Few companies can rival Polar's heritage in fitness tech, and its heart rate monitors have been the preserve of hardcore runners since the 1980s. But now that seemingly every tech company is making their own activity trackers, the Polar opens up its technology to the masses with the Polar Loop.
Just like the Garmin Vivofit, the Nike Fuelband SE and the Jawbone UP24, the Polar Loop wristband is designed to track the health and fitness of the everyday person, not just the serious athlete.
Trading interval training in the gym for the daily rush to the bus stop, the Polar Loop tracks all key health stats including calories, steps and movement and tracking it using its app Polar Flow.
Full verdict: Check out our Polar M400 review
With waterproofing and the ability to pair a heart rate monitor for added accuracy, the Polar Loop is a serious contender in the sports band stakes but does it have enough to take on tech's big players?
Read on to find out if the Polar is the activity tracker you should be strapping on.
Polar Loop: Features and design
Carefully cut the packaging and it's immediately evident that the design and build of the Polar Loop is lacking, when compared to the superbly crafted Jawbone UP24 or even Samsung Gear Fit. It's made of a soft, near translucent plastic, and the plum coloured option is a dirty look that's less than pleasing to the eye, although the payoff is a significant weight saving.
The curved contours hug the wrist comfortably and after time you barely notice it's there, a pre-requisite for something designed to be worn 24/7. The band features an LED screen across which the various stats from your number of steps to calories burned are displayed – and you can scroll through these with a press of the single capacitive button.
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The use of a virtual 'touch' button rather than a physical key means there's no unsightly lumps or bumps breaking up the smooth look of the Loop, however, we were unimpressed by the responsiveness, and were often frustrated by it taking two or three attempts to register a press, and unfortunately, that's not the only bugbear.
We were also miffed by having to perform some handicrafts to size your band to fit when you first set it up. One false snip with the scissors on the plasticky band and the only activity your Polar Loop will be tracking will be your walk to the bin.
Polar Loop: App, web tools and syncing
The Polar Loop syncs via Bluetooth with Polar's new Polar Flow web-based monitoring tools and iPhone app, automatically updating your data every 15 minutes.
Using the app or the website, you can dig into your daily, weekly and monthly activity, see when you've been least active and also get tips on how to hit today's target – which again serious users will find a little patronising.
Both the Polar Flow app and web tool have good levels of detail displayed in a way that's easy to digest.
For monitoring your own activity, there's a simple calendar view that lets you see your stats for any given day, week or month. Drilling down to the day view offers fantastic detail on all your vital stats like calories and steps plus by-the-hour activity and total number of minutes spent resting, sitting, low (housework), medium (walking) and high intensity (running) movement.
Inactivity alerts are logged for periods where you've been sedentary for long periods, although it's limited to a discreet flash of the LCD display, rather than an aggressive buzz, which is easy to miss when you're having a busy day at your desk. iOS users will also get an alert via the app as well, but no such luck for Fandroids.
On the plus side Polar Flow does have an active social community that means you can compare activity with your friends, family and strangers. The Polar app and website both offer a feed of what other Polar Flowers are up to and you can even comment on their activity.
Polar Loop: battery life
We managed around six days from a single, full charge, which is in-line with Polar's claims, and on occasions ours even went beyond that.
Recharging from empty was also impressively quick. We got a full charge in a little under ninety minutes. However, having to rely on a slightly odd magnetised USB charging cable that's unique to this device is frankly annoying. A standard Micro USB would be preferable, making it easier to charge anywhere in the world.
- Pairs with heart rate chest strap
- Impressive battery life
- A good price point
- Can be worn swimming
- Custom USB cable
- Cheap metallic clasp
- Unresponsive physical button
- Fiddly strap fitting