on November 13, 2013
First of all I purchased this directly from Polar because I wanted it as soon as possible. I also purchased the H6 chest strap (wish I would have gotten the H7 for equipment). Setting this thing up was very easy. The button and scrolling through the menu is intuitive and easy.
I've owned a Jawbone Up (for 5 months and have replaced it 3 times now). There were a few things that I liked about the Up but here's why I chose the Polar Loop:
1. I only want to wear one thing on my left wrist--I need a watch, this foots the bill. I wish it had the date but I'm happy with it.
2. Like that I don't have to plug it into the phone jack on the iphone (4S) for it to sync. No little cap to lose.
3. I can quickly check my progress with a couple punches of the button. Instant feedback.
4. Thing I like most about it is that it works well with my HR monitor. Sometimes I take long walks--when I don't have time for that I like to do an elliptical or jog. By using an HR monitor I can track towards my progress without putting in the steps.
5. Polar is a reputable company and I've used their products in the past. I had no reservations about giving them a shot on this new product.
6. Waterproof/Shower-proof (although I've noticed that the water hitting it activates the menu).
1. App isn't quite as slick as the Up one. I think over time this will get better. I love how the UP app shows a column chart of sleep, activity, and food intake...it does a poor job of taking into account exercise though.
2. Battery life is around 5 days. Not quite as long as the Up (which tends to lose it's battery life the longer you use it).
3. Wish it had the vibration alarm that the Up has. Not a deal breaker for me though and probably would kill the battery life faster.
4. VERY minor annoyance here but I'm never a fan of proprietary charging cables. I travel a lot and it's just one more thing to carry. I'll deal with it :)
Honestly, I think this is the best activity monitor out there right now. The time, waterproof, integration of HR monitor makes it my best choice; maybe it's yours too. Hope this helps someone.
I don't understand why people are voicing frustration over this product. I emailed Polar (told them I had bought a H6 monitor and wanted the H7 monitor). They immediately credited my account and I bought a H7 monitor (through Amazon). I just got it today and it pairs easy--I paired it within 2 seconds without even looking at the directions. Granted there's a little bit of tech savviness needed but individuals need to do a little research.
The fact of the matter is that this is the only activity monitor that allows you to use a HR monitor. Does it have all of the features of every other competitive alternative; no. Is the app perfect yet, no. I trust polar I'm just amazed of these negative or mediocre reviews--be fair in your reviews is what I ask. I (as a consumer) trust and read every review--I wanted to add my 2 cents.
on March 29, 2014
I wanted to love the Polar Loop more than any other fitness band I've tried so far. I really tried to love it. However, the software and data availability of this device has crippled an otherwise fantastic fitness band. The Loop in itself is a great design. It fits comfortably, is discreet, shower/hand-washing proof, and is generally well designed. The screen (LED dot matrix) on it is fantastic. It isn't a crisp, high resolution readout, but when not looking at data on the Loop, the fitness band looks like a bracelet. The design of a "hidden" interface type is very cool - it has gotten me many compliments when going through information on the Loop.
** You can look at the bottom for a list of pros and cons **
Important things to note as far as design of the band itself:
1) YOU HAVE TO CUT THIS THING TO SIZE. The Loop goes on the wrist like a nice watch - you cut the ends of the wrist band and reinstall the clasp. Polar includes the tools necessary to do this (except scissors). If you want to try the Loop but aren't sure if you want to keep it, you can cut a paperclip and bend it almost like a bobby-pin (a very tall "U" shape). Just make sure the paperclip is short enough not to poke through the other side. Then, using the holes on the SIDES of the wrist band, you can hold them together by inserting the paper-clip in each end...or use rubber bands, etc. The necessity of this depends on the return policy.
2) The button is capacitive. FURTHERMORE, there must be skin contact with the back of the loop (specifically, with the charging port) in order for the button to work. This likely explains any "button" issues reported by other users. The capacitive button may activate and scroll through menus while in the shower, but this wasn't a big deal for me.
The major, MAJOR downfall of this device is the software and Polar website. I have an Android, and as of this time there is no Android app. I'm ignoring this fact for the sake of the review, as I tried the app on my girlfriend's iPhone. Data is primarily reported using a dial design (basically, it's an analog 24 hour clock). As you move throughout the day, different colors appear around the clock for different activity levels. This feature is pretty cool, however it is the ONLY way to view your data. There is NO graph or other breakdown of your data. You cannot see your step count at certain points of the day. You cannot see calories burned at certain points of the day. You cannot see movement during sleep (aside from a very, very rough estimate by looking at the dial graph).
The website's front page is a map of Europe with a list of people who are running. There are four tabs at the top (this view counts as one). The 2nd tab, "Feed", is another list of people running. The 3rd tab actually shows you data, and the 4th tab is only relevant if you have the heart-rate monitor. Thus, by buying the Loop without a HRM, you are automatically limited to 1/4 of the website. The "Diary" page is a calendar of the month with how far to goal you were each day. Clicking on a specific day brings you to an exhaustive, hour-by-hour planner type view which essentially shows you nothing. Scrolling all the way down to the bottom shows total calories, steps, sleep, etc. Note it shows TOTALS, and not actual graphed data. Next to it is the familiar Dial from the app, as well as a breakdown (breakdown meaning how much total time was spent) of activity throughout the day (time sitting, resting, strolling, running sort of thing).
