AT A GLANCE: QUICK RATINGS
Heart Rate Functions
Fitness / Sport Features
Ease of Use
Where To Get It
A Deep Dive Into Polar A360
The Polar A360 is a competent and easy to use activity band with BUILT-IN optical heart rate sensor. This review is the result of a long term product test using the A360 as my daily watch, activity tracker and training tool. It’s one of the best activity trackers currently on the market being both motivational and of a high quality (sometimes neglected by other brands). The A360 features a crystal clear multi-colour LED display that can be seen in all light conditions. This review of the Polar A360has been written and prepared by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic.
Who Is It For?
The Polar A360 is for the person who has decided to take their fitness seriously. They have a desire to improve their general fitness level and they may have an interest one or more sports, anything from jogging to cycling or rowing to hockey. It’s an activity tracking bracelet with OFF THE WRIST strapless heart rate monitoring that also happens to support smartphone notifications, alerting to to incoming calls, messages and diary events. It doesn’t have GPS, but it does give accurate speed and distance feedback by way of clever accelerometers in the band (tested by us to be 90-95% accurate). Polar started selling heart rate monitors in 1976. CardioCritic have tested the majority of Polar heart rate monitors & fitness trackers – using them for the first time in 1996
With the A360 on your wrist you’ll be motivated throughout the day by activity alerts, a gentle vibrate/audio alert if you remain stationary for over an hour. With the A360 you get feedback on daily steps, distance walked, calories burnt and the quality and duration of your sleep. It comes in THREE sizes so make sure you check your wrist circumference before taking the plunge. I will cover that in more detail when we do the full review.
Main Features and Functions
Off the Wrist heart rate – is it accurate?
The best part of writing this review of the Polar A360 was the ability to record heart rate WITHOUT having to put on a chest strap. The A360 uses Polar’s own optical heart rate sensor on the back of the watch to detect your pulse under the skin. As you can see from the graph above it produces clean and accurate heart rate data. We have tested the A360’s optical sensor at the same time as wearing a Polar H7 HRM belt. Yes… there are times that the A360 has been a little bit erratic.
However, this is normally only when flying down a hill on a mountain bike with a lot of vibration at the wrist. Without get hung up on statistics, we’d say that for 95% of the time it is 95% accurate. At the end of the day, if it means >> No more chest straps! we say “Hurray”. The A360 makes training at the optimal intensity and maintaining your time training in the desired heart rate training zone easy.
H7 Compatability – wear a chest strap for the Fitness Test.
The A360 can be used in conjunction with the Polar H7 heart rate belt. Why you may ask would you want to do that? The A360 has a clever FITNESS TEST built in to the firmware. For this to work it needs to see the FULL ECG heart rate graph, not just the average beats per minute. The Fitness Test is a reliable and consistent measure of your VO2 Max. To benefit from this test you MUST use a Bluetooth HRM belt like the Polar H7. Also, if you are partaking in a sport with a lot of wrist vibration eg. motorcross or downhill mountain biking, you may find that the off the wrist readings are a bit erratic, in which case an H7 belt can be worn.
24/7 activity tracking
Track your activity 24/7 and get practical support to help you achieve your individual daily activity goal. The daily goal is set based on which one of 3 levels of activity you choose when setting up the A360 as shown below.
At anytime in the day you can see your progress to achieving the goal from the bar under the time of day view (default). If you would like more details you can enter the “My Day” view to see precisely what you’ve done….
And another tap will show you what more you need to do to achieve your daily goal from either standing, walking or jogging, as shown below
Heart Rate Monitoring WITHOUT a chest strap
Well we all knew it had to be coming, otherwise Polar would have drifted off in the wind while Garmin and Mio took over the world.. strapless heart rate monitoring is something everyone has wanted for a long long time. Rather than do what Garmin did and add Mio’s optical chip set, Polar have gone away and built there own. Brilliant. It’s one less thing to forget, one less thing for the battery to run out on… you can leave your chest strap at home and train with heart rate taken directly off your wrist. Accurate, live heart rate data displayed clearly on your multicolour touchscreen display.
Vibrating smart notifications
Love them or hate them, smartphone notification alerts are being added to everything and anything with a display and a battery. Train with your smartphone tucked safely away in your pocket and get a message and vibration alert pop up on your phone when you are called, text or emailed or even when a calendar event occurs. If you don’t want them, they can be easily turned off.
