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A few quick thoughts on Polar’s new A360 with optical HR sensor

Heads up! I’ve now posted my full A360 In-Depth Review, which can be viewed here!  Enjoy!

Earlier today Polar announced their latest wearable, the A360.  More notably – it marks the first Polar product to include an optical heart rate sensor.  This takes the concept of the existing Polar Loop (and Loop2) and adds in heart rate sensing technology while also including a brilliantly colorful touch screen display.  In many ways, it sorta looks like a Microsoft Band minus the GPS piece.

Now the challenge I’ve got is that I haven’t had any hands-on time with the unit.  As such, I really can’t make any meaningful judgments (or validations).  As is normally the case around here, no hands-on time means no post.  And failing that – just a very short post.  Since y’all sent enough e-mails/tweets/smoke signals over the course of the day that I’ll round-up my initial thinking in this quick post.  Obvious disclaimer: This is not a review.

Specs of Note:

To begin, the fitness band is not a GPS watch (it lacks GPS), but rather focused on replacing the activity tracker with something a bit more advanced.  By not having GPS it claims a fairly impressive 2 weeks of battery life between charges, far more than competitive units by pretty much every vendor out there.  That number includes 1hr of training per day, but otherwise covering 24/7 tracking of daily activity.  Note that it does omit smart notifications in this 2 week figure, which would undoubtedly decrease battery life once enabled – though to what extent is unclear.

The band itself holds the display/sensor pod, and is changeable down the road with various colored band options coming in January.  The clasp system is more traditional – a solid move away from the messy arts and crafts scissors project that was the Polar Loop band. So that’s much appreciated!

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The silicon band comes in three sizes – a small, medium, and large option.  Of which they have a snazzy sizing guide available on their site.  This is pretty much in line with what Fitbit has done.

The display looks pretty darn sharp in pictures, and comes in at 80x160px in size, with a claimed “full color TFT display”.  Most notable is the touch screen piece though.  This can be both good and bad.  We’ve seen many companies attempt to implement brilliantly colored touch screens over the last few years with rather mixed success.  Specifically, around usage with sweat and water.  Sometimes the screens from other products would be unresponsive with just a few drips of sweat, or would become disoriented and confused, seemingly pressing their own buttons as water cascades over them.  It remains to be seen how well Polar has implemented this in wet conditions.

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Of course, the biggest news out of Camp Polar is the inclusion of an optical heart rate sensor.  This shouldn’t be any surprise – Polar has hinted at this since CES all the way back in January, and re-affirmed that again at other product launch events throughout the year.  And consistent with that hinting, they followed through on placing the technology first in a more entry-level device, rather than something higher-end like the Polar V800 multi-sport device.  I’d assume this is considered a trial-run for the technology.

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Polar notes that the sensor is fully made in-house, using their own algorithms.  The unit includes 2 green LED’s, and a single photodiode.  That particular configuration is fairly common among many optical sensor products today.  However, it’s not as common among the more sport-oriented ones, which tend to use two different LED color sets, which typically increase compatibility with certain skin tones (darker ones).  Usually that additional LED results in a green or red LED being part of a 3-LED set.  Which doesn’t mean that Polar did anything wrong, but it’s an area I’ll be paying close attention to in the review cycle.

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The unit charges via a micro-USB connector, something I’m honestly a bit surprised Polar went with.  On one hand it’s great to match a standard (versus a wonky proprietary connector). They initially did so pioneering a heavily internally waterproofed version good to 50m back on the Polar M400.  With the A360, they attained 30m waterproofing. However, I’ve seen a slightly higher level of waterproofing/corrosion related complaints with the M400 as the product has aged.  It’s quite possible that Polar has since addressed issues (it was two years since that technology first introduced itself in the M400), but it’s something that may be hard to quantify in any short-term reviews.

As expected, you can also sync via Bluetooth Smart to both Android and iOS devices.  In doing so you’ll get the smartphone alerts and notifications from the notification centers on both platforms.  That means things like text messages, e-mail alerts and Twitter notifications.

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That same smartphone channel is used to funnel activity tracking stats like steps, calories, and daily sleep metrics to your phone and ultimately the Polar Flow website.

Note that the A360 does NOT track your heart rate 24×7.  Rather, only during a specific workout will the heart rate sensor be enabled.  The unit otherwise has onboard storage for 60 hours of training (with heart rate data).