That's about it for the website. Without the heart rate monitor, you really, REALLY can't see much. If all you care about is the end result (total steps, etc.), this may suffice. If you are training for an Iron Man and have the heart-rate monitor, this could probably serve decently well to track your workouts (if you have a ton of them). I feel the site is better suited for VERY active people who need to track large amounts of workouts.
- Great design, comfortable fit
- Dot-matrix readout is very slick and earns many compliments
- When not looking at data on the watch, there's no display so the Loop is very discreet
- Mostly accurate step count (within 10% of other trackers)
- Relatively accurate calorie count (I have a very, very exhaustive study on this)
- Automatically detects when you are sleeping. This feature is amazing! NO "enabling sleep mode" for this watch
- Shower friendly (the display may go through menus, but it's not a big deal)
- Very nice charger (it magnetically "snaps" into place on the back of the band)
- Dial readout of data is pretty cool, as is the tracking of time spent at different activity levels
- Shows the time, so it can double as a "normal" watch
- Compatible with a heart-rate monitor. This is huge for workouts. This is one of very few fitness bands that have this ability.
- The website. Seriously, almost all of it. It's 50% social, 25% useless without the heart rate monitor, and has virtually no way to see your data in any detail aside from a total amount. Look at screenshots on Google images to see what I mean.
- Battery life. I've had to recharge mine every 3 days or so, although I've admittedly been scrolling through the menus a lot since it just looks so cool.
- The app does not show any more data than the website does. Syncing was fairly painless. While there is currently no Android app, I'm not listing that as a separate con since it is due out soon.
- No silent alarm. This is a vibration feature on the FitBit which can wake you at a certain time. This is more a "missing feature I wish it had" than a con of the existing device.
- The website again.
on January 13, 2014
First, don't buy this unless you're getting the H6 (for iPhone) or H7 chest strap. This review is based on using the Loop and chest strap. Currently the price for both can be had for about $150 on Amazon if you hold out for a sale. Considering the price of the Nike Fuelband at $150 and the Fitbit Force at $130, the chest strap for the Loop is a no-brainer and must have all at once.
Why? because the Fitbit Force and Nike Fuel Band units will never use heart rate data, a deal-breaker for a legit exercise tracker. A $130-150 pedometer like the Fitbit and Fuel band are simply too expensive in my opinion if they exclude heart rate tracking. At $150 and higher you're well into heart rate monitor pricing and well past e-pedometers.
Let's talk about sleep. Some have opined that the Fitbits are better for this. Total nonsense. If you're using the chest strap, the Loop provides *minute by minute* tracking of your sleep. You can even see if you experience PAC and PVC's during deep sleep on your chart using the Polar Flow website. Do Fitbit Force users know what PAC/PVC is? Of course not because their devices don't use heart rate at all. Basically when you awake you remove the chest strap, synch the Loop to your laptop (very fast compared to Nike) and you'll have a graph showing you (A) how long it took for you to get into deep sleep, (B) how many calories were burned during sleep,(C) what your resting heart rate is during deep sleep and (D) what the heart rate is during light sleep, (E)how many minutes or hours are spent deep sleep,(F) if you are restless sleeper as it shows when your breathing pattern was interrupted and (G) how many PAC or PVC's you experience in a night. If you think that wrist movement alone like on the Fitbit during sleep is all you need to analyze your sleep then have been misled by Fitbit reviewers. This aspect of the Polar loop and chest strap alone makes it worth buying. You would have to check into a Hospital Sleep Center to have this kind of data analysis at your finger tips. For which they would bill your insurance thousands of dollars.
Some have complained that they don't know how to mark the begining or end of a workout when viewing the data on the Polar Flow website or App. Simple: get dressed for your workout and make sure the very last thing you do before you begin is to put on the chest strap (and hold the Loop up to it for it to connect). Dab a little water under the chest strap's blue tooth transmiter, it speeds up the linking. When you are done with the workout and have recovered for a few minutes remove the chest strap. This stops the data recording of heart rate. The Loop will continue to record your foot steps however. That workout is now a "feed". When I log on to Polar Flow I typically have two feeds a day. One is 7-8 hours for sleep. The other is 1.5-2.0 hours for workouts. In essence putting on and removing the chest strap acts as a stop watch. After your workout its good to leave it on until you've recovered your heart rate back towards the resting heart rate zone, or where you were when you began workout. Analyzing this data is important as it shows how quickly you can recover from exertion. As you workout more, this recovery time should begin to shrink. For example a very out of shape person climbing stairs will often be panting for a while afterwards. Since buying the Loop I wear the chest strap frequently to gauge how many calories are burned and the level of heart activity for common activities like walking in the mall or the supermarket. For example a long five hour shopping trip resulted in typical heart rate of 80 bmps and 1,300 calories burned (my resting heart rate for sleep is 55-60 bpms). This shopping trip was enough to meet my minimum activity goal for the day. On the Polar Flow website under "Diary" it showed 130% of the daily goal achieved and it also displayed the average for that week of 120%, thereby demonstrating short-term consistency towards a long-term goal. There were also hyperlinks for each calendar day that took you to the graph for that day's workout when the chest strap was used.
