There are so many heart rate monitors and activity trackers out there. The amount of information to sift through if massive and overwhelming. I think that is why it took me so long to upgrade from my good ole faithful Polar FT7. The FT7 was the first heart rate monitor I ever owned. I knew the day would come where I would have to replace it. I can’t be mad because this monitor gave me 5 long hard years of service. I still break it out now and then for nostalgia, I mean we did share 380 sessions, over 605 hours 32 minutes and 19 seconds together and scorched 240,979 calories together since 7/13/2012. The relationship is actually a little longer and numbers higher; however, early in our relationship, I had to send her in for service. One day service started getting spotty. While I could have just purchased a new strap, I secretly longed for something with Bluetooth connectivity.
Enter the Polar A370- I researched heart rate monitors that also served as activity trackers. I can not lie, I had some Fitbit envy. I wanted something that didn’t look like a fitness watch but had the algorithms that could compute a wide array of activities. Running outside/GPS was a bonus but not a major concern because I have a Garmin 910xt for hardcore workouts outside. I wanted notifications from my phone an appealing display was also up there on my list. The ability to change bands to color coordinate was also a major plus. Some of the major deal breakers for me were accurate heart rate monitoring and having a waterproof unit. This was only one watch that fit all my needs. There were many competitors like the Fitbit Charge 2.
Strap /Comfort: there are two options for strap length, you can print out a measuring tool off of Polar’s website to find your perfect size. I never considered myself petite nor very large, the measuring tool suggested the m/l version. I have to wonder how spot on they are with the tool because I fasten my watch on hole #7 out of 20. I think if I order a replacement or fun colored strap I will go for the small version. Speaking of straps- I contacted Polar to find out if the A360 straps are compatible with the A370 and they confirmed that they are. This is excellent news because on the day of this posting the only colors offered for the A370 are black and white. Overall the strap is comfortable and you can tighten it for closer contact while working out and loosen it for all other times. If you have a lot of hair on your arm then the silicone strap may tug at a few of them.
You have to wear this behind the wrist bone. This took a little getting used to as it isn’t loose like a normal watch, this sits closer to the skin. You want the skin to make contact with the back of the watch so that the sensors can read your heart rate throughout the day.
Display: The beautiful colored display is both a blessing and a curse. Blessing, because it’s a great upgrade from the standard black and white screen. Polar managed to make reading hear rate zones a breeze without staring at the display thanks to their color coding. This is where the blessing ends. A color display uses more battery and if you are standing in direct sunlight this can be as frustrating as trying to read a book off of your phone at the beach.
Weight: No issues in this department. I am seriously considering this over my 910xt for my upcoming marathon because of the weight difference. I barely notice this on, it stays on all the time, only coming off for the occasional charge.
Charging/Battery Life: Battery life varies depending on how you use the unit. With constant heart rate monitoring during exercise, long workouts/two-a-days, and frequent glancing at the screen, the battery will deplete quicker. If you don’t work out and use this as just an activity monitor without constant heart rate tracking then the battery can last up to 5 days with continuous heart rate monitoring! I generally weight train during lunch for 50 minutes and run after work for an hour or two so I have to charge every 2-3 days. I wore this watch for the Marine Corps Marathon, which took me almost 6 hours to complete, the battery had 50% left at the end, so you get a lot of use out of each charge!
The charging port is a disaster. I don’t understand why such an innovative company would choose to go with a usb port?!?! My Garmin has two prongs that charge the unit and it is waterproof, it’s a watch for triathletes and has been put to the test with many hours in the water. The A370 is also waterproof as long as the usb cover is on. The charging port cover is a major pain in the arse! There is a little loop that holds the cover onto a peg. You literally have to pull the strap back to open the port and after a few months, the little port cover loosens and easily pops off.
Durability: The strap is made of silicone and there are no issues there. The screen is made of glass and I am pretty rough with watches (all of them have nicks and scratches over the face). My A370 has met some pretty rough surfaces, chips on the same edge to prove it. I have only had the watch for two months. I believe I can get a year or two out of this one, but with the rate of chipping we have going on now, I doubt we will have a long relationship like the one my FT7 and I shared.