Like most of Polar’s products, it includes integration with their Smart Coaching functionality, which includes features such as Training Benefit and the ability to enable sport profiles.  This is notable as many other products on the market don’t actually do calorie based sport profiles, but just have generic ones for a handful of sports (i.e. just walk or run).

Initial Thoughts:

image

Priced at $199/€199, it might be a smidgen high in price given the lack of GPS.  The closest comparison would be the Fitbit Charge HR (for optical sensor band) or the Microsoft Band (for the display & optical sensor, but that has GPS whereas the A360 doesn’t).  So it somewhat sits in between those two products in terms of functionality and price.  With the Fitbit Charge HR it does 24×7 optical HR tracking at a lower price, but lacks all of the advanced display and notification pieces that the Polar A360 has.  Further, the Fitbit Charge HR isn’t as well waterproofed as the Polar A360, nor does it have any of the coaching and true workout features.

Overall, here’s the key things I’ll be looking at once I actually get my hands on a unit as part of a review cycle:

A) How functional is the touch screen when wet (both rain and sweat)?
B) How accurate is the heart rate sensor?
C) What is the actual battery life like?  Especially with notifications enabled.
D) Are there any issues with the micro-USB connector and waterproofing?

As I’ve noted often recently (and will continue to note over the next few days & weeks) – for new devices in this space that are using unknown optical sensors, I’m roughly taking a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach.  By that I mean that there are so many companies trying to roll their own optical sensors (and failing) that I’m simply assuming they haven’t gotten it right and will have to prove accuracy.

That said, in Polar’s case their entire lineage is based on accurate heart rate sensing.  I feel that if they miss the boat on the accuracy piece with their first optical sensing product – it’ll significantly set back consumer confidence quite a bit for future optical sensor products.  So hopefully it’ll work out.  Either way – we’ll know soon, as the company plans to start shipping devices in November.

With that – thanks for reading!

(Note: All photos here from Polar)

Update – support the site! Found what you read above useful?  If so – then you can support the site here by ordering the Polar A360 via Clever Training.  They’re accepting orders for the unit, which Polar says should start shipping as soon as Monday, November 9th.  In addition, by being a DCR reader you can save 10% on your cart with coupon code DCR10MHD (and free US shipping)!

108 Comments

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  1. Alex Masidlover

    HI Ray, Any idea whether it will re-transmit the HR data like the Mio Fuse?

  2. David

    You would not have written about a product from any other company without a review. What’s with the rose tinted glasses and Polar?

    • There’s been plenty of posts in the past about products on initial thoughts, pre review so nothing new here.

    • Dave Lusty

      Agreed, I was actually surprised how long it took to post even without a test unit as it’s always nice to read Ray’s opinions and thoughts even when he hasn’t touched the device. The difference here is that Ray is always explicit about whether he’s used a device, how long for, and whether it was production ready.

    • Actually, I do from time to time – namely from companies or products where there’s demand. For example, my Garmin VIRB X/XE post is one, GoPro Hero4 Session post another, Bragi Dash, and this one here. There’s a handful of other examples in the past, but usually companies are organized enough to get samples or hands-on time in advance.

      I basically do such posts like this when I get too many tweets/e-mails/etc about a product… However, you’ll also notice that in general such posts aren’t terribly favorable – since I’m usually rather skeptical (even more so when a company fails to get me a test unit). Like this post, it’s simply a stop-gap to stop questions.

      I’m not sure there’s much rose-tinted in this post, though perhaps I’m missing it.

    • The delay was two-fold – first, I just got notice last night (with actual details). Second, I was in meetings all day and pre-meeting prep this morning took longer than I thought – so the post got pushed.

      Oh, and then I decided to enjoy a nice fall trail run instead of writing a post. :)

    • Anonymous Coward

      Who made you the blog police? Esp. one who apparently hasn’t even bothered to read any of the less stellar Polar reviews (e.g. A300; V800; …)

    • David Lusty

      Haha you are allowed a life Ray – it’s only because you’re usually ready with a post as the announcements go out, but obviously you can’t be ready if Polar decide not to tell you, and it must be hard while living on airplanes too!

    • Mr Nacho

      No on one made him the blog police but when Ray says one thing and does another or treats some companies (Garmin, Polar, etc) differently than other companies .. At least in my mind it create the impression that it’s less than an objective blog as he makes it out to be. There may be legit reason for treating them differently as Ray highlighted. But I see no harm in posing a question. You are correct the poster is always free to look elsewhere for info.

