The just announced Polar M600 represents a significant new direction for Polar. As the fitness heart rate pioneer whose experience dates all the way back to the 1980s, we review several new features of the latest model and how it will be different than most on the market. At $330, the Polar M600 is scheduled for availability later in 2016.
Wrist-Based Heart Rate Monitoring
For the first time Polar is offering a wrist-based heart rate system in a full GPS training watch. The system uses Polar’s proprietary 6 LED optical sensing system (most competitors use 2 or 3 LED’s). While we have not yet tested the M600, it is likely that the additional LED’s improve the reliability of heart rate readings for varying wrist sizes, intensity of activities, and wider temperature and humidity ranges.
The operating system is now based on Google’s Android Wear. Unlike the Apple Watch, GPS on board the M600 allows phone free training. Runners with Android phones can chose from over 4,000 Android Wear apps at Google Play to download to the M600, including running apps, turn-by-turn directions, and search. If you have an Android phone, the watch can become a phone free Bluetooth music player with a capacity of several hundred songs. If you have an iPhone, you can control music from the watch but have to carry your phone. Most intriguingly, Polar implementation of Android Wear includes wrist gestures and a microphone, thus enabling voice and gesture control of the watch. We can’t wait to see how these features may be implemented in the M600. Imagine asking or gesturing for your average pace or current heart rate without scrolling through screens.
With the same screen size and only slightly thicker and heavier (0.26 oz.) than the svelte and stylish M400 ($180), the M600 gets a color screen with increased resolution, well protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. However, it is not a touchscreen. Waterproofing is enhanced with the watch earning a full IPX 8 rating, which is suitable for swimming down to 10 meters depth. Training battery life is eight hours and two days if connected to an Android phone.
The watch serves as the data collection gateway to the excellent Polar Flow app and website where your 24/7 activity, sleep, workouts and training recovery time are analyzed and clearly presented. Polar Flow then enhances the value of your data with Smart Coaching, a collection of tools which even includes an estimate of how many calories you have expended based on your maximum heart rate and how hard you are training. Do multiple sports? The watch can be loaded with more than 100 different sport profiles.