OPINION: Polar M600

Polar-M600-M600_front_black_weatherPolar today announced the M600 sports watch.

It’s positioned as a 247, top-end sports watch for generalist sporty people who perhaps; run, do gym and do classes.

It’s priced initially at: UK£265, US$330.

It’s an innovative move for the company by building Polar hardware around Google’s Android Wear platform – rather than developing their own on-board sports and app platform.

ESSENTIAL READING: Polar M600 Functions and Features.

On the face of it the M600 seems to have addressed VERY many concerns from pervious models:

  • It’s got a great colour screen
  • It’s waterproof enough for swimming
  • Cumbersome charging methods of previous models, A360/V800/M400 have been improved
  • It effectively now has a ‘Polar app store’ through Android Wear/Google Play
  • Optical HR sensor improvement seems to have been taken very seriously
  • Onboard music
  • All the usual Polar screens and sport profiles are there , not ever likes them but they are functional and wide-ranging in what they cover. There’s also some of Polar’s clever metrics. A different bundle to Garmin but the basics are pretty much the same.

However new concerns are now raised

  • This device targets men and women alike, with the latter being a rapidly growing part of the market. Is the device too big for the smaller wristed?
  • To address the need of more serious runners we await testing to prove current running pace accuracy (GPS/GLONASS). Note: cadence and indoor speed should also be obtained from inbuilt accelerometer, again this needs testing.
  • The iOS integration by Android Wear is currently quite functionally limited. v2 released later in 2016
  • At US$330 it is pushing the limit of what the target market will bear, in my opinion. Only the Apple Watch is likely to be more expensive. Similarly-intended fitness/sports devices from the likes of Fitbit (Surge $204), Samsung (Gear Fit2 $190), Motorolla (Moto 360 Gen 2, $264), Sony (Smart Watch 3 $135), Garmin (vivoactive HR, $260) are cheaper. Sometimes significantly so.
  • Battery life is good compared to the competitors on a like-for-like basis BUT still ‘only’ officially 2 days / 8 hours of training (with Android phone), 1 day / 8 hours of training (with iPhone)

So. It’s NOT a fully fledged running watch and you are paying a notable premium for:

  1. It’s looks – good!  – fair enough, is it too big for you?
  2. Better battery than the direct competition – fair enough
  3. A ‘proper’ app ecosystem for the target market – super, eventually
  4. A hopefully good optical HR implementation – hopefully

And, in my opinion, the reality for most of the likely buyers will be that they value the looks and the APPs most of all. Whilst NOT unique selling points those 2 (4) areas do differentiate the product from most of the competition quite nicely.

Whilst it looks great to me. I’m not so sure the market is as easy a target as others might think.

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0 thoughts on “OPINION: Polar M600

    • I think the main thing is that it’s an Android Wear watch with a use-case. Not a lot of smart watches have addressed the question “why do I need this, what does it do?”. Polar have made a very clever move here because not only do they answer that question, they also answer the occasional sports person who is wondering why the expensive polar isn’t a proper smart watch. I think this will sell like hotcakes unless Garmin pull the rug from under them again (the poor v800 stood no chance!). If they do though, it’ll be the death of ConnectIQ so would we awkward from a PR perspective.

      • Garmin is sadly mistaken if they believe that ConnectIQ is the long term solution to compete against Google Wear and Apple Watch (from an app perspective). Depending on the performance of this watch, this will be an amazing proof of concept that a training watch CAN using Google Wear and perform acceptably.

        Once the Apple Watch drops next month with Cellular and GPS (with slightly better battery life and waterproof-ness), it will also cut into the Vivoactive HR/M600 sales. Apple Watch will never be a Fenix3/Ambit3 Peak/Spartan Ultra replacement (just from a battery life/durability perspective), but it could eat up all entry level to marathon runners (who are Apple users) pretty easily.

        • It kind of feels like all of the pieces of the jigsaw to that ideal watch are out there on the various platforms and yet we are still a million miles from that killer device launching. I love my Apple stuff but I don’t think one revision will fix everything that I need to replace my Garmin 920XT; without GPS it’s not a serious rival and given the battery life is already dismal if they add GPS then it will spend more time charging than recording activities! I completely agree about the Garmin Connect IQ stuff; I haven’t found a single app worth putting on my 920 and I’ve turned off all of the phone notifications because it doesn’t have the system level integration needed to make them useful to me (that’ bit is not Garmin’s fault). I don’t see me buying anything Android wear because I’ll always have an inferior experience as a non-android phone user (and no it won’t make swap my phone).

          • yep. agreed. 2 problems; 1. battery…AFAIK it is going to be hard to improve batteries that much (as opposed to battery consumption of components) 2. yes the ‘bits’ seem to be there BUT once someone puts them all in a watch there are then other bits…never ends.

        • yep. CIQ sounded ok at the time, then it sounded good once we understood it. It is still being developed and improved/ extended BUT as you say it is nothing like the google/apple alternatives. Can it ever be?…probably not

      • very clever indeed. too clever? let’s see how many it sells. don’t forget there are others eg moto36 and there will be more eg New Balance. I’d imagine they will all end up doing a broadly similar thing and polar IS expensive.

  1. Two points for you:

    – It actually does support cycling sensors per Polar’s own page.
    – You can also do manual laps by pressing the physical button on the watch.

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