Today we present to you Polar’s new wearable, a fitness smartwatch with Android Wear. The M600 has so many features and options that we will gradually fill this M600 review with content and finally a recommendation for who, the fitness watch can be interesting. Among the highlights is certainly Android Wear, which comes as the operation system, and the 6-way LED heart rate sensor. Thus, in addition to the usual Polar exercise features, also extensive Smart Watch features are available, but also bring their disadvantages.
Polar M600 Unboxing
The unboxing is always exciting and fun, especially with a device that we have good reason to be excited for. The Polar M600 falls under that category, so we will torment you no further and open the pretty little box.
As with most fitness trackers, there is not much in the box. It includes the fitness watch, a USB charging cable with a device-specific interface, and quick start/safety instruction guide. That’s all there is.
Other accessories are not in the box, so everyone needs to pick up accessories such as the Polar H7 HR chest strap for themselves if necessary. The packaging is designed to be eye catching compared to other sports watch boxes and so that the M600 can create a positive first impression as a gift.
The USB charging cable is very good and comes with no annoying clamps of mounts. It’s magnetic, so the attachment to the rear panel is a breeze.
Finally, you will find the main part of the packaging, the Polar M600 itself, at 63 grams, it’s not the lightest fitness watch. The comparable Vivoactive HR weighs only 47.6 grams. The very soft silicone band, (similar to the Fitbit Surge or the Vivoactive HR) is very comfortable to wear and is hardly noticeable on the skin.
The M600 in addition has a very well-reacting color touch screen and 2 buttons: A side button (on/off/back/other apps) and a front button for quick access to Polar functions.
Here is the well designed locking closure:
The M600 gives a modern impression when worn on the wrist and can apply itself very well in everyday life. Compared to current fitness watches we see that among other things, an optical pulse sensor is installed.
Here is a size comparison to current Multi-sport GPS trackers. From left to right: TomTom Spark Cardio, Fitbit Blaze, Garmin Vivoactive HR, Garmin Fenix 3, Polar M600.
Polar M600 Highlights
More Hardware under the hood
The Polar M600 comes with many features of the popular Polar M400, which came out about 2 years ago. There is a redesigned optical HR sensor which comes up with 6 LEDs. It is customary in the fitness tracker environment to have 2-3 LEDs like with the TomTom Spark Cardio. More on the pulse sensor later.
One of the reasons why users compare this to the TomTom Spark is the 4GB memory and the ability to pair your bluetooth headset directly with the fitness tracker, so there is no need to carry the smartphone during training. This means that you can put music to the 4 GB local memory, the M600 can be paired with headphones and used as a music player. In practice, only 2.6 GB is actually usable, but should be sufficient for most users to transfer their favorite music to the device. Alternatively, one can control the music with the M600 itself, but also with the music player of the smartphone.
Also noteworthy about the M600 is that it’s 500 mAh battery makes it last longer than other Android Wear smartwatches. With Android, the M600 takes about 2 days, with iOS, little more than one day.
Flexibility through Software: Android Wear
Until now there was no way to expand to foreign apps with the Polar Fitness Tracker. The Android Wear platform opened Polar brand new possibilities, because it makes it easier for developers to write applications for the M600, since they do not need to learn a new platform. Existing Android Wear apps can also be installed on the fitness watch.
Android wear takes care of a lot of features so that the Polar can concentrate on fitness tracking. While in the Polar A360 had to develop software features itself, Android wear replaces this and takes phone calls, smartphone notifications, and calendar alerts. In addition, Polar’s apps gain a voice control, music control and Google Maps.
The watch is fortunately not tied to Android. The M600 can also be used with Apple’s iOS, but we should let you know that you will be better off sticking with Android here because that’s what the watch is optimized for. This is evident by looking at it’s battery life.
Android Wear and Polar Flow device
The set up with Android (version 6) was problem-free. Android devices starting with version 4.3 and Apple iOS devices from version 8.2 should be compatible. The initial setup into 3 phases. Sounds daunting, but it’s not, as most steps proceed automatically and the user has to follow well-presented instructions.
The M600 goes through its first installation and displays on screen the steps that must be taken to be paired with the Android Wear app.
If Android Wear is not installed, this must be done first. Pairing with Android Wear via Bluetooth is not a problem.
After it’s paired with a code, the user can find some app updates that take a few minutes to complete. Then comes the possibility for the Polar Flow app to install.
After the installation requires Flow a connection to the M600. If you already have an account, only a log in is necessary and the M600 is all set up:
Now, the M600 is also paired to the Polar Flow app. Flow should be allowed to access the locations and vital signs, so the app receives the necessary data for evaluation.
Now the first workout in the M600 test can be approached:
M600 Review – Optical Heart Rate Sensor
Polar gave the M600 a pulse sensor with 6 LEDs. More doesn’t always lead to better pulse value results. The accuracy depends not only on hardware but also from the device’s form factor. The device has a software algorithm that calculates the heart rate data. The A360 has 2 LEDs, and after Polar released some updates, the accuracy of the HR sensor was slightly better. Polar has apparently achieved better test results in the M600 with the 6 LEDs. Whether these results are accurate or not, our tests will show.
