Most helpful critical review
549 of 608 people found the following review helpful
Good monitor, with one main flaw
on April 12, 2010
I've had the ft7 for maybe two weeks now, using it many times, since it is my first heart rate monitor. Overall, i think it is a good deal. It feels and looks like a high-quality instrument - solid, if not "flashy". It fits my wrists just fine and seems to have plenty of adjustment for larger wrists (I have fairly small wrists for a guy, at a "healthy" weight of 157 at 5'8", at age 40). I believe the watch band is anti-microbial (and anyway, has a cool yet subtle almost snakeskin kind of look to it). The band's connection to the watch seems quite integrated and sturdy, with the vertical thickness of the band being the same as the watch where the two meet. The watch's main body, while plenty large, does not dwarf my wrist or anything.
I understand that it is a fairly recent development for Polar that the chest strap and the watch will both take regular batteries, rather than having to order replacements from Polar. Certainly that is more convenient. Also as I reviewed potentially replacing my ft7 (see reason below), I found that it is also a treat to have a fabric strap for the heart signal transmitter, as a lot of manufacturers use plastic or rubber (?). I find the fabric strap to be no discomfort at all.
The "heart touch" (i think that's the name) feature, is at least a cool novelty - bring your watch close to your heart strap and the watch will beep then flash to show the time, then go back to the previous display after a few seconds.
You can manually rotate through several displays as you are training. I would prefer a display that shows the heart rate and the training time at once, but that combination doesn't exist. The heart rate is a part of one of the combo displays, but oddly, it is paired with the time of day rather than the training time.
Also, the timing functions are rudimentary. As far as i can tell (and i've read the manual too), there isn't a timer or stopwatch function separate from the heart rate training - to use any kind of timer you must "start training" which then looks for a heart signal. If you continue without the strap, it will warn you there's no heart signal, but once you acknowledge that, that warning disappears and you'll see the timer again. There is no interval or lap timing or countdown function, which seems odd to me as a newbie, for a $110 watch, even if lesser timer/stopwatch functions might be usual for this heart rate monitor watch industry. The watch just keeps track of your training duration, but you can pause and continue your work as many times as you want.
The recording of your training sessions is exceptional - the manual said up to 99 training files will be saved. I know i've already got over 20 that are definitely in the watch.
It also automatically keeps track of how much time you spend in "fat burning" or "fitness" zones during your workout. The calculation for that is automatic based on the input you gave when you set up the watch. (age, height, weight, maximum heart rate).
I'll emphasize that this watch will allow you to change your maximum heart rate setting, which presumably will change the watch's calculations for your different training zones (I'm not sure how big the effect is, having just learned enough about my probable true maximum heart rate to change it today). I've read that for similarly trained people of the same age in the same athletic endeavors, max HR can differ by as much as 60 bpm (!), so this feature seems very important. I seem to have a much higher max HR than what the usual formulas calculate. (That, or the watch doesn't detect HR well, which I don't think is the case, as I've noticed this tendency for a long time on gym equipment with pulse detectors).
Besides being able to set your own maximum heart rate, the ft7 has a zone alarm, that will beep when your heart rate has exceeded the limit (which you can set). UNFORTUNATELY (and this is why despite liking the watch overall, i will be taking it back), the sound the watch makes is very very low in volume. If I'm biking against the wind - I'll hardly hear it if at all. If I'm running on a quiet trail, I'll probably hear it if i'm listening for it. If i'm running on the sidewalk along a main road, I'll probably not hear it above the vehicle noise. As is, kind of defeats the purpose of having an audible alarm if despite having it I'm always having to steady my hand while running, or let go of the handlebars while riding to see what my heart rate is. I can find no volume adjustment, looking through the watch settings or reading the manual.
I'd like to say I know more about whether this might simply be a problem with my particular watch, or a design defect. I started a forum question at Polar's site, but got little response. One other person said they had the same problem there, last i checked. The watch's alarm-clock function also has a very low volume when it goes off, so perhaps that is an indication that is the particular watch and not a design defect.
The problem has turned what was an acceptable impulse purchase into a situation where I've investigated models much more thoroughly, and I think I'll try a Timex, mostly because they do tend to have much better timer/interval/stopwatch functions, and I'd like to see if they're cheaper prices, on the average, are worth it.
That being said, otherwise I am overall fond of this watch, and likely would have stayed with it.