Important: by using heart rate tracking you can see how hard those 10 miles you just hiked actually were. The Fitbit and Nike will only show the steps hiked but what if those 10 miles were a mix of hard uphill steps where you had to expend much more energy? Well without heart rate tracking it registers them all as the same. What if you walked those miles at a brisk pace? Only the Loop and chest strap combination records that data, and it does so with the most accurate alogrithm for calories burned in the exercise industry.
I'm Android user, no there's no app yet. No big deal I can use use the Polar Flow website from my PC or Laptop to get at the data for exercise or sleep sessions until then. The Android app will come at some point so no point throwing out the baby with the bath water because of impatience. The issue is that Android devices have not all gotten on the same page about bluetooth stack so the app developers are left waiting for the phone makers to get it together. It's not Polar's fault. Either way its not huge deal because I will spend more time analyzing the Loop's data from the comfort of larger PC or laptop screen than a 4-5" phone display. Also, while I'm viewing this data the Loop is charging since its connected via the USB cable. It charges very quickly and its a good idea to charge it every three days. If the charge goes too low I find that the sensor is less responsive.
Let me address the device itself. Some say cutting the band is negative. That's a matter of opinion and I could not disagree with that view more. The Loop uses a dual-deployant clasp, something you only see on high end sports watches like Tag Heuer. Once you're sized up the fit is SECURE, it will not come loose like some have complained on other wrist trackers. And getting it on takes 1/10 of a second because it's using a much better engineered spring-loaded clasp. I give this five stars on product design. Well done. Nothing fits better than a custom fit, you get that here. If you're worried about cutting it,take it to a high end watch store in the mall, they have experience with this. But if you do it yourself it will take about 10 minutes use a new pair of $2 scissors and cut in between the holes. Hint, use your finger nail to squeeze the push pins back into the bracelet once you're don cutting. But use the special tool included to remove the push pins. If you lose the tool just use a safety pin.
As for the button that some people complain doesn't work. First of all it's NOT a button. It's a sensor. You have to hold your finger over it long enough for the device to sense the input. Much like the heart rate sensors on the handles of an elliptical machine at the gym. Once the device is awakened for the first time that day, the second touch will work quickly. This keeps the Loop from turning on inadvertently too many times which will drain the battery. The fact that the Loop is fully waterproof well past 10 feet must also add to that barrier as well. Once I wake the device for the day, like when on my bike ride, I will rub the sensor against my chin to light up the screen. This keeps at least one hand on the handlebars with my eyes on the road ahead. When I'm running it's easier for me to check the screen this way as well. It will display the last category you looked at previously. I keep mine set at "heart rate" when using the chest strap during exercise or on "time of day" for the rest of the day when I'm not wearing the chest strap. A second swipe of the sensor against my chin brings up the next window which can be "steps walked" (10K steps is about 5 miles), a third swipe brings up "calories burned", a fourth "activity". Now let's discuss "activity", the Polar Flow algorithm computes based on your height, weight and age the necessary number of steps you need to walk each day to arrive at your ideal level of activity. As you walk more the meter, which is just a red LED rectangle, fills up like a tall glass of water. When using the chest strap during exercise this fills up faster as it knows you are working harder. When the rectangle fills up to 50% I step on the pace so that later on, when I'm viewing this on my laptop on the Polar Flow website, I will see a higher level of work: more calories burned more work done. This is hugely motivating.
I'm a cyclist and have been using Polar since 1992 to guide my exercise (using the Polar Favor). For the beginners, when you're doing exercise you can multiply your maximum heart rate (subract your age from 220) and multiply your maximum by 0.65 (or 65%). This the minimum heart rate during exercise that you need to stay at in order to begin burning fat. You will burn more fat all the way up to your maximum. Some stay within 65-80% to keep from bonking out too soon. When you remain above 80% your body needs help from more than just your existing fat stores. But the plus side for lurching above 80% is that you burn more fat in total and increase your endurance. The best workouts by far are high intensity interval training (HIIT) where you're basically play a cat and mouse game of moving your heart rate to the upper end (moving above 80%), slowing down for your heart rate to recover below the fat burning zone for a minute or two and then racing back up to the top. One method is to increase the amount of time you spend above 80% and then reverse the trend for the remaining sets. There's plenty on YouTube about this type of training if you wish to expolore it further. In the end high intensity invertal training will give you the hugely beneficial after-burn effect: although you have stopped exercising your body continues to burn off fat. Now explain to me how you are going to do any of this with a Fitbit Force or Fuelband if they leave out heart rate monitoring? How will you know when you're back below 65% for the required recovery or when you've gone over 80%? You're not. You're guessing. Too bad you spent $150 on those other devices when you could've had this.
Also, the Loop with the chest strap is versatile as you can use it to track exercise where you're not really moving your upper body like when biking or skiing. Or perhaps during circuit training with weights where you are intentionally trying to move your arms and legs slowly but your heart rate is well into the aerobic zone. The Fitbit Force and Fuelband will not accurately record this type of activity while the Loop will show you every calorie burned and earned. If you were slacking during that work out it will show you that ugly truth as well.
