Written by Bertrand van der Berg
Bertrand van der Berg, a proud standup paddle boarding adventurer in SA, gives us a look into the Polar M200 and some of it's features.
Check the video below or read the transcript further down.
- The type of watch & some features (until 3:03)
- Know more about the strap & charging (see 3:03 - 4:29)
- Functions (04:30 - 8:22)
- Take a look at the Polar Flow app (8:22)
Equipment was a Nikon D3200 DSLR, Fujifilm XP80 and a Sony AS15 Action Camera. All done in 1080p HD. Some parts were filmed in 30fps and others in 60fps to get some slow motion going.
Sound is from a Rhöde Videomicro.
All footage taken in and around Parys. Everything except the short kayak clip (from earlier this year when we had high water) was shot in the last 10 days. All paddling was on the Vaal.
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Polar M200 review:
- If you just want a quick overview you can watch the first part (until 3:03)
- If you want to see how the menu's work (start at 3:03) or in-depth details about the Polar Flow app (8:22), stick around to the end.
It's waterproof, it has smart notifications, built-in GPS and wrist-based heart rate.
Why is this important?
For me, the smart notifications is a game changer. I get a lot of emails, messages and phone calls during the day. It's so nice being able to glance at the watch while in meetings, to see who it's from and the first part of the message and then decide if I do need to excuse myself to take a phone call, answer an email or in most cases just look at it, know what it is and decide to take action on it at a later stage.
You can dismiss or silence phone calls, you can also dismiss notifications straight from your wrist and thus don't end up taking out your phone the whole time.
I do white-water standup paddle boarding, so I need a watch that's completely waterproof, not splash-proof / rain-proof. It has to be waterproof, and this one is! It's very nice for the paddling, running, cycling, and such to also have GPS, Speed, Distance & Pace (if you're running) which is all built into the watch.
Another nice feature is that they've moved a lot of the functionality and after training analysis over to the Polar Flow app from the watch - this makes the watch really simple to use and for example get a training session started. The watch is thus not cluttered with features and colour screens and things that complicate your life when you're just trying to do a training session.
It's not a smart watch in the sense that it will run apps, it basically only runs the Polar software that's been built in the firmware. It does speak to IOS and Android so you can get the notifications.
Taking a look at the screen
The screen is white on black, normal LCD liquid crystal. It's really easy to read in bright sunlight and that's what I like about this. Compared to some of the nice colour screens you get in a lot of other watches, this one is a lot easier to read in full, bright sunlight.
[03:03] Going through the watch menu, taking a look at the strap & charging the device
Another thing I found, compared to my previous sports watch, is that it's quite nice not having the straps. The bands are removable so you can get more than one if you want, and in different colours.
It's a really nice, rugged, flexible and comfortable strap. There are also loads of micro adjustments on it with really small intervals in the slots when you put the watch on.
This is excellent because you have the wrist-based heart rate sensor which needs to sit snug on your wrist. I've made a little black mark on my strap on the increment where I normally wear it. I then adjust it one tighter when I do sport, such as running, and one looser when I wear the watch on a regular basis.
How to remove the face from the band when charging or if you want to clean it.
- Press on the buckle side
- Opens up
- Remove face from strap
- The USB will be exposed at the bottom of the watch
This USB can be plugged straight into a USB port such as your computer, portable battery pack or any normal USB cable extension / charger box.
[04:30] Let's have a look at some of the functions
The left button is always back, whenever you're in a function and want to go out, you press the left button. Both the buttons can either be short-pressed or long-pressed by holding the button in. I can go into my training history by holding in the left button.
If I want to see my for today, I will go to training by holding the right button, which is synced from the phone and the Polar website. My scheduled training for today is an Interval run, if I hold that button in again it will tell me what the interval will do & which zones I'll be training in. When I hold it again it will ask me for the sport, such as running, treadmill running, mountain biking, canoeing, road running, roller skating and other sport profiles. You can also switch these on and off - so if you never surf you can switch it off. (Similarly you can switch a sport on that you do regularly).
The other nice thing are the numbers around the side of the watch face (all the way around the watch to a 100) with little dots on the side. This shows that I am currently at 30% of my daily activity. What is also does during training, one of them will be flashing and it indicates your wrist-based heart rate.
If you have set a training program where you have set a training target zone it might show lights between the 60 - 80 for the target zone and you'll have one flashing. It will go inside and outside the zone as you are training. It's really nice to do specific heart-rate based training programs.
[06:50] Smart Notifications
When you get the smart notifications for something like an sms or incoming phone call, it will also show you what it is in the 2 display lines. In the case of long smses or emails you'll only see the first part - for me this is normally enough.
[07:10] Training Views
For training, you can set up what you'd like to see as the training views. So normally one of the two lines you would have as heart rate, it obviously has the GPS built in so you can have pace / average pace. So when I am doing something like a race (like a 5 / 10km / half marathon) I like to have my average pace displayed. I then know to keep my average pace on track and that I'm good for the race.
As I've mentioned, you can swap out the different screens for your training programs and you can set it per sport. When I'm kayaking I am normally interested in the time of day and the amount of kilometers I am doing & you just swap the screens as you go along. You can set up more than one screen per sport profile and customize them as you want.
Another great feature is that it does not beep, due to the lack of speakers built in. For any notifications from your phone, alarms, training etc it vibrates on your arm.
[08:23] Looking at the Polar Flow App
Feed: This shows the history of training & training sessions from most recent to older.
Activity: This is a type of dashboard for your day, how many hours you sleep & wake up, it shows if you have been inactive for more than an hour (see the orange marker). It also gives you a warning after 55 min so you can get active. It shows a nice overview for your day - steps you've taken, distance travelled, time you've been active and the calories you've burnt throughout the day. You can switch this view to display it in terms of the day, week or month.
Training: This is the screen I use most often for training programs. You can plan any training on the polar website / app, it will tell you when the training sessions are due. It also contains elements such as the specific training intervals and zones.
If you want to select a running or cycling training program, the best place to do this is actually the Polar Flow website. There you will be able to put in all your details like how fit / active you are, the distance you want to race etc. There are different endurance programs and you can select the right one, which will then populate your calendar for you.
Notifications: This is where are the open notifications will be visible. You'll see in the video and image above that there are none.
More: In this selection you can see "Sport Profiles", "Devices", "General Settings" and "Support".
Under the Sport Profiles you can select the sport profiles you'd like to do. You can see in the video the different ones I'm into (Running, Treadmill Running, Other Indoor, Trail Running, Mountain Biking, Canoeing, Surfing, Kayaking, Road Running and Roller Skating). There is no profile for standup paddle boarding but "Canoeing" works perfectly well for that. I keep the "Road Running" profile for races. If I pull up that profile I'll see all my times for the races I have participated in. You can also add new profile (select the plus icon in the top right corner of the device).
If you have any questions about the Polar M200, you can check out the product page here or leave a comment below!
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