Polar Ft1 Heart Rate Monitor Review

BEST FOR:
Those on a budget

polar ft1 heart rate monitor

Are you looking for a heart rate monitor that's inexpensive, easy to use, and doesn't get you lost in a sea of bells and whistles? Well, check out my review below to see if the Polar Ft1 Heart Rate Monitor is right for you.

When I dove into the world of heart rate training, I realized that the only thing all of my huffing and puffing could tell me was if my heart was about to beat out of chest. Being an unquantifiable metric, I knew it was time to get yet another fancy running device that could overwhelm me with even more real time stats about my progress from alive to dead.

If you’ve read my review of the TomTom Runner, you know there is an option to buy a heart rate monitor to go along with it. In fact, many running watches come with this feature. But, I like to defy common sense and practicality and make things more complicated than they need to be. Instead of buying the watch attachment for my TomTom Runner, I wanted a standalone heart rate monitor. There were a number of reasons for this:

polar ft1 heart rate monitor
  • I look really cool with two watches on my wrist
  • The standalone monitor was cheaper. Instead of paying more for just a strap for my TomTom Runner, I paid less for both a strap and a watch.
  • I can use the watch independently of my running watch should I want to.

What I love about the Polar Ft1 Heart Rate Monitor

Price

If you’ve read my other reviews, you may have caught on to the fact that I’m cheap. I’d like to call it frugal or thrifty, but whatever words you choose, finding the best quality for the best price is my top concern. This heart rate monitor is cheap. While other brands can cost you hundreds of dollars, the Polar Ft1 Heart Rate Monitor is less than $50. That’s a steal!

It does what it's supposed to do

The expectations for heart rate monitors are pretty low. It has one job to do and it better do it well. I’m happy to say that the Polar Ft1 Heart Rate Monitor has never failed me. As I stated in my TomTom Runner review, I like for a device to do as few things as possible. There’s too much room for error if my watch is trying to track my miles, analyze my body fat, predict the weather, and shock me every time I’m moving too slowly. The Polar Ft1 Heart Rate Monitor only tracks my heart rate and I’m overjoyed by that.

It's easy to operate

As it only serves one purpose, it’s hard to get confused using the Polar Ft1 Heart Rate Monitor. There is one central button that controls the device and starts and stops the tracking (more on this later). Once you push the button, it takes a maximum of 5 seconds for the monitor to detect your heart rate.

The monitor has three display options—heart rate, time of day, and time you’ve been using the device. As the monitor only has one button that controls the start and stop, you need to tap the watch against the chest strap in order to change the display. When I first discovered this feature, I thought the watch had a glitch and, to be honest, I only ever change the display by mistake when my arms start to flail when I run.

polar ft1 heart rate monitor
polar ft1 heart rate monitor
polar ft1 heart rate monitor

It lets you set a minimum and maximum heart rate

When you program a minimum or maximum heart rate into the Polar Ft1 Heart Rate Monitor, it remembers it for each use and doesn’t make you waste time resetting it. As you are moving, if you fall below your minimum or reach above your maximum, the device will beep until you are back into your appropriate zone. The beeping, while not loud enough to wake your neighbors, is audible over headphones.

polar ft1 heart rate monitor

It's quick and consistent

I have been impressed with how quickly the number on the Polar Ft1 Heart Rate Monitor adjusts to reflect my heart rate. As far as I can tell, there is very little delay between my actual heart rate reading and what appears on the watch. This has proved critical to my ability to adjust my pace to remain in my target heart rate zone. 

What I Don't love about the Polar Ft1 Heart Rate Monitor

It's cheap

While I’m impressed by the quality of the Polar Ft1 Heart Rate Monitor given the price, you get what you pay for. In many ways, I’m annoyed by the negative complaints about the cheap wristband and less than perfect design. Less than $50 for a heart rate monitor is pretty fantastic. Expect that it won’t be perfect. Yes, the wrist band is cheap and I’d prefer it wasn’t, but I also didn’t pay a lot for it.

It uses a battery instead of a charger

polar ft1 heart rate monitor

I haven’t crossed this bridge yet, but both the watch and chest strap require an old fashioned battery change when they run out of juice. Should the batteries go during your two-year warranty, you can send them to Polar for replacement. There are also a number of “how-tos” and suggestions on Google. Of course, this is not ideal and more of an annoyance than plugging it into the wall. The one upside is that you don’t need to worry about charging the monitor on a regular basis. From what I’ve read, it can last for up to a year on the batteries, giving you one less thing you need to remember to charge.

There's only one button

This isn’t a huge issue, but how hard would it have been to put some extra control buttons on the watch? The central button is primarily used to stop and start the heart rate tracking, but is also used to initially set the time and your minimum and maximum heart rates. While it may not be the best design, it’s only a problem should you need to change the time or your heart rate zone frequently.

As stated earlier, the one central button means that the display switches between your heart rate, time of day, and time using the device by tapping the watch against the chest strap. This can take some getting used to and it can also be annoying to have the display change abruptly should your arm accidentally bump against your chest.

My Recommendation



Overall, I’m happy with this purchase and would likely buy the Polar Ft1 Heart Rate Monitor again should my current one break. Yes, it has its flaws, but it is also very inexpensive, which makes it worth it in my opinion. If you’re thinking about experimenting with heart rate training, or want to see how a monitor would fit into your routine, this is a great watch to start out with. It does what it’s supposed to do, but it’s not such a big investment so as to make you feel committed to it for life.


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