If you're someone looking for a competent blend of fitness tracker and smartwatch, the Android Wear-powered Polar M600 is the ticket. Although, there are some hardcore fitness trackers that can last longer and provide more accurate GPS results.
Robust fitness tracking
Screen shows scan lines
Not the best-looking smartwatch
Poor battery life on iOS
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Update: Good news, Polar has released the anticipated Android Wear 2.0 update for the M600 smartwatch. In case you don't know about what that brings to the table, let us enlighten you.
Polar's fitness-focused smartwatch now offers the Google Play store embedded right into the watch. In addition to letting you install and enjoy native apps, you can also use them while away from your smartphone, which is something new for Android Wear 2.0.
Another inherent perk of the new software is the built-in Google Assistant. A long press of the hardware button now queues up the smart assistant who is at the ready to help you execute a bunch of tasks with just your voice.
There's more! Polar announced that the M600 now supports indoor swimming metrics, which is a very sought-after feature in a fitness tracker, let alone a smartwatch. This metric can measure distance, pace, strokes per minute and strokes per pool length. It's so smart that it can even tell if you're swimming in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly styles.
Lastly, the battery life has been improved to 36 hours, a sizable improvement over the average of about a day with the previous version of Android Wear.
Original review follows below.
Polar has gotten along just fine making stellar fitness trackers in the advent of smartwatches. And while it shows no signs of stopping, it's trying something totally new with the Polar M600, a new Android Wear smartwatch that takes after the look of its past products.
While most Android Wear smartwatches are designed to be suited for the office or a night out, Polar's latest looks unashamedly like a standard fitness tracker. As a result, it's a bit bulkier than other, more svelte options, like the Huawei Watch and Moto 360 2nd Gen.
But what's most noteworthy about the Polar M600 are the handful of features that set it apart from many of the others, thin and attractive as they may be: it's waterproof, it will be upgraded to Android Wear 2.0, it works on both iOS and Android, and it packs in GPS, like the Moto 360 Sport.
Not just that, Polar has implemented its own coaching and activity tracking software into the experience. It's not too often you see a company mess with stock Android Wear, but in this case, Polar has created some of the most alluring fitness tracking options available on a smartwatch today.
The Polar M600 is on sale for $329 (£265, AU$499), which competes in price with the legion of other established smartwatches, including the Samsung Gear S3 Classic and Apple Watch 2. And although there are some design misfires, and it likely won't change your tune if you aren't a fan of Android Wear, Polar's choice to ditch a conversation-starting design in favor for unique, fitness-focused features earns it points.
- Polar ditches the regal look of most smartwatches for something more gym-friendly
- The build is somewhat bulky and its proprietary charger is a hassle, but it allows this watch to get wet
If the Polar M600 was hiding in a group of Polar's products from the last year, you probably wouldn't be able to pick it out of the crowd. Most similar to the Polar V800, it also rocks a vibrant silicone band that will stand up to the rigors of working out - even if that so happens to be in a pool.
But unlike the other products in Polar's line, there are fewer buttons here. Just two, actually. That's because this one has a touchscreen, which obviously allows your fingers and accelerometer-powered gestures to do most of the navigation.
The main button sitting in front activates Polar's activity tracking app when pressed. Once you're in a workout, simply holding down the same button offers up the options to pause or stop the activity. You can navigate backward with a swipe of the screen, but thankfully, there's a back button on the left side of the device, which is easier to narrow in on during a frantic workout.
The M600 can be popped out of its band to make things easier to clean, or to just change over to a different band color (black and white colors are available). The strap has several adjustment options and fits comfortably on relatively bare wrists and those with hair alike.
Most smartwatches charge wirelessly, but Polar's smartest device yet annoyingly uses a proprietary pogo pin connector, like the Pebble Time and just about every Fitbit device out there.
Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.
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