Just 2 weeks ago, Polar upgraded the nearly 2 years old Polar Loop with the release of a new model. The original Polar Loop was a 24/7 activity tracker that had heart rate monitoring capabilities when connected to a Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor. However it failed to impress with the lack of audio or vibration feedback. With the addition of vibrating activity reminders and smart phone notifications for both iOS and Android devices, will the Polar Loop 2 (RRP $99.95) fare better than its predecessor? Here’s what I have to say.
POLAR LOOP 2 IN SHORT
- Tracks steps, distance, calories, sleep
- Tracks heart rate with Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor
- Smart notifications for both iOS and Android devices
- Vibration enabled
- Waterproof to 20m
- Customised fit to the individual
- 8 days battery life with an hour of training tracking per day
- Inactivity reminder every 55 minutes
- Wireless syncing via Bluetooth Smart
- Activity Goal indicator bar
- Appeals to a niche group of individuals
- Display can’t be seen under strong day light
LOOK AND FEEL
The Polar website states that there are 2 versions; a TPU and a silicon version. I had the latter which is softer in feel. If you’re looking to purchase the black coloured version, that’s TPU. There’s only 1 control which is the tap button on the display.
There are subtle differences between the Polar Loop 2 and the original Polar Loop. A slimmer stainless steel clasp, the removal of ventilation grooves on the inside of the band.A sizing guide explains the intricacies of fitting the band to each individual. I would err on the generous side and go easy on the cutting. The stainless steel clasp is an effective way of wearing the Polar Loop series of fitness bands; it ensures a slim profile and releases quickly for removal.The charging cable is proprietary and charging from flat to full takes about 90 minutes. The Polar Loop 2 will run up to 8 days on a single charge with an hour of training tracking with a Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart heart rate monitor.I do like the 85 white LEDs on the display of the Polar Loop 2 band. While the display is more than adequate indoors , it hardly suffice outdoors especially under strong sunlight.
FUNCTIONS AND DATA PRESENTATION
All Day Activity Tracking
The Polar Loop 2 fitness band tracks steps, calories and tells time. The various functions will scroll across the display with a simple tap. I personally found the controls more responsive than the original Polar Loop fitness band.Tracked is uploaded to the Polar Flow app where users can get an overview of their physical involvement for the day. All Polar devices sync through Polar Flow app and the extent of information available depends on the complexity of the device.
Activity Goal and Sleep tracking
As you go about your day, the Polar Loop 2 will slowly fill up an Activity goal bar based on your profile during set up. As the bar slowly fills up, you’ll also be able to see what else you can do to get a full bar.In this case, I needed to walk for more than 3 hours, or jog about 1.5 hours or engage in low level of physical activities for 11 hours thereabouts. Ouch.The Polar Flow mobile app offers more suggestions on what can be one to fill up the Activity bar. I wasn’t tickled when the app once suggested I “pool” for 11 hours to hit my daily goals. *Gasp!
Sleep tracking is automatic and I’ve personally found it accurate in terms of tracking duration slept. Tapping on the duration slept in the Polar Flow mobile app will bring up the breakdown of sleep in terms of restful and restless sleep.
Pairing with a heart rate monitor
Pairing the Polar Loop 2 with a Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor allows the fitness band to track heart rate and display real time readings. There’s no start or stop function. Just put on the heart rate monitor and tracking commences almost immediately. To cease tracking, just remove the heart rate monitor unit from the belt. The data will be uploaded to the Polar Flow mobile app upon syncing.During exercise tracking with the Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart heart rate monitor, the display on the Polar Loop 2 goes off after a short while which I presume is a battery saving effort from Polar. I would have liked a function to keep the display on during workout so that I wouldn’t have to tap to see the heart rate at various points.The tracked data from the Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart heart rate monitor is transmitted to the Polar Loop 2 where it’ll be stored. Once synced to the Polar Flow app, the tracked stats will appear on the mobile app.
There are only 2 zones that will show up on the Polar Loop 2 display, “Fat burn” and “Fit” The former is lower in intensity and the latter higher.
