The Polar FT7 Will Help You Burn Fat And Improve Your Fitness
If you’re thinking about buying the Polar FT7 because it is the most affordable Polar with data upload to PC or Mac but are unsure if it’s right for you, you’re in the right place.
Why? Because I bought the Polar FT7, Polar FlowLink and Polar Universal Bike Mount and have been using all 3 for a few weeks now. Below is an in-depth review of my experience with it including an explanation of what you get at the Free PolarPersonalTrainer.com website. I hope it helps you make the decision!
*Note: I give credit where credit is due. It’s the right thing to do. DCRainmaker.com is a triathlete’s blog about participating in triathlons. The triathlete’s name is Ray Maker and he also does in-depth Product Reviews for sports technology he uses to improve his race times. His reviews are mostly for the maximum performance heart rate monitors that cost above $250.
I have read his reviews and the below Polar FT7 review is loosely based on the format he uses. His general review format is to have unboxing photos then in-use photos and then data upload photos (no point re-inventing the wheel on this one!) Ray does not have a review for the Polar FT7 and so I figured the non-triathletes (like you and me) that don’t need a $300 heart rate monitor could benefit from my review below. Just thought you should know what I just told you.
How the Polar FT7, Polar FlowLink and Polar Universal Bike Mount Will Look When They Arrive At Your House
I purchased mine from the Polar Shop online because Amazon would not ship to where I currently live (Brisbane, Australia). After I pulled them out of the shipping box this is what remained:
Comment on Above Image: The package was a lot smaller than expected… But in retrospect, I’m not too sure why I expected anything bigger.
Comment on Above Image: I was quite impressed with the way Polar has designed their packaging. The chest strap, chest strap electrode and user manual fit snugly into the bottom of the FT7 box. It reminded me of when I un-boxed my Apple iMac and my Amazon Kindle. Quite well thought out.
Comment on Above Image: If you’re like me, you probably have this idea of a Polar heart rate monitor being large and very weird looking – just not true. The FT7 is quite streamlined and does not look different than any other sport watch. This surprised me!
Comment on Above Image: Take a look at everything outside of their boxes – Polar FT7, Universal Bike Mount, WearLink chest strap and Polar FlowLink.
Comment on Above Image: A great feature of the FT7 is its user replaceable battery. On the lower model Polar’s you have to take your heart rate monitor to an authorized Polar dealer or a jeweler to have them replace it. This is not ideal since you will have to pay to have this done. With the FT7 all you need is a coin to open the battery compartment and a brand new button cell battery of the right make. That’s it! It’s a feature I wouldn’t go without.
Comment on Above Image: That’s what it looks like inside the battery compartment. Nothing like a nice view of some circuitry in the afternoon.
Comment on Above Image: One of my biggest surprises when putting the FT7 on was how comfortable it was. I’ve had watches before that have points on them that dig in when I move my hand around. The FT7 was smooth at all points. I was also quite pleased with its size – in terms of both width and height of watch face.
Comment on Above Image: The FT7 comes with the Polar WearLink chest strap. This is an excellent model of Polar chest strap because it has 30m water resistance (even though HR data won’t work under water) and has a coded transmission to prevent interference from other people at the gym also wearing one.
The strap band itself is incredibly comfortable and did not rub or cause redness anywhere on me. I thought it would because I like wearing it really tight to avoid the worry of it falling down to my knees. I was a bit annoyed with the electrode because when doing bench press it is exactly where I like to bring the bar down to. With it there I would have broken it if I brought the bar on it. So I made an adjustment and all was fine.
Comment on Above Image: The electrode also comes with a user replaceable battery.
Polar FT7 In Operation
When you’re exercising you have the option of viewing a variety of different information: Heart rate, calories, the effect of your training and exercise duration. When you’re wearing the watch you can bring it close to the electrode on the chest strap to change the view to time of day (for a few seconds). This is called ‘HeartTouch‘ and it is ideal if you are wearing boxing gloves or just don’t have the ability to touch the little buttons while you’re working your butt off!
