Polar, the granddaddy of heart-rate sensors, enters the fitness tracker market with the Loop.
With a built-in accelerometer, it tracks sleep as well as the usual movements. Paired with the Polar H7 heart-rate sensor chest strap ($119), the Loop can track your heart rate as well.
You can wear it all the time, as it is waterproof down to a depth of 20m.
The wristband, available in black, blue and purple, comes in one size and has to be cut to fit your wrist. You wrap the paper guide (included) around the wrist, then use the tool (supplied) to remove the stainless steel buckle.
Cut the band to size and re-install the buckle. It is a five-minute job.
The buckle locks the Loop securely to your wrist. It feels comfortable and is non-abrasive.
Like the Nike+ FuelBand SE, it has an LED light display but with a touch button. At the back is a proprietary four-pin port for charging and syncing with a supplied cable. A full charge lasts five days.
Tap the touch button to scroll through activity levels, calories burned, steps taken and time. This button is not always very responsive.
Set-up is easy. Plug the Loop into your computer, download the Polar FlowSync software (Mac and Windows) and follow on-screen instructions. You will need to sign up for a Polar Flow account. If you already have one, just log in.
Then, sync the Loop with the Polar Flow app (available in both Android and iOS) via Bluetooth. This is the tricky part.
You press the button on the device, then wait for the Loop display to turn off, to pair the devices. In reality, this procedure took a few tries to work.
The syncing is supposed to happen automatically once every hour. It did not. So you have to manually sync it all the time.
The app is visually pleasing. It tracks your activities through the day in a clock graphic that shows how much time you sleep, sit, walk and run. It will offer tips on reaching a fitness target (basketball for 21min or gentle dancing for 72min).
It accurately gauged the duration of my jogging sessions. If the H7 heart-rate sensor was used in training sessions, more data is shown, including the heart-rate curve with maximum and average heart rate, calories burned, as well as fat percentage of the calories burned.
While the Loop automatically tracks your sleep without being put manually into sleep mode, the data does not show sleep efficiency (for example, light or deep sleep).
Apart from the tedious installation procedure, the Polar Loop is a competent fitness tracker especially if you are already in Polar's ecosystem of running watches and heart-rate sensors.
Material: Rubberised wristband with stainless steel buckle
Water resistance: 20m
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0
Value for money: 4/5
Battery life: 3/5
This article was first published on July 30, 2014.
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