Running watch for beginners

The best part about the Polar M200 is its affordable price. At $219, it costs less than some basic fitness trackers in the market.
The best part about the Polar M200 is its affordable price. At $219, it costs less than some basic fitness trackers in the market. PHOTO: POLAR

The Polar M200 is an entry-level but feature-packed GPS running watch.

It comes with built-in GPS and wrist-based heart-rate monitor so it can accurately track the distance and your heart rate during runs.

Not only that, it doubles as a fitness tracker that monitors your daily physical activities, such as steps taken, distance travelled and calories burnt. It also automatically monitors your sleep.

When paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth, it is able to display notifications. The M200 is also water-resistant down to 30m, so you can wear it for showers or a swim.

But the best part about the M200 is its affordable price. At $219, it costs less than some basic fitness trackers in the market. Great if you have just taken up jogging and want a GPS running watch.

The M200 consists of a main tracker unit and a silicone wrist band in either red (version tested) or black. You can buy additional wrist bands in white, blue and yellow at $39 each.


  • PRICE: $219

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 40g


    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 2/5




    OVERALL: 4/5

The tracker unit slots into the wrist band. It is in all-black with one button on either side. The left button is the back button, while you press the right button to toggle to the different settings, from training to heart-rate monitoring.

The tracker unit has a built-in USB connector, so you can remove it from the wrist band and directly connect it to your computer for charging and syncing.

In my tests, the M200 was able to get a GPS signal fix within 15sec in open areas. Where there are tall buildings around, such as in my HDB estate, it could take up to 1min to get a GPS fix. By comparison, my Apple Watch Nike+ took only 3sec to get a GPS fix before you are ready to go.

However, the M200's GPS distance-tracking is just as accurate as my Apple Watch Nike+'s. Readings of my usual jogging route showed a difference of no more than 30m from the actual distance.

But, in terms of steps tracking, the M200 tends to track fewer steps - by around 9 per cent - than my calibrated Apple Watch Nike+.

Sleep monitoring is rather basic. It shows only the duration of your sleep and how long you have restful or restless sleep. Not very informative.

Although the M200 is waterproof, it is not able to count laps when you swim.

My biggest problem with the M200, though, is its looks. Or, rather, the lack of it. It shouts GPS running watch from a mile away. I couldn't wait to take it off everytime I finished a run with it.

Another quibble: The display does not light up when you raise your wrist. It does so only when in workout modes.

Battery life is not bad, though. Without being paired to a smartphone for notifications, it should last for around a week if you just use it as an all-day fitness tracker, with a few runs thrown in.

• Verdict: The Polar M200 is an affordable and capable GPS running watch for beginner joggers who do not want to invest too much in their running gadgets yet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2017, with the headline 'Running watch for beginners'. Print Edition | Subscribe