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Entries in Polar Loop (6)

Thursday
Sep042014

Garmin VivoFit versus Polar Loop with HRM Review

I thought I would make this review of the Garmin VivoFit for more of a head to head comparison to the Polar Loop. The reason for this is because both devices pretty much do exactly the same thing, and I have had a lot of questions from people asking about which one I think is the best unit to get. Keep in mind, you need to have a compatible Heart Rate Monitor to really take advantage of both of these units, especially if your workouts are not very step based. Combining your day to day motion based activity along with the Heart Rate Monitors super detailed workout tracking, offers very accurate feedback in terms of how many calories you are burning each day, this is especially important if you are tracking your food intake, and want to either gain weight, lose wight or maintain weight.

NOTES:

  • HRM Refers to "Heart Rate Monitor"
  • I bought the Garmin VivoFit bundle that came with the Garmin HRM.
  • I bought the Polar Loop and Polar H7 HRM separately.
  • Costs where comparable.

Pairing:

Both devices pair to their respective Apps using Bluetooth, there is no need to pair first within your smart phone Bluetooth settings. You will need to either have accounts setup, or will need to setup an account to pair your device to your smart phone.

Syncing:

Both units come with USB adaptors for your PC or Mac so that you can sync directly to your computer and to the respective cloud based Web Apps. The Polar Loop uses a USB cable that will sync and charge the device while it is plugged in. The Garmin VivoFit has a USB to ANT+ dongle for syncing only, since it has non-rechargeable user replaceable batteries built in. You will need to download software to your computer to sync either fitness band with your computer.

Both bands can be paired to your smartphone App via Bluetooth. The Garmin VivoFit can be synced on demand by pressing and holding down the function button until the word "Sync" is displayed on the screen. The Polar Loop does not really synced on demand but will do so on it's own periodically. I did find that if you cycle through the display screen it will generally force it into sync mode.

Counting Activities & Calories:

Both devices have the ability to count activity on their own via built in motion sensors, and also when hooked up to a Heart Rate Monitor. When hooked up to the HRM, they will base your activity expenditure on your heart rate instead of on your movement since your heart rate will give the most accurate indication of the load you are placing on your body.

I found that when the Heart Rate Monitors where begin read, both systems where fairly close in terms of heart rate beats per minute at any given time and both devices gave similar calorie expenditures. Sometimes the Polar Loop with H7 HRM paired would give more calories per workout and sometimes the Garmin VivoFit with HRM paired would give more calories for an activity.

In terms of counting calories based on the bands motion sensors, the Polar Loop was definitely more generous and seemed to give a lot more credit for non-step based movements. The Garmin VivoFit did not give very much credit for anything that was not a legitimate step so for instance if you where vacuuming or shuffling around, even if doing so rather intensely, in my opinion the VivoFit would kind of short change you a bit on calories in this area. The Polar Loop was definitely better at reading more subtle movements and giving partial credits for such activity.

I found it interesting that even though the Polar Loop seemed to give out more calories on any given day, the Garmin VivoFit did give me more calories while I slept, so I am assuming the Garmin base caloric rate is set higher than in the Polar software.

When considering motion sensor activity and HRM activity combined, I found that the Polar Loop would give me as much as 300-500 calories more per day than the Garmin VivoFit! Which one was more accurate? Who really knows, perhaps averaging them out would be the best approach!

Bugs:

There will always be bugs with pretty much any hardware and software system, this is to be expected.

The main bugs I have found with the Polar Loop have been syncing related ones, most of them seem to have been workout out now but my fear is updating Firmware and or App Software since it seems like Polar has in the past, fixed one bug, but then replaces it with a new bug.

Here are some of the bugs I have experienced on the Polar Loop: 

  • Memory full when memory is not full.
  • Flight mode hard to active and inactivate.
  • User setting being changed back to defaults (Things like which hand you prefer to wear it on).
  • Inconsistent syncing
  • Not syncing an activity (workouts wearing the HRM) and even some days where only half of the days activity would sync.