Yes there is no nutrition component yet, but if you have a smart phone there are a ton of Android and iOS apps that will do that for you. And yes the Loop does not have a GPS tracker like some higher end Polar or Garmin monitors costing hundreds more but again your smartphone can take care of that as well if you download apps like Endomondo. That particular app will stop when you rest to check a text or something or are a traffic light crossing and will automatically continue when you are moving again. Afterwards you can see how fast your ran or biked and as well as the route you used on Google Maps. So for the casual but committed athlete there's no sense is buying a second GPS unit for your biking and running when it's already in your pocket with the power of a dual or quad core processor. Which means its really just the swimmers that need a waterproof GPS device. For the non-swimmers perhaps Polar could integrate your phone's GPS into the Polar Flow app as well. There's a great deal of improvement ahead no need to wait for it to be all perfect and ideal before jumping onboard with a great device.
Apple have apparently filed a patent to start incorporating heart rate into future iPhones. I doubt the data will be as good as Polar's whove been at this for 30+ years. And Apple's first attempt will not be their best, just looke at the Apple Maps debacle. And half the phone market belongs to Android which means an Apple activity tracking device will be of no use to 50% of us. (Hint Polar/Google collaboration). Point is Polar is a proven global brand in heart rate tracking and Fibit and Nike have some trouble ahead if their devices are to compete with Apple without using heart rate tracking. They could all be obsolete within 2 years.
Polar Loop gets my vote for fitness tracker of 2013.
on October 15, 2014
I've had this for about 3 weeks now, so I feel like I can accurately write a decent review.
First of all, this is the first tracker I've seen that's more than a glorified pedometer. As someone who lifts weights for fitness and doesn't do cardio, those other trackers that focus more on steps than anything else are useless. The fact that this comes with a HRM helps a ton! Squatting doesn't take "steps", but maxing out on squats gets your heart rate up pretty high. For that reason I invested in this guy.
The design is decent - it's no larger or smaller than the average band. It's slightly bigger than the FitBit and doesn't have the option to change out the design. Be careful with sizing it - it's one of those things where you cut the band to make it fit. Once you cut there's no turning back!
It's also ACTUALLY waterproof. I've swam with it, I've showered with it, etc. with absolutely NO issue to the design or integrity of the device. That's really helpful for swimmers or people who forget to take it off when they shower (me).
A design con, however, is how responsive the touch screen is. The "button" you press isn't so much a button as it's a very sensitive touch screen. I've had trouble shifting around in moving theaters and setting off the bright screen and making people around me look. In the future having an ACTUAL button might be useful to prevent these issues.
It pairs seamlessly with the HRM, which I love. Make sure when you put the monitor on you press the button through to make sure it's joined to the device. I've exercised once or twice and apparently the HRM didn't sync with it :( Oh well!
Overall I'm very happy with this product, and it's an amazing step forward for these types of devices.
I hope in the future they offer what others fitness devices offer - a chance to synch it to your MyFitnessPal/LoseIt/etc. so you can track ins and outs. That's not currently an option.
on November 13, 2013
I'm a Polar fan who trains and uses Polar heart rate monitors for my running, cycling, swimming, hockey and other exercises. I was looking for something that would track my everyday activities outside of exercises. The premise is simple, it calculates your basal metabolic rate based on gender,weight, height and age and estimates your movements based on accelerometers.
The primary measurements it will provide on the unit are:
- number of steps
- a required level of low/moderate/high intensity activities to meet the daily recommended activity goal
- number of calories burned as the day progresses
- time of day
This does not sound much more than your average pedometer but things get more fun an interesting when you upload your data to Polar Flow and you start using a Bluetooth Smart HR transmitter when exercising.
Once the data is uploaded it will show your daily activity level in 5 zones (laying down, sitting, standing, walking, jogging) which the top 3 are what count as "active time". It not only gives you a total time spent in each zone but a down to the minute breakdown of how it was achieved. It's nice for me to notice just how long the stretches are in front of the monitor at work and how little I get up to do something. It also gives you an "Inactivity Alert" when it notices stretches of 1 hour or longer of low activity during the day. You better get up and move your butt around to avoid the orange triangles!
The unit also measures how long you were asleep which is an easy no-brainer method to track sleep, way easier than trying to track it on my own.
The best part is when you put a HR strap on for a workout as you can see how hard and how long you actually worked out. It shows your normal 5 HR zones and gives you a percentage breakdown as to where you were during the workout. It also gives you an entire HR chart for the length of the workout. Ultimately workouts come down to intensity times duration and it is irrelevant how slow or fast you were going. It is also a great way to track activities that don't lend themselves to the traditional measurement of distance over time like running or cycling. I use it to track my public skating sessions and a friend of mine uses it to track indoor soccer games, a place where you are not allowed to wear a watch but a small bracelet like the Polar Loop is acceptable. When you have the unit linked to a HR strap it will also show your current HR on the Loop as an additional display mode.
So I think the ideal market for the loop is
a) People who are just starting to get more active and would like an initial peek into their lifestyle and how little they actually move during the day.
b) Active athletes who're looking for a super simple way to get their sleep times logged
c) People who are active in sports that can vary in duration and effort and are hard to gauge in your standard metrics of speed and time (baseball, soccer, hockey, skating, volleyball etc.)
For me it was a real eye opener that outside of my active exercising of 8-10+ hours a week I barely move and I hardly get over 5,000 steps in a day.