With the M600 relevant to know is that Polar does not support 24 × 7 pulse measurement just like with the A360 fitness watch. That is, the HR sensor is only activated explicitly during training or by calling the appropriate option in Android Wear. Many manufacturers have in common that the HR sensor is active 24/7, not every second, but in dynamic intervals (ex. Garmin) or minute intervals (ex. TomTom Spark Cardio approx. Every 10 minutes.) In training there are usually 1 second intervals.
Polar will probably not allow the users to wait for a long time for the 24 × 7 heart rate feature. Garmin, for example, shows that it is possible to derive interesting data such as the resting HR, especially for athletes.
In order to convince us of the accuracy of the pulse sensor and of the GPS data, we are running the test between the M600 and Polar’s Multi-sport flagship, the V800. The V800 is paired with the Polar HR7 chest strap.
GPS and heart rate search
It is also helpful that the V800 displays the status of the GPS search in percents. This allows us to better judge the progress of the GPS.
While the V800 GPS reception is slightly faster, both fitness watches find the same pulse in almost identical time.
Running in Comparison
In the first test run, the measured data was almost identical, as portrayed here. On both trackers is the automatic lap feature enabled. The screenshot below shows an overview on the running unit:
Above some variations by the “automatic laps can be seen.” The difference in time comes in round 1 through an auto stop of the V800 at a traffic light and the auto stop was not enabled in the M600. Likewise, a greater time difference in round 4 can be seen.
If one goes into the purest of details in the screenshots below, the M600’s GPS accuracy is even better because more details in the routes can be recognized.
In the accuracy of the Final HR results there is little variation. However, in the M600 there is a dropout in the record around the 2km mark.
These are almost identical measuring results.
The Test in the Water, Swimming and Display Behavior
The M600 is protected by IPX8 against the ingress of water and can be worn during swimming. There is also a swimming profile. This is not a highlight, yet it also is, because we’re talking about an Android Wear Smart Watch. With the M600 you can go swimming without problems. This feature is a highlight apart from other manufacturers.
As it is known, the M600 determines floating metrics such as arm pulls. Nevertheless, we wanted to know anyways if it works underwater.
While the pulse sensor is switched off by many manufacturers, with M600 it remains switched on when the swimming profile is selected. The M600 features two short swimming units as follows:
If you look at the recorded pulse values, we see that the M600 has no recorded gaps, however, the pulse values appear to be low. The reasons can be numerous, such as water penetration and cold skin.
The behavior of the display when wet is interesting. We can only advise not to use the display when wet. If it is possible, just use the two buttons. The display is very responsive, so that using it is practically impossible. With the buttons, however, you can pause or continue a unit.
Smart Coaching with the Polar M600
The Smart Coaching functions known from the Polar M400 are also available on the M600. These functions are among the most popular with athletes and characterizes Polar. They enable a structured approach during training and provide the user with individual feedback.
Among the Smart Coaching functions are:
- Activity Guide: Shows how active you were during the day, and gives practical tips on how to reach their daily activity goal.
- Activity Benefit: Gives Feedback for daily, weekly and monthly activity and shows how to stay healthy by being active.
- Running Index: Regular use makes it possible to check the efficiency of running training. It is based on heart rate and speed data.
- Smart Calories: Displays how many calories you have burned exactly based on weight, height, age, gender, the maximum heart rate (HR max), and the intensity of the workout.
- Running Program: Training for a running race with the personal and adaptive Polar Flow Training Plan. You can select from one of four locations and a comprehensible training plan that suits an individual’s target. You can choose from 5km, 10 km, half marathons, or full marathons.
- Training Benefit: It motivates by giving feedback and describes the effect of the training session.
FAQ, Tips, Interesting Test Results for M600
Further questions arise about the M600 often. Below you will find the answers:
Will there be different color options?
- Yes, bands in different colors will be available soon, according to Polar.
What features are supported by iOS?
- The Polar functions are available regardless of whether the M600 is paired with an Android or an iOS device. A difference is currently that under iOS no apps can be installed on the M600 and no e-mails can be sent.
Will there be a better support for Apple’s iOS?
- Yes, better support will come with an update of Android Wear to version 2 by Google. This has been announced for 2017
Does the display remain on all the time?
- It depends on your settings.
Is the HR also recorded without sports activity?
• No, a 24/7 HR measurement does not take place. You can measure the current heart rate at any time via the Google Fit app on the M600. Third-party apps (such as Heart Rate OS) also exist in the Android Wear Store, which can take over this function and are configurable in many ways, for example, how often the pulse should be measured.
Can better swimming metrics be recorded?
• Not with the M600 itself, but, for example, with the App Store Swim.com available in the Wear Store.
Is it possible to use it at the same time as a training session with the HR7 chest and Bluetooth headphones?
- Yes that is possible.
Is the M600 triathlon suitable?
- Not really, but there is the Polar V800.
What is the difference towards Polar V800 and M400?
- The M600 is a watch with all smart benefits (such as translation, map navigation, music playback), the V800 is a purebred multi-sport computer and M400 a run-training computer.
Are Smart Notifications such as WhatsApp- and mail messages displayed completely, or there is only a short fade in?
- Yes, you can read the entire message with the M600.
How far does the Bluetooth distance in paired headphone music playback?
- The M600 paired with Bluetooth headphones is at about 10-12 meters without obstacles.