The main bugs so far with the Garmin VivoFit are as follows:

  • Some activities (workouts wearing the HRM) did not show up as an activity even though I did get credit for the calories burned.
  • When working out past midnight while wearing the HRM, the activity will get truncated so only the workout portion after midnight will be displayed in the activity. I do still get full credit for all the calories burned while wearing the HRM, I just can not see the pre-midnight data in the activity.
  • And lastly… the Garmin folks have decide that CrossFit is not a legitimate sport or fitness activity because they do not have it in the list of activities you can select when doing a workout, even though more obscure fitness activities like driving, flying, boating, standup paddle boarding are viable options. 

Size, Fit & Comfort:

In a nutshell both the Garmin VivoFit and Polar Loop are about the same size, weight and have similar comfort while worn on the wrist.

The Polar Loop uses a watch style clasp but does need to be cut to fit by the user when they first get it. This system is very stylish and even if the clasp where to open, it will not easily fall off the wrist and you would also notice it has opened since it would be flopping around on your wrist.

I was a bit concerned with the Garmin VivoFit as it had a similar overlapping snap together band similar to the Fitbit products which I did find would come undone once in a while and if you didn't notice this as it happened, there was the possibility of losing the band. That said I have not had any such instances where the band has come apart either during everyday activity or while working out. One advantage to this design is there is no need to cut the strap to size when you first get it. You also get a large and small strap for different sized wrists.

Another nice touch to the Garmin VivoFit strap is that it can be replaced and swapped out for a new one or even a different color if you choose to.

(HRM) Heart Rate Monitor Strap:

After using my Polar Loop H7 Heart Rate Monitor for some time with it's full elastic wrap around strap, I was not sure if I would like the somewhat bulkier Garmin HRM chest strap as there is a plastic portion that pretty much goes around the entire front of your chest.

One of my concerns was would the Garmin HRM take up a lot of space in my bag of gym gear? the Garmin HRM does not wrap up as compact for sure as the Polar H7 HRM, but it is not really that bulky and in terms of comfort, it feel's a bit better than the Polar H7 HRM.

I also found that the Polar H7 HRM if bumped hard enough could come off the strap mid workout while the Garmin HRM does not have this problem since the HRM is built right into the front of the plastic strap portion.

I also like that I can put on the Garmin HRM before I start my workout and then when I am ready to start, I simply place the Garmin VivoFit screen into the "Heart Rate" mode and it syncs to the HRM right away and starts a new activity session. Once I am finished my workout I hold the function button down while in the "Heart Rate" screen until the word "Off" is displayed on the screen.

The Polar H7 HRM seems to work best when you immediately pair to the Polar Loop by cycling through the display setting till you can see the Heart Rate being displayed. Once finished your workout, you need to take off the Polar H7 HRM to stop the activity recording.

Looks:

Looks are really more of a subjective thing and each person will have there own opinion as to which one looks best to them. At a glance, both the Polar Loop and Garmin VivoFit kind of look the same since mine are both the black versions, keep in mind you can get these bands in a variety of colors.

Upon closer inspection I would say the Polar Loop has a bit more style with it's Chrome highlights and wrist watch based clasp. The Polar Loop also has that extra eye candy when you consider the red LED display.

I still personally like the Garmin VivoFit all flat black simplistic look as I don't really want my Fitness band to be too flashy since that is not why I got it. 

Quality & Water Resistance:

I have been wearing my Polar Loop for a lot longer than my Garmin VivoFit and so far so good, no hardware problems at all, everything still works exactly the same as when I got it  which was last December of 2013.

Both Fitness bands only really have one button too worry about and in the  case of the Polar Loop, it's more of a sensor than a mechanical button. For both units the internal electronics are safely housed inside the fitness bands sealed from all outside moisture and dust.

Speaking of moisture, both the Loop and VivoFit are suitable for showering and swimming, the Garmin VivoFit with a 5 ATM or 50 meter rating and the Polar Loop good down to 20 meters or 60 feet, so no worries using either of them in the shower or pool.

Display:

Both the Loop and VivoFit have a display on the top of the band, Polar decided to use an LED display while Garmin went with an LCD display. There are some pros and cons to both of these screen types.

The Polar Loop with its LED screen looks kind of flashy with the bright red LED lights, it is also very easy to see at night but in bright sunlight can get washed out and almost unreadable. The LED lights also use a lot of energy while on, so the more you check the screen, the more power that is used up which could mean more frequent recharging.