The Flow web site is still in constant development as is the Flow App for the iPhone and hopefully it will get better with time. As of today, with the latest 1.0.2 version of the FlowSync app it finally sync correctly to the website, before it had issues with resetting the Loop after each upload but that finally has been fixed. Once the initial kinks get fixed and worked out I'll be sure to update my review and rating.
on November 21, 2013
I want like nothing else to LOVE this device. I WANT to give it five stars. I am even hoping that sometime in the future I'll be able to do just that; it's a well built device that really feels more like a bracelet than it does a small electronic device. It is unobtrusive at worst and at times I've had people compliment me saying it "looks cool, whatever it is" and the things that it does, it does generally well. That being said, there are some significant shortcomings which seem to hold it back from reaching it's full potential at this time.
LOOK AND FEEL - This thing looks great, and should be able to fit just about anybody very well. The comes in minimalist packaging (more on that later), and give you a piece of paper that you are supposed to wrap around your wrist as a way to measure your wrist. Then you need to actually cut the band to fit, based on the size suggested by the included measuring paper. I decided to be extra cautious and cut it intentionally too large to start. Sure enough, it was too large. So then I cut it again, down to the suggested size. Again, it was too large. I simply kept cutting one notch at a time until I felt it was just about right. The big problem is if you cut it too small, there's NO going back. The band and the unit are a single piece, so short of mailing Polar your product, you'll be S.O.L. At the same time, the design has allowed the piece to be streamlined and aside from the clasp, there's nothing to catch on a long sleeve, etc. Most of the time I forget I'm wearing it at all, and every single comment someone has made has been a good one. I'm not afraid of damaging the Loop, no matter weather I'm jogging, lifting weights, etc. Even in the gym doing pushups, knocking it around, etc., I'm confident it will hold up well.
FEATURES: There's a single button that you have to press to get information from the Loop. It works very well and I'm not finding myself pressing it by accident, sometimes I have to press it twice and make sure I hit it just right, but I'm happy about this as it's not accidentally going off and draining battery, etc. Pressing the button will give you ACTV, CALS, STEP and TIME, based on how many times you press it. The ACTV feature shows a bar that fills up based on how far you are to your goal for the day, then tells you how long you will need to jog, walk, or be "Up" (including things like gardening, doing dishes, etc) to achieve your goals. Goals seem to be set based on your age, weight, and if you're a male or female. CALS shows how many calories the Loop believes you've burned in a day, STEP, how many steps you've taken, and TIME the current time. Another nice feature is if you've most recently pressed the button 4 times to show the time, then a few minutes later press it again and it will show you the time on first press. This is great so you don't have to cycle through all the settings each time if you tend to only check one thing. After achieving your goal the bar will show it is full in the ACTV setting and then a little fireworks display type image will happen and "cheer you on" saying GOAL. Kinda fun. The display is bright and clear, easy to read and in red dots on a black background; much clearer than the stock image would lead you to believe. The fit is WATERPROOF and hasn't flinched at submersion or showering. It also doesn't stay wet long at all and with a normal toweling off of my body it seems to be dry and hasn't caused dripping, wet cuffs, etc. Then, of course, is the BIG feature that really sets the Loop apart-- it has the ability to connect to an H6 or an H7 Polar Heart Monitor. I am doing a lot of bodybuilding and this is HUGE. I can wear the Loop with a heart rate monitor and if I'm doing leg day it will still count my calories and note it towards my goal. Similarly, biking can now count towards your goal, as will any other activity that doesn't involve moving your arms. Any other Activity Monitor on the market, from the Nike Fuel, to the Fitbit products or Jawbone cannot do this. To set it up all I did was put the H6 on, hold the Loop next to it, and press the button for a moment. Then it shows a heart and within moments was giving me an accurate heartbeat. I compared it to a manual reading and wore another heart rate monitor at the same time and the Polar was spot on.
SETUP AND SOFTWARE: When you plug the Loop into your computer it will adjust the time based on your computer which is a nice feature, though I've read a few reviews that say it doesn't work for others. It worked very well for me. The Polar website has software that you can download for free and after setting up an account every time I plug my Loop into the included cable it quickly updates my account with the recorded information since the last time I plugged in. While it's updating it also charges, and I have found that the Loop can fully charge in a fairly quick amount of time. On first setup it will ask you your height, weight, age, gender, and if you wear the Loop on the Left or Right wrist. It will change the orientation of the words on the Loop so the words are upright for you and the button is always on the inside of your wrists, depending on which arm you tell it that you wear the Loop on; nice touch, Polar!
