Polar Loop 2: A small product part of a bigger eco-system. The tech world broadly seems to divide into two product types, stand-alone devices and ecosystem builders. Something like the Wahoo TICKR X is a good example of a stand-alone product, while the Polar Loop 2 falls into the latter category. So is the Polar Loop 2 for you?
Polar Loop 2
Polar got into the activity tracker game initially with the Polar Loop in 2o13. At that point in time, a device which could accurately track your steps really was the goal, and Polar’s ability to also connect the original loop to a Bluetooth heart rate monitor really set it apart. However as more products have come to the activity tracker market, the Polar Loop was looking distinctly need of an update. So has Polar regained it’s top flight position with the Polar Loop 2 update, and can the Polar Loop 2 help build Polar’s ecosystem?
Polar Loop 2 design
Activity trackers come in a range of different designs, from the eye searing orange of the FitBit charge to the slightly techy looking Garmin VivoSmart HR. Polar seem to have hit on the right look for the Polar Loop right out of the gate, and as a result, haven’t needed to change the design for the Polar Loop 2.
If it’s good enough for Ryan Reynolds, it should be good enough for us mere mortals.
The Polar Loop 2 has a very subtle, almost fashionable appearance
Indeed if you compare it to something like the Fitbit Charge, it looks like a different calibre of device
In the box, you get the device, instruction manual, a small USB charger, and a metal disc and rods.
The disc and rods, actually came as a bit of a surprise initially, I couldn’t work out the purpose (Reading manuals is for wimps! Wimps I tell you!!) But we’ll come onto that a little bit later.
The Polar Loop 2 looks elegant, a stainless steel clasp on the back of the black plastic device gives a premium appearance, and is operated by the two metal buttons on the clasp itself.
The unit has a single touch sensitive button on it’s face, which allows you to cycle through the display. The Polar Loop 2 is very much a monitoring device; you will have little interaction with it, other than looking at updates and charging it.
Speaking of charging, that is performed through a USB plate on the inside of the device
The charger has a small magnet in it, to pull it close to the device. However, something about the nature of the charge port makes plugging the charger in a slight fiddle. Not significant issue, but a noticeable point
Plugging the unit in shows the LED display for the first time, and will also display a charging status or percentage
Finally, let’s address that metal disc and pin
The Polar Loop 2 is a one size WILL fit all device. As you have to self-adjust it…
When I first put the band on it was massive compared to my wrists. Polar want you to CUT the device to size! That came as a little bit of a shock. I’ve not had to physically cut a device down to fit before. Permanent “changes” too expensive devices do leave me a little concerned I’m going to screw it up!!
That is what the metal disc is for, to remove the pins from the clasp so that you can cut the strap to size
The Polar Loop 2 is pre-holed, you merely trim off the excess material to give a band size which fits your wrist
Unsurprisingly I approached this with relative caution!
Caution however also made it quite a long winded job, with my OCD trying to get nice clean edges, of each of the cuts I tried
Eventually, I had a band size which fitted, but it still took four trims to get things to a comfortable tightness
Thankfully you can also adjust the band a small amount from the clasp.
So you are quite literally getting a personalised unit by the time you are ready. Some might take that as a positive, others not.
- Rechargeable 38 mAh Li-pol battery
- Battery duration up to 8 days with 24/7 activity tracking and 1h/day training
- Bluetooth Smart
- 85 red LED display
- USB connector for charging and data sync
- Vibration alerts
- WR20 water resistance
- Meaning we’re really looking at a splash proof device, not something which you should be thinking can go down to 20m. You are only really able to go swimming in a watch with water resistance 50 and higher.
- Step and activity intensity Tracker
- Sleep duration and quality tracker
- Inactivity Alarm
- Smart calorie
- HRM display with Bluetooth HRM
- Activity goals
The Polar Loop 2 is also available in 3 colours – I might have liked to have seen a redder red, or a blue in there too, given the range of colours Polar uses for some of their other devices
Using the Device
The first thing to do with your device is set up, and sync to your Polar Flow account. This is actually a vital step, if you don’t connect it, the device simply won’t work. Similarly, if you allow the Polar Loop 2 to completely run flat, you can’t just merely charge it again, you must reconnect to you PC first, which is a mild irritation.
The Polar Loop 2, as mentioned is very much an “eco-system” device. It’s a good activity tracker on its own. However, it works best if you have other devices, such as the Polar Balance scale to pair the device with
The reason these two products work well is that from a Bluetooth perspective, the Polar Loop 2 allows the Balance to communicate data with an activity tracker, which can then subsequently be synced to Polar Flow.
I found this useful if nothing else, as I’ve not often got my phone with me when I’m getting out of the shower, which is my usual weigh in time!
You could say that it would be better if Polar had a Wifi scale like Withings, or Garmin, however both the Polar Balance and the Polar Loop 2 can be purchased if you shop around for about £140, which is a similar price to both of these scales alone.
Honestly, the Polar Loop 2 is nothing special when it comes to activity monitoring. It does its job. That doesn’t even get you in the door anymore. What does work brilliantly with the Polar Loop 2 is the integration with Polar Flow and The Polar Balance to achieve activity and weight goals
Garmin “nudges” you each day about goals, to essentially walk further or be more activity. However, this can quickly become a little arbitrary.
With Polar Flow, using both devices you set a weight goal, and then Polar works out what activity you need to achieve, to hit that goal, depending on your previous activities, and weight.
As a result, you get adjustments to your exercise goal in order to best hit your weight targets.
You can use the Polar Loop 2 to monitor your steps from the band, but it doesn’t tell you your goal numerically. Instead, there is an activity bar for your goal, advising you how far along to your goal you are. If you wait on the activity bar screen, the Polar Loop 2 will cycle through an estimation of the activity you need to hit your goal
In addition to straightforward activity tracking, the Polar Loop 2 also allows sleep tracking. There is actually little data you get for the device. Merely getting the analysis given to you. As we know, sleep is important to activity and healing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you personally want all of the graphs given to you by some providers. Here it’s easy to argue that you get just the data you need. Which makes the Polar Flow system very good for people trying to get fitter, or casually monitor their activity.
The Polar Loop 2 does have smart notifications after a fashion.
If you get a text etc. however , the Polar Loop 2 will be notified over Bluetooth and will vibrate then display “message” on the screen. However the same knowledge is also imparted by the noise your phone is making, so I’m not sure how useful this is. It is likely that the 85 LED matrix is the limiting factor here so can’t really be change, however,
It doesehave the ability to display the callers name, if you have it in your phone book, but you cannot interact with the call, for, xample to cancel it.
In the grand scheme of things, the Polar Loop 2 is a simple device. But that is what some people want and need. The ability to connect and HRM monitor allows the Polar Loop 2 to be an effective device for people looking to keep fit, rather than people looking for huge amounts of data.
I can see the thinking behind the Polar Loop 2, build an effective device, which integrates well with the brilliant Polar Flow system, and give people a stepping stone to perhaps look at a larger, more complicated device in the future
Finally, and I think this is important for an activity tracker like this – the Polar Loop 2 is both subtle and attractive.