The Polar Loop allows you to switch between the following display functions: Activity, Calories, Steps, Time, and Heart Rate when the HRM is paired.

The Garmin VivoFit screen is based on an LCD display which is always on but uses very little power, this design is so efficient that Garmin decided to go a charge-less (We will get more into this in the nest section).

One drawback of the LCD display is that you can not see it at all at night and to save energy, Garmin chose to forgo a backlight. It's a good thing most of us have our handy smartphones around to see what time it is at 3 in the morning…

One key feature to mention is that because the Garmin VivoFit LCD screen is always on, you can quickly look at the band while doing a workout to check your Heart Rate. You can check your Heart Rate on the Polar Loop but you will need to activate the screen by pressing the sensor first, but the LED screen will go off rather quickly.

The Garmin VivoFit allows you to switch between the following display functions: Steps, Goals, Distance, Calories, Time, Date, and Heart Rate. There is a also red bar along the top of the display that grows longer as you become stationary for too long reminding you that you need to get up and move.

Battery Life:

One huge difference between these two devices is the choice in types of batteries used.

Polar decided to go with a non-removable rechargeable battery in the Loop that you will need to recharge every 2-4 days depending on how often you look at the screen and how often you pair with the HRM. Over time you may need to recharge more often as the battery gets older but more than likely by the time the battery losses its efficiency, you will have moved on to a newer model or new style fitness tracking device all-together.

Garmin on the other hand went with a user-replaceable battery system in the VivoFit which amazingly gets a claimed year or more worth of battery life before you are required to change the batteries (which by the way are standard inexpensive 3-volt CR2032 batteries found in most electric shops).

Smart Phone Software:

Both the Garmin VivoFit and Polar Loop have Apps that are compatible with iOS and Android devices.

In terms of saying which App is better or worse, again this will come down to individual user experience but there are a few key points I want to bring up.

I found both companies Apps to be fairly user friendly and when it came to displaying the Fitness Band data, everything was pretty much there for the viewing. Information like: Calories burned, Steps taken, Distance moved (Estimated), Goals, Sleep time, Activity sessions, and your body weight if you choose to enter it.

Both the Loop and the VivoFit allow you to see your activity HRM recorded workouts in full detail showing you your heart rate as a graph and displaying info like: Maximum heart rate, Average heart rate, Calories burned, and Workout time and duration.

One aspect I was fond of on the Polar Loop was the way it not only tracks your non-step based movements in more detail than the Garmin VivoFit, but it also displayed this movement into different categories like: Lying down, Sitting, Standing, Walking and Running. The Polar Loop Fitness Band was also able to figure out, based on you movements, when you where sleeping which on the Garmin VivoFit requires manual entry.

Another interesting discovery I found was that you have to have an Internet connection to sync the Garmin VivoFit to the Garmin Connect App. It seems that all the data is immediately sent to the "cloud" which also means if you want to view any current or past data, you will need to have an Internet connection. The Polar Flow App is not dependent on having an Internet connection at all times as it seems to store data within the App on the phone and then syncs this data with any cloud based data you may have.

One other difference worth mentioning is the way in which each device determines your goals for the day. The Polar Loop has a static preset activity goal that is determined by what you enter into your User "Physical settings". There are some tips on how to meet this activity goal provided as different types of activities you can do. The Garmin VivoFit uses an adaptive method for calculating how many steps your daily goal should be based on previous day to day and on going activity.

Web App:

Both Garmin and Polar have dedicated Web Applications that allow you to view the data recorded on the Fitness bands and their respective HRM's. The information is similar to what you will find within the Smart Phone Apps but since you have the entire computer screen to view it on, you can see more information at once and sometimes in more detail.

Within the Web Applications there is usually more specifics you can enter in terms of you user profile and personal settings.

I personally like to enter my activity (or workout details) using the Web Applications since I find it easier to enter on the computer with the large screen and full size keyboard, rather than the small screen and keyboard when using the iPhone App.