HOWEVER: Uploads won't reveal how far you've gone, show your running on a map, etc., as there's no GPS on the Loop. There is available software for the Loop to connect to your iOS platform. Though Polar says the Loop can work with your "Mobile Device" it works with neither Windows phones nor Android OS, JUST iOS products. I have a Galaxy S3, therefore I cannot attest to the software on iOS and my iPad seemed to have trouble finding the Loop (it's an old iPad 2, so maybe that's why?). Unfortunately when I log onto my account on the website, I get a map of Europe by default, and it seems that many of the software features are intended for those customers of Polar who have some of their other products, as some categories and ways to review the data you've synced will forever be useless. For example, there are many ways to view your data that are designed to incorporate distance traveled, but all of the number come up as a "zero" from the Loop, as it can't track the distance. This serves as a constant reminder of something the Loop can't do. Similarly the welcome screen to Flow 188.8.131.52 brings a big map with tagged locations of workouts logged from the local community. This is a great and interesting feature except 1) none of my workouts are there because the Loop can't determine my location/has no GPS, and 2) for some reason even if it could the map always starts in Europe for me (I live in New England). It would be really cool to be able to see my workouts there, but instead, another reminder that the Loop doesn't do this. Finally, though you can "educate" the Loop about your basic statistics, it doesn't seem possible to customize your goals. It seems Polar has an algorithm that determines what your goals should be and sets your goal based on age/height/weight/gender. Problem is, of course, that a lot of things can change what my actual goal might be. Though the Loop tells you what you probably have to do to achieve your goal (press the button to ACTV and it may say Jog 00:32-- meaning jog 32 minutes to achieve your goal--- Walk 1:56, or Up 4:12, I still have no idea what this goal is; is it to get me to burn a certain amount of calories? Go a certain distance? Take a certain amount of steps? It's far too vague. A person may have different goals based on their body composition, desires to loose more weight, etc. Maybe your goal is simply to jog for 2 hours a day because you're trying to build your endurance. It would be really nice to be able to select specific goals from suggestions and then to create customized ones as well. From what I can tell, there's no way to do this. The Loop part of the Polar website talks about "Smart Coaching" but this seems to be a feature that's not truly part of the Loop itself. Further, a lot of the way I've learned to navigate the Flow website has been guess and check. There's no real way to have it explained. Parts of it I'm simply ASSUMING that don't work with the Flow and would with a fancier watch that they sell. Finally, there's no option to sync the Loop with 2rd party apps from what I can tell, and there's no support for tracking dietary calories, so I'm forced to keep using LoseIt! and then MANUALLY entering workouts based on what I can gather from the Loop after syncing it. Between all the features that I SEE at their website and all the ones I wish I could try, I feel like I'm constantly being reminded about what I CAN'T do: Can't use the mobile app unless I buy another phone, can't use 1/2-3/4 of the only software unless I buy a different Polar watch.
In summary I'm REALLY hoping that things improve. I'm hoping the software updates (and maybe firmware for the Loop itself) can allow me to feel like this becomes more functional. I'm hoping that Polar makes their Flow website more user friendly and creates thorough tutorials that explain things clearly. If this thing had GPS and Android support--- hell even just GPS-- I'd gladly have paid $200 for it. Do it, Polar! Make a 2nd edition with a 2nd button that turns GPS on/off!!! The only thing that I'd want then is a way to sync this with LoseIt! or MyFitnessPal, or at least have dietary tracking as part of the Flow website.
I'm tempted to give a lower rating and change it if some of these things improve, but I DO like the Loop for it's feel and for what it does. It just doesn't do it quite right, yet. The problem is that nothing else gets it quite right yet, either, and at least this has a heart rate monitor function, which seems to be the biggest selling point, and I'm giving these guys an extra star for it, as well as for the hope that things will continue to improve. I want to be able to map my running/biking AND have a device that I can wear all day and track my sleep a bit, but for now I have to keep using my phone's GPS and MyTracks.
on March 12, 2014
I use the Loop with the H7 heart rate monitor. Primarily got it so I could easily see heart rate while doing Insanity--I was having trouble telling whether I was about to have a heart attack or wasn't pushing it as hard as I thought. I've used other heartrate monitors in the past for this (Suunto, Garmin), but I find the loop far more convenient and surprisingly more motivational overall. Other Heart rate/activity trackers I only wore while actually exercising, but the Loop I am wearing all the time now (I just add the heart rate monitor when I'm working out).
I have several apps I can use on my iPhone for heart rate monitoring, but I've found myself using Polar Beat the most often (though I'm trialing Digifit today). Polar Flow is the app that connects to the Polar Loop for overall tracking--how many steps you've taken, how much sleep you've had (breaking it into restful sleep and restless sleep) and what levels of activity or inactivity you've had over the day. It's not exactly the most elegant app I've ever met, but it definitely does the job. I've not had any trouble with the Loop connecting to any of the apps I use.
As far as accuracy, it is kind of hard for me to tell. The "steps taken" function appears to be accurate as far as walking or jogging, but I am not so sure about it when doing workouts like Insanity--I think it is overestimating there. Then again, I am more interested in heart rate for that, so not a big deal for me.
I do NOT like the fact that Polar appears to be assigning me an activity goal that apparently wants me to kill myself working out every day. I am a nurse, so I do a lot of walking in my 12 hour night shifts. That, plus doing an Insanity workout daily, SHOULD meet a decent daily activity goal of any sane person. Unfortunately, the Loop thinks I should be doing quite a bit more than that. It massively offended me the first week I had it. By the second week, I found myself obsessively trying to beat that damned activity goal, with the result of having all my spare time taken up with exercising more and more. It's ridiculous. I am now doing a round of Insanity and about an hour of Zombies, Run! just to get the stupid Loop to acknowledge that I am actually doing a decent amount of working out. I would love to know exactly how this thing determines what one's activity level should be--better yet, could we have a little control over setting our own goals, for pity's sake??
