on December 29, 2008
It's unisex, easy to use, and has all of the features a runner needs without all of the expensive frills. I chose the RS100 because it had features that the women-specific watches did not, including interval timers, two zone limit monitors, and a back light (essential if you run at night or cross train in spin class where the lights are usually low). I recommended spending a half hour reading the manual and setting up the watch that way. It covers every feature simply and clearly.
Being able to set my own heart rate and percentage limits is great since those numbers change as my fitness improves. I also like that the running total tells me the percent of calories burned from fat, super essential for proper training.
The total only keeps track of one run at a time, which is fine. I log my runs in an Excel spreadsheet and I've found this to be more useful than storing them in the watch because I can write all sorts of formula combinations and create averages and see a big picture and completely geek out. Other models allow you to upload logs to the Polar website but paying the extra money wasn't worth it for me. I like doing that stuff myself.
The medium chest strap fits me fine once it is adjusted (female, 34" chest) and stays in place. Be sure to moisten the transmitters before wearing, a few drops of water will do, your sweat will take care of the rest ...
My only issue is that the watch is a little bulky for my small wrists, which causes some discomfort at times, but I've come up with a few workarounds to solve the bulky problem:
1. I wear it somewhat loose but not so loose that it spins around on its own. This keeps some of the pressure off. It's loose enough that I can manually rotate the face around to the inside of my wrist if I need to.
2. For longer runs, I sometimes wear the watch strapped to my gear belt or zipped in my pocket. Since the watch has interval timers and warning beeps when I go out of zone, I've been able to keep track using my hearing instead of my eyes. The beep is pretty loud so as long as my headphones aren't cranked, I can still hear it.
3. The treadmills at my gym are Polar ready so they pick up the transmission without me having the wear the watch. While the treadmill doesn't have any logging features, I can at least keep track of my heart rate during a run if I don't want to wear the watch.
Overall, it's a great running computer for the money.
on October 6, 2011
This replaces my first HRM, a Timex T5G971, that stopped receiving my pulse after just three uses, and which had difficulty receiving the pulse all three times. After reading the number of reviews by Timex T5G971 owners with the same problem I had, I decided to try a Polar HRM instead.
I received the Polar RS100 today. I was immediately struck by the fact that the Polar is much easier to set up than the Timex, despite having more features. I was able to set it up without consulting the manual, unlike the Timex which required studying the manual (and I'm a computer professional who rarely needs to read manuals for basic stuff like this!).
It worked well when I used it on a hike today, except that my heart rate was lower than I expected. After looking at the stored data later, I think I was looking at my heart rate percent rather than actual bpm.
The Polar RS100 has a list price $50 more than the Timex, so it doesn't seem fair to compare appearance, but the Timex just looks cheap, while the Polar looks acceptable. Not flashy or fancy, but not cheap looking like the Timex. Polar also has a website with an active user forum, moderated by Polar, and free tools for monitoring training. Some people complain about having to enter the data manually, but for an inexpensive watch, I'm not complaining. It's not a big deal. Compared with the Timex website, which has nothing more than sales information, the Polar website has a wealth of information for owners (and anyone else - there's no need to own a Polar product to sign up).
The main drawback of the Polar for most people will be that the chest strap requires more maintenance than the Timex. The Polar chest strap needs to have the transmitter removed after every use, and the chest strapped washed. After every five uses, it needs to be machine washed. The Timex doesn't require any of this. For me the Polar benefits outweigh the hassle of the chest strap maintenance, but others may disagree.
If you are looking for a Polar HRM, be sure to consult the Polar website for battery life. Some of their HRM watches have only a one year battery life, and the battery needs to be replaced by a Polar service center. The RS100 has a battery expected life of two years.
I confirmed the accuracy of the bpm reported by the Polar by comparing it with the readings of a blood pressure gauge; the Polar showed exactly the same pulse.
If you're buying this HRM, don't buy electrode gel. Polar recommends against it and now that I have mine, I see why. Polar has its own style of electrode that if I had known about it in advance, I would have had concerns about, but it worked very well today. I have gel that I bought for my Timex and that I'll now have no use for.
There are two conditions that often confuse owners (including me) into thinking that the RS100 is giving incorrect readings:
1) If the chest strap isn't tight enough, the pulse readings can occasionally spike to impossibly high levels. It took me a few days to realize what was causing it. If it happens to you, tighten your chest strap slightly or position it more securely.
2) Pressing the lower right button on the watch during exercise toggles between displaying your heart rate as beats per minute and as a percentage of maximum heart rate. If you accidentally press this button, your heart rate will appear to be too low, because it's displaying a percentage rather than the actual beats per minute.