  3. Dave Lusty

    Thanks Ray, a great post. I can’t believe Polar have not sent you a unit – surely that’s marketing 101 in this industry?!
    Interesting though the OHR is, I’m actually more intrigued by the screen and interface. This sort of points at a replacement for the v800 perhaps announced in January (2 years after the v800) with a colour screen. I’ve been debating getting a v800 for a while if only for comparison to the Garmin ones I have but now feels like bad timing on that one, and the Bluetooth kinda puts me off with the various compatibility shenanigans we read about.
    I actually think looking at their website and the screens on this A360 that Polar would make far better use of the colour screen than Garmin do. On everything but the Epix it feels kind of wasted as though they haven’t even tried to make colour a useful addition.
    Let’s hope if there is a new v8xx coming that Polar actually get you a test unit in plenty of time (if that wasn’t one of the mystery units you mentioned the other day..)

    • I’d be surprised if Polar would release next gen of V800 any time soon.
      V800 came over 3 years to RCX5, which was the earlier unit.

      Sure, the competition is getting tight and the speed of putting new devices into the market is getting faster but Polar is still polishing some software/firmware glitches on Flow and watch sides.
      If the past would be any indication, before Polar will make announcements of new version of V8xx we’d see some special editions of V800 (maybe IronMan one or Tour de France edition as it was with RCX5) with some additional accessories and maybe different band colours – let’s not forget almost all other new Polar series got some colour love but v800.
      V800 is their top range product with most of R&D which is later translated to the other, less capable though cheaper units.

      Another story is that if Polar would step up their game and announced a fully new top unit at i.e., CES’16 it would take another 6 or even more months to see that product.

  4. Lauri Selänne

    What about heart rate monitoring while swimming ?

    Maybe this one is a more general question towards optical hart rate monitoring systems but any way :)

  5. Mike S

    Kinda wanted, until I read (somewhere else, soz!) that it doesn’t transmit HR to a bke computer. That and the fact I bet the activity data is locked in to Polar’s own S/W I’m out, shame. Sounds like more Polar style arrogance…

  6. I wonder if the next vivoactive and vivofit will do the same thing? Still on my vivo1 but would like Optical HR just for wandering around HR.

  7. alan

    I am interested to know if the heart rate will transmit to apps via Bluetooth Smart, and if it will track while swimming. And unless I missed something, you haven’t reviewed Apple Watch yet, either.

  8. Michaela

    Hi, i really looking forward to that review, i currently use a xiaomi mi band for counting steps and my sleep pattern, but mostly i use it as notification gadget for messages and as alarm look. But one question are you also planing to create a review for the new Microsoft Band2 since they include a gps and a heart rate monitor?

    • martinot

      Yes, I would love to see both a review of Microsoft Band 2, and also a comparison with FitBit and this new Polar product.

  9. Bob190

    I don’t get the obsession with battery life by all these companies currently making activity trackers/watches. Eliminating functions like 24/7 HR monitoring to get two weeks of battery life vs. 5 days makes no sense to me. Whether it’s 5 days or 14 days you still have to charge it, and since most since most of these products charge quickly you have ample opportunity to charge it when you really don’t need to be wearing it anyway .. like showering, sitting quietly at your desk, etc.

    I would much rather have 24/7 HR monitioring than two week battery life without a function that is fairly critical to accurate activity tracking.

  10. Robert Bennett

    I’m really hanging out for a Good multi sport Watch with Optical sensor but I think I have my hopes set too high that something like the 920 will be released with Optical HR … If that happens though I will finally ditch the HR strap!

    • David Lusty

      The problem is that things like the 920XT, v800 and similar are aimed at pro athletes rather than amateur data collectors and for them things like the R-R are more useful than a strap is awkward. If optical HR ever gains parity with “proper” HR we’ll see this developed, and if it’s cheap enough to add to the range we may see it but I think the number of people who see this as a real problem is too small to cater specifically to. Personally I’d rather keep the HR strap than have a thicker watch than the 920 or Fenix.
      For multisport I’d be surprised if the HR worked well. Ray has previously said it’s flaky in the water, and I’m curious whether the remaining water after your swim would affect it too. It’s also useless when you bike mount the watch, so for multisport it’s unlikely to ever gain much traction.

    • Robert Bennett

      I still hold hope 😀 I can currently do it by pairing a Mio with the 920 but it just feels awkward wearing two wrist devices and the 920 isn’t exactly small :/ I don’t mind the HR strap but the optical sensors are getting better and better and now Garmin has developed there own instead of using Mios tech it makes me even more hopeful something is on the Horizon.

