Polar M430

I was really excited to be asked to attend the launch event of the new Polar M430 in Regents Park (conveniently next to work).

I was quite nervous as we were supposed to be doing a 5k and typically I assumed I wouldn’t know anyone and end up lagging at the back of the pack. I was terribly relieved to find out two of my favourite peeps were there too and also that we would do our run on a loop.

We did some warm ups, had a quick demo of the watch and told we would be doing a HR progressive run – 24mins in total, 8mins Zone 2, 8mins Zone 3, 8mins Zone 4. The watch had already been setup for us with our vitals in advance so we just had to turn up and run.

Everyone went speeding off leaving me behind trying to figure out how to get the damn thing to work (something we’ll come onto shortly). But once I did it was great and I navigated to the HR Zone screen which gives a really clear indication of which HR Zone you are currently in.

As it turns out for me to be in Zone 2, I had to walk, and pretty slowly, then at the opposite end of the spectrum, Zone 4 was quite a push.

Then it was back to The Hub for snacks (fruit and biscuits) a demonstration of the Polar Flow website & App and Q&A.

Tech features

WRIST-BASED HEART RATE – Track your heart rate easily and accurately with the Polar proprietary optical heart rate measurement.

ADVANCED GPS – Polar M430 tracks your speed, distance and altitude. See your route in Polar Flow after you finish.

INDOOR RUNNING DATA – When GPS signal is not available, Polar M430 measures pace and distance from wrist movements.

ACTIVITY TRACKING – Stay on the move all day long. Polar M430 tracks steps, distance, calories and sleep and gives you a personalised daily activity goal.

POLAR FLOW – Plan, sync and share your training using the exclusive Polar Flow online service and app. All data is easily viewable.

SMART NOTIFICATIONS – Smart Notifications allow you to see notifications from your phone directly on the screen of your M430.

SPORT PROFILES – Polar provides over a hundred different sport profiles which enables you to choose the right one for your training sessions.

 

Tests

RUNNING

For running, it’s a good comfortable watch, it’s a bit larger than some but I didn’t find it uncomfortable or heavy to run with. The screen can be difficult to see at times as it is black and white and quite clustered on some of the screens.

I like my Garmin because you can setup your own screens, organise them as you like and scroll through. However the Polar has set screens and I just can’t find one that I am happy with. My Garmin setup is mostly Avg Pace, Time, Distance or Avg Lap Pace, Spot Lap Pace and Lap Distance, with other screens with HR and Time. The Polar just seems to have too many for my liking and I’ve not discovered a way of altering them to how I see fit – not on the watch at least anyway.

In terms of accuracy, it works well, it picks up Satellite really quickly, measures HR accurately, and I would certainly choose this over my Apple Watch.

 

HIIT TRAINING

This was one thing that I couldn’t compare my Garmin to and was interested to see how well it recorded it. My Apple Watch decided not to work for a while so I thought I’d try the Polar.

I scrolled through to the ‘Other Indoor’ setting and off I went.

It recorded my heart rate really well, but unlike running it doesn’t give you a great deal of feedback during the activity apart from Heart rate.

The benefit comes post-workout and using the Polar app. I got really good feedback and during a session of 30sec activity, 15sec rest you can really see that, in particular you can see when I got on the Woodway Curve and my HR shot up.

It also tells you the kind of workout you did, where it improved you, the workload and how long you should rest for.

The only part this misses for me is it doesn’t say what % of max HR you were as max and average – although this is on the watch.

 

 

What I Like

The Battery – It lasts forever, not quite but it feels like it. I’ve done a couple of runs with it and left it on the bedside table and two weeks later it still had enough life in it for a parkrun and more. Really impressed with this – if only it had an off button it would last for even longer (more on that later)

Heart Rate Monitor – Most fitness watches come with HRM nowadays. The M430 it appears to be really accurate – for example when using during HIIT classes I can see a clear difference between running on the woodway curve and lifting weights in my Heart Rate.

Polar Flow – the app is fantastic, not quite as concise as Garmin Connect and the HRM and Cadence aren’t quite as detailed but still really good. It gives you all the info you need plus additional data if you’ve been wearing it as an activity all day and night.

