Polar Ignite 2 Sports Tracker Review Ignite 1 Comparison

Monday, June 14, 2021

The backbone to all sports watches is the software ecosystem that they run on! This is why the watch ecosystem should be one of your main considerations before buying a watch because not all sports watches have an analysis-friendly ecosystem. If you're specifically looking for a sports watch that is more focused on gym and strength training, the new Polar Ignite 2 is a solid option, thanks to its HR broadcasting feature. The Ignite 2 is complimented by Polar's user friendly ecosystem, which lets you track your training from a specific time frame (not just weekly, monthly and yearly) and, without having to export an excel worksheet.
Being the second generation, Ignite 2 brings some new features that you don't get on the original Ignite, including larger fonts, heart rate sensor mode, watch face color themes, music controls and HR broadcasting, which the old Ignite watch now supports, thanks to Polar's latest firmware update. 
Ignite 2 has the exact same exterior style as the original Ignite, including a 240 x 204 resolution color touch IPS TFT screen. The watch weighs the same too (34 grams), while the wristband alone weighs 14 grams. Ignite 2 has the same textured stainless steel bezel ring as the Vantage M2 watch, which makes the watch look more rugged and, it also differentiates it from the original Ignite watch, which has a smooth stainless steel bezel ring.

Ignite 2 is available in different colorways and band styles, including midnight blue (pictured). The midnight blue silicone wrist band comes with and stainless steel buckle and has a snake scale print on the top surface. Being silicone, the wrist band is very soft, flexible and also hypoallergenic, which means it doesn't make the skin react or become itchy. 
The Ignite 2 watch band uses standard 20mm quick release spring bars; hence you can interchange the Ignite 2 watch straps with other Polar watches as well as third party wrist straps too. Ignite 2 ships with two band sizes - a small watch strap and a medium/large watch strap, which comes pre-fitted from factory.

Ignite 2 has a 4mm bump on the rear of the watch case, which houses the charging contacts and optical heart rate (OHR) sensor. The bump is not uncomfortable. In fact, it allows the OHR sensor to sit more snugly on the wrist, while letting air flow underneath the watch and, allowing the ppg green leds to measure blood flow more accurately. The physical button is on the same location as the original Ignite - on the bottom left side of the watch.

There are two ways to setup Ignite 2 via Polar Flow (mobile app) and Polar FlowSync (desktop software). This means, you can do the setup via a phone or computer, although the Polar Flow mobile app automatically uploads the training data from the watch when you're in bluetooth range, which is more convenient than having to do it manually (by holding the button).

Both the mobile app and desktop software require an account sign up. If you already have an account, you can link Ignite 2 to your existing Polar account. If the watch needs to download an update, the initial setup can take up to 20 minutes. 
During the setup you get to set preferences and also enable music controls to play music from your phone (the watch will display the current audio track name). Preferences can also be set right from the watch, including fitness level, training frequency, height/weight, preferred sleep time, maximum heart rate/ resting heart rate.

Like most glass panel devices, the Ignite 2 screen display is prone to oily smudges. The display touch sensitivity is responsive and can be viewed adequately in broad daylight. The display is not a brightly full color display, although it's not entirely monochrome like the Polar M430 watch. The Ignite 2 display is cable of showing various colors (i.e. red, green and yellow) and, you can adjust brightness too, although you will find yourself using high brightness because medium and low brightness don't seem to make much of a difference.

Ignite 2 has a longer battery life than the original Ignite, capable of 100 hours runtime (4 days), using power save options without GPS. With GPS turned on, Ignite 2 can manage up to 20 hours, which is 3 hours longer than the old Ignite, which doesn't have power save options. The Ignite 2 home screen watch face is set by default to analog "time view", which shows the date and analog clock with three hands (hours/minutes/seconds). You can change the watch face to digital and select different designs.

The screen backlight turns off automatically after 8 seconds of inactivity, although this only happens in time view. From the home screen, you can easily navigate by swiping up/down and left/right to view current heart rate, activity progress, last training session, nightly recharge, cardio level, weather, weekly summary and fitspark daily training guide. 

Other features you get (sames as Ignite 1) include breathing exercises, stop watch, count down timer and inactivity alerts, as well as smartphone features such as "do not disturb", screen lock, airplane mode, "about watch" and vibration alert. Ignite 2 is not equipped with a speaker; hence alerts (including waking alarm) are silent. There are 150+ sports activities to choose from, including swimming (WR30 water resistance) with swimming metrics. The watch only lists your favorites so, you have to use the Flow app to add more sports.

If you're a first time buyer or already own the original Ignite and are thinking to upgrade to Ignite 2, they both offer the same basic key functionality (e.g. TRIMP value after a training session), as well as Training Load Pro support, which is the screen that displays Cardio load and Perceived load. The original Ignite only shows Cardio load and Perceived load in Polar Flow, while the new Ignite 2 shows the Cardio Load Screen on the watch so, you can see your increasing/declining performance level directly on the watch.

Compared to the Vantage M, which uses physical controls only, Ignite 2 uses both touch screen and a single physical button designed to power down the watch, pause/stop training sessions, pairing/syncing and backing out of menus. There is also a single gesture control for the backlighting so, you can turn on the watch display lighting by simply twisting your wrist.

GPS functionality remains the same as the original Ignite too so, you get an integrated GPS chip. This means no phone tracking as you don't have to carry a phone with you when using the GPS function. This isn't the case with all GPS fitness watches such as Polar Unite which relies on a phone's GPS to track you. If you do carry your phone with you, Ignite 2 will use A-GPS to find your location faster and then link up to GPS satellites directly. You have a choice of three: GPS+Glonass, GPS+Galileo and GPS+QZSS)

Polar is one of the few watch ecosystems that overlays your heart rate zones onto the heart rate graph, which is very useful. The one feature no sport watch ecosystem seems to currently offer it's a quick and easy way to sync the data between different ecosystems (e.g. Garmin, Google Fit, etc). If you want to sync your Polar watch data with other ecosystems, you will need to use a third-party app such as Health Sync, which can sync some data and older data (3+ years), although you have to pay a fee. Polar Ignite 2 watch ships with a proprietary charging cable and comes packaged inside a lightweight cardboard box. You can buy the Ignite 2 watch from amazon.

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