Polar, who is well known for their heart rate sensors and sports watches, have a new wrist worn activity tracker called the Loop. The gadget category of activity trackers is so crowded that competition is fierce. Let’s see how the Polar Loop measures up.
Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.
The Loop has a simple style that reminds me of the silicon wrist bands that people wear to show support for different charities. The Loop is available in blue, purple or black. As you can see, I was sent the black version.
The fit of the band can be customized, but it’s not for the faint of heart, because you have to actually cut off the ends of the band to change the fit. Instructions are included to help you measure your wrist to help you size the band. It took me three times before I finally got the right fit because I was afraid to cut too much off.
In the image above you’ll notice the circular connector under the strap for the syncing / charging cable.
A proprietary USB charging cable connects to the Polar Loop with a magnet.
While charging, the Loop’s display will show an animated plug along with the charging percentage. It charges relatively quickly and has a battery life of 5 days of continuous use per charge.
To start using the tracker you first need to connect it to a PC or Mac to activate and charge it. You’ll be required to download and install an app on the computer which will set up an account that includes your vital stats including gender, age, height, weight and your typical daily activity level. The Loop then uses this info to set daily activity goals. I picked “mostly sitting” as my activity level which gave me a daily goal of 7500 steps.
After the Loop is charged and activated, it’s time to slap it on your wrist and get moving. The Polar Loop tracks steps, calories, activity and sleep quality. It can also show your heart rate if you also have a Polar H6 or H7 Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor.
To check the time, your steps, etc, you just tap the “button” on the band. You can see the button on the right side of the display. It’s a touch sensitive button, not a physical button and it provides no tactile feedback. On the black version of the Loop, the display is a bright red LED dot matrix style display which only lights up for a few seconds and then turns off. The Loop remembers which mode you left it in and will keep it there so you don’t have to cycle through the various modes each time you want to check your stats.
In addition to showing your daily accumulated steps and burned calories, the Loop gives you a graphical representation of your activity (or lack thereof) by showing a bar that fills in from right to left with animated pixels. Once the bar has displayed, the Loop will then tell you how long you can jog, walk or move to max out your daily activity goal.
While you can see the number of steps that you’ve walked each day just by tapping the to button on the watch, it’s obviously easier to see more details and trends on a larger screen like your computer or mobile device. To sync the data you can either use the USB sync / charge cable that comes with the Loop or you can sync via Bluetooth with your mobile device using the iOS or Android mobile app.
On a PC data can be viewed by day, week or month to show how active or inactive you might be.
The same info is shown on the mobile app.
The computer and mobile apps are also the only way to see your sleep data. Granted, the sleep info is pretty basic with just the number of hours slept including totals for restful vs. restless sleep. Unlike some trackers, it doesn’t show you an hourly graph of the times you were restless vs. resting. One nice thing about the Polar Loop is that you do not have to manually tell the tracker when you’re sleeping. It uses it’s built in sensors to figure that out. Of course you have to wear the Loop while you sleep for that to work.
Syncing and using the app is easy enough, but the one feature that I was actually looking forward to most doesn’t seem to work. That’s the feature that is supposed to notify you when you’re inactive for more than an hour so that you’ll be motivated to get up and move around. I set up the inactivity notification using the Loop Android app on my LG G3, but it never alerted me. Even if the notification feature had worked, I wouldn’t be that excited because I thought the Loop band itself would alert me instead of the phone…
The things I would like to see Polar improve upon with the next version of the Loop activity tracker includes fixing the inactivity notifications, add stair counting and a heart rate sensor that doesn’t require an optional chest strap. The features that I like about the Polar Loop include that it’s waterproof, has an easy on/off wrist band clasp, a bright display, suggestions on how to reach the daily activity goal and is easy to use. The Polar Loop isn’t the best activity tracker on the market and isn’t the worst either. It’s situated somewhere in the middle of the pack. Being in the middle isn’t always a bad thing, but in a crowded market it won’t get you noticed either. I think Polar real has its work cut out for it if it wants to be a real competitor in this genre of affordable wearable fitness gadgets.
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Polar. Please visit their site for more info.