Whoever says that buying a fitness wearable is a waste of time and money clearly has no clue about what they’re talking about! I personally love running watches as they are a great source of motivation for me. Nowadays, even if you’re on a limited budget you can afford yourself a proper sports watch, so it’s no longer an accessory available only to a chosen few. However, there’s a particular device out there which, more than any other, deserves utter respect for its affordability, reliability, and ease of use. I’m, of course, referring to the Polar M400 GPS Smart Sports Watch.
Even though it has been a while since the Polar M400 GPS Smart Sports Watch hit the scene, now is the right time to fully take advantage of its capabilities for it can easily be snatched online for around $200 (HR strap included). I love it because it’s as easy to use as a calculator, it’s smart, it has GPS, and it provides a remarkable level of data which will definitely help push your body to the limit. If you’re into that, of course.
Why Even Buy a Sports Watch?
Well, if you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to get yourself in decent shape, a good old running watch would really come in handy in helping you reach that goal. Because, instead of constantly being in a state of procrastination, you would have an annoying little device which would remind you just how inactive you’ve been throughout the day.
Having a helping hand in that regard is genuinely priceless. However, up until now, getting a hold of a properly built GPS running watch wasn’t exactly affordable. Especially getting a hold of a device which is able to monitor your daily activity without having to rely on GPS (GPS really takes a toll on the battery). There lie the beauty and importance of the Polar M400 .
If I had to describe the ideal customer for the Polar M400, I wouldn’t necessarily accentuate someone’s athletic prowess. To me, this is an all-day activity tracker made for the common man who’s looking to improve his physical and mental health. Meaning that running doesn’t have to be at the forefront of your conditioning program in order to make the best of this watch.
On the other hand, if you are an active guy who’s not looking to sci-fi his training regiment but would fancy a new sports watch, maybe a crossover option like the Emporio Armani Classic would suit your needs better. Maybe even a classy Fossil watch, why not?
The Ideal Customer
Before we move on to the features and benefits of the Polar M400, it wouldn’t do you any harm to run through a couple of thing in your head before you even decide to settle for a sports watch.
- What type of activity are you looking to devote your time to? Most running watches aren’t designed to withstand submersions of deep diving. They are waterproof, but mostly to the extent of showering.
- How serious are you looking to get? Apart from simple activity tracking, most sports watches come with HR (heart rate) monitoring, including the Polar M400.
- How tech-savvy are you? Honestly, there aren’t many simple user-friendly sports wearables on the market nowadays. If you’ve never owned one before, it might take you some time to get used to the way it operates. I am not saying that pocket watches for men are the way to go if you’re not that into technology, but still, you catch my drift.
Polar M400 GPS Smart Sports Watch
Even though there are more advanced versions of the Polar M400 on the market, like the M430 and the M600 which have built-in heart rate monitors, the M400 really set the bar in regards to the practicality, reliability, and ease-of-use of sports wearables. Moreover, the M400 doesn’t depend on GPS for tracking your daily activity which subsequently leads to a much healthier battery life of around two to three weeks.
Nevertheless, I could easily understand why someone would opt for the TomTom Spark 3 watch which comes with a built-in heart rate monitor and no annoying chest straps. But the amount of features the M400 provides whilst being incredibly affordable and simple to use never ceases to amaze me.
All in all, if you’re just starting out with your conditioning and aren’t a regular user of running wearables, the Polar M400 is definitely one of the best smartwatches to start your journey with.
- Extremely simple to navigate through the menus
- Decent battery life (up to 9 hrs with the GPS on)
- Large enough display which great readability
- Standard micro USB port
- Takes a while to synch
- HR monitor has to be separately purchased
- Isn’t the prettiest of them all
Features and Benefits of The Polar M400 GPS Smart Sports Watch
Overall, I think that we can all agree that the Polar M400 isn’t the prettiest of sports watches. There’s no shame in it. Not to say that it’s completely unwearable, but it’s definitely not as pretty as the TomTom Spark 3. For some reason, to me, it looks like a retro sci-fi watch. It looks like something you would’ve seen in an old futuristic movie.
The monochromatic LCD display is large enough to be considered very readable while you’re on the go. Honestly, even if it’s pouring rain, you’d be able to effortlessly read from it. The display sits in a dark black bezel which is bordered in red. Isn’t that a nice detail?
Both sides of the watch are fitted with very inset buttons. This is, of course, a very important feature because it prevents you from accidentally stopping whatever you are measuring at the moment. You don’t want to ruin your run now, don’t you? The three buttons on the right serve the purpose of navigating through the menus, the upper left button turns on the backlight, whereas the lower left button serves as a general back button.
The back of the case is covered by a stainless steel case which allows water-resistance of up to 100 feet. But please don’t go scuba diving with it. It won’t survive. Also, the back side hides away a covered micro USB port. Hurray! No more bulky proprietary charging devices.
When it comes to the rubberized strap, I have to say that it’s remarkably comfortable to wear. Even after a couple of hours, no unpleasant itching sensations are to be felt. Since the strap is very adjustable, no matter how thick or thin your wrist may be, I guarantee you won’t have any issues making it fit just perfectly.
The Interface and Overall Performance
As I’ve mentioned numerous times, the Polar M400 is astoundingly easy to use. If you’re fearful about not being able to wrap your head around the way it functions, rest assured that you’ll figure it out in a heartbeat. The interface itself is very intuitive to use. I kid you not. While on standby, the watch shows the time, date, and battery level. It’s worth mentioning that the battery will last you up to around 24 days if you don’t have the GPS on. However, if you do, don’t expect more than 7-9 hours out if it.