With your phone tucked safely away in your pocket you will get notified when someone calls or texts.. whether you stop or not depends who’s calling. You can simply turn these notifications off by putting the A360 in to Do NOT disturb mode (press and hold the button for 5 seconds then select the MOON icon)
Steps and distance
Sensitive digital accelerometers track your EVERY STEP. These modern devices can then use this data to give a reliable estimation on how far you have walked/jogged or ran. It’s not GPS accuracy, but tests with the A360 and the Loop 2 proved them to be about 90% to even 95% accurate. If you are not after 100% accuracy, then they are more than OK and very consistent.
Find out exactly how many calories you’ve burned. The calories you burn are calculated by combining your personal data (weight, height, age, and gender) and your daily activity and heart rate based training. You also get to know how many calories came from FAT BURNING and how many from DAILY ACTIVITY and how many as part of your daily BMR (basal metabolic rate… the calories you burn just from living…)
Sleep Duration & Quality
Automatically tracks your sleep time and quality. Check and learn more about your sleeping patterns in the Polar Flow app and web service.
As well as smartphone notification alerts being transmitted to the watch, the A360 sends all your training data and daily activity information to the Polar Flow webservice and APP. The APP is available on both iOs and Android platforms. We have used the Polar Flow APP extensively while testing the V800, M400, A300, V650 and M400 and it’s BRILLIANT. It’s simple to use on both iPhone and Android. We have never had connectivity issues and everything does just what we’ve wanted/expected it to.
So far it’s looking great. Polar were the first people to bring us an activity tracker with optional heart rate, the original LOOP. That was copied by Garmin with their VivoSmart and VivoFit. Mio beat them all to the activity band with OPTICAL, off the wrist heart rate when they brought out the Mio Fuse followed by Epson with their PS-100. Polar have now got their own activity band with built-in heart rate, large clear display, sleep tracking, step counting, smartphone notifications and bluetooth APP connectivity… where will it all end!?
The A360 is a culmination of 40 years designing heart rate monitor products to give the customer what they want to see, when they want/need to see it. With it’s colour display features such as TIME IN ZONE are brought to life. Calories burnt and heart rate zone indicators are all crystal clear at a glance to your wrist.
Next Model UP
If the NO CHEST STRAP option brought you to the A360, then the other product with wrist based heart rate are the Polar M200 and the Polar M600. The M200 is a GPS running watch with wrist based heart rate and 24/7 activity tracker.
Next Model DOWN
That’s an easier question. The next model down is the Polar Loop 2. Fairly similar in activity tracking functions like steps, calories and inactivity alert, but without the built-in heart rate sensor. The Loop 2 is an attractive and discrete activity band for those looking to increase daily activity
Similar Alternative Fitness Bands
The products from competitors with the closest functionality to the Polar A360 activity tracker would be the FitBit Charge 2 and the Garmin Vivosmart HR. The Vivosmart HR & Charge 2 feature a barometric pressure sensor that provides stairs climbed feedback. Both provide OFF the WRIST heart rate monitoring and 24/7 activity tracking. They are ALL very good activity trackers, they all record heart rate to a reliable and accurate level (not quite as good as an HRM belt), they all give an indication of sleep duration & quality and they all motivate you to move throughout the day.
- Garmin Vivosmart 3 review – new in April 2017. Top of the range fitness tracker with VO2 Max, Fitness Age, Stress score and more
- Garmin Vivosmart HR review – replaced by the Vivosmart 3 (above) but still a highly recommended fitness tracker
- Fitbit Charge 2 reviewed here – the most popular fitness tracker of 2017 & 2018
I have given this Polar A360 a rating of 4.5/5 stars considering it to be one of the best activity trackers on the market. It’s certainly one of the most stylish, simplest to use and easiest to read in all lighting conditions. Little features like having the option of PERMANENT ON for the display when exercising all add up to take the Polar A360 to the top of the class. Since the A360 was released other brands have added extra functionality to their fitbands like “floors climbed” and “24/7 heart rate recording” and I have to agree it would be nice if the A360 had those features, however, it doesn’t and I’m not going to mark it down for that. I’m very excited to see what the next 12 months bring from Polar as they’ve really upped their game in the last couple of years.
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