Smart notifications (Messages)
Once you receive a message, the Polar Loop 2 would vibrate and the word “MESSAGE” would scroll across the display. Unfortunately the display is only large enough to accommodate about four and a half alphabets. If you’re in a meeting and it lights up, I guarantee people around you would notice.
If the user has a calender event due, the words “CALENDER” would scroll across the Polar Loop 2 display instead.
Smart notifications (Phone Calls)
Unlike messages, the name of the caller actually appears on the display like ticker tape. Again, due to the limited display size, names will just scroll by for about 3-4 times before it stops. Coupled with vibrations of course.
Turning on smart notifications can drain the battery of the Polar Loop 2 and the connected mobile device due to the continuously switched on Bluetooth. And yes, you can turn smart notifications off.
Idle Alert and Silent Alarm
Alarms can be set to go off repetitively or once off. Configure the time you want the alarm to go off and sync the Polar Loop 2 manually. The words “ALARM ON” will show on on the display of the fitness band.
The syncing process can be a bit confusing when done manually. I had to tap the Polar Loop 2 for the screen to come on and go off and wait for syncing to commence with the Polar Flow app open. The time it took for the Polar Loop 2 band just to connect with the app can take more than 10 seconds during which I’m just sitting here wondering if something isn’t working right. Having used the Polar M400 which connects near instantly, I wasn’t used to this lengthy delay.
Fortunately the Polar Loop 2 does sync automatically provided the Polar Flow app is running in the background and based on 3 situations:
- Reaching the daily goal
- Inactivity alert activated
- After training with a heart rate monitor
No HR Zones: Even when it’s connected to a Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart heart rate monitor, the Polar Loop 2 does not display HR zones other than “Fat Burn” and “Fit” which is hardly sufficient. So if you’re into zone training, you’re gonna have to remember your own heart rate figures for the respective zones.
Training session tracking on Polar Loop 2 not available without Polar H7: Also I couldn’t track a training session without the Polar H7 heart rate monitor. Sure I could go online to Polar Flow and manually add the session in but that’d be extra work on my part isn’t it.
Accelerometer functions limited: I’ve used Adidas Fit Smart, Mio Alpha 2 and recently Garmin Forerunner 225 and all 3 uses the accelerometer with advanced algorithm to estimate distance indoors. That’s not available on the Polar Loop 2.Mobile app presentation: What I particularly like is how seamless the Polar Flow app collates the data from daily activity tracking and combines it with the data from the Polar H7 heart rate monitor and logs the data into a diary which the user can easily access. The user can have an overview of the week’s physical activities level at a glance conveniently.
Love the DND: The smart notifications also has a neat “Do Not Disturb” feature which allows the user to set the duration in which no notifications will appear on the wearable. We all need that down time don’t we.
Web platform: The user can go to the Polar Flow online dashboard where more tinkering awaits.
The Polar Loop 2 is also waterproof to 20m.
POLAR LOOP 2 IN A NUTSHELL
At $ 119.95, the Polar Loop 2 activity fitness band is not exactly the best value for money tracker you can get your hands on at the moment. While there’s smart notifications, that’s reserved for iOS devices only for now. Also, you won’t get the contents of the message or calender event; just a notification.
The most disappointing thing I have to point out is that visibility under strong sunlight is pathetic, at least for the white version I had.If you’re willing to throw in $60 more, get the Polar M400 which I’ve observed to retail for about $135 thereabouts on Amazon.com. With GPS, smart notification display, fitness test, sport profiles, it trumps the Polar Loop 2 hands down sans the vibration.
If smart phone notifications is not high on your list, consider the Polar A300 which comes with interchangeable straps and a whole lot of other functions at just $139.95.
While the fitness band is great on its own, the downside is that the competition is from its own company in the form of the Polar A300 and Polar M400.
The Polar Loop 2 fitness band is available in white, pink and black at the recommended retail price of $119.95. White and pink are silicon bands while the black version is TPU and available in November 2015 only. Polar has also released a new version of the Polar Loop 2 encrusted with Swarovski crystals on both sides called the Polar Loop Crystal.
Buy the Polar Loop 2 from Amazon.com where there’s usually a slight discount and free delivery depending on where you reside. In return, your purchase helps to fund the running of this site. Thanks for reading!