    • David Lusty

      You realise the 920 would be thicker with optical HR rather than staying the same? If size is an issue then you’re hoping for the wrong thing!

  11. Jeff Dawson

    If the A360 doesn’t transmit HR to a cycling computer I won’t be buying one. Shame, because it could have replaced my Scosche Rhythm+ to link with my V650, and added functionality such as daily step recording etc. Seems another missed opportunity from Polar, who recently have launched products which are almost, but not quite, good enough.
    PS. I’m still waiting for the out-front mount to be released more than a year after launch of the V650 :-(

    • Asaf

      Out front mount for the Polar v650 is available by some 3D companies, though, quite expansive. To add insult to injury, other companies include it for free as part of the bundle…

  12. Jiri

    Any idea if this will have a smart vibration alarm based on sleep patterns? This feature would make me switch from vivofit/vivosmart to Polar… And I kind of like the design, too.

  13. Ivan

    The more companies releasing products like this with (what I would consider essential) features missing the more I think the original Microsoft Band was vastly underrated and the moor certain it if I’ll be buying a mk2. (Waterproofness not an essential feature!)

    Track where you went AND your heart rate? Oh no sir, just the one feature for you…

    The poster above had the right idea about battery, long life is great but if it’s at the expense of a decent level of functionality what’s the point?

    • Just there are so many “gym rats” who don’t care about GPS out there. Without GPS the device can also be slimmer (no antenna) and cheaper. I wouldn’t get A300 because of no GPS, yet it seems to be quite popular.

  14. Harrison

    I still think the techonology won’t be there for the extreme/professional athlete. I’m still stuck on the fact the technology of led monitors is meant to be measured while being still.

    • Alan

      The Scosche Rhythm Plus works very well to track heart rate while cycling, running, and other indoor working out when I use to transmit to my iPhone. So they have figured out how to get the LED to work. And many reviews of the Apple Watch are fairly positive with the heart rate tracking.

  15. runnershigh

    it is possible to pair the A360 via BTLE to another unit like m400 for example (as heart rate monitor)?

  16. Michael

    “D) Are there any issues with the micro-USB connector and waterproofing?”

    If it’s the same connector as the M400, it will be terrible, oxidation en sync errors all the time

  17. John

    I have a Polar M400 and while I like the watch in general, I will not buy another Polar (or other brand) gps watch with a micro-USB port. I’ve sent it back, had to replace 3 cables, and still find that you have to hold it “just right” to get it to charge/sync. If they went to a system, proprietary or not, that was more robust, it would be a top notch product.

    • Nikolai

      Can’t agree more. I have pretty much the same attitude after about 3 years of owning RC3 GPS. Great watch other than microUSB but that last point just kills all the good.

      Ended up putting electric tape over the port to prevent moisture from going in which results in freezing of the unit until it dries out (it keeps tracking the activity though, just doesn’t react on any button except total reset combintaion).

      Even a few cases of absolutely “unforced” losing of GPS-signal are easier to live with.

    • nikolai

      I have completely different experience…. i, too, have RC3GPS for about three years, i jog, i cycle, i take shower and i even swim with it…. i never had a single problem with this watch…. only downside on it i found to be (very) slow GPS fix…. man irritates me a lot…

    • Augsburg

      We agree too, in regards to the M400 and the micro USB port. My wife loved her M400, but the port quickly became finicky and after only a couple of months regular use, it stopped working altogether. It won’t charge or sync.

      Given what she has seen in online reviews of the M400, many other owners have had the same problem – repeatedly. They say they send their M400 in for service. Wait a few weeks for the repaired or replaced unit only to go through the same problems again within a couple of months. The micro USB is just too fragile for a wearable device. I have a micro USB port on my V650 bike computer and it’s fine.

      Long story short, my wife is ready to throw her Polar M400 in the trash – and she just paid $144 for it two months ago at the beginning of September. Given her experience, I don’t see her opting now for the A360.

    • short question: would you connect your wet connector to your wall plug? that what happens and finally gives corrosion. Try to have the contact try before you connect and I’m sure you and your wife will be fine.

  18. I bet polar had this in development and thought it looked ok, until microsoft announced the Band 2, and they mustve been gutted… the MS effort looks so much sleeker in design and presentation than this device. I use a V800 and love it, my wife uses the loop 1, i was going to replace her loop with this but looking at it i dont think i will be. Looking forward to the review of the band 2 and this device.

