For a company that’s founded on accurate heart rate monitoring as the foundation of improving fitness, the move from chest straps to a wrist-based sensor is a big change. But that’s just what the new Polar A360 does, introducing the brand’s first strap-free HR monitor along with a host of other impressive new features.
These days, there’s myriad fitness trackers available, the simplest of which do nothing but estimate your footsteps to approximate your activity level. They go up from there, pairing with apps to display estimated caloric burn, distance covered, steps taken and even buzzing or displaying heart rate zones. Some, like the Mio Fuse series, even pair with cycling computers and other apps, like Strava, to share the heart rate data.
The Polar A360 does most of that and more…
One of the biggest visual differences from other fitness trackers and HR wrist monitors is the full color, high resolution touch screen. This allows it to show real time workout info, which includes training advice and training benefit data, time in HR zones, etc. It also tracks basic activity 24/7 and provides a sleep quality analysis. Like the V800 watch, it’ll vibrate if you’ve been sitting still too long, reminding you to get moving. It’s waterproof, so you can take it to the pool, surfing, paddling, or whatever without fear of missing your activity tracking.
It connects with your smartphone via Bluetooth to upload training and activity data to Polar Flow. It’ll also sync with their Polar Club to display your heart rate on the big screen at spin classes or other group workouts, and with Polar Flow for Coach, so your coach can see your workout data automatically and provide better guidance.
The phone connection also allows for text, call, calendar and social media alerts, all of which you can control and limit as desired.
The downside? It’s really meant to be a fitness device (albeit a really, really sweet one) rather than a cycling-specific training tool. What limits it is that it won’t share its heart rate data with third party apps like Strava or cycling computers, including Polar’s own M450 and V650. So, if you want HR to populate your ride data, you’ll need to keep the chest strap for now.
The A360 starts shipping in November 2015 in black and white, with other colors coming online later in the year. Additional colors of the soft silicone wrist bands will be available separately early 2016. They’ll come in S, M and L sizes and retail for $199 / €199