to buyers who don’t read a review first is the sheer size of the Polar Loop band. It is probably the perfect fit for a ham-fisted yeti, but no one else. It is not even a case of the band being designed for primarily men either, you could fit two adult-sized thick male wrists in the default fitting. However, while you can resize the band, you will pretty much be performing surgery on it by removing the clasp and actually cutting off a portion of band before reattaching the clasp. Unfortunately, athletes need to be careful to measure their wrist precisely because if you cut off too much, there is no going back. One nice feature is that Polar does replace the bands for free if that does happen, though.
If you have used other first time fitness trackers from other brands, then you should be pretty impressed with Polar’s first attempt. They packed a lot into the Loop that has only recently been figured out by other models. Waterproofing is the first notable example since even Fitbit only recently got that down in their products. Whether the Polar Loop is waterproof or water resistant, we may never know since the company uses the terms interchangeably, but the Loop is safe to wear in the shower as well as the pool.
For the actual display on the tracker, you have a few modes to choose from. The modes include the time of day, amount of time you have been active that day, number of calories burned, and the number of steps taken. While there are other features, you will have to visit the app or website to see those stats, which is nothing unusual for the LED display fitness tracker models since you can only fit so many LED lights on one wristband.
As for the app, it started off as iOS only, but has since gained an Android version, which is one great benefit of getting an older model. The interface of the app is nice and clean, but it isn’t really a show-stopper. However, one of the best bits of this particular app is that you can set daily goals and the tracker doesn’t just track them, but the app gives you updated suggestions of what you can do to reach those daily goals from any point in your day. It also gives you inactivity alerts, but since the wristband itself doesn’t vibrate or anything this means you have to actually look at your phone.
As well as fitness goal-reaching tips, the app gives you the added function of monitoring your sleep, but you know what is strangely missing from a product made by Polar? A heart rate monitor. They make wearable heart rate monitors for athletes, but they didn’t include it in their first fitness tracker. They did provide the ability to connect with a heart monitor chest strap, but that pretty much doubles the price of the product.
The final feature to mention is the battery life. While the Polar Loop fails in other areas, its battery remains pretty standard with it holding around a five day charge. The less you use the display, the longer the battery will last. However, with the battery life of screened models getting longer these days, how long will it be before five days is paltry?
For a first stab into the world of fitness trackers, the Polar Loop did an admirable job. However, it feels like the brand, one that is already well known for its athletic wearables, was really just testing the waters here. The fact that a company that makes heart rate monitors didn’t include one in their first fitness tracker, but still made it able to sync to one looks a lot like they were just sticking a toe in.
However, if a heart rate monitor isn’t among your basic needs of a fitness tracker or you already have a chest strap laying around, since the Polar Loop is older in the life cycle, it has become extremely affordable. If you are new to fitness trackers or even just want some basic functionality with a really nice app to look over your stats, then the Polar Loop makes for an affordable choice.
The release of the Polar M400 marked the advent of the now increasingly blurred lines between your standard affordable fitness trackers and the sophisticated workout gadgets that only the most hardcore athletes can afford. As the more affordable version of the Polar V800, a serious sports watch for those really into fitness, you get almost as much of the tracking capabilities and functionality with only a fraction of the price. What they sacrificed wasn’t internal tracking, but rather syncing with a dozen different accessories and other monitors that even dedicated gym junkies don’t use.
While functionality and features look to be completely on point, how does the Polar M400 stack up in the increasingly crowded world of fitness tracker-sports watch hybrids?
The first thing you will notice about the Polar M400 from the pictures is that it kind of looks like a sports watch would have looked like in the 1980s when everything was bigger and bulkier. However, the pictures actually lie. The Polar M400 doesn’t take a great photo because that large display screen makes it look like it sits like a lump on the wrist when, in reality, it is quite thin. It actually ends up more unobtrusive on the wrist than many other GPS-enabled trackers these days.
The screen itself could have benefited from less labeling that gives it a bit of a Casio-esque look and takes away from the display. As for a display itself, the 128 by 128 pixel, 3mm screen could also benefit from not only a touch of color every now and then, but less of the cheesy graphics. Clearly if you are cycling, you know you are doing it and you don’t need the like cyclist on the screen to remind you. Thankfully, most of the time the Polar M400 sticks to the numbers, which is the bit we want to see and the bit that actually looks fine on a black and white screen. It even features not only backlighting so you can see it in the late evening, but you can easily read the screen in direct sunlight too.
The rest of the watch’s interface is fairly straight-forward. It comes with five buttons (up, down, select, back, and the light) on the side and they are not so compact that you have trouble hitting them, but they also are built so they are hard to trigger accidentally as well.On the flipside of the display also sits the micro-USB charging port which is covered by a flap, but even without the flap it is water resistant of up to 30m.
Finally, as for the band itself, there is nothing particularly groundbreaking about it. It is made out of the same polymer of other fitness tracking bands so you get that nice flexibility, but it also feels decently sturdy. The M400 comes with the standard watch clasp which makes for a nice snug fit and so that you don’t have to physical cut and measure the band like some other Polar models
If the Polar M400 was just a fitness tracker, it would be rather unremarkable. However, while it can do much of what fitness trackers do, it also has the great added benefit of being an activity tracker as well.
