Polar's Line of Smartwatches Can Make Every Athlete Better

Whether you're a hard-charging ultramarathoner or a workout noob, there's a good fit for you—and your budget.

Every type of athlete can find the perfect workout tracker thanks to a recent expansion to the line of cool smartwatches offered by Polar.

Let's say you're a hard-charger who wants to track every important workout metric and then some. You crush triathlons like it's your job. You have an Ironman in your sights. Or you're a runner thinking about a marathon or an even longer race. Polar has you covered (see "Polar V800," below).

Maybe you're more of the casual type—someone who runs or cross-trains occasionally. You want to know how fast you're going and how many calories you're burning, but you're not too stressed about the details. Above all, you want a workout tracker that's easy to use and not ridiculously expensive. Again, Polar has your back (check out "Polar M200," lower in the copy).

Polar Smartwatches

Or perhaps you're a tech junkie who loves to nerd out on data and cool features. You might run, or bike, or do CrossFit, depending on what kind of mood you're in. Whatever you choose, what really matters to you is that you're getting accurate info about your body's performance, and doing it all while listening to your favorite tunes and not missing out on text messages from friends. As you might've guessed, yes, Polar has an option you'll dig (take a look at "Polar M600," further down the page).

Polar has long been known for creating robust training devices that offer a ton of features, but in the past all of those abilities could be overwhelming or seem complicated. They've improved their product designs and user interfaces to make the powerful tools offered by their watches much easier to navigate. They've also improved the look of their watches, so that each of them could be worn when you're just out and about.

Polar V800: The Do-Everything, Go-All-Day Watch

There's a reason that Ironman champions, ultrarunners and others who work out for prolonged periods of time love this watch. It has a never-quit battery that matches their long-running motor. The V800 has the juice to cover 13 hours of non-stop training.

Throughout those sessions, the watch records every metric that matters: heart rate, speed, distance, elevation, calories, you name it. Our tester trained with the V800 for six months and found that it produced data that was accurate and consistent over time.

The watch performs well under a variety of conditions, unfazed by snow, wind, rain or submersion in water (the V800 is water resistant up to 30m). The unit also proved itself durable, taking hard knocks from kettlebells during more than one weight room session. While we wouldn't recommend making a habit of that, after each hit the V800 kept on ticking.

But some of the coolest features of the V800 involve what you do outside training. Throughout the day, an activity tracker records your steps so you can see if you're getting in enough movement—even on your off days. Sit still for too long and the V800 lets you know about it, giving you a "Time to Move" alert. And if you wear the unit overnight, the watch tells you how long and how well you slept.

The V800 is a premium training tool designed with pro athletes and highly motivated amateurs in mind, and it is priced accordingly ($500 new). But if you're the type who likes to train (and train, and train . . . ) for long periods, then accept no substitutes.

You can buy the Polar V800 here.

Polar M200: The Affordable and Fashionable Option

Polar Smartwatch

At the other end of the cost spectrum, you'll find the Polar M200. It's affordably priced at $150—and you don't have to give up a whole lot to get to that price point. In fact, if you're a non-competitive runner or someone training simply for health and fitness, you might find this watch gives you everything you need—and that it does so in a cool-looking unit that comes in a variety of colorways, thanks to interchangeable wristbands.

Polar M200

Like its big brother the V800, the M200 features an activity tracker that records your steps throughout the day. And when you train, you have access to an extensive list of sport profiles (more than 100 in total). So whatever activity you do, the M200 can tell you how you're doing at it.

You do have to let go of some battery life, but for many the lower limit—the M200 can track six hours worth of activity nonstop—is more than sufficient. And the M200 offers one cool feature that the V800 doesn't have: an optical heart rate monitor. Rather than having to wear a chest strap when you train, you can rely on the M200 to keep track of your pulse through your wrist. You can check your pulse at any time of the day. A feature called "My HR" makes it easy.

But what you'll like best about the M200 is its ease of use. An elegantly simple design employs just two buttons, on the right ("confirm") and left ("go back").

You can buy the Polar M200 here.

Polar M600: The Feature-Packed, Fun Choice for the Tech-Savvy

Polar 600

The M600 offers many of the same features as the V800 and M200, including optical heart rate. The key differentiator is that the M600 is built on Google's Android Wear smartwatch platform. That opens up a whole new world of opportunities for tricking out the unit with apps (more than 4,000 of them are available in Google Play) and cool features. The M600 is also compatible with iOs.

What does all of that mean for you? Well, for starters you can use Google Wear's voice control feature, customize your watch face, and receive calendar notifications.

Polar 600

The watch also comes with 4GB of memory, plenty of space for storing your favorite tunes. Pack the M600 with your workout playlists, stream them through a Bluetooth headset and jam out while you train.

The M600 also gives you the ability to receive and send text messages. You'll be able to stay in touch even when you're out on a long run.

The M600 is listed at $330, and you can buy it here.

Check out more stuff athletes want in our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide.



Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock