Thursday, June 25 2015

Dear Polar,

I find this advice more amusing than practical:

Reach your goal with:

12 min Rope skipping
16 min Football
18 min Group exercise
58 min Bowling
1 h 2 min Gentle Dancing
1 h 57 min Baking
2 h 20 min Washing dishes
2 h 55 min Darts

I also find the sleep tracking on my new A300 a bit generous, the step tracking reasonable except for how far it thinks I walk in my sleep, the device itself comfortable and only moderately obfuscated in its interface, the screen readable indoors for heart-rate tracking during exercise, and the iPhone app quite nice, particularly the heart-rate graphs from exercise sessions, which is the primary reason I bought something that uses a chest strap for heart rate.

The wrist-based heart monitors are not getting good reviews, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Fingertip and ear-clip sensors work well and also report blood oxygen, but everyone in the market is interested in selling watches right now. I know someone at a startup that has a really good ear-based sensor, and Nike was eager to do business with them as soon as they made it into a watch. They had difficulty explaining to the suits.

Right now I’m wearing it side-by-side with my Fitbit Force, to get a feel for how different the results will be when I start relying on just the one.

Bonus: it’s compatible with my really old elliptical cross-trainer, which I was hoping for, but unable to confirm in advance.

Double bonus: it has a comfortable silicone watchband with a real clasp, not the awful stiff plastic and snaggy clip the Force used. It’s nice that Fitbit put a better clasp on the Charge HR, but after reading reviews, I didn’t see any point in upgrading to one of those. The Polar A300 is a less-capable SmartGadget, and a better tracker.

[Update: looks like someone forgot to renew their SSL certs; both the app and the USB sync are completely non-functional today because they can’t connect. No, the actual problem is unknown, because they never documented it as an outage, and didn’t even inform customer service until it was nearly over. Something was responding on, and it looks like it had a valid cert, but there was nothing behind it.]

[Update: I miss the detailed sleep-tracking graph of the Fitbit app; Polar only reports total time, and doesn’t show you how long between restless sleep sessions, or when they occurred. And you can’t export data from their site, except for individual training sessions. Maybe I’ll keep wearing the Fitbit for sleep tracking.]