Published on November 9th, 2014 | by Greg0
Polar M400: Advanced Fitness Tracking At A Great Price
Smartwatches can sound like a single category to novice consumers, who might imagine little difference between devices as varied as a fitness and sleep tracker versus, say, Apple’s upcoming iWatch. The truth is that there is a definite divide, which makes sense- some people want to have their watch serve as an assistant, connecting them to their smartphone, with a bright screen and a focus on mobile alerts. Others want a more athletic approach, with more sensors built-in and a focus on tracking personal data.
This latter group comprise a still-broad niche of fitness trackers, which have exploded in number over the past few years. The “quantified self” and the drive for ever more data has continued to elevate performance, whether amateur or Olympian, and just about anyone who exercises can appreciate the benefits. Polar’s M400 activity tracker builds on their excellent reputation, offering a running-focused wearable with multi-sport functionality that offers GPS and connectivity to heart-rate straps without hurting your wallet. Bluetooth connectivity and synching worked flawlessly, and the apps offer everything a marathoner (or casual jogger) might want, including some nice maps and a “Back to Start” feature that can help you get back to where you began your course.
We’ve previously checked out other Polar gear, like their simple-but-effective MT40 and their high-end RC3. Like the MT40, the M400 is water-resistant to 30 meters, which means you don’t need to worry about wearing it in the rain, the shower, or even for a quick dip in the pool. The display is quite improved over earlier versions, sharper and easier to read, especially in sunlight. No one will confuse it for a wristwatch, which means it won’t fit in the boardroom, but the band is among the most comfortable we’ve tried and the M400 seemed durable in our tests. Unlike the RC3, though, or their new top-of-the-line V800, you can’t use cadence sensors for cycling. But the M400 is fairly small, and easier to use than most fitness watches we’ve seen. And the multitude of sensors includes altitude, and allows you to easily record and view your distance, pacing, and track calorie burn as well. There isn’t a heart-rate sensor in the watch itself, but you can connect to Polar’s chest straps to monitor that data as well.
For folks moving up from a smaller band, the M400 has the usual array of sleep tracking options, and seemed accurate. You can also have it vibrate if you’re inactive for a while, offering a gentle reminder to get up and move every so often. The smart coaching features are nice, if not amazing- text prompts encourage you and can guide workouts even. And the M400 had plenty of battery life; over eight hours with everything enabled according to the manufacturer. If you’re in need of a fitness watch, and want plenty of features including a GPS for mapping your runs, then the Polar M400 is an excellent, easy-to-recommend option. Available now, online and in stores, either with the optional chest strap for around $230.