Reviewing Your Heart Rate Training Data
Once you’re done, you can take a look at your data right on the watch before you have a chance to upload it to PolarPersonalTrainer.com. You can view your past data in a variety of ways including weekly summaries (bar graph format) and also totals with you picking the date to view from (past date to present date).
Personally, I found it cumbersome to view data this way and preferred waiting till I uploaded it to analyze.
Each Bar is a Training File
Time Spent in Each Training Effect
Time and Calories Burned
Heart Rate Data
View Totals, Specify Date
Going For a Bike Ride To Get Some Data
[I took the photo below this morning… I got the HR data another day… Just for those of you that notice the dates in the data below]
The Universal Bike Mount attaches to your bike handlebars with cable ties. Then you wrap the Polar FT7 around it like it was your wrist.
Comment on Above Image: The Universal Bike Mount only cost $10. It was surprisingly sturdy for something I thought would fall off going over any bump. I would, however, not recommend touching the buttons on it with only 1 finger. Do it with 2 fingers – 1 for the button and the other to counteract the force of you pushing that button. This way the Universal Bike Mount will not have to bear the brunt of this “sideways” force. Just a tip.
How to Upload Your Heart Rate Training Data To Mac or PC
If you happen to buy the Polar FlowLink with your Polar FT7 you will be able to upload your data to PC or Mac. First you will need the software that can take the data off the FlowLink and give it to PolarPersonalTrainer.com for immediate display to you.
You can download that software, called Polar WebSync, at the link below:
Once you have downloaded Polar WebSync to your PC or Mac, plug your FlowLink USB into your computer’s USB slot.
Comment on Above Image: The light turns on next to ‘DATA’ when it’s properly connected.
Comment on Above Image: Once the ‘DATA’ light turns on you can put your FT7 on it. Face down. The Polar FT7 will then “spill” all your training data into the FlowLink via secret frequencies, wirelessly. It’s sort of similar to the way the watch talks with the chest strap electrode (I think? I’ll update when I know for sure). Once you have aligned the watch properly, the light next to the ‘ALIGN’ will turn on. I find this *very* intuitive and easy to use. And it was *very* reliable working every-single-time!
Find the icon for Polar WebSync and open up the program. For the Mac, the icon looks like the below (a heart) and you can find it in your Applications folder. For the PC user, no idea, but probably in Program Files? PC Users please comment below so I can update.
Anyways, you’ll need to find and open Polar WebSync before you can pull the data from your heart rate monitor.
Comment on Above Image: Wow Polar, VERY original of you using a heart as the icon for your software… 😉
Time To Synchronize And Upload Data To PolarPersonalTrainer.com
Go to www.polarpersonaltrainer.com and register for your free account.
If you already have your account setup, have your Username (email) and password handy because you’ll need them now.
Click ‘Synchronize’ and you should be taken directly to PPT.com. Enter your account details or signup if you have none.
Comment on Above Image: Just click ‘Synchronize’ and you’ll be taken through the signup process (ONLY if it’s your first time uploading). The first time you use Polar WebSync you will need to go through a 6-step signup process. Nothin’ to it. Just fill in the info and the software will do the rest.
Once you’re all setup the Sync complete screen will show up and you should be automatically taken to PPT.com.
Comment on Above Image: No comment.
Make sure you login to your PolarPersonalTrainer.com account so you can upload your training results.
Comment on Above Image: Once inside PPT.com, you’ll see the red ‘Add New Training Result’ on the left side of the screen. Click it and all the stored data on your heart rate monitor will upload. Yippe!
Comment on Above Image: You can see your average heart rate, maximum heart rate, calories burned, exercise duration, date of session and training load for each individual session stored in your Polar FT7.
Comment on Above Image: Click the ‘Overview’ tab and you’ll see how long you spent in each heart rate zone. Well, the fitness and fat burning heart rate zone as Polar calls it. Either way, it tells you the exact lower and upper limit in heart beats per minute for each zone.
Comment on Above Image: The ‘Activity Feed’ is a feed of your latest uploads. It is located in the middle of your PPT.com home screen. It gives you an overview of each training session you have uploaded and also allows you easy access to more in-depth data for each at the click of a link.
