The Polar M400 GPS operating watch is now eight months previous, and with its separate heart-rate chest strap, could possibly be seen as somewhat ‘first technology’ by wearers of ‘new-fangled’ Apple Watches.

That mentioned the Polar M400 was top-of-the-line pure operating watches round when it launched in 2014, and now it is nice worth (below £100, below $150, round AU£200) and fell actually far throughout the Black Friday gross sales – which suggests the identical will occur round Christmas.

Nevertheless, it was reviewed with a bundled Polar H7 heart-rate strap, which pushes it to extra like £150/$230/AU$320 at present costs, however even that has dropped considerably within the intervening interval.

[Replace: It is value noting that the wonderful Polar M430 has come out to usurp it – with larger metrics and accuracy, it is a nifty piece of equipment that is one among our best fitness trackers and value a glance even when it’s a honest quantity more money].

Polar has appreciable expertise within the heart-rate tech market, and it brings its experience to this comparatively entry-point-priced product to raise it far above a lot of the competitors. 

As with opponents such because the FitBit Surge and the Basis Peak, it is also received the exercise monitoring smarts of a simpler fitness band, so that you get two in a single, though arguably the worth is especially on the operating aspect.

Nevertheless, it is a holistic strategy by Polar which may’t actually be carped at. As you may in all probability inform, I like this operating watch.

Display screen and battery life

Design-wise we’re are in a barely retro, purposeful place, which is the one actual destructive in regards to the Polar M400. 

The plus aspect of that is that the display screen is large enough to see clearly what’s occurring when one is charging about, one thing that bodily smaller operating watches wrestle with.

It’s monochrome dot-matrix fashion although, so nothing too smartwatch-esque (though a current replace has added notifications), however there is a wonderful backlight, and the distinction is satisfactory in low-visibility conditions like driving rain.

The again of the case is chrome steel, and accommodates a single micro-USB port with a tiny connected cowl. The port covers off charging and PC or Mac syncing, through an ordinary, micro-USB cellphone charger – reasonably than some lumpy, proprietary nonsense. Hoorah!

Battery life with out alert trickery is completely first rate, with about eight hours of life with the GPS turned on, translating to an off-the-cuff two-to-three of weeks-worth of normal coaching runs.

The straightforward, killer characteristic right here, although is that charging is simplicity itself, because of using micro USB reasonably than advanced cradles that you simply subsequently lose or break.

Strap, consolation, fashion

Look at the bokeh on that Polar M400 strap

The construct high quality of the Polar M400 operating watch is superb general. The calmly rubberised strap in black or white has a not-unpleasant texture, and hasn’t perished or hardened in common use over a number of months.

There is a huge vary of adjustment out there within the conventional gap and buckle strap, and there is room for actually stick skinny and the excessively brawny wrists alike. 

The buckle itself is chrome steel, so no allergy or sturdiness points, and is the double kind, trapping the spare strap as effectively. 

A small retainer completes the job, and it is a good ‘un – it stays firmly put in use, and as a result of lack of inbuilt HR monitor you may put on it as tight or as unfastened as you fancy – you may even buckle it to a operating bag or bike handlebars if you happen to fancy.

The quilt contributes to a claimed waterproofness to 30m. We have not taken it diving to check this to destruction but, however in regular operating use (sweat, showers, cleaning rinse below faucet) there have been no points. 

At 56.6g and 11.5mm thick the Polar M400 Working Watch is not the chunkiest available on the market, coming in across the center of the vary – it is easy to put on all day.

Working with the evening (and the Polar M400)

Polar M400 a watch with altitude

Intuitive is the phrase for fundamental operation of the Polar M400 operating watch. Any fool will simply be capable of decide it up, hit the central button to start monitoring your train, tab up and down to choose which one (operating, biking, different indoor, different outside), faucet once more and also you’re off.

The GPS typically takes just a few seconds to lock in, but it surely’s acceptably fast, and straightforward to skip on within the interface whereas the chips grind away, looking satellites.

GPS accuracy is persistently good, and has a quick sufficient pattern price to keep away from the ‘shortcuts by way of buildings’ moments you typically discover if you zoom in on the maps for extra granular element.

When you’re shifting, there are a number of screens to tab between to cross the time, from Altitude (present, time and achieve), Coronary heart Fee (present studying, the all-important zone and time), Lap (a/b Laptime, present lap and HR), Tempo, and Cut up.

The good good thing about that is that the information is all displayed logically and has area to breathe, reasonably than making an attempt to cram all of it onto a single display screen.

When coronary heart price coaching, it is a easy matter to move over to the HR display screen and as soon as you have reached your threshold worth hit the central button to ‘lock’ it to that worth.

There may be one flaw right here, which is that alerts for leaving the ‘locked’ HR bands are audible solely – no vibrate – so if you happen to’re listening to motivational energy ballads, you will must hold checking visually.

Nonetheless, it is efficient and low effort. The Polar H7 pulse monitor strap – which can be individually out there if you happen to simply need to purchase the watch initially – is maybe probably the most correct I’ve examined, by no means failing to get a studying inside seconds of clipping the pod in, and by no means dropping out, in lots of hours of testing.

Talking of low effort, the wonderful Again to the Begin characteristic is value a point out. This stroke of genius makes use of the GPS within the watch to drop a marker in the beginning of every run. 