  19. PieterG

    I wonder two things:

    1) if the Polar A360 has a “Idle Alert” feature where the device would vibrate if you’ve been idle for a certain length of time. Fitbit ignores such a basic feature for almost two years and 2000+ votes from users.
    See link to community.fitbit.com

    2) the accuracy of this Polar A360 versus a Polar H7 bluetooth sensor.

    I’m thinking of replacing my FitBit Charge HR with this product.

    • martinot

      Hopefully it has that feature (I know Band 2 has it).

    • 1) Yes it does

      2) Not so good.

    • Paul

      Happy Holidays. I apologize if you already answered but when can we expect Full Review of A360 & Vivosmart HR? Can you do a combined review of both in a 3 way shootout with Charge HR.

      I am getting ready to through Charge HR in drawer & be done with it.

      Tracks stationary cycling as sleep. Even though according to my Polar H7 my HR is actually higher than walking.

      Check this out Charge HR reports HR while on Bike (13-15 mph) Avg HR 85 -90 and only burn 150 cals an hour while Polar Reports a little higher HR 90-95 & burn over 300 cal an hour.

      Yet while tread walking (3mph) charge hr reports HR 100-110 Avg & 450 cal hour while Polar H7 reports HR 75-85 & only 150 cals an hour.

      So Charge HR reports walking calories burned at 3x credit it gives for slow & steady recovery ride & Polar gives 2x calorie credit for cycling vs walking.

      Who do you trust?

    • You can find my A360 In-Depth review here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Good reminder though, I need to add a redirect notice on this post to that one.

      As for Vivosmart HR, within the next 7 days.

  20. Zest

    An option to choose between 24h heart rate monitoring (for additional sleep or baseline) or workout only heart rate would be great. If the Polar A360 had 24h heart rate monitoring I would ditch my Fitbit Charge HR for it. Fitbit software and need for Internet connectivity to sync with a phone, shelves the product for me.

    • GavinM

      I really like the look of this, not least because my company health insurance (in the UK) offers a 50% deal on a Polar or Garmin device. Emailed Polar to ask if they had any plans to update firmware to offer an optional 24/7 HR monitor…they replied not. Disappointing….what is the harm in allowing the user to toggle it on and off? As an above-mentioned gym rat I didn’t need GPS (can always use the iPhone for that anyway) so this was looking like a great device (pending seeing some actual hands-on reviews)

    • Alan

      I have a Basis Peak that monitors HR 24/7. It is reasonably accurate if it is tight. But I’m not sure how important it is to know this. So some of the ability to generate data may exceed practical utility.

  21. alan

    Is this device waterproof? Will it serve as a receiver from T31 coded straps so I could use it while swimming? Will it serve as a receiver from H7 strap too?
    Alan

    • Yes, 30-meter waterproofing.

    • alan

      Does it get transmission as a receiver from a T31 strap?

    • No, I don’t believe so.

    • alan

      Do any of the wrist based HR monitors work well in a pool? I tried the scosche paired to a polar a300, via bluetooth and it wasn’t consistent. Any of the mio products good for this?
      apple watch? maybe the new Microsoft band? I am by habit partial to the Polar system. I use the T31 coded and A300 now but would like to ditch the strap if possible.

    • It’s mixed. Some folks have had luck with the Mio Link/Alpha, as well as the TomTom Cardio (I mostly fall in that category). The Scosche is tougher due to placement challenges and signal transmission.

      The new Microsoft Band (2) would be tough, as my testing over the last few days seems to indicate it’s a mess with even the slighest bit of water on the screen. I haven’t tried the A360 in the pool yet, but it doesn’t rebroadcast unfortunately (fwiw), but would at least save the data.

  22. jon

    Doesn’t track your heart rate 24/7? Shame on you Polar, your other HR products are best of breed. Asking 200 bucks for this thing is shameless. Go big or go home.

    • alan

      Very interesting comment. Would love to hear Ray’s take on this. It seems like 24/7 heart rate monitoring via an optical wrist based device is the state of the art. The Basis peak, which I have, measures HR 24/7. And I am pretty sure the Fitbit HR and Microsoft Band 2 do this as well.
      I bought the Basis for sleep tracking. (would have bought a Zeo if they were selling them). I like that I get my resting HR daily. And it has a lot of data. But I really wonder what I am supposed to glean or do with all this data. And I use my H7 with Polar Beat and A300 while swimming.
      So the question is Why do you want 24/7 heart rate? What will that tell us? I don’t think I know, even though I want this, too. Maybe a lot of data overload. I am happy to participate in this discussion. We need some physiologists to weigh in.

