Polar A360 Tracker Monitors Heart Rate

21 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

First Look: Polar A360 Activity Monitor.

Earlier this year we weren’t exactly enamored with Polar’s A300 fitness tracking watch that gave up the M400’s GPS for a slightly cheaper price tag.Polar has been known for producing a few of the world’s most accurate activity trackers and heart rate sensors, and now the company is announcing its first consumer-level fitness band. And while the new A360 doesn’t have GPS either, it makes up for it with a built-in optical heart rate monitor, a color touchscreen display, and a sleeker design.

One notable holdout from this club was Polar, probably because it made a name for itself in chest-worn heart rate straps and, as such, had a little more to lose than other firms. The fitness band also vibrates to inform users of incoming calls, messages, calendar alerts, social media notifications and if they’ve been sitting around for too long. At $200, Polar’s new A360 is priced exactly the same as the M400 was back in September of last year, and marathon runners and long-distance cyclists who still prefer a fitness tracker with GPS that can keep tabs on how far and how fast they’ve traveled might still want to consider the M400. With the launch of the A360, however, the company has finally decided to embrace the world of “strapless monitoring,” although it’s gone to great pains to say that its version is much better than everyone else’s.

There are roughly a gazillion activity trackers already on the market—this is the sixth tracker from Polar—and in the time it took you to read this, 25 more trackers were launched. Similar to other performance-minded activity trackers such as Fitbit, the Garmin vivofit 2and others , the A360 tracks daily activity, steps, calories, workouts and sleep. But the A360 is Polar’s first wearable that doesn’t require a separate chest strap to monitor the wearer’s heart rate, although one can still be used if you find them more accurate than the company’s proprietary optical sensor on the band itself.

Designed for fitness enthusiasts more so than competitive athletes, the A360—which does not feature GPS functionality—is aimed at users who want to track heart rate during strength training, spinning classes, treadmill running, Pilates, yoga, dance, group exercise classes and other types of gym-related activities. With a rectangular color LCD display that’s taller than it is wide, you’ll be put in mind of Huawei’s TalkBand B2 or the second-generation Microsoft Band. Like any fitness tracker worth wearing these days, the waterproof Polar A360 tracks your daily activities including steps taken, calories burned, when you’ve worked out, and even how well you’re sleeping at night.

The device will display the time, as well as all of your vital statistics vertically, which sets it apart from a large proportion of fitness trackers and smartwatches on the market. I remember back when I was in college, 1998-2003, Polar was the top choice of all of the athletes, still is to this day, for monitoring fitness activities. Polar promises that the A360 will last for twelve days on a charge as both a general activity tracker and with an hour-long fitness session every day. It also keeps track of how long it’s been since you’ve last been active, so if you sit at a desk for endless hours at work, it will provide occasional reminders when it’s time to get up and move around.

One of the ways that it can offer two-week life is by not adding continuous heart-rate monitoring to the device, and it’ll only watch your heart during workouts. Marco Suvilaakso, global product director at Polar says: “The key to achieving Polar’s well-known accuracy relies on how data is recorded by the sensor, and then how it is interpreted”. Your mileage will vary if you’ve got notifications turned on for every last social media interaction, but that’s better than the Fitbit Charge HR, and even Polar’s own Loop 2, just announced back in July, that can only muster about eight days even with its rudimentary LED pixel display. It’ll also come with the usual Polar tweaks, including access to the Flow app, smartphone notifications and the option to use a chest strap, should you want to. Still, it’s not clear that it will stick, especially in light of the success of incredibly affordable fitness trackers like the $20 Misfit Flash Link that do more than what most gym members need.

But if you do have dreams of one day tackling an Iron Man challenge, the A360 sounds like the perfect companion as you start to get more serious about your fitness. Then there’s the fact, as we’ve said, the unit will only check your heart rate when you’re exercising, meaning that all-day devices like the Basis Band and Sony SmartBand 2 are better for the heart-conscious amongst you. Those looking for something more colorful can wait a little longer for pink, green and blue wristbands to come on sale “shortly afterward.” Naturally, we’ll get one of these in for testing as soon as we can so that we can tell you straight if it’s better to just buy a $199 Android Wear device and deal with the shorter battery life.

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