Pros Over Each Device:

  • Polar Loop screen can be seen at night very easily.
  • Polar Loop does a better job at factoring in smaller non-step based movements.
  • Polar Loop auto detects when you fall asleep and when you wake up.
  • Polar Loop has an Airplane mode if that is important anyone ;)
  • Polar Loop has a non-mechanical function button that is less likely to cause future hardware problems.
  • Polar Loop has a slight edge in terms of fashion or looks but this is rather subjective.
  • Garmin VivoFit screen is much easier to see in bright daylight and stays on all the time which is great for reading your heart rate while working out if you have the HRM paired.
  • Garmin VivoFit doesn't need to be charged every 3-4 days with its 1 year battery.
  • Garmin VivoFit can be synced on demand by pressing and holding the function button down.
  • Garmin VivoFit strap doesn't need to be cut to size by the user before you can wear it.
  • Garmin VivoFit HRM is easier to start and stop the HRM for workouts.
  • Garmin VivoFit also shows you the date on the screen, can be useful at times.
  • Garmin Connect App uses adaptive goal setting based on previous day to day activity.

Cons Over Each Device:

  • Polar Loop screen is hard to see in bright sunlight.
  • Polar Loop has no real sync on demand option.
  • Polar Loop band needs to be cut to size by user.
  • Polar Loop requires frequent recharging.
  • Garmin VivoFit has no back light so you can not see the display in the dark.
  • Garmin VivoFit does not track or give credit to your non-step based movement very well.
  • Garmin VivoFit does not auto-detect when you are sleeping.
  • Garmin VivoFit needs an Internet conniption to sync with the App and view App data.
  • Garmin VivoFit does not seem to have an Airplane mode.

In Summary:

So at the end of the day, both of these Fitness Band and HRM solutions are worthy choices if you are looking for a way to track your total activity throughout the day, Incorporating a Heart Rate monitor along with the Fitness bands ability to detect activity via motion will give you a much better picture of exactly how many calories you are burning as opposed to a stand alone Fitness band without an Heart Rate Monitor. So which one am I going to use as my personal Fitness Activity Tracker? I'm still not 100% sure but I may be leaning a bit towards the Garmin VivoFit mainly because it never needs charging and the process of pairing to the HRM is a bit more refined. I also kind of really like the always on screen so I can see my heart rate while working out and the ability to sync on demand.

 

Thursday
Jul312014

Garmin VivoFit Activity Tracker with Heart Rate Monitor Bundle Preview

I have had a lot of people ask me about the VivoFit Activity Tracker and to be honest on it's own its really just another fitness activity tracking band. OK, so it does have a built in 1 full year of life battery which means no having to recharge it every few days, I kind of have to admit that is nice! Add a Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap to it and now we're talking!

As many of you know I really like my Polar Loop combined with the Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap, it gives me pretty close to my true caloric burn for the day really giving me detailed tracking of just about any type of workout I throw at it step based or not. The VivoFit Activity Tracker with Heart Rate Monitor Bundle is Garmin's offering of a very similar solution but with their own unique twist and that primarily being low power consumption and long battery life, a year to be exact!

That's all fine and dandy but what I really want to find out is how does it get the job done? Will it work as well as my Polar Loop / H7 combo or will it have some short comings, they all do, so what exactly are they?

I will be testing my VivoFit Activity Tracker with Heart Rate Monitor Bundle over the next couple of weeks and when I find out what's good and what's not so good, I will get back to you with my full review where I plan to not only do a complete review of the VivoFit Activity Tracker with Heart Rate Monitor Bundle, but also compare it heavily to my Polar Loop and H7 Heart Rate Monitor so stay posted on this one...

Saturday
Jan112014

Home Workout - Chest, Triceps and Abs with Polar Flow Summary

Follow me along in this video where I do an at home workout focussing on Chest, Triceps and Abs. I use a combination of exercises that incorporate free weights, smith machine, pulleys, my Total Gym and body weight.

As I do with all my workouts now-a-days, I track my heart rate using my Polar Loop paired to a Polar H7 (with smart Bluetooth) heart rate monitor so I can track my calories burned during my workouts. I show you a graph of this workout at the end of the video so you can see my total workout time, peek heart rate, average heart rate and calories burned for the workout.

I also talk a bit about a gaol I have which is to potentially compete in a mens over 40 physique fitness competition at the end of this year, I will have to see about this but without goals you are only limiting yourself!

 

Saturday
Dec212013

Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band and H7 Heart Rate Sensor Review

So What are these devices?