If any problems come up with the Polar, I'll report them but my initial impression is very favorable. If no problems turn up, I'll post an update sometime next year.
UPDATE AFTER A WEEK OF USE:
I've used the RS100 nearly every day in the last week. Recording and later reading lap information isn't as intuitive as the initial setup. I completely lost the data the first several days I used it. However after I finally sat down and really read the manual, it became pretty easy to use. Don't use the printed manual that comes with the HRM! Download the manual from the Polar website. It contains a lot more information.
UPDATE AFTER NEARLY THREE WEEKS OF USE:
I had the opportunity today to validate the accuracy of the RS100 by wearing it on a hospital treadmill and comparing the RS100 display of my heart rate with the medical equipment display. The RS100 was completely accurate throughout the heart rate range. The only differences were minor, one bpm, and appeared to be due to differences in the intervals with with the hospital equipment and the RS100 updated their displays.
I've been using the RS100 nearly every day for hiking, running, and walking. It's proving to be a very useful tool.
UPDATE AFTER FIVE MONTHS OF USE:
It's still working well. I unnecessarily bought a new chest strap and transmitter battery this week because the heart rate it was displaying was consistently too low. It turned out that the transmitter and battery were fine. The problem was that I had apparently pressed the lower right button on the watch, which caused it to display a percentage rather than actual beats per minute.
After five months of using this HRM up to six and occasionally seven days a week, it's still performing well. I'd have no hesitation about buying the same model again.
on September 25, 2008
This is my fourth HR monitor. I've owned a Nike (garbage), two Timex models (one solid and one I returned). I bought this one because it had three lines of information so I would know my total time and my lap time.
- For the first month the watch never gave me an inaccurate HR. Since then I've had two instance when it's been whacky (you know, shows you at 185 when you're at 145). My previous HR monitors were MUCH worse than the Polar on this account.
- The three lines is nice, however it does not allow you to swap the lap time with the total time. I would much prefer the lap time to be in the middle or at least bigger (it's hard to read when you're doing a hard run and you're bouncing around).
- There is a lap number. I like that a lot.
- If you press and hold the button a little too long it will pop up Limits and adjustments and whatnot. This is annoying and happens too easily.
- If you use the light/indiglo while using the stopwatch it will automatically light up whenever you hit lap/stop afterwards. This is a great feature. Often I'm running in the dark and this feature is a lifesaver.
- Getting the information from the watch is just OK. Not terrible, but not as streamlined as the simple Timex HR monitor I previously used.
- I don't use the totals. I have a database for that.
The bottom line is that HR monitors are pretty unreliable generally. After 2 months, this model has been solid. I would still like a tweak here or there because of my personal preferences.
on April 5, 2008
This heart rate monitor is my first, and is in the middle of my second marathon training season, and has gone with me to five half marathons. I bought it because of the dual timer. I started as a run walker and with two timers, it told me when to run and walk to take a walk break, and then got me back running again. I tuck the monitor underneath the bottom rim of my sports bra, and occasionally it slips down a bit, but mostly the elastic strap, not the actual monitor. I also used to have weird connection problems - out of the blue I would get impossibly readings. 95% of that has gone away since I got "buh bump," an electrode cream created by one of the makers of the polar watches.
I consider this watch an essential part of my running wardrobe. It always shows your heart rate, and you can toggle the top level of information including the time, calories, and other features. I follow my heart rate closely because I tend to push myself a bit much, and the beeping is a great reminder to slow down, as annoying as it is. I use all the manual features on it though as the fitness test or whatever it is to find out your minimum and maximum HR is lame.
I work out at 24 hour Fitness, and I was surprised to see that their machines are Polar machines, so I wear my monitor on the treadmills and there's lots of programs that I can use without having to hold the metal part of the machine. And what's cooler than knowing how many calories you burned/have to replace. ;-)
The only thing I wish this watch would have is the ability to store more than one run in the memory (though this was more important to me in the beginning), and that Polar was as good in their GPS line (like Garmin) as they are with the Heart Rate side. But I have to remind myself that the simplicity of running can be the best part, and my watch should reflect that.
on June 26, 2008
Purchased as a replacement HRM, The unit does what its intended to do and it does it well. The quirks of changing face information or retrieving data takes a while to learn and get used to. The push-button sequencing doesn't always seem intuitive, but - the good news is - its easy to learn. I don't use my HRM as a watch except as a convenience after working out, so that feature is fairly useless to me, anyway. One simple improvement would be a strap thats a notch or two bigger - I have to wear my unit at the end notch making it somewhat more difficult to fasten and unfasten.
