Polar M200 PRODUCT REVIEW
AT A GLANCE: QUICK RATINGS
Heart Rate Functions
Fitness / Sport Features
Ease of Use
Where To Get It
A Deep Dive Into Polar M200
The Polar M200 is a GPS running watch with wrist based heart rate. Designed for runners of all levels from recreational joggers to competitive club runners.
With it’s integrated 24/7 activity tracker, GPS, off the wrist heart rate and supported by the brilliant Polar Flow app and website.
The Polar M200 GPS sports watch has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic
Who Is It For?
This is what I’ve been waiting for … Polar’s answer to the Garmin Forerunner 35. A swim-proof GPS running watch for the masses with wrist based heart rate, 24/7 activity tracking and smartphone notifications.
If you like to run / exercise outdoors, want freedom from a chest strap and something to motivate you throughout the day to keep active then the Polar M200 could be precisely what you’ve been looking for.
The M200 has been designed with runners in mind with auto-lap, Polar’s Running Program and Running Index.
If you are concerned about the accuracy of the strapless heart rate sensor, don’t be, refer to my M200 HR accuracy tests for further confirmation.
However, it’s not just for runners, the M200 supports Polar Sport Profiles allowing you to decide the sport profiles included in your watch like cycling, gym, weight training, cardio, football etc.
Polar have been a leading in heart rate monitors since 1976 – we have more reviews of Polar heart rate monitors here
The very best way to get a hands on feel for the Polar M200 is to watch my 15 minute video review. As with all my video reviews I have attempted to walk the viewer through the video to showcase it’s main features and functions.
In this video you will also get a glimpse of the Polar M400 and the Garmin Forerunner 35 used to compare display intensity.
- Designed specifically with RUNNERS in mind (all levels from park jogger to club runner)
- Customisable Sport Profiles – run, walk, gym, sail etc.
- Features built-in GPS
- Polar’s wrist-based heart rate sensors (accuracy tests)
- 24/7 activity tracking, steps, distance & calories burnt
- Inactivity alerts giving you a subtle reminder to move
- Swim-proof, the M200 is rated water resistant for surface swimming
- Data upload to Polar Flow via Bluetooth connection to smartphone app and/or USB cable to Mac/Windows PC
- Includes Polar’s Smart Coaching features including Training Benefit
- Dedicated Running Program & Running Index
- Battery life up to 6 days (with 24/7 activity tracking + 1h/day of training with GPS and HR)
- Polar M200 Video Presentations
- Two Sizes – Small/Medium : 13.5cm to 17cm & Medium/Large : 15cm to 21cm
- Polar M200 Video Review
- Technical Specification
- Review Conclusion
Heart Rate Accuracy
The inclusion of wrist based LED heart rate sensors has been the most significant innovation in the last few years.
What must be stressed is that one brands sensor is NOT the same as another.
Mio’s, Garmin Elevate and Polar’s are 3 of the very best.
To prove the point I took the Polar M200 on a 23 mile bike ride acquiring heart rate from the wrist. As a control I used a Polar M450 bike computer with the Polar H7 chest strap sensor. The graph below shows the heart rate traces acquired from the Polar M200 (wrist based) in BLUE and the HR data from the Polar M450 (chest strap) in RED.
My conclusion from several tests is the Polar M200’s wrist based HR system is BRILLIANT. Somewhere in the region of 98% accurate compared to a chest strap HR sensor.
My HR – at any time
If you wish to check your heart rate at any time during the day, just put the M200 in MY HR mode. When in My HR mode the LED sensors on the back of the M200 acquire heart rate directly from the wrist. This heart rate is DISPLAY only and it is NOT recorded.
Wearable Tech Running Fans
If you’re in to wearable technology then Android users may want to consider the Polar M600, powered by Android Wear or for users of iPhone the Apple Watch 2 Nike+. Both these watches feature built-in GPS, are swim proof, have wrist based heart rate and can store music on their internal memory for playback via Bluetooth headphones.
Polar M600 - Android Wear connected smartwatch, supports Strava application
Apple Watch Nike+ - iPhone connected smartwatch comes with Nike+ Run Club pre-installed
The Polar M200 joins many other Polar fitness watches by providing extensive activity tracking functionality. The M200 tracks your daily steps, distance and calories.
This activity data is sent to the Polar Flow app (iOs and Android) which provides an hourly breakdown of activity intensity throughout the day and sleep quality and duration during the night.
Your progress towards completing your daily activity goal is indicated around the OUTSIDE of the M200’s bezel. Dots around the outside of the bezel illuminate as you progress towards your daily activity target.