    • devsar

      Also use peak.
      Got cold around the beginning this year, my peak had over average
      RHR two days before I feel I’m sick myself. Yes, I feel normal
      during that two day but my average RHR data shows that I’m not
      (didn’t see data regularly, and only realize this days after).
      We are not there yet, but with maker leveraging machine/deep
      learning I really hope we can get there someday. Something like
      alerting to get more rest perhaps.
      To get there we need the data. So if they can collect the data,
      without sacrificing other important functions, why not.
      (With only current 12 days of battery life, I guess that
      one factor. But you can also put option to turn it off/on,
      Polar? Nah, perhaps they just don’t have the resources needed.)
      Just my 2 cents.

    • Paul Allen

      Agreed. Reading any of the literature, watching the videos, you could easily make the mistake that this is a 24/7 activity tracker that records HR 24/7 also. considering the price and the segment it’s in and the competition it’s up against, I foresee many people buying this by accident for the 24/7 HR and then getting a refund to buy a Vivosmart HR instead.

  23. Ina

    I do a lot of gym based sports but I also go on runs occasionally. I’m wondering if it is possible to pair the A360 with the polar beat app for the runs to also get GPS data from the phone? Can polar manage merging the workout data from the A360 with the data from the app? If so that would make A360 the perfect new toy for me.

  24. RJ abrlla

    Will the a360 work with the apple health app?

  25. alan

    This is a whole new technology for Polar. And I wonder if they can improve on previously available optical HR accuracy. I am really interested in this product.
    Do we know where Apple gets their sensors?

    • Apple’s said to have internally developed it.

    • alan

      I am still interested to know if you have compared the Apple heart rate accuracy with something like the Polar H7?
      I would expect that with the deep pockets of Apple behind it, the Apple watch should be the most accurate of the bunch.
      I wish they would consider splitting the Apple watch into two or three devices. The pretty luxury timepiece vs a highly functional fitness monitor/workout tracker.

  26. TheTango

    I don’t believe the Fitbit HR is any competition for this unit – IF it works correctly. The Fitbit HR is a heart monitor in name only, the accuracy of the heart rate was a total joke. Nowhere close to being useful.

  27. Wayne

    So, i have the a360 and i am a black male, so far it is yet to pick up my heart rate wearing it correctly. Turning it to the inside(lighter skin) part of my arm worked, and it worked right away on a non black friend.

  28. GavinM

    Completely off topic but as a Londoner just across a narrow strip of sea, I feel compelled to say I hope you’re doing ok there in Paris Ray. Horrible stuff in the news.

  29. LJC

    I would like to know how comfortable the optical unit is on the wrist. My sons find the protuding fitbit charge HR unit too uncomfortable to wear every day.
    Also, are the under 13s allowed to use the software? Fitbit software does not allow accounts for under 13s so my 11 year old has to lie about his age to use the fitbit to track his own steps.

    • I find the A360 pretty comfortable, though to be fair I also found the Fitbit Charge HR quite comfortable too.

      I don’t believe Fitbit allows under 13’s, mostly because there’s some federal law that makes it rather problematic for them to from a legal standpoint. Sorta a damned if you do, damned if you don’t thing.

    • lJC

      Thanks.
      Would be nice to know, before you buy, that a child cannot configure his own step counter or tell the time. Couldn’t fitbit write a basic configuration app without collecting data?

  30. alan

    Why won’t the optical heart rate work in the pool?
    Did the Apple watch work in the water when you tried it?
    Guess I am stuck with the T31 coded and my A300.

  31. Adam

    Just wanted to say that after using the A360 for a number of CrossFit workouts, it fairs much better for me than the Garmin VSHR in terms of heart rate accuracy. This is especially relevant for workouts where you heart rate jumps around a lot from high to low.

  32. Al

    Full review for A360 coming soon?
    Will Runkeeper (Android) be able to take the HRM data from this device and combine it with my running data like other Polar HRM’s?
    Runkeeper says:
    “Our Android app supports all standalone Polar HRMs, including HRMs with BTLE capabilities”

    • It will not. The A360 only rebroadcasts to Polars group solution, not over standard BLE.

    • Al

      :( May give this one a miss then.
      Thanks, your reviews are great!

    • Sagar

      Uggh. Polar shoots themselves in the foot again. Not having rebroadcast for a $199 device when Garmin does for $149, is unconscionable.

