Recently, I purchased Polars second-highest end fitness smartwatch, the M600. A brief overview of what this watch is:
Hardware-wise, it’s your typical fitness watch. It includes an advanced real-time heart-rate monitor, that can pick up heart rates even as you move. It has an accelerometer tuned to detecting the athlete’s motion, from walking through running. It has a 2 day long battery (not because of poor battery quality, but because of the OS — more later), a unibody construction that is water resistant to over 1 meter, and a fitness optimized snap-in band that holds the unit itself. It features two buttons, a “fitness” button on the front that brings up Polar’s fitness app, and a “Google” button on the side that brings up your Google Apps, or if held, Google Assistant. As a watch, it is not a fashion accessory, but an obvious fitness device that will likely clash with your outfit unless your outfit is bicycle or running shorts and a t-shirt. It won’t necessarily ruin said outfit, but this is no Rolex, that is for sure. But you can sure get your Dick Tracey on. Try holding the Google Button and then asking, “What’s the temperature right now?”, and then bam, you’re looking at the current temperature in your area.
The software is what distinguishes this watch from all other Polar watches, and other watches in general. The M600 runs Android Wear 2. Thanks to this, you are far from limited on what the watch can do. On one hand, you lose the set and forget nature of the typical Fitbit style device. You need to interact with your device more often, such as to bring up workout data, start exercises, and so on. On the other, the Android Wear watch is light-years more versatile than any proprietary fitness watch thanks to its open nature.
Let’s start with the fitness app. Polar’s built-in app gives you features you’d expect on any modern fitness tracker — movement detection, sleep detection, HRM features, etc. The app is a bit short on useful features, such as Continuous HRM, and its sleep tracking support is a bit spotty. Unlike most trackers, it doesn’t detect when you start an exercise. These shortcomings are identified by the company and it’s on the radar for them to fix going forward. This is a great shortcoming of this watch, for sure, and many people might choose not to get it on this. But that misses the real advantage of these watches.
Android Wear allows you to replace the default fitness tracking app with something else. So, for instance, I have replaced Polar’s fitness tracker with Runkeeper Pro. I have mapped the Runkeeper app to the Fitness button described above, so when I hit my Fitness Button, Runkeeper pops up ready to start a run. You can program Runkeeper to track other exercises with a few pushes on the screen, and during the workout, Runkeeper will pull HRM data from the onboard sensor, or from a chest strap if you prefer (the watch has Bluetooth so it will pair with the strap). Continuous HRM can be provided with the Heart Rate OS2 app, which will measure heart rate every 30 minutes, or more often if you purchase the Pro version of the app, up to once every 5 minutes. More rapid heart rate checks may be desired in some use cases, but for my purposes, this is sufficient.
No Fitness Tracker’s sleep tracking system can match the Android app Sleep as Android. With two button presses on my watch, or a button press and a verbal “Start Sleep Tracking” (Dick Tracey again), my lights in my bedroom turn off, nighttime sleep sounds start up, and my watch begins monitoring my heart rate and movement, giving an image of my sleep states when I wake up. All of this is uploaded in the cloud.
If your goal is fitness tracking without mindfulness, you might look to a different tracker, but if your goal is to marry the fitness watch to the Android Wear smartwatch, Polar’s M600 is right up your ally. Combining Android Wear’s versatility with Polar’s hardware has made a winner of a device for me. Notifications at the wrist, a host of Androidwear Smartwatch features, options for tracking beyond the vendor provided app, and plenty of other apps that the vendor would never have thought of? It’s just what I wanted.