The Polar loop is an Activity tracker. The Polar Loop tracks motion using an internal gyroscope and figures out how many steps you take and also knows the type of other activities you are doing like: sleeping, sitting, standing around, walking, running. The Polar Loop then converts that info into a calorie output guesstimation.

H7 is a Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor. The H7 is a sensor that you wear around your chest to read your hearts beats per minute, it can pair to the Polar Loop, adding heart rate information allowing the Polar Loop along with its polar Flow software to know in detail how many calories you are burning (bases this on your age, weight, height and gender). I'm not going to talk a lot about the H7 during this review other than how it integrates with the Polar Loop.

Why get one of these gadgets?

If you're tracking your calorie intake but not your calorie output then how do you know where you stand? You can guess but you really don't know for sure, having this information takes the guesswork away. The more accurate the data the better you can adjust your calorie intake to meet your goals. (Lose weight, Gain weight, Maintain weight).

As an athlete you may want to know exactly what your heart rate is throughout a workout, so you can make small tweaks and improvements to your future workouts. Having a smart Wristband is kind of cool too!

How does the Polar Loop compare to other wrist band activity trackers?

This is not a comparison review, so I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here but the Polar Loop in my opinion and for my personal needs seems to be the best option, why is this? It gives me the most accurate caloric intake and takes all the guess work away. It shows me a lot about how my workouts are effecting me in terms of actual expenditure on my part, my heart rate does not lie!

Some other features I like about the Polar Loop that set it apart:

  • Water resistant to 30 meters, I never have to take it off.
  • It's not going anywhere, it has the most secure strap and latch out of all the bands I have tested.
  • One of the nicer looking fitness bands.
  • The only tracker that knows what you are doing without you having to tell it.
  • Only wrist band tracker that I know of that can pair with a heart rate sensor. (Polar does have some fitness watches that work similarly)

A couple of things that the Polar Loop does not have or do that some other fitness bands have:

  • No altimeter for tracking flights of stairs.
  • No motor/vibration for alarm vibration notifications.
  • Does not really track estimated miles traveled.

Lets talk about the Polar loop in detail now, again this is not a full comparison review but I will be comparing my Fitbit Force to the Polar Loop at times since they are very similar devices and will be of interest to the same type of consumers. (Make sure to watch my Fitbit Force videos)

Price Point:

  • The Polar Loop is one of the lower cost Wrist Band Activity Trackers that includes an LCD screen at around $99.
  • If you plan on adding the H7 Heart Rate Sensor, it's an additional $79 but worth it if you want extremely accurate workout and calorie expenditure data.

Build Quality:

  • So far so good, my Polar Loop not showing any real wear and tear to date.
  • Has a very secure strap and clasp, it's not going anywhere.
  • Water proof down to 30 meters so you know the internals are protected from most environmental situations.

Esthetics:

  • One of the nicest looking bands out there in my opinion.
  • Customizable strap, just cut to size, one size fits all and comes with all the sizing tools needed except for a pair of scissors.
  • The Red LED screen is very easy to read and the scrolling animation looks cool.
  • Not too bulky and very light weight, does not get in the way or feel heavy or cumbersome at all.
  • If the strap gets beat up, I'm not sure if it can be replaced (Like the FitBit Flex

Battery: 

  • Claimed 5 days of continuous use, but I get more like 3-4 days. I do pair mine with the H7 and have it syncing to my iPhone regularly which will cut down on battery life.
  • LED's dim a bit when the battery starts to get low, soon after that you will get a low battery warning on the bands screen.
  • Charges very quickly, in about an hour using the included custom magnetically attached USB charging cable.

Pairing / Syncing:

  • Pairing perhaps is not as seamless as the Fitbit bands but the Polar Loop does sync just fine with my iPhone over smart BT. (You must have an iPhone 4s or higher, no Android support just yet)
  • When I'm running the Polar Flow App on my iPhone I can get it to manually sync by activating the screen on the Polar Loop, once it is finished syncing to your account (online cloud service), it will sync with the "product" or band.

Paring to my H7 Heart Rate Sensor is fairly simple, the first time you pair the Polar Loop to a compatible heart rate sensor you will want to do this at your home or somewhere secluded. Mainly so you don't confuse the setup with other Bluetooth heart rate sensors that may be close by (in a gym, getting ready to run a marathon…) Just place your compatible heart rate sensor near the Polar Loop and basically put it on, the two will pair automatically and from that point on will be linked to each another. To use the H7, simply put the heart rate sense on when you start your workout and take it off when you're done. You can see your heart rate on the Polar Loop while a heart rate sensor is paired. Your Polar Loop will then transfer that heart rate data to your Polar Flow App software which then sends it to your cloud based Polar account.