The other thing that annoyed me was setting up the band--one has to cut it to size to get the custom fit it is designed to do. No biggie, and the custom fit is definitely a good thing, but it took me a ridiculous amount of time, a phenomenal amount of swearing, prayers to multiple workout dieties, and excessively irate threats to the universe in general to get the stupid clasp on and off the band in order to fit the stupid thing properly. Granted, I am not an overly patient person in such matters, but I seriously nearly took the Loop back because of this one issue. I also nearly hatcheted the band in a fit of manic irritation.
A final minor irritation is the fact that the Loop is quite determined to tell me "Nighty Nite" or "Sweet Dreams" every night. I work night shift, dammit. Stop telling me to go to sleep while I am at work. It needs to stop sending me idiotic messages like that, particularly since it apparently can, in fact, tell when I am sleeping and when I am not. It also likes to wish me "Good Morning" or somesuch message in the mornings. When I am going to bed. Stop it. Seriously.
Despite all the above, I really am liking to the Loop and finding it quite useful. I've looked at multiple similar products and not seen one I like better. It does the job it is supposed to do. I've most recently looked at the Garmin Vivofit, but I don't like the fact that it is not backlit, and I have had problems with the garmin Heart rate chest bands in the past.
Been using the Loop for a while now and I've managed to overcome my own native stupidity to figure out a few things. The first is that the Loop pairs to a Bluetooth enabled HRM. Yeah, I know, that should have been self-evident, but I occasionally suffer minor brain damage. I had been using Digifit or other software that the H7 pairs to in order to keep track of heart rates while working out. If you know anything about the Bluetooth HRMs (like the H7), then you know it will only pair to one device at a time--in this case, since it was paired to my iPhone, I didn't realize it would pair directly to the Loop. Paired it accidentally one day to the Loop, freaked out because I was short on time and couldn't get it unpaired from the Loop to pair it to Digifit (hey, I was short on time and didn't realize all I had to do was take off the stupid HRM for a minute), and just went ahead an did my workout with it paired to the Loop.
Huh, well, that changed things a bit. Turns out, the reason the Loop thought I needed to kill myself working out was because it failed to understand I WAS actually killing myself trying to reach that daily goal. With the HRM in, 1 session of Insanity (or Combat) fulfilled the entire daily goal for me. In short, if the HRM is paired up to the Loop, it loops more at exertion than it does at steps, and it tracks better.
Downside? The HRM pair up sucks down the battery life. I can go 2-3 days, using the HRM 1-2 hours daily, before the Loop need to be recharged. This annoyed me slightly, so I started looking at Garmin's Vivofit, thinking I might like that a little better. Bought it and wore both of them over the period of a week.
Polar Loop won hands down.
The Vivofit had a seriously cheaper feel to it, making me feel like I was wearing a kid's watch I'd picked up at Disneyland. I kept expecting Mickey Mouse noises from it. The Vivo was also less accurate on the steps (which surprised me a bit) and the lack of backlight on it (which I didn't think would be an issue for me) irritated me a few times. The Loop seems to know when I am sleeping and has been fairly accurate on that--the Vivofit had to be told when I was going to sleep by pushing a button and I kept forgetting to push the stupid button before I turned the lights out. Back on the lights would go in order to push the button in the proper configuration for sleep, thus disrupting my sleep. Bad idea, that. Don't get me wrong--overall, the Vivofit does a decent job, and there are plenty out there who will prefer it over the Loop, but, for me, it made the Loop look better and better. Were I buying an activity tracker for one of my kids, I'd go with the Vivofit, simply for the adjustable band and the decent durability of it (plus, THEY don't mind if it looks like a kid's band!), but for me, it just wouldn't do.
The deciding factor, however, was the HRM. Garmin apparently likes to be more than a bit proprietary. The Vivofit will only speak to ANT+ HRMs. The Loop, on the other hand, utilizes the newer Bluetooth technology that so many of the HRMs are moving towards and that the iPhone makes good use of. Yes, one can get a bridge HRM that does both, but the reviews on them so far are so-so (they are rather new to the market) and I am disinclined to play guinea pig at the moment. Personally, I would rather see an HRM that will use 2 Bluetooth channels so that it can pair to both the Loop as well as the iphone at the same time (there's one possible HRM out there for this, but I haven't tried it yet). In any case, I have no real use for ANT+ devices at this point, since my iPhone 5 doesn't like them, so the Vivofit went back and the Polar Loop is here to stay. Until I find something niftier. Because I'm fickle like that. It's a curse.
on September 23, 2014
I love this product. I had the Fitbit Force (which was recalled for band issues) I first like it because the band is way more secure. Though it's waterproof vs water resistance, which is another plus. Being waterproof is another reason I chose to purchase this one vs waiting on the next Fitbit to come out. I don't have to put on a separate watch to do my heart rate anymore. The only thing that I feel needs work is the app. I would like to set my own goals, and it to update in the background on it's own. Once that is done I will give it a 5 Star. I'm not too worried, I remember Fitbit took a little time to get their app working at a better performance.
on April 4, 2015
I've had my Polar Loop for almost 2 months now and would give it about 3.5 stars. Prior to owning the loop, I had a timex heart rate monitor for workouts and have not owned other fitness bands like fitbit or jawbone so I can't compare it to these other brands. Here is my list of likes and dislikes!