In the photograph below the M200 shows 31% of my daily step target completed.
Daily Activity Target
When setting up the M200 the user selects from one of three activity levels eg.
- Level 1) inactive, sedentary / office worker,
- Level 2) moderately active with periods of standing/walking
- Level 3) very active, manual worker, gardener etc. From this selection the Polar M200 sets a daily activity target.
At anytime it is possible to view the tasks required to complete the daily target, eg. 1 hour walking, 2 hours standing or 20 minutes running.
Throughout the day the activity indicator around the face of the watch fills in to indicate your progression towards the daily activity target.
As with other popular fitness trackers the M200 will provide an inactivity alert following periods of inactivity over 1 hour. Being inactive has a negative impact on your blood circulation, metabolism and energy expenditure. These subtle reminders are designed to get you up and moving.
Note > they are TURNED OFF during the night.
Using your Polar M200 Polar make training for a running event easy with their unique personal and adaptive training plan accessed from Polar Flow web-service.
Currently the running program supports 4 different popular event distances > 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon. Choose your event and Polar will provide a training plan with a personalised daily schedule specifically tailored for you and your fitness goals.
Many people that run simply do the same thing day in day out. Every session is a 5K jog at the same pace or similar. This type of training will not lead to progression.In fact it’s not really training at all, it’s just keeping fit.
The Polar Running Program will add different aspects of running to your training from speed endurance, intervals and strength training and much more.
The schedule below clearly illustrates the different training styles prescribed by the running program.
Customise your Sport Profiles
The M200 can be personalised to suit you and your favourites sports. Polar have their own Sport Profiles (over 80 at last count).
The M200 can support up to 15 sports in the watch at any one time. When training select the sport profile for that session – anything from RUN, to bike, walk, gym, cardio, sail etc. Different sports have different significant metrics.
See what you want with Training Views
Different people want to see different parameters when training. What I want to see when running may be different to what Mo Farah wants to see. That’s why Polar have customisable sport profiles.
Using the Polar Flow web service select the sports that are relevant to YOU. Then, if required, edit each profile to provide the metrics / parameters that interest you most for each sport.
Excluding the “World Record Comparison” and the “Cooper Test” training views the M200 can support 7 customised training views. The example above is using just 3.
Training View Options
Each Training View can be either 1 or 2 lines per page. The options for each metric come from the following main headings, Time, Environment, Body Measurement, Distance and Speed.
The screen grabs below show the specific parameters available under each heading. NOTE > you can MIX and MATCH any combination per training page. eg. Speed/Pace & Time of Day or Distance & Altitude in the same training view.
Training Mode View
When in training mode and long press provides access to the SPORT PROFILES. It is now possible to scroll through all your chosen sport profiles eg. Running, Cycling, Windsurf, Gym, Indoor Bike etc.
Once the required sports profile has been selected you are presented with your TRAINING PAGES. As discussed earlier, the training pages are all TWO lines of data.
The examples below show a training page with Heart Rate & Distance and Time of Day & Duration of exercise.
Polar Flow Website
The Polar Flow web service provides an extra dimension to training analysis and daily activity review. The service is 100% free and everything is offered to all users – no premium subscriptions required.
Daily Activity Summary – showing total steps, active time, time at various activity levels, calories burnt and INACTIVITY stamps (yes, I do sit a lot)
Graphical Summaries – the Heart Rate, Speed and Elevation graphs can be ZOOMED if required. Detailed time/distance versus Heart Rate, Speed (or Pace) and Altitude. Also shows a breakdown of time spent in the 5 x Polar Sports zones (HR zones)
Exercise Data on Smartphone
The Polar Flow app is available for iOs and Android devices. It’s easy to use, comprehensive and fully featured. Of all the supporting fitness apps, Polar Flow is my personal favourite. All the data from the Polar M200 is seamlessly uploaded to the Polar Flow app using the smartphone Bluetooth connection.
Polar Flow gives daily, weekly and monthly activity summary, Training Benefit feedback, exercise summaries, maps, heart rate graphs and time in zones feedback.
The Polar Running Program will hopefully make you a better, stronger and faster runner. But how do you know if you are progressing.
The answer is Polar’s Running Index. Monitored regularly over time you will see how your running efficiency is improving. The Polar Running Index score is calculated automatically every time you run.
It’s a calculation based on your heart rate and speed / distance data collected from the M200’s GPS sensor. A higher reading indicates that you can run faster with less effort.
Polar Training Benefit
At the end of the training session, the M200 provides feedback on everything from Average Heart Rate, Calories, Time, Distance, Average Speed etc. With the Polar Flow app you also get TRAINING BENEFIT.
