Polar M600 Review: Better Smartwatch Than Running Watch

September 22, 2016 - running watch

The latest regulating watch from Polar, a M600 ($329.95), bills itself as a “sports smartwatch.” Powered by Android Wear, this wearable enters an increasingly swarming marketplace that includes a Moto 360 Sport as good as GPS watches with smartwatch-like functionality, such as a Garmin Forerunner 235. While a Polar M600 is a really good smartwatch, and a concomitant Polar Flow app is well-organized, it leaves a lot to be preferred as a regulating watch.

Design

With a block design, a stylish tag (available in black or white) and usually dual buttons, a Polar M600 looks like a smartwatch. The shade is large, 240 x 240 pixels, and displays several lines of content during a time. Instead of simply saying a notification, we get adequate context to see if we should respond right away.

The stretch is a pitfall, though. The watch weighs scarcely 2.3 ounces, that is some-more than a Moto 360 Sport (1.9 ounces) and a Garmin Forerunner 235 (1.5 ounces). It’s complicated adequate that we felt it relocating on my wrist while we ran, generally during a quick lane examination ― to a indicate that we was mortified about it. (This was reduction of an emanate when cycling, given my hands weren’t moving.) The heart rate guard on a underside of a Polar M600 sticks out some-more than a HRM on a Forerunner 235 or a Fitbit Surge (my bland watch), so a Polar will substantially obstacle on prolonged sleeves.

The M600’s categorical energy symbol is on a bottom of a left side, and a start symbol is next a watch face. Both buttons are lonesome by a watch band, that helps keep mud and H2O from removing in. Having taken a toothpick to my Fitbit Surge to purify out a junk, we conclude this pattern feature.

The Polar M600 is suitable for swimming adult to a abyss of 10 meters and will lane float workouts, yet we initial need to go into a Polar Flow app and supplement swimming to a list of categorical workouts accessible from a watch’s activity menu. This is a step adult from a Moto 360 Sport, that is not waterproof, and a Garmin Forerunner 235, that is waterproof  to a abyss of adult to 165 feet, yet does not lane swimming. we didn’t take a Polar M600 for a swim, yet we did wear it in a shower.

MORE: Smartwatch Buying Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Setup

The Polar M600 runs Android Wear OS, that is concordant with Android smartphones regulating chronicle 4.3 or aloft of a mobile handling system. (I tested a watch on a 16GB Samsung Galaxy S5.) The watch is also concordant with iPhone 5 or later, regulating iOS 8.2 or higher, yet pairing a Polar M600 with an iPhone boundary a smartwatch capabilities.

All told, setup involves several steps: Charge a Polar M600, download Android Wear, sync a watch with Android Wear, download Polar Flow, emanate a Polar comment and sync a watch with Polar Flow. This takes during slightest 10 minutes, not including charging time. (In my case, a battery was about two-thirds charged out of a box and took about 30 mins to get to 100 percent.) In other words, don’t devise on unboxing a watch, chubby it on and streamer out a door.

Daily Use

In a default watch display, a tiny striking appears during a bottom of a watch shade arrangement your step count, and a skinny blue line rises from a bottom of a watch face to a top. Once we grasp your daily step goal, a whole arrangement is light blue.

Thanks to a formation with Android Wear, a Polar M600 is a excellent smartwatch. You can use Google Now voice-to-text to respond to a content outline or a Google Hangout message, as good as perform a Google Search. The watch syncs with any apps that send notifications to your Android phone, including your calendar. Through Android Wear and a Google Play store, we can download apps to a watch.

If a notifications get to be too much, we can put a watch in Do Not Disturb mode or tongue-tied notifications regulating Android Wear.

Activity Use

The Polar M600 will constraint information for adult to 120 activities, from regulating and bicycling to organisation practice and dance. Through a Polar Flow app, we can name adult to 20 activities for your “sport profile”; these are a activities we can name from when we enter training mode on a watch.

To name an activity, we strike a symbol next a watch face, corkscrew to a preferred activity, and daub a idol on a screen. And this is where a Polar M600 starts to uncover a shortcomings. Once we daub a icon, a time starts. On any other regulating watch we have used, this is a two-step slight ― name a activity and afterwards start a clock. This gives we a possibility to stretch, locate your exhale or let a watch find a GPS signal.

Instead, a Polar M600 army we to go to a activity screen, wait for a GPS vigilance and afterwards daub a idol for a preferred activity. It took usually about a notation to find a signal, yet a whole slight felt backwards, and it threw off my routine.

The Polar M600 was unsatisfactory during a run as well. It vibrated during any lap, that is something a Moto 360 Sport, a Garmin Forerunner 235 and a Fitbit Surge all do — yet it totalled laps in kilometers and not miles, even yet we had set my welfare to majestic units of dimensions in Polar Flow. Turns out, we need to adjust a settings elsewhere, too. More on that below.

In addition, a shade went dim once we started running. If we wanted to see any information —distance, pace, time or heart rate — we had to possibly daub a shade or shake my wrist, conjunction of that is easy in a center of a run. The shade stays illuminated for usually a few seconds, that was hardly adequate time to see a data. As someone who looks during his watch several times even during a short, easy run, this angry me. According to Polar, a destiny refurbish might concede for a shade to sojourn on during a workout; a association did a same thing with a A360 watch.

After a run, a Polar M600 displays a run summary, that includes distance, time and pace. You have to act fast to perspective this information, though. As shortly as we was within operation of my phone, a watch started displaying my smartphone notifications, and we couldn’t get a run outline back. This isn’t a large deal, as it’s easy to perspective run information in a Polar app, yet it’s some-more explanation that a Polar M600 is some-more smartwatch than regulating watch.

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App

All information from a Polar M600 is synced with Polar Flow. (This is not to be confused with Polar Beat, a smartphone app that measures activity and syncs with Polar’s chest-strap HRMs.)

Polar Flow is easy to navigate, many some-more so than Garmin Connect. Training information is accessible from a app’s categorical menu, and a shade for any activity shows a many critical information during a glance: Duration, distance, pace, calories and heart rate.

The app divides a run into 1 KM laps, that we found peculiar since we had set miles as my default section of dimensions in Polar Flow’s ubiquitous settings. According to Polar, we also need to change a value of your path stretch within Polar Flow’s particular competition profiles, that changes how a watch collects information as we run. Although we know that a additional step is necessary, as a app itself is simply displaying a information that it gets from a watch, it nonetheless creates for a treacherous process. 

Beyond training activity, a Polar Flow provides a image of your bland activity, that includes time spent resting, sitting and participating in low-, medium- and high-intensity activities. Low power is station or doing light domicile chores, middle power is walking, and high power is walking, bicycling or other such exercise.

Accessing Polar Flow in a browser offers entrance to additional training data, such as liberation status, and once we wear a device for some-more than 21 days, an comment of activity benefit. Polar also offers training programs for 5K and 10Ks, along with half and full marathons. The programs are tailored to how mostly we train, how prolonged we sight per event and a power of those training sessions.

Accuracy

The heart rate guard on a Polar M600 is really accurate. On a 45-minute run, it totalled a same normal heart rate as a Polar H7 chest-strap HRM (140 beats per minute) and was really tighten to a limit heart rate (180 from a watch, compared with 177 from a chest strap). Although this isn’t startling given Polar’s imagination in HRM technology, it’s nonetheless considerable for a watch.

The Polar M600’s correctness in measuring runs was also impressive. One run that totalled 4.48 miles on a M600 was 4.52 on my Fitbit Surge and 4.54 on MilerMeter. Another totalled 4.06 on a M600, compared with 4.13 on my Fitbit and 4.12 on MilerMeter.

Battery

Polar says a M600’s 500mAh battery will final dual days, with 8 hours of training, when interconnected with Android Wear. For iPhone pairings, it’s one day and 8 hours of training.

In my experience, this did not magnitude up. we put on a watch during 1 p.m. with a full battery. Eight hours later, after a 40-minute run and with notifications and plcae services on, a battery was down to 20 percent. we put a watch in Do Not Disturb mode to preserve a battery for a residue of a night.

Later in a week, a 45-minute run (with notifications enabled) emptied a battery from 53 percent to 36 percent. For a watch meant to be ragged all day and used to lane sleep, this is disappointing.

MORE: Fitness Tracker Buying Guide

This continuation is about a same as a Moto 360 Sport, that has a 300 mAh battery, and distant reduction than a Garmin Forerunner 235, that can go some-more than a week between charges. Plus, it takes about 2 hours for a battery to entirely charge.

Bottom Line

Overall, a Polar M600 looks and behaves some-more like a smartwatch and reduction like a regulating watch. The formation with Android Wear is slick, and Polar Flow is a purify and easy-to-use app, yet a watch falls brief of expectations once we start running. It’s a good choice for an Android smartwatch, yet a Garmin Forerunner 235 ― that is a same price, yet has a slimmer design, an always-on shade and a longer-lasting battery ― is a improved regulating watch.

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