Getting in shape and increasing your physical fitness seems to be everyone’s goal every first of January, but if you’re like me, you find those resolutions or stated goals very difficult to keep. Why is it so hard? Well, a lot of it is that we don’t actually create plans on how we’re going to accomplish our goal. Beyond that, we don’t track our goals. The Polar Loop 2 and other products are designed to help with those areas.
Polar Loop 2 and accessories overview
At first glance, the Polar Loop 2 is a glorified pedometer that you wear on your wrist but after further inspection, you’ll find that there are so many other features.
- Steps and distance
- Tracks your steps and distance from steps.
- Inactivity alerts
- Reminds you with vibration to get up after 55 minutes of sitting and add active breaks to your daily routines.
- Smart calorie tracker
- Lets you know exactly how many calories you’ve burned. The individual algorithm is based on your data: weight, height, age, gender and the intensity of physical activity.
- Activity goal
- Shows how active you’ve been during the day and gives practical guidance for reaching your daily activity goal. Breaks up your activities into five intensity levels: resting, sitting, low, medium and high.
- Sleep tracking
- Automatically tracks your sleep time and quality. See and learn from your sleeping patterns in Polar Flow web service and app.
- Smart notifications
- Vibrates and notifies you about incoming calls, messages and calendar reminders.
- Available in black, white, or pink colors.
There is also small screen made up of 85 separate red LEDs that are invisible until lit up. The screen allows for scrolling text and simple animations.
Awesome features aside, one of my favorite features is that the Polar Loop 2 is compatible with some pretty amazing accessories as well. There are two accessories in particular that we will include with the review.
The first is the H7 heart rate monitor. It straps around the chest in order to accurately measure your heart rate. It’s waterproof so it can even be used when swimming. However, while the Polar Loop 2 works while swimming, it uses Bluetooth to transmit data and that doesn’t work so well in the water. The H7 supports a 5 kHz technology called GymLink that will transmit in the water but unfortunately, that is not found on the Loop 2. While the sensor itself is only available in black, the strap is available in black, blue, or pink.
The second is the Polar Balance, which is a scale that measures your weight then transmits it via Bluetooth to the Polar Loop 2 or even directly to your Android phone. It’s available in white or black.
Polar Loop 2 and accessories setup
The Polar Loop 2 has a little more involved setup than the H7 and Polar Balance. First, you need to size the watchband to your wrist and then cut off the excess areas. Then you need to download the Polar FlowSync application onto your computer, connect it via the included USB cable, and register the Loop 2 to your Polar account. If you don’t have an account, then you’ll need to create one. Of course, you’ll also want to download the Polar Flow app on Google Play so that the Loop 2 can sync with your phone.
The H7 is a little simpler setup. First, you size the band to your chest. Then you lightly wet the rubber contact area on the strap and put the strap on. You then move your Polar Loop 2 right next to the H7 and press the button on the Loop 2. Once you see your heart rate on the screen, you are good to go.
The Polar Balance is the easiest of all to connect. All you do is stand on the scale, wait for the beep and your weight to appear on the scale’s display, then press the Polar Loop 2’s button and wait for your weight to appear on the Loop 2’s display. The Polar Balance can also communicate directly with the Polar Flow app to record your weight without the Polar Loop 2.
Polar Loop 2 and accessories usage
One of my first observations on the Polar Loop 2 was how light it is. It really isn’t a bother to wear. I like that it replaces my watch too. If I have to wear an activity tracker over a nice looking watch, then it better tell time too.
I’ve never been a big fan of jewelry or fashion accessories. I normally wear nothing other than my watch and my wedding ring. Having said that, the Polar Loop 2 is very subdued and doesn’t attract a lot of attention. If you’re looking for attention then look instead at the Polar Loop Crystal. It has a little more bling.
The Loop 2 will also show you notifications from your phone and alert you with a small vibration. Unfortunately, the notifications that it will show are very limited. It will say calendar if you have an appointment coming due, email when you receive an email, and message for just about everything else. You can choose which apps you want to receive notifications from. So, if you don’t want the notifications from Candy Crush, then you can turn them off. There is also a do not disturb feature that can turn off the notifications every night between the times you choose.
I think my biggest complaint with the Polar Loop 2 is the charging cable. Instead of using a standard micro USB cable, they use a proprietary connector that uses a magnet to maintain the charging connection. The magnet isn’t very strong and it’s a pain in the neck to put it on the charger sometimes. The other downside is that if you loose it, then your out of luck until you order a new cable.
Another area of improvement would be the clasp. The clasp itself works great and never gave me any problems, but it seemed to scratch a little too easy. If you use a computer a lot like I do, then you’ll scratch it just by resting your wrists on your desk.
My fitness goals don’t really include running or jogging, which is where the Polar Loop 2 excels. Instead, I like to bike. If you’ve read any of my other reviews, then you already know that I commute to work daily on a bike. While the Polar Loop 2 will record activity while you ride your bike, it is unable to record that data as a bike ride. It instead measures the bumps in the road as steps. This is where the H7 heart rate monitor comes in.
While the H7 is unable to measure your bike ride, it can measure your heart rate and more effectively track your fitness goals. My commute is a little over 8 miles one way. When I commute without the H7 heart rate monitor, then I never make it past 80-90% of my tracking for my goals. However, with the H7 heart rate monitor, I am able to achieve over 100% of my tracking just on the way to work.
Using the Polar Flow app, you can adjust your fitness goals to better accommodate your increased levels of fitness over time. Even if you don’t, the app will slowly adjust them for you anyways.
The Polar Balance is the most accurate bathroom scale that I have ever seen. Usually, the bathroom scale is off by anywhere from five to ten pounds. It’s also very easy to use. You just need to be patient, because it takes a bit for the Polar Loop 2 to record the data.
The other part of this is the Polar Flow app. The app syncs with your Polar Loop 2 and displays all the data in a way that allow you to track and measure your goals. If you wear the Polar Loop 2 while you sleep, it will even track your sleep patterns and show you what percentage of your sleep was restful and which percentage was restless.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, the reason we don’t keep our goals really comes down to us not looking at them and not measuring our progress along the way. This is where the Polar Flow app really makes a difference. It allows you to look at your progress.
The one feature that I would like to see added to the app is a goal system based around weight loss. As it is now, the goals are all based around activity. I think this would make the eco-system even more appealing.
4 out of 5 stars
Overall the eco-system that Polar has created is pretty great. Everything works well together and they help you to visualize the progress that you’re making towards your fitness related goals.
The downside here is that it can be costly to buy into all the different devices in Polar’s portfolio, but don’t let that scare you. You can mix and match the devices that will help you achieve your goals.
In contrast, the Fit Bit Charge retails at $149.95 and doesn’t do the smartphone notifications.