Given the quirks and a design you have to grow into, its a decent product and a fair value.
on December 14, 2006
Just like any gadget, you learn how to use all the functions on this watch by just playing around and pressing buttons. True, the manual should be clearer, and seems to be talking about doing things in a different order than what's really needed sometimes, but unfortunately that's the case with most electronics these days. It's really not all that hard to figure out, and anyway that's part of the fun of getting a new gadget (for some of us, anyway).
It has worked pretty well since I got it. Took a few trials to get the strap tight enough so it wouldn't slide down while running. About 1/4 mile into my first 5k wearing it that's exactly what happened, and my grand plan of closely monitoring my performance went up in smoke. I've had no problems with the receiver picking up my heart rate, or interference from power lines or cars.
So, all in all, highly recommended. I think it's got just the right level of functionality for me, someone who wants to train with a monitor to get a little faster running 5k's and 10k's, but it also makes running a little more interesting on those days you just don't feel like doing it.
on May 12, 2007
A great device for fitness motivation for a newcomer. Before, when I was running and rowing it was difficult to be sure of progress, now I see that, for the same heart rate, I am, week on week, increasing my pace and distance. Highly recommneded.
On the downside: I was cautious and bought the entry level model. Now, I would probably go for a model with some of the extra features. The Polar personal trainer website is interesting, but not great.
on September 3, 2009
I purchased an earlier model of a Polar heart rate monitor a number of years ago. At that time I had no experience with heart rate monitors but always interested in new gagets not only to measure intensity and consistency of daily exercse but also to enhance interest in exercising. I can't remember the model but it was basic and met my needs. I would probably still be using it other then I lost it.
In replacing it I accessed the Polar web site and shopped around. Since it had been a few years since my original purchase I was sort of overwhelmed with the various models. I settled on the Polar RS100 which was an upgrade from the original monitor I purchased. It is an excellent device but missing one option I would really like. It does not have the capability to download data into a laptop. This was unclear to me on the Polar webpage and I'm sure Polar would have exchanged it for me, but it wasn't worth the hassle of sending it back. If I had to do it over again I would purchase the model that has the download capability.
Summary: This is an excellent product with all the basic functions, a stop watch, and an alarm. If you want download capability the RS100 is not the model.
I tried several other brands before came back to purchase this excellent HRM. I had an old Polar that displays only heart rate, more than 10 yrs old and still works, but I thought I want a little bit more.
The RS100 has a very good transmission range, unlike others that I couldn't even put it on my bike's handle bar. HRM functions are super simple, you don't need a degree in engineering to learn how to use it. The watch function is adequate. It is also a good looking watch, so you can use it for more than just working out. Buy it, you'll love it.
12/2/07: I am waiting for Polar support to get back with me. I had a maddening problem with this HRM. In time mode, all of a sudden, the watch shows the Polar logo on the top line instead of day of week and date. I read the manual no less than 10 times and wasted hours but could not switch it back. In 2 days, if I don't get an answer, it goes back to Amazon.
3/20/09: Still working great! I have been using it at least 3 times a week and have yet needed to replace the battery. Polar is the BEST!
on September 4, 2011
This is my first heart rate monitor and I spent a good amount of time researching. I use it for tracking how I'm doing with endurance running, which I have recently taken up again. My body wants to force myself faster, and I burn out quickly. The HRM helps me stay in peak cardio zone while forcing my body to stay at a pace slow enough that I can keep it up for a long time.
WHAT I LIKE: this was affordable enough and from a trusted brand and had overall very strong reviews. The chest strap is comfortable. I like that it's easy to use. I love that it interfaces accurately with the Arc Trainer and the Treadmill at the gym, so I can just look ahead and see how I'm doing, rather than checking the watch. Apparently many HRMs don't play nicely with the gym equipment.
WHAT I WISH HAD BEEN CLEARER IN THE DESCRIPTION: the watch's measurements were not listed! I would prefer a slightly smaller watch, as this one is a bit bulky for the size of my wrist and hand (I'm a woman; unlikely to be a concern for a man). Also, while the HRM tracks how long you spend in "zone" it only has a binary option. I thought, based on the descriptions, that it would track three levels of cardio performance--warmup, effective cardio, and peak cardio. There's a real difference between a workout in which I jog for 20m with my heart rate around 140-150, spend only 15m with the rate above 165 and a workout in which I jog for 10m with my heart rate around 150 and spend 25 minutes with it above 165. But this monitor records them both as 35 minutes in cardio zone.
WHAT I DO NOT LIKE: So this thing files all my workouts. Great. But I read the brochure front to back and it never mentioned an app or a website to which I can transfer that data and track it over time clearly and easily. I still need that. If this HRM did that easily or the brochure included the info I need to get started, I'd call it a 90% perfect purchase. As is, I hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for the things I've described in this review.