Toggle the setting on and a compass arrow gives you probably the most direct route again to your begin level. For coaching runs in international cities or rural areas it is extraordinarily helpful, though your common route in all probability does not demand this stage of navigation, until there’s one thing improper with you.

The display screen actually impresses when in use. These over-large numbers look somewhat simplistic when stationary, however when you’re in full stream they’re an actual boon.

Apparently, whereas the watch as a complete is nearly precisely the identical measurement because the (admittedly classier-looking) Fitbit Surge, the display screen actual property is definitely significantly bigger. It is a case of function-dictated design reasonably than style. That is one thing you will be glad of mid-marathon.

Coronary heart-rate monitor

Polar H7 heart rate strap

I am a bit conflicted in regards to the Polar M400’s pulse monitoring. On the one hand it is super-accurate and bomb proof. On the opposite, that is as a result of it is through a Polar H7 Bluetooth chest strap, not a TomTom Cardio-style wrist-mounted resolution.

As chest straps go, it is a cracker, with Polar’s HR experience contributing to a super-accurate, annoyance-free studying each time. It is my go-to mannequin for management testing different HR screens, which says lots.

The CR button cell energy supply is stashed behind an o-ringed screw door, giving the H7 pod a water-resistant depth score of 30m. 

The outsized two-popper button attachment technique is safe and in addition means that you can ‘half’ clip within the monitoring pod with out leaching battery, for instance in storage or if you happen to’re journeying to a protracted occasion all geared-up.

An additional nifty design contact is a plastic cup for every popper, so if you happen to’re half-clipped in, the steel does not make contact. 

The strap is easy to regulate appropriately, and is correct match and overlook, though the hook-and-loop is unimaginable to govern with out visible reference, so finest finished at residence until you are glad exposing your torso on the roads.

The app: syncing velocity and usefulness

Apps in effect

The Polar software program world is diversified one, and there is really a sequence of Polar Loop apps. There’s additionally sync software program to your desktop, which then squirts your stats into the Polar’s Circulation data-tracking website.

Syncing through the desktop app can take fairly a while if you happen to do not hold updated, so it is value making it a weekly process. Should you’re utilizing the smartphone app you too can visualise all of your information on there, in addition to establishing your alerts, if you happen to’re an iPhone consumer.

The Android app – which I examined – has clearly determined to concentrate on simplicity reasonably than information overload, which I reasonably like. It delivers a extra in-depth model of the rundown you will see on the watch after every bout of train.

The app is logically laid out, with an exercise part consisting of a large dial to point how lengthy you have not been lively, and a separate exercise log/diary set out by week. You’ll be able to simply navigate to a selected session, then drop right into a deeper stage of element evaluating tempo, coronary heart price, distance, energy burned, and many others.

There’s additionally a spread of good teaching choices, the primary of which you will discover cropping up throughout the app and the watch itself. It is a helpful micro-breakdown of what your session simply achieved – for instance tempo coaching, regular state coaching, and many others – and what advantages that provides you.

It is a good bit of research that provides worth with out perplexing with huge reams of information, and provides you a transparent indicator of the way you’re progressing.

You will additionally be capable of view the outcomes of your Polar health take a look at within the app. It is a extremely correct take a look at primarily based on coronary heart price information and fluctuations at relaxation that can give you a VO2 max determine that may then be used to trace your efficiency in larger element.

Alerts, step counting and different options

Different options are sparse on the Polar M400 Working Watch, it is fairly devoted to the temple of operating. However there are just a few.

The health take a look at I famous above is probably the most notable, supplying you with a real science enhance to your coaching. Much less scientific is the alarm, which may be set through the smartphone app or the watch, however weirdly the smartphone not solely has far fewer choices, but in addition requires activating a sync with the watch.

One other barely leftfield choice is to make use of the wonderful Polar H7 HR monitor as a standalone belt, synced direct to your cellphone (iPhone and Android supported) through Bluetooth. Useful if you happen to’ve forgotten to cost the watch and are hell-bent on a session.

A current replace has added smartphone alerts for incoming calls, obtained messages and social media occasions, however that is iOS solely in the meanwhile, and can add appreciable battery loading to your cellphone and watch alike. Android alerts are apparently within the works, I am going to hold you posted on their arrival.

The M400 also can function a step counter, and makes an honest fist of it, however clearly this does require you to put on what is a reasonably ugly watch all day.

Verdict

The Polar M400 is not a high-end runner’s wearable just like the Garmin Forerunner 920XT but it surely’s an incredible gadget. It is simple to make use of, rugged and works each time. The battery life can be sufficiently good that it is really a supply of shock to me when it does want charging – I normally cannot bear in mind once I final plugged it in.

The HR strap is one other huge plus when it comes to accuracy and reliability, although it appears reasonably old skool in comparison with the brand new breed of wrist-based HR-trackers.

Briefly, the M400, particularly now it is somewhat extra mature in years presents worth that places pricier operating watches to disgrace.

We disliked

The design is somewhat Improvements Catalogue, somewhat medical provides. A spritz extra fashion and this may be untouchable. My solely different reservation is the gradual syncing. The time taken does really feel such as you’re streaming a box-set typically, when really it is an alarm replace and the information from a brief jog session.

Verdict

The Polar M400 seems like an trustworthy product – it does what it says on the tin, and does so with minimal fuss. 

In order for you a smartwatch or advanced exercise tracker then you need to virtually definitely look elsewhere, however if you’d like a correct operating watch with some fringe advantages then this needs to be in your listing.

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