Ease of Use:

  • Like pretty much all of these wrist band fitness trackers, the hardest part is navigating all the account setups which is necessary to start using these devices since they all sync their info to a cloud based service of some sort. The cloud data is then communicated back and forth from the device to your Smartphone or direct to a computer which then sends it to the cloud account service, which again will send that data to any other devices that are setup using your Polar account.
  • Once setup, using the Polar Loop is as simple as keeping it charged and wearing it, if you want to see what's going on during the day, simply press the button once to bring up the display and again to cycle through info like the Time, Activity - how active you have been, if you have met your activity goals for the day. You can also see your Calories burned and Steps taken and if you have a heart rate sensor paired, you can see your heart rate in real time on the Polar Loops Screen.
  • You can put the Polar Loop into Airplane mode by holding down the button for about 10 seconds while in Time mode, and take it out of Airplane mode by pressing the button for 10 seconds again while in any mode. (I did not find this very easy to do so be warned!)

Polar Flow iPhone App Software:

  • Activity Tab: Shows you your basic activity for each day, you can scroll thorough previous days if you like. There is a dial that shows you what type of activity was happening at different times of the day and you can see exactly how much of each type you have done (Sleeping, Sitting, Standing, Walking, Running) There is no need to tell the Polar Loop what you are doing, it just knows! Below that are some suggestions to reach your daily goal along with Calorie, Steps, Activity Time and Sleep info (Sleep info seems to be measured as a consecutive sleeping period, not the total for the 24 hour period) You also set your body weight at the bottom.
  • Training Summary Tab: Shows a weeks period of recorder activities and lists how many Sessions, total Duration, total Calories and Fat burned. Below that is a list of the Sessions performed in that weeks period. You can select a session and look at your performance. Heart Rate Chart, Fit versus Fat times, Heart Rate Average, Heart Rate Max, Calories Burned and how much of the workout was in the Fat Burning range. You will also see a little note at the bottom with some tips on your workout.
  • Info Tab: Here you will find some instructional info and even some videos you can watch to learn about your Polar products.
  • Setting Tab: Here you'll find a place to enter your personal Account and Profile information, a place to select if you wear the Polar Loop on the left or right hand, and an area for if you prefer to see your units in Imperial or Metric along with Notification setting.
  • Sign Out Tab: Obviously for if you want to sign out for some reason.

 

POLAR FLOWbeta Wbe Based Online Software:

  • To get to the Polar Flow online software you will need to go to (www.flow.polar.com) and sign in each time. There are several tabs along the top:
  • FLOWbeta Tab: Is like the home button.
  • Feed: shows your activity entries, in my case it shows all the times I paired my H7 to my Polar Loop and did a workout. You can write a comment which is useful for specifying what kind of workout you did for when you go back and revisit that workout.
  • Explore Tab: Is for if you are interested in seeing other peoples GPS based workouts. Not really a Polar Loop thing at this time since the Polar Flow software does not track your location or distance travelled.
  • Diary Tab: Is a Calendar view of your activities and daily goal measurements, you can click on each event to see them in detail. If you where wearing your Heart Rate Sensor then you can see a graph of your heart rate levels. you can also see what is happening in real time by selecting todays date.
  • Progress Tab: Shows you a list of your workout sessions that you can then show on a scale and view Duration, Distance (Not really applicable with the Polar Loop and H7), Calories and Sport Zones.

Pros:

  • One of the nicer looking fitness bands on the market in my opinion.
  • Very secure band/clasp, will not fall off like most of the other fitness bands seem to do once in a while.
  • Water Proof down to 30 meters.
  • Great looking and easy to read red animated LED display.
  • Can sync over smart Bluetooth to a compatible heart rate sensor for very detailed workout calorie output.
  • Only movement tracker that really knows what you are doing without having to tell it, no having to put it in sleep mode. The Polar Loop can tell between sleeping, sitting, standing, walking and running. Most fitness trackers only tell you how many steps you have taken and try to convert that into calories.
  • Seems to be very accurate in how many calories you are actually burning throughout the day, not too many or too little.
  • iPhone App and online FLOW beta software is very good for being rather new or beta.