Comment on Above Image: The Diary is just an easier way to view your Activity Feed. It is organized like a calendar and you can click on any of your workout to view more in-depth data.
Comment on Above Image: The training load is calculated with your max heart rate, average heart rate, time in zones and exercise duration data. The red means ‘going too hard, slow down’ the yellow means ‘warning, at risk of going too hard’ and green means ‘all good, champ.’ Needless to say, I ignore this graph and the training load number all-together. It makes no sense to me and I hate it, but that doesn’t mean you have to.
Comment on Above Image: Within your PolarPersonalTrainer.com account you have Free access to a plethora of Strength Training Exercise demonstrations. Choose one from the legs section, chest, delts, back, arms and or abs.
Comment on Above Image: Once you choose the exercise you want to learn more about, you’ll be able to watch an animation of the movement. Pretty cool, I reckon.
Comment on Above Image: You can get PolarPersonalTrainer to create a tailored training program. You simply pick your preferred activity and answer a few questions related to your goals and workout preferences and Voila! You’ll get a tailored (read: detailed) workout schedule to follow.
Comment on Above Image: The grey boxes shown in my above workout diary is the running program PPT has created for me. 4 runs a week Polar? Note: They’ll work you hard.
What’s Missing? How Could The Polar FT7 Be Improved?
The Polar FT7 is not meant to have every-single-feature. It is an affordable heart rate monitor in the $100 range. And it is awesome for that price. However, I really, really-wish Polar found a way to put the following 3 suggestions of mine into practice. It would literally make the FT7 the heart rate monitor of urban legends.
1.) I want to see a curve of my heart rate over the duration of my exercise to see WHEN my max heart rate occurred
To do this, the Polar FT7 would need to have a recording rate of something like every 15 seconds. This way it records what your HR is every 15 seconds. This would plot a nice little heart rate versus time graph. However, I only see this feature on the more expensive Polar monitors. The Polar RS400 being the most affordable option at about $180 (at time of writing)…
…If only there was a way?!
Comment on Above Image: If you have a heart rate monitor enabled with adjustable recording rate then when you login to PPT.com you’ll see a tab for ‘Curve’ which shows you your heart rate over time. Map? Well, that’s if you have GPS. I wouldn’t expect that on the FT7 as it is definitely a premium feature.
2.) I want a lap timer / stopwatch
There is not a lap timer / stopwatch on this watch. Polar likes to segregate their watches into FT, RS, CS and then the combos of those letters for the specific multisport heart rate monitors. They like keeping their timers and stopwatch away from the FT models.
Polar, please stop doing this and give my FT7 a stopwatch. Love, Richy.
3.) I want the ability to see my heart rate and exercise duration on the same screen While exercising
Below is an image of what happens when you ‘Pause’ the training session (ie. when you press the lower left button). It will pause the exercise time but continue to display your real-time heart rate. I really wish this screen was possible to have while actively exercising (ie. exercise time is still going)…
…I don’t see how this would add any difficulty to the software within the watches electronics. In fact, It would be simple. Not sure why Polar has not allowed us to see HR and exercise time on the same screen (on the FT7) yet. O well, 1 day I’m sure.
Best Place To Get Your Own Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor
So that you get the best deal, I have installed a nifty bit of Einstein-like-code to this post and it displays the best Polar FT7, Polar FlowLink and Polar Universal Bike Mount deals on Amazon.com. These are fresh deals of the day and the software displays the best ones each time this page loads.
How does it work? Well, I’m glad you asked. It uses the Google Shopping API and the Amazon API to instantly find the real-time best deal for the product searched – in this case: the FT7, FlowLink and Bike Mount.
So, if you’re really digging the Polar FT7, and you thought my review above was helpful, then it would be awesome of you to buy it off one of the links below.
This review took me nearly 20 hours to complete and even though I loved every-single-minute of it, I would still enjoy the small commission earned…If enough of you buy off the link below soon there would be enough money for me to get the Polar FT60 with GPS. Naturally, I would do another review in the same format as this one.
Up to you…