When you set off to do your daily lap around the block and you want to turn on the activity tracker, you simply press the middle button on the right and off you’ll be. Note that you’ll be offered 4 different types of activities – Running, Cycling, Other Indoor and Other Outdoor activities.
Other menus include your daily activity level (%), your activity level in the past couple of days, Settings, Timer, Fitness Test, and Favorites. The timer offers you both interval and finish-time mode. Are you ready to race? In order to use the Fitness Test, you have to own the HR chest strap which will set you back an additional $60-$80. But it’s well worth the money. It’s still one of the most accurate HR monitors on the market, even though it uses outdated HR technology, unlike other contemporary wristband HR watches.
Briefly About the App
Don’t panic, the app is available both for Android and iOS operated devices. The app shows your daily activity level around a central timepiece. Dark blue streaks appear underneath the hour markers when you start getting active. There are 5 different ways in which the app classifies your activity: Resting, Sitting, Low, Medium, and High.
If you want, you can access your weekly and monthly activity data as well. The app does a great job at summarizing how much time you have spent being active or inactive. Measuring particular activities like running allows you to follow your calories burnt info, distance covered, overall ascent, and average running pace. However, if you have the GPS on, you would even be able to see a map which shows where you’d run!
Polar M400 GPS Smart Sports Watch and Fitness Tracker (Black)
- GPS WATCH: Built-in GPS technology keeps track of your pace, distance and altitude
- FITNESS TRACKER: Tracks your workouts, steps, distance, calories burned, sleep quality, and activity 24/13
- WATERPROOF FITNESS TRAINER: Use the fitness tracking watch to keep an eye on your running cadence to improve your running efficiency and avoid injuries in all weather conditions
- ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Compatible with H7 Heart Rate sensor to train at the right intensity with target heart rate zones
- SOCIAL SMARTWATCH: Plan, sync and share your training using the Polar Flow app and web service
Nope, Not For Me
Fair enough. Luckily for you, there’re a lot of decent alternatives out there. Hopefully, one of these three will work better for you.
TomTom Spark 3 Cardio
Here is the TomTom Spark 3 . The industry’s standard. My personal favorite. Give or take, it basically provides everything the Polar M400 does but comes with a built-in HR monitor and it’s way better-looking. You get to choose between 50 different advanced training modes to challenge yourself, take it swimming, or use its Route Exploration feature. Overall, it’s a better sports watch. Not to mention its syncing speed.
- Looks amazing
- Great syncing speed
- Provides a myriad of features and functions
- Built-in heart monitor
- You have to be careful with the strap because it can snap
TomTom Spark 3 Cardio, GPS Fitness Watch + Heart Rate Monitor (Black, Large)
- Heart Rate Monitor: No chest strap needed with a built-in heart rate monitor, which allows you to easily see your heart rate at all times throughout the day or while working out.
- GPS Running Watch: Measures time, distance, speed, pace, calories burned, heart rate and live stats on the go. Use the new Fitness Age function to discover how fit you really are and how to get fitter faster. Know which activities matter most by earning Fitness Points with every workout.
- GPS Running Watch and Activity Tracker: Measures time, distance, speed, pace, calories burned and sleep. Coming soon, pick from over 50 workouts and get step by step guidance on the watch to help you achieve your goals.
- Waterproof Sport Watch: Multisport Mode tracks all your indoor and outdoor sports, including every run, cycle, swim and gym workout.
- GPS Watch with Advanced Features: 24/7 activity tracking, phone notifications, waterproof up to 40M and customizable straps
Yep, the M400’s older brother. The same level of reliability, practicality, and durability. However, it’s smarter. Not only that, but it comes with the optical heart rate function which provides a very accurate HR readout through its 6 LED optical sensor. Oh yeah, you also get a wall charging adapter with it! Make sure to check it out .
- Built-in HR monitor
- Very comfortable to wear
- Easy to use
- Not very pretty to look at
- Sadly, the M400 HR strap worked better than this optical one
Polar M430 HR Watch White, One Size
- Odometer: yes
- Heart Rate Monitor: yes
- Technical Features: GPS, Running Program, Running Index, Sleep Plus, Training Benefit, Smart Calories, 5-Minute Fitness Test, 24/7 Activity Tracking, Training Load, Recovery Status
- Operating System: Polar Flow
- Date Indicator: yes
Suunto Spartan Sport HR
We’re going off the rails with this one. Things couldn’t get more sci-fi. The Suunto is one of the best sports watches currently on the market. It comes with a state of the art color touch-screen, over 80 different pre-installed sports modes, altimeter, barometer, 28-hour battery life, you name it. It has it all. If you are a devoted athlete, the Suunto has to be your number one pick.
- Color touch-screen
- Great battery life
- Looks astounding
- Comes with more features than you could ever ask for
- Seriously, the Suunto?
Suunto Spartan Sport (HR)
- Suunto Spartan watches use a state-of-the-art color touch screen with a wide viewing angle that offers great visibility outdoors, even in direct Sunlight
- With 80 Sport modes pre-installed in the watch, Suunto Spartan watches are ready to go for nearly any kind of activity right out of the box
- For demanding adventures, Suunto Spartan Ultra comes with up to 26H battery life with good GPS tracking accuracy
- Includes built in altimeter, barometer, compass and GPS with 100 meter water resistance
- Usethe Suunto Movescount webapp to plan your training, track your progress and compare your results to other in your age group.
On a Final Note
I can’t help but be honest with you. The Polar M400 is definitely the best sports watch for those who’re just starting to channel their inner athlete. It will prove itself as a very lasting and reliable device through thick and thin of your journey. Most importantly it’s very affordable and intuitive to use.
It has never been easier to get lost in the sea of smart devices as it is nowadays. But trust me, the Polar M400 will help you seamlessly navigate through each and every challenge set before you.