Training Benefit gives a summary of what was achieved from the latest training session. For people looking to achieve a specific objective from their training sessions, Training Benefit will hopefully reinforce that objective whether it was a FAT BURNING session, an AEROBIC ENDURANCE session of a SPEED ENDURANCE interval session.
Wrist Based Heart Rate Accuracy
Polar weren’t the first to produce watches with strapless heart rate monitors, far from it. However, unlike other companies they wanted to develop their own technology and not use a third party’s tech.
The result is a very accurate wrist acquired heart rate system taking your pulse from the LED’s on the back of the watch. The Polar M600 and A360 use similar technology and we found these to be 95% accurate for about 95% of the time, if not better.
Having an integrated GPS is nothing new. Garmin have been doing it for over a decade and Polar have since the Polar RC3 running watch.
What the Polar M200 has is a VERY SMALL and discrete GPS and aerial system. The M200 is suitable for all wrist sizes, large and small. The M200’s built-in GPS keeps track of your pace, distance and altitude. After your run, you can see your route on Polar Flow
The Polar M200 watch module can be popped out and fitted in to a new case and strap. The Polar M200 watch strap and case is available in two sizes. Small/Medium and Medium/Large.
The small/medium is for wrists of circumference 135-170mm and medium/large is for wrists of circumference 150-210mm.
- Weight -40g
- Thickness – 12 mm
- Display size – visible area diameter 26 mm, 1342 pixels
- Wrist-based heart rate
- Integrated GPS with SiRFInstantFix™ satellite prediction technology
- Activity sensor
- Manual and auto laps
- Vibration alerts
- Water resistant (suitable for swimming)
- 4 MB Flash memory
- Rechargeable 180 mAh lithium polymer battery
- Battery duration up to 6 days (with 24/7 activity tracking + 1h/day of training with GPS and optical heart rate, without smart notifications)
- Standard USB-A for data sync with PC or Mac
- Bluetooth Smart with mobile (and optional heart rate sensors and weight scales)
- FlowSync compatible with computer running Mac OS X 10.6 or later and Windows XP, 7, 8, 10
- Polar Flow mobile app compatibility
- Updatable software
- UI languages English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Turkish, Indonesian, Russian, Polish, Czech
Next Model UP
The M200 includes some of the best and most commonly used features of superior models like the M400 and the V800 including Running Index, Training Benefit and Running Program. However several useful technical features have been omitted for example, Fitness Test, Training Load, running cadence, pedal cadence support and Zone Lock (all found in M400 and V800).
If you want more wearable tech connectivity the next model up would be the M600 … however, it falls short in the RUNNING specific features.
The Polar M600 is for lovers of smartphone tech that want a reliable GPS running watch with wrist based heart rate. It is NOT a dedicated running watch like the M200.
Next Model DOWN
Models below the M200 would be the A360 or the A300. If your main focus is keeping fit and less to do with running Polar have the A300 reviewed here.
The A300 is an activity tracker with optional (chest strap) heart rate that very effectively helps to guide the user between a Fat Burning intensity and Fitness Improving intensity. It does NOT have a built in GPS.
However, it features the Polar Fitness Test an effective way of keeping track of fitness progression. The Polar A360 is more of a regular activity tracker with wrist based heart rate. Stylish and discrete more aimed at the Fitbit market.
The Polar M200 is a sensibly priced GPS sports watch with accurate wrist based heart rate.
Suppor of Polar’s SPORTS PROFILES gives the owner the ability to set up training screen for sports relevant to them. My test M200 had, Cycling, Running, Indoor Cycling, Walking, Windsurfing etc.
Each sport profile has it’s own customisable training view (4 views, 1 or 2 lines per view) giving the user access to the training metrics relevant to them. As well being a competent GPS sports watch the Polar M200 is a 24/7 activity tracker recording daily steps and calories burnt.
The markers around the outside of the bezel display the percentage of your daily activity target completed so far. The M200 is supported by one of the best smartphone apps (Polar Flow) and online webservices (flow.polar.com) giving clear, precise and user friendly feedback on your daily activity levels and exercise intensity.
Taking in to consideration overall functionality, features, ease of use, build quality and price I have awarded the Polar M200 a review rating of 4/5 stars.
Had it features (in the watch) Polar’s 5 x Sports Zones, a brighter display (like the M400) and the option for wrist gestures in time of day mode it would have been very close to 5/5 stars … don’t forget to watch my VIDEO REVIEW of the Polar M200 ..
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