    • Frans

      And does not monitor 24/7. Polar makes nice stuff, but they want to bind the customer, at least in my view, too much to only use products from their brand.

    • Victor A.

      Agree with Frans, their proprietary lock-in policy (and their Windows-only policy) made me move away from them, even if they have excellent base products and a strong brand which could justify premium prices. It seems they are ever so slowly opening up to a limited number of open standards (BLE), but always too little too late. Their underlying policy remains the same: lock-in to a proprietary ecosystem. A real shame, as we all know what happens in the end with companies applying this policy.

    • alan

      I agree that the device would be better if the HR could be broadcast. And it should be compatible with T31 for swimmers. And many want 24/7 heart rate tracking. Although I am not sure what the value of this is, I like it on my Basis Peak.
      But I don’t find Polar as much as a locked in system as the past couple of comments. Their H7 strap will transmit to many apps, like Wahoo (which makes their own, too) and Runkeeper.
      Also, the Polar Beat App will find most BLE transmitters. It finds the Scosche Plus.
      Luckily, the Bluetooth folks seem to have helped in that their requirements for standardization allow devices made by many manufacturers talk to each other.
      In fact, I think there is a Polar app for the Apple watch that allows the H7 to work. I wonder if that Polar app on the watch also works with the internal optical on the Apple Watch?

    • 7/24

      What is the point of 24/7 heart rate monitoring? Could someone explain that to me so that I would understand the reasoning behind that kind of feature? Having a training session and having the heart rate monitored/limits/zones makes perfect sense, but 24/7 monitoring makes no sense, what do you gain with that (other than battery life halved or more)? Yes you may calculate some calories usages and so on a bit more accurately. But who cares? And if you want 24/7 monitoring, start an exercise and let it run the whole day … Which is again totally meaningless.

    • alan

      The only point of 24/7 heart rate monitoring may be during sleep tracking. I suspect that devices like the Basis Peak use the night time heart rate along with other date to simulate polysomnography data for sleep stages. Like deep sleep and REM.
      I have a Peak, too. And while I glance at my heart rate while wearing it, I am not sure why I need to know this.
      Any physiologists out there that can help?

    • The main benefit of 24/7 monitoring that I see is auto-determination of your resting HR. This can be super-useful once you have enough data, to determine fatigue or sickness onsetting – that could and would impact training. I know for example, if my resting HR climbs from it’s usual 39-41ish, up to 50, that I’m either about to be sick (or already sick), or horribly fatigued from something (travel, work, etc…).

  33. Alan

    I got mine yesterday. Not sure why I need it. I have H7 and Polar A300, along with other older non connected Polars going back to the Edge almost 25 years old. As an aside, the Edge is still simple, easy to use, and easy to read. Still a favorite for my wife.
    The A360 has a nice bright screen. But the Heart Rate doesn’t get displayed unless you flick your wrist or press the button. I prefer the “always on” when I am exercising. Maybe there is a setting for his, but I haven’t found it yet.
    I also did not love the little cover on the mini USB port. That microscopic attachment is really likely to break. The whole little cover piece will be really easy to lose. I prefer the male plug on the A300. Nothing to lose, and no open port to get wet. The A300 screen and buttons are a bit dated like an old Pac man game. But it easily works, pairs to the t31c for my swimming. The A360 doesn’t rebroadcast or pair to T31, but it will pick up the H7.
    For $200, I would expect a little more. I will stick with the Polar ecosystem. It’s what I am used to. And the Polar Beat app for the phone is very good.
    Probably will send the A360 back after I try a few more things.
    I am interested in others thoughts. Ray needs help. The activity monitoring devices are sprouting like weeds, along with every other type of wrist based device.

    • For those interested, you’ll see some of my A360 HR data within my Garmin FR230/235 in-depth review I just published…

    • Oleg

      Alan,
      can you see training load on the Diary page in Polar Flow?
      This is main concern for me to get A360 over Vivosmart HR (though from latest FR235 review I see that A360 pulse monitoring is way no perfect)

    • Alan

      In response to Oleg, I never paid attention to training load and I don’t see it anywhere in my diary. I use Polar Beat with the H7, and the A300, too. Maybe there is a setting to turn on the training load parameter, but I haven’t been able to find it. Maybe youe should ask the Polar support folks. The optical reading on the A360 seems fairly close to the H7 but I am still testing it and wiltesting it. I would like to be able to overlay the graphs like Ray does but I have no idea how to do that either.