1. Directions for pairing the loop with the HR monitor was easy to follow and tracks my workouts well without interruptions in the connection. I really like the analysis of the training session you get with Polar Flow and being able to see my HR trend in graph form. I felt it also gave a reliable estimate of calories burned during each workout session.
2. The wrist band has a sleek design and I found it to be really comfortable to wear. If cut to the right size, you barely notice that you have it on.
3. The touch button on the band is very responsive. The screen on the wrist band shows you pretty much all the info you need in real time (steps, calories burned, time, etc) and is intuitive/easy to use.
4. Polar loop syncs with myfitnesspal to automatically add your workout info as well as additional calories burned from your daily activities.
5. The H7 heart rate monitor is comfortable to wear. I bought it separately from the loop in size small and it fits me well. An additional bonus that I found out after purchase was that the HR monitor also works with most of the cardio machines at my gym, which means that the machine continuously displays my HR and I don't have to keep checking my band to see what my HR is!
6. The loop tracks steps, as well as the time you spend lying down, sitting, standing, and walking during your day. I found the tracking to be pretty accurate, and the Polar Flow displays the info in a graph format that is easy to read/understand. However, I definitely think you need to pair it with the HR monitor if you use the elliptical or bicycle at the gym and want accurate tracking of your workouts.
1. There is still quite a few glitches in the Polar Flow app, which I use mostly on my iPhone. One, it does not automatically sync for several hours sometimes even when you have the app open. When you manually try to sync it by following the directions in the user manual, it often still does not sync and requires multiple tries, like 3-4 times on average. This annoyed me to no end in the beginning, but now I've learned to deal with it as you can still access real time info on the band itself. The polar flow app really can't be synced more often than once an hour.
2. Cutting the band to size can be troublesome. The directions are simple enough to follow; but, the problem is that everyone differs in how loosely they prefer to have the band fitted so you may cut the strap too short if you just blindly follow the directions that polar provides. I cut my band a little bigger than what they instructed and still found that it fit a little too tight for my liking. I ended up having to send the band back by mail to Polar for a new replacement band which meant I was without the band for like 2 weeks. Polar should figure out some way to make the band more adjustable.
3. Battery life could be longer. I wear the Loop 24/7 and use it with the HR monitor for about 1 hour every other day during workouts on average. With this kind of usage, I end up having to charge the Loop after every 3 full days, or about twice a week. When I bought the Loop, I remember reading that battery life is ~ 5 days, so this was below my expectation and may have influenced my decision to purchase this if I had known about the shorter batter life in advance. However, the time it takes to charge is pretty short, ~1.5 hours.
Overall, I have been pretty happy with the Loop and HR monitor. Although there is definitely room for improvement, the things I dislike about the Loop are not deal breakers for me, and I would still choose this product if I had to decide all over again. I would definitely recommend it to my friends, but only if you plan to use it in combination with the HR monitor as I find that this is the single feature that really sets the Loop apart from other fitness bands!
on January 29, 2014
Trying to determine which "activity tracker" to purchase was pretty difficult. I mean they all seem to have a mix of reviews. After doing my usual OCD amount of research I decided to go with the Loop for 2 main reasons.
1) I like the fact that I can actually read on the Loop my progress (plus I can tell the time, which means I only need one thing on my wrists)
2) It hooks up to the H7 heart rate monitor which was the only way I could monitor my non-cardio circuit training.
I received this with Amazon's usual speediness and came across my first challenge. Sizing the band. OK, so it was pretty simple really...just start off cutting it slightly bigger than you need and trim down until you get your perfect size. I have to admit, that once I had sized it, I liked it even more. A friend has a fitbit, and that band just looks terrible to me, and she mentioned it had come off a couple of times. Not so with the Loop (I've been playing soccer etc and its still on my wrist!).
Looks: Well its pretty stylish for what it is. The thing I love about how it looks is the display. When not on, it looks just like plain black plastic. Only when the display is on that it lights up (which leads to some surprised glances for those who see it). The display is incredibly clear.
Wearing it: Its lightweight and doesn't bother me when working out or sleeping.
Motivation: Since I can check on my progress with one push of a button, its easy to see how active I've been. It definitely motivates me to get to at least 100% of my goal each day. It also makes me want to get to bed earlier after I see how much restful sleep I actually get!
Heart Monitor: So I bought the H7 heart monitor....it only takes a second to pair it to the Loop and is great for checking my progress when doing non-cardio workouts.
Just to address a few things I've read on here
1) The button is hard to push to activate the display.
I did not have any problems whatsoever. I found it extremely easy to turn on the display, and to cycle through the read outs.
2) The battery goes dead very quickly
Again, I did not find this an issue at all. Plus even when it does need recharging, it only takes about 30 minutes
3) Its too complicated
I actually think its very intuative and easy to use.
I have not used it swimming yet (I wish summer were here!), but have it on in the shower etc. No problems.
There is no android app for this yet. Apparently its coming in March/April. This was almost a deal breaker for me, but I'm happy with the computer software at the moment (plus the fact that there is a display on the Loop)...actually waiting for the app gives me something to look forward to!
All in all I'm extremely happy with my purchase.