Heart rate sensor accuracy: I have compared the heart rate sensor through the watch against my FT7 and an H10 Heart Rate Strap. I am happy to report that the accuracy is very on point only varying a few BPM while going up and down, once leveled off they all read the same, differences would mainly be noticed when doing activities like HIIT. A very liberating thing to know that I can wear this without a strap during a race and get very accurate readings.
Programs: There are a lot of sports/training programs to choose from. You control everything through the application on your phone and sync changes to update/configure your device. I really love the fact that they have algorithms for everything from strength training to endurance to yoga. Polar did an excellent job of covering many physical activities. I used to use my old FT7 while strength training, not taking the calorie burn seriously but just using it as a gauge to know where my heart rate is.
Application: The application is straightforward and easy to use. There are two applications that can be used. Polar Flow is what you use to manage/sync changes to your watch. Polar Beat is an application that you can use to monitor your heart rate while training. I have had no connectivity issues with either program.
Issues: There can be no positives without negatives. The most frustrating issue I have run into on multiple occasions and one that I never hear others talk about in reviews is: while training, I
sometimes get an error message letting me know “an error occurred” I have to press the back button and then the whole workout is lost, there is no recovering it so it’s like it never happened. I have lost multiple workouts and this is something that really gets my blood boiling, especially if I am far into a workout.
As I mentioned earlier, the charging port is a huge letdown. The little cover comes off easily after a few months and if lost, then you can kiss your water resistance goodbye.
Running outside/GPS: there is no internal GPS which isn’t a big deal because the unit can piggyback off of your phones GPS and use that to display information. The information is as accurate as you can expect from your phone. I noticed that this drains the battery on the unit faster so I would rather just run the Nike Running app and have voice notifications in my headphones.
Notifications: The notification system is very basic. You get a few words for texts and other notifications, you can not scroll to see the rest of the message so it is okay at best. If notifications and the ability to read emails/whole messages/reply through the watch is important to you then you may want to look at another watch. I found GPS navigation alerts helpful on the watch when preplanning runs, other than that I have little use for them.
Pricing: at $180.00 this is not the most expensive heart rate monitor that you can purchase, this is definitely an investment. This is more expensive than its direct competitor, the Fit Bit Charge 2, which you can find between 99.00-150.00 online. If the price is your main determining factor then you might want to go with the Fit Bit. However, if you plan on getting wet, or would like the waterproof piece of mind, then you will have to pay to play.
Would I repurchase?: This is a difficult question. I am really enjoying this activity tracker and I can see the many benefits of it. For actual physical activity tracking, I could have the same tracking and results with my H10 heart strap paired to my phone. However, anyone who has used a heart rate strap has experienced the frustration of forgetting one piece or the other. If you forget any of those, it is liberating knowing that you can still monitor your physical activity through the watch alone. Also, anyone who has ever trained for hours on end can appreciate the option of doing so without a heart rate strap. No matter how many times you have used glide, we still forget certain spots, only to be found through a lot of pain the first time water touches your skin. No chafing with this watch! I would have to say that it is a nifty device to have on hand and a great purchase if you don’t already have something similar. On the date of publishing I would consider repurchasing this, with a discount. There are many competitivley priced options out there including refubished Apple watches so if you want to know what I am wearing at a later date or if you want an update on how this is holding up, just drop a comment below :).
- Freedom to train with or without a heart rate strap.
- Pairing to phone to use GPS while outside creates well rounded device.
- Color screen is a pleasure to look at.
- Many programs to choose from for every activity level/need.
- Priced higher than similar devices.
- Charging port cover can easily be lost when pulling off.
- Software glitches can cause loss of information midway or near end of your workout.
- Battery life is not as good as competitors thanks to beautiful screen.
- Screen is made of glass so be prepared for chipping.