Training plans – via the Polar site you can download some of their training plans and it will adjust based on the kind of workout you do and the training load. It’s fully flexible, you can even input your own plan (however, I was told this would take quite a while to setup). It also sends your workouts to your watch and it’ll remind you when you have a run coming up.

The strap/Bracelet – they’ve used some sort of wizardry here, the strap is super soft and comfortable, but also manages to feel really durable too.

Activity tracking (not just running)

Tracks all day

Watch Faces – I like that you can customise it (a bit). Nice to have a bit of variety, even if you can’t download additional faces. I wear it as a watch during the day and the screen has good visibility and works well.

What I don’t Like

Too Complicated – When my Garmin arrived, it took it out the box, charged it and went for a run, simple. When we were at the Polar event, there is a video where you can see me lagging behind trying to get the watch to start. My feeling here is that it is overcomplicated – I know how my dad feels with his running watch now, because it just isn’t instantly obvious how you start, stop and save. I gave it to Ciara after one of our Chase the Sun races and she couldn’t figure it out…

It just needs to be a bit clearer – or have directions on screen for which button is to stop, to restart and to save and it doesn’t, the buttons (apart from the start button) are all the same and equally spaced so it’s really

difficult to identify which does what.

When I did my run the other week at the Olympic Park, I ended up stopping it, instead of switching to another screen, even after using it for a good month.

The Colour – So, if I’d have gone out and bought this watch, I would’ve gone for the Orange one, it’s rather nice looking and something a bit different from the usual black and white versions.

So I was mega-pleased when I got to the event to be presented with an orange model. Until I wore it to work a couple of days later, it stands out a bit, quite a bit, alright it’s like a huge sore thumb, it does not go well with office attire and even some colleagues have commented on its appearance.

Wearing it around the office it kind of screams, “yes, I will go out and sprint as hard as I can for 45seconds just to get that Strava Segment win”.  The colour isn’t for me – I occasionally wear my Garmin FR225, which is clearly a GPS/Sports watch, but understated all the same. If you intend to wear round the office etc., go for the white or black.

The lack of colour – haha, I know, but this is different – the screen. I’m not expecting a full blown LED screen that I can read my text messages from, but the lack of colour in the monochrome screen just feels a bit old.

My Garmin FR225 is a colour screen and it’s nice to view your HR zones and just generally wearing it to be able to change the colour – the lack of colour on the Polar just makes it feel and look a bit cheap – not really £200 worthy.

Off Button – As I mentioned before, the battery lasts for ages – around two/three weeks in my experience. However there is one really frustrating thing – there is no off button. You cannot power the watch down to preserve battery. I assume this is because it’s supposed to be a 24/7 fitness, step and sleep tracker, but for those of us who don’t use it for that, it seems a bit pointless and a waste of time.

Conclusion

It’s a good sports watch, it says what it’s going to do and it does it very well. It’s stacked with features that means it can track and feedback to you all through the day. I really like that it has multisport option, it’s nice to have something that will track runs, cycling and HIIT workouts.

It’s let down by a couple of things, the monochrome screen for one makes it feel cheap and not top standard, controlling the watch is really confusing and not intuitive – quite frustrating. Along with this is the inability to amend the screens, I find that invaluable, especially as I can’t find the one screen that fits me.

I do like the Polar Flow app, it gives you just the right amount of information is a clear and easily understandable way. I really like that it tells you about your workouts and how long you need to rest for between another.

Would I buy this watch? If I was looking to upgrade from using Strava/Runkeeper or basic Garmin/TomTom then yes, it’s a good step up and will help your running. From using a mid-upper range Garmin or Suunto, no. – I don’t see where the benefit is, I still use my FR225 over this just for the ease of use and the Garmin Connect stats. For an RRP of £200 I think you can find better Running/GPS watches in the market, however for what this does and if you’re going to use all of the features this could be a good bargain.

I think this watch will benefit anyone who is looking for an all-round activity tracker, sleep tracker including running and cycling – what it does, it does really well.

However it does have one really annoying feature….