Review: Polar M600 GPS Sports Watch – featuring Android Wear

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Polar is a brand well known for their fitness products. Their typical product delivers you stats about your fitness and health, with a dash of GPS and heart rate monitoring. With the Polar M600, Polar are stepping into the next frontier. The M600 not only brings you heart rate monitoring and GPS, but it throws in all that on top of a watch that runs Android Wear.

We took the watch for a ride to test out how well it works and were reasonably impressed. Read on to find out how we got on.

Features and specs

  • Wrist based heart rate
  • Create custom sport profiles
  • 24/7 activity monitoring
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Smart Coaching gives you training benefits, smart stats on calories burnt, running index and more
  • Water Resistant
  • Integrated GPS
  • Compatible with other Polar Products
  • Runs on Android Wear
  • Gorilla Glass for a rugged outdoor experience
  • Up to 2 day battery life on Android, up to 1 day on iOS

Look and feel – chunky but rugged and functional

The competitors have been trying hard to make their smart watches as sexy and as ‘life style’ as possible. Not Polar. They are sticking to their niche, and this watch looks no different. This is a sports watch designed for the person on the move, and it will not be making any style based apologies for that.

Almost a centimetre thick, it wraps around your wrist easily with a wide strap.

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The back features the optical sensors as well as the propriety charging connector.

There is an ‘activity’ button on the front and a ‘back’ button on the left side. The back button works like any other Android wear watch, while the activity button brings up the Polar activity tracking app, as well as lets you track through your daily activities.

Unlike other Polar watches, you only have two buttons. This is because this supports a touch screen, and rest of the navigation is through the screen.

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The watch can also be popped out of its strap in case you want to wash it after a particularly muddy run/activity. Being IPX8 rated means that is definitely not a problem.

Overall it feels solid on the wrist, and should fit most wrists apart from the very small ones. The strap is solid, and should last a while.

The chunkier size does mean that it is not the kind of watch you’d want to go to bed in.

Setup – Install the app and you’re good to go

Like any other Android watch, the setup is reasonably simple, and you can connect it to your Android or even your iPhone. From the Android Wear app, you can add watch faces, install apps, and the usual stuff.

On top of that, it is best to install the Polar Flow app, which is available for both Android and iOS as well. This app connects to the watch and then lets you view your fitness data in more detail, as well as provides you with extra information such as sport coaching and such like.

The Screen – The only downside

This is another aspect where Polar have decided to go against the grain by giving up on the sexy and sticking with the purely functional. You get a 1.3inch, 240 x 240 pixel screen with a transmissive TFT display. The result is that you get something that is okay, but not impressive. The screen is a bit hard to see in bright light, and screen lines are definitely visible. The pixels also get accentuated when the screen goes in its ‘standby’ mode.

However, it all gets better from there.

Performance – Ticks the boxes

Another area where Polar didn’t stick to the norm was going with a MediaTek processor. It also packs in half a gig of RAM and 4GB of storage. The result is a fairly decent performance. In my 2 weeks of testing so far, I have seen no lag and nothing slowing the system down. All apps work well, and more importantly, all fitness related stuff works a treat.

Android Wear – Great with Android, not so much with iPhone

This watch is a watch of two halfs. There is the Android Wear side to it. This side works fairly well, and does not disappoint. What is great is that it is one of the watches that will get Android Wear 2 when it finally gets released. This should help with some of its abilities when it comes to using the watch with an iPhone. My test was with an Android, so I didn’t really have any complains.

Fitness – This is where this watch beats the competition

This is where the device really shines. Polar have worked hard in making this a pure fitness watch. This means that you press the Activity button, and you’re good to go.

This then takes you to a menu that lets you start your activity or see what you’ve done so far in the day.

If you want to start your activity, you can choose what activity you want. This could be anything from cycling or running to cricket. I was particularly pleased about cricket as not many watches/fitness devices will have that as an option.

After that, the watch starts to read your heart rate, the GPS receiver pops on, and you’re good to go. Since the GPS is built into the system, you don’t actually need to have your phone paired to the watch while you go on your run or your bike ride. As and when the phone gets the chance to pair with the watch, the data is automatically transferred across.

The app then takes all this data and presents it to you in a great and neat format.

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Click on any of these activities (i.e. the bike icon), and you’ll get more information.

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Scroll down and you get even more:

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It all gels in very well.

In fact, this sets an example of how fitness should be integrated into smart watches, or Android Wear watches at least.

Third Party Fitness Apps 

Yes, the likes of Runkeeper and Runtastic work with this, but the HR monitor doesn’t seem to talk to them. That means that they are not really that useful with this watch.

Sleep monitoring – Basic info

Sleep is also monitored with this device, but you just get a bunch of numbers, but not the nitty gritty details.

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Battery Information – It does last over 2 days!

My favourite bit about this watch is the battery – it does last 2 days on average! It all depends on how much you run the GPS/HR monitor by recording your activities. On average I got 2 days, and on lazier days, I managed to get three days out of it too.

A hurrah for smart watches everywhere!

More information

More information on the Polar M600 can be found on the Polar website. It retails around £260, and can be found on various online retailers such as Amazon.

Verdict

All in all this is rather lovely and useful watch for anybody who likes to stay fit and isn’t too lazy to get off their bum once in a while. Chunky it may be, but the software on the watch ensures that you get the full fitness experience you expect from any Polar watch, with the added benefit of Android Wear.

Read on for full specs.


Full Specs

Operating system Android Wear™
Compatibility Smartphones running Android 4.3 or higher, or iPhone 5 or later running iOS 8.2 or higher
Processor MediaTek MT2601, Dual-Core 1.2GHz processor based on ARM Cortex-A7
Memory 4GB internal storage + 512MB RAM
Display 1,30″, 240 x 240 pixels, 260ppi transmissive TFT display, Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
Battery 500mAh
Battery life 2 days / 8 hours of training (with Android phone), 1 day / 8 hours of training (with iPhone)
Heart rate sensor Optical heart rate measurement with 6 LEDs
Sensors Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Gyroscope, Vibration motor, Microphone
Water resistance Suitable for swimming, 10 meters, IPX8
Weight 63g
Connectivity Bluetooth® 4.2 Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Dimensions 45x36x13
Physical buttons 2 buttons: power button and front button for quick training control
Bands Silicone
Location GPS and Glonass
UI languages English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin), Japanese, Indonesian, Korean, Thai

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