True to a fitness tracker, you wear the Polar M400 all the time and it tracks your steps, calories burned, how many flights of stairs you climbed, and your sleep. However, unlike many fitness trackers, you don’t need to tell it when you have gone to sleep, it knows. It also senses when you have been inactive for too long and sends an alert to both your phone and your app. It also guilts you in to moving since if you don’t do so within the time limit, it leaves a bad mark in your daily diary.
All of this data is sent into the app, but you can also read it just as easily from the watch interface. The benefit of checking the app is to really see the long-term statistics after daily use so you can make adjustments accordingly. However, while the app is nice, it often feels like it doesn’t go deep enough. There isn’t much reason to check it more than every few days.
All that is pretty standard, but when you press the center button on the Polar M400, that is where it really shines. From the menu, you choose an activity, press start, and the built-in GPS signal from the watch logs you until you stop. Why is this so special? This feature allows you to get the most accurate calorie readings on your body as well as track routes and other metrics in the app. Since the Polar M400 takes things like height, weight, and gender into consideration, it easily gives the most accurate calories-burned estimates of any fitness tracker
The one downside of this? You need to have the Bluetooth HRM strap in order to get those beautiful accurate calorie readings. The fact that Polar, a company that makes heart rate monitors, wearable ones at that, comes with GPS, but not a built-in heart rate monitor is almost kind of insulting. While you won’t get the same accurate calorie count, you will still get activity-specific metrics like how many laps you swam or how far and fast you ran, which is nice, but it still feels like you are getting half a product.
Finally, the battery life is a major boon considering that so many screened, GPS-enabled models can drain down so fast. If you are using the GPS non-stop, you have about eight hours of battery life. However, without ever turning the GPS on, you have a very solid 24 days on one charge. For people that go for long or multiple runs, swims, or cycles per day, the battery might need daily charging. However, as a fitness bracelet, it has some superior battery life to it.
If you are going to throw down the cash to get a fitness tracker-sports watch hybrid these days, there are some things you expect. Once you get above a certain price range, you expect heart rate monitoring and GPS. What you shouldn’t expect is to buy an accessory for one feature to work. That is the real major pitfall of the Polar M400.
It is a great fitness tracker, and it could have been an amazing one if you didn’t have to throw down extra money to make it complete. It is likely the external chest strap makes it so it can get its extremely accurate readings from the way it sits on the body, but even without it this fitness tracker would still likely get it pretty close.
Long before Polar got into the fitness tracker game, they were making quality heart rate monitors for athletes, and after finally making the leap onto the bandwagon in 2002, it seems they have perfected the fitness tracker formula as well. Bringing their top of the line heart rate monitoring tech to their line of fitness trackers, this company hit it out of the park with the Polar A360 fitness tracker. This model not only brings the heart rate monitoring and other features that you love, but it does it in a beautiful full color interface that makes this fitness tracker look good when the screen is on.
The first thing that you will notice is that the Polar A360 sits wider on the wrist than many other fitness tracker models, but that is completely forgiven once that display comes to life. Some fitness trackers go for simplicity, but the Polar A360 truly makes data beautiful by providing it in an aesthetically pleasing way. Whether it is displaying calories burned or heart rate, it does it beautifully in a way so that the information is both easy to understand, but also a true pleasure to look at. Unfortunately, one small quirk is that when you are recording athletic activity, it doesn’t display the time so you will need something else to time exactly how long you are exercising for.
All of that beautiful data is also fully waterproof. While it is only waterproofed up to depths of 30 feet, that is still plenty so you can keep it on doing everything from taking a shower to going to the pool. The only real downside of the design is the lack of color options in the band. Yes, you still have five different color options, and all of them can be swapped out at any time, but that isn’t quite as many options as some other brands.
Features of the Polar A360 Fitness Tracker
So the display is not only waterproof as well as beautiful, but how does it function? As a brand known for its heart rate monitors, that is one function that you can expect to be top-notch in the Polar A360, and it does not disappoint. Even in the water, providing you keep a snug fit, the Polar A360 provides accurate readings and allows you to track your heart rate data over days as at a time. You can even get visual data on your heart rate put up right on the screen.
Alongside that, it also tracks steps, calories burned, your sleep activity, and your workouts 24/7. All of that can be used in the Polar Flow or Polar Beat app to push you towards optimum performance. While having two different apps seems like a pain, the Polar Flow is used to track your everyday performance while you can use the Polar Beat app as more of a sports and coaching app. You don’t need to use both, but you do have the option.
Another nice feature is that it comes built in with inactivity alerts and will actually start vibrating when you sit still for too long. While the vibration can be turned off, it can be an excellent motivator to get up from your desk. The Polar A360 also features smart phone notification integration, but it can actually be a little clunky to sync up. However, with all the other great features, if it had to stumble somewhere, that is probably the best place to do so.