Reviewed: Polar Loop Activity Monitor Dec 6 2013

Pros:

  • It’s swim-safe.
  • It’s a watch.
  • It’s a Polar, and they have years of experience making quality gear for competitive athletes.

Cons:

  • Capacitive touch button is too temperamental.
  • Vague commitment to sleep tracking.
  • Too many Polar apps and Web properties and too many databases that don’t interconnect.

I was very happy to receive my Polar Loop for this review. I’ve been a loyal Polar customer for years, mainly through the purchase of an FT80, related chest straps, and the use of polarpersonaltrainer.com. So when I discovered that Polar, a well respected maker of HRMs and other digital tracking gear for serious athletes, was coming out with a potential competitor to Nike I was intrigued. Let’s see how the Loop’s overall performance matches up:

 Polar LoopJawbone UPNike+ FuelBand
Data & Connectivity2.554.5
Functions574
Personalization7119
Support579
TOTAL SCORE19.53026.5

We’re going to draw comparisons with the Jawbone UP and the Nike+ FuelBand – all three products are pretty sharply focused on tracking activity, and the Loop and the FuelBand go one step further by providing a watch. Even so, the numbers didn’t work out quite as expected – we’ll have to dig in to find out why. But let’s start with a basic overview first:

CriteriaPolar LoopJawbone UPNike+ FuelBand
Review DateDec 6 2013Aug 15 2013Aug 15 2013
Product CategoryActivity MonitorActivity MonitorActivity Monitor
Form FactorWrist BandWrist BandWrist Band
SensorsMotionMotionMotion
On-Body/Body LocationWrist onlyWrist onlyWrist only
Algorithms by??MotionX?
MSRP$109.95$129.99$149.00

No surprises here, the Loop is a handsome piece of work that closes with a simple clasp that seems up to the job. Be careful how you trim the wrist band – if it turns out to be too snug there’s no easy way undo your adjustments. The one control button scrolls through time, heart rate (only if you’re wearing a chest strap), goal status, calories, and steps. Occasionally I found the capacitive button to be temperamental – when this occurred during workouts I wasn’t happy.

By and large, I was happy to have a stand-in for my trusty FT80 (not so trusty any more – it’s just getting old and I need an upgrade) and receive a real-time feed of my heart rate. However, I discovered that the Loop’s results appear on flow.polar.com, which is different from polarpersonaltrainer.com, and different from the Polar Beat app I used briefly earlier this year. I’m waiting for Polar to integrate these properties, the data they store, and the overall experiences between devices, apps, and Web sites.

Lets break down the categories and start with Data & Connectivity.

Quick link to buy at Amazon