Cons: 

  • Battery only lasts 3-4 days tops for me.
  • The button does not always respond right away, almost like the band goes into a sleep mode to conserve energy, you have to be really persistent at times.
  • My First Polar Loop was defective out of the box, would not charge at all.
  • Button seems to be (heat and or moisture) sensitive so when in the shower and any time the water gets on it, the band LED lights turn on and cycle through the modes. Once when I was in a Hot tub it did the same while underwater but for the most part when underwater it will generally not respond to any button pressing and stay off.
  • Did have some Polar Flow iPhone App error messages while syncing to the services (cloud), but all the data was getting to the cloud anyways?
  • Putting the Polar Loop in and out of Sleep mode is not as easy as the instructions say, I would suggest leaving it in regular mode.

Conclusion:

For me the choice comes down to the following Fitness Bands: My Fitbit Force that I have been using for several months and been very happy with to date, or my new Polar Loop combined with the H7 Heart Rate Sensor. Although both of these fitness bands do a very good job tracking fitness, when it comes down to it, I prefer the Polar Loop for my needs and this is why. It simply does a better job of accurately figuring out what I am doing and converting that info into real world calorie output, and this is without the H7 Heart Rate Sensor. The Polar Loop does not just make everything an equal step, it looks at all types of activity and takes everything into consideration before converting the info into calories. Combine that with a heart rate sensor during workouts and you have a system that is incredibly accurate at figuring out how many calories are being burnt in a given day.

Sure the Fitbit Force can track flights of stairs, has better battery life, will vibrate for set alarms and is hooked into a bit more complete system for the addition of additional devices like the Aria body weight and fat percentage fitness scale. But at the end of the day, I want a wrist band activity tracker to do one thing really really well, and that's track my calories as accurately as possible, the Polar Loop is king in this area especially if you add a heart rate sensor like the H7 to the equation. I will miss my Fitbit Force but it's time for my Force to step aside and make way for the Polar Loop, well at least for now until an even better band comes out ;)

 

Friday
Dec132013

Test Workout Session with Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band and H7 Heart Rate Sensor

I decided to try out my new Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band paired with the Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor in a real world workout situation. Rather then doing some sort of targeted cardio workout, I strapped on my Loop and H7 and did a regular weight training workout. I did try to keep my heart rate somewhat elevated by doing my sets quickly but I was also moving recording gear around so that slowed me down a bit, the workout took just over one hour but could have been condensed into about 45 minutes without the camera duties being in the way.

My workout consisted of shoulders using mainly the Total Gym, some arms with a combination of Total Gym and Free Weight, then I did some calves with my smith machine and ended off with some abs on the Total Gym again.

I did track my before and after Calorie and Step markers for my Polar Loop and also my Fitbit Force as a comparison and here are the results I got for this workout session:

Polar Loop:
  • Start Calories: 1485
  • End Calories: 2031
  • Total Calories Burned: 546
Polar Loop:
  • Start Steps:4353
  • End Steps: 6405
  • Total Steps Taken: 2052
Fitbit Force:
  • Start Calories: 1627
  • End Calories: 1889
  • Total Calories Burned: 262
Fitbit Force:
  • Start Steps:6527
  • End Steps: 8657
  • Total Steps Taken: 2130

So as you can see the total steps for this workout where very similar for the workout session but the Calories burned was much different with the Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor accounting for twice the amount of calories in this workout session.

I have also included some Screen Shots of this workout session taken from both The Polar Online App and my iPhone Polar Flow App.

 Polar Online App Screen Shot

Polar Flow iPhone App Screen Shot


I also did two other workouts later on that show some workout results using the Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band paired up with the H7 Heart Rate Sensor:

Weights Only Short Breaks Online Activity Session Online App Screen Shot

CrossFit Chest High Intensity Online Activity Session Online App Screen Shot

So far so good, I am really happy with this combination of my Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band and H7 Heart Rate Sensor, stay tuned for my full review of both of these Polar products, for now you can watch my YouTube Video of this Test workout using my Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band and H7 Heart Rate Sensor.