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Polar puts fitness ahead of style with its first Android Wear smartwatch

Polar puts fitness ahead of style with its first Android Wear smartwatch


Waterproof, integrated GPS, and 48-hour battery life

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Polar is making a smartwatch for people who need more comprehensive fitness features than the basic step counting and heart rate monitoring you get with most Android Wear devices. The M600, priced at $329 and slated for release within the next few months, is an Android Wear watch just like those from Huawei, LG, Moto, Casio, and others. But Polar claims this one has been designed from the ground up with personal health in mind.

It's waterproof (so you can take it into the pool and track swimming exercises), there's built-in GPS, and the company claims the M600's battery lasts up to 48 hours. Now that's not great when compared against standalone fitness gadgets, but it's an impressive number for Android Wear — assuming there's any truth to the estimate. That's when paired with an Android phone, by the way; Polar says battery life is about a day if you're using Android Wear with iOS.

Polar HR

Polar recently demonstrated its first smartwatch for The Verge in both New York and San Francisco. The company is aware that other Android Wear products such as the Moto 360 Sport have been marketed to the fitness crowd. But Polar sees a contrast between the two. This is a brand that specializes in exercise and fitness making a smartwatch; Moto, meanwhile, is an example of a traditional tech company veering into fitness.

The M600 definitely looks the part of a serious fitness companion. No one's going to call this thing stylish; it's big, bulky, and takes after Fitbit's Surge in design. (And hey, the Fitbit is cool enough for President Obama to wear around every day.) The 1.2-inch 240 x 240 display module can pop out of the default black silicone band if you want something more colorful, but that's where any and all fashion choices end. At the bottom of the display is a quick access button that can quickly launch into exercise tracking, and Polar also built in a microphone for Android Wear's voice commands and dictation.

Polar HR monitor

Flip the display over and you'll find a circular heart rate sensor with six LEDs. Polar claims this allows for heart rate readings to be more consistent across various activities and sports. If that's not good enough for you, the company's popular chest strap HRMs can be paired with the watch for maximum accuracy. There's also a proprietary charger. The whole thing looks pretty sci-fi, at least from the below angle.

Polar's watch runs all Android Wear apps. It can sync your daily activity to Google Fit and other software. But you'll probably be buying this for the deep training programs and fitness plans offered by the Polar Flow app. It can track pretty much any sport you throw at it, monitoring your intensity level throughout. There are also custom watchfaces to display your daily stats. Yes, the M600 also does your more casual fitness tracking; it'll alert you if you've been inactive for too long, and also monitors sleep. We'll need more time with the M600 to see how all of this comes together, but that square screen and very fitness design are definitely a break from other recent Android Wear devices.