One of the pioneers of ‘wearable sports devices’, Polar Electro hosted a function in Sydney this morning to launch a new Australian headquarters.
The NSW Minister for Sport (and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Events), Stuart Ayres welcomed representatives of the Finnish company and explained the appeal of having a company such Polar in the state. The technology of this innovative brand is beneficial, he said, “not just from a health and health management perspective, but for the capacity to be able to integrate a number of services as well as the ability to manage your own health and fitness”.
Part of the Polar platform is ‘Polar Flow’, akin to the popular Garmin Connect upload option, that helps the customer monitor their physical activity in a great deal of detail.
Much of the fanfare at the function at the Park Hyatt near Circular Quay related to the impending release of the sport optimised M600 smartwatch which will be available in Australia from 5 September (retailing for $499).
“NSW is considered one of the top 20 locations around the world to do business,” said Ayres. “One of the things that we’re most proud of is our incredibly advanced ‘tech ecosystem’.
“It’s great to see Polar Electro now calling Sydney home.”
The politician was happy to see an international technology brand with almost 40 years of trading history come to his state and establish its 19th international subsidiary. It’s good business, but it’s also part of the state government’s desire to improve the health and fitness of its residents.
One of his remits is “to reduce childhood obesity by five percent”. And, he says, products like those from Polar are going to assist in the management of daily exercise regimes of families everywhere.
“That will mean that over 62,000 young people in this state won’t be benchmarked as being obese,” continue Ayres in his commentary earlier today.
“We think that wearable technology and the technology that Polar is launching today will play a really important role in that.
“When you can match that with online platforms, it also allows school teachers, coaches, sporting clubs and individuals to able to monitor and track their own work.
“It’s great,” concluded Ayres, “to have Polar here and great to see that cutting-edge technology calling Sydney home.”
Until recently, Polar distribution in Australia had been managed via an agent, Pursuit Performance. But the brand is intent on increasing its market share here and the launch of the M600 is just one of many reasons why we’re likely to see more of the brand’s products used by Australians.
The M600 is a product that is applicable to all sports, with an impressive array of features based on the Android operating platform.
There are, however, other products and initiatives that relate directly the cycling sector and this is something the new local office for Polar hopes to expand in the coming months. The V650 cycle computer is the first bike-specific product from Polar with GPS functionality – and it’s a product with a vast range of features that should have a good uptake in the market, quite simply, because it’s very clever!
A colour touch screen with easy navigation and a wealth of data, makes the V650 one of most innovative cycle computers on the market and although it might not have a large presence in the pro peloton, at $389 it is great value for money.
RIDE caught up with Polar’s global product director Marco Suvilaakso to discuss the brand’s heritage, the establishment of the Australian office, who he believes the target market is and other related topics.
There is also a short Q&A with Suvilaakso, but in the meantime, here is an online iteration of Jack Lynch’s review of the V650 from when we first had it in RIDE HQ in June 2015 (below).
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Polar V650 Review (RIDE #68)
– By Jack Lynch
How exciting is it to see Polar’s return to relevance in RIDE’s paraphernalia pages!? Anyone who rode bikes prior to the mid-2000s would instantly recognise the Finnish brand.
There has been a serious decline in Polar’s popularity in the cycling scene since the lofty heights it reached at the turn of this century. Most (if not all) of these lost sales can be attributed to its products’ lack of GPS integration. Polar is solidly back in the game with the V650 – a GPS unit with all the trimmings.
The bright 2.8” touch screen operates as well as the best competitor product’s and there are some interesting graphs and data which are displayed in slightly alternative and visually stimulating ways. Utilising Bluetooth Smart technology exclusively and shunning ANT+ may seem like a risk, but there are plenty of Bluetooth compatible power meters out there including Polar’s collaboration with Look.
This unit is only set to improve, with many firmware updates on the near horizon including Strava syncing, smartphone updates, power meter compatibility and even ride maps – you can buy this unit with the knowledge that it will be a long-lasting investment.
Comments after use…
It’s so cool to see Polar back on my bike! I love that it’s got a small LED on the front so I don’t have to also use a front light if it’s a ‘borderline’ day. There are plenty of different custom screen options so I was able to set it up how I like it – which I guess is a prerequisite now for any computer worth using.
I was a little disappointed with the lack of air temperature display but everything else was great. The HR never dropped out during testing and the battery on the head unit lasts ages!
One reason I really liked Polar back in its glory days was for its training diary software, and Polar Flow seems to be pretty good for those not addicted to Strava. It is almost too easy to use as rides are automatically synced through a phone or computer.
I’m glad that Polar’s new V650 has been done properly and hope to see it on many bikes soon!