    • Berry

      Alan/Ray,

      I am a Fitbit Force user (lucky me, no rash) and have been considering whether to buy Fitbit Charge HR or Polar A360. I’ve had good experience with Polar RS300X until I lost the chest strap.

      Things I don’t like about Fitbit Charge HR:

      1. When the band breaks, that’s it (I put electrical tape around my Fitbit Force and it barely hold it together).
      2. Cannot swim with it.
      3. I don’t need 24×7 heart rate monitoring. I am fine with having an estimated calorie burn from steps (unless when I’m exercising) for longer battery life.

      Quick questions on A360.

      1. Does water touching the screen (during swimming) register as touches?
      2. Does it correctly reads heart rate when submerged underwater.
      3. Does it have a vibrate function when I am reaching my max heart rate and min heart rate (my RS300X beeps)?
      4. How thick is the unit? Is it comfortable to wear 24×7?
      5. How is the build quality of the unit and the strap?

      Thanks guys…

    • Alan

      It seems pretty comfortable to me. It was fairly close to the T31coded transmitting to A300 while swimming. I don’t think there is a vibrate function for under or over your target zone.
      It has a nice color screen with target zones that are the same as on the Polar Beat app.
      Water doesn’t register as touches.
      When I exercise, I like to see the heart rate when I look at the watch. The screen on the A360 is dark unless you flick the wrist to get it to turn on. I prefer the always on heart rate so I can glance at it without requiring a deliberate act.
      Its is about 10mm thick.
      The build quality of the unit and strap seems very good to me. I don’t love the little micro USB cover.
      I have a high interest in Rays comments. This is a new type of device for Polar. One would think that as a heart rate pioneer their optical accuracy would be the best in the business.

  34. Phellan

    Time for a replacement for my old Polar loop and I was waiting for Polar to show a new product.
    A few questions, though 24/7 hr monitoring is not possible now, could it be introduced in a further firmware update??
    And alos, this time around does it count staits up or is it only limited to steps??

    • Phellan

      Anybody??

    • Polar says that continual HR is something potentially for down the road, so that leaves the door open. But given Polar’s recent history on following through with firmware updates in a timely manner, I’m not sure I’d buy a product based on future promises.

    • alan

      it doesn’t count steps.
      I have no idea if firmware could be changed to give 24/7 heart rate.

    • Paul Allen

      Yeah, they kept me hanging on on questions I had through twitter about music controls on the M400. Ultimately after a few months, they said the feature was not coming.

      Sold the M400 the next day.

    • Dan Robach

      Indeed, I have been waiting too long for long promised features like wrist based cadence for the V800 and other stuff like the Strava sync and as a loyal Polar customer since twenty years now I don’t like them pushing out new fancy mass market toys instead of finishing their released products first. If I wanted something like that I’d get a Fitbit or so in the first place.

  35. Nick

    I recently got the Polar v800- will I be able to pair it to the A360 in order to get heart rate data?
    I would very much appreciate some input!

    • alan

      The A360 supposedly doesn’t broadcast heart rate to other devices. If you want to use something other than your chest strap, you might consider the Scosche Rhythm plus or a Mio device. I have paired the Scosche to my Polar A300, but most of the time I use a chest strap.

  36. Nick

    At the moment I am leaning towards buying the Scosche Rhythm+… I would definitely consider the a360 if it can broadcast HR data to the polar v800. The other pressing question is how accurate the optical sensor is compared to the Scosche…

  37. Nick

    Thanks for that Ray. Another quick question- can the Scosche firmware be update by the user? I read that the unit would have to be sent all the way to the US so that Scosche can update it for you?

    To your knowledge, are these software updates the only thing that is different between the separate Scosche Rhythm+ version ie 1.9 vs 2.4?

  38. Paul

    Ray, are you planning on doing a few review of a360? Also when can we expect full review of Garmin VSHR? And finally how about a 3 way shootout comparison of Garmin VSHR vs Polar a360 vs Fitbit charge HR.

    Currently use charge hr for all day tracking (intra workout not to be trusted) plus use Polar H7 for intra workouts with both Polar Beat & older F6 watch ( for swimming )

    Thanks

    • I have my A360 review slated for this week. I have a VSHR slated for probably next weekish. I don’t/won’t do a direct comparison with three worn at once, as such would interfere with each other (most would be one per wrist).

      Keep in mind that the A360 does not do all-day HR tracking.

  39. Hi All-

    As is usually the case when I publish an in-depth review, I close the preview post to new comments (just to keep things tidy). Any new comments can be placed on the in-depth review post here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    Cheers!