Polar OH1 | OPINION | Oh WOW ! or Oh NO ! ?

 

Polar OH1 Review and adapter

Upper arm or forearm worn

Polar have just announced their new Scosche RHYTM+ competitor. It’s called the Polar OH1. The Polar OH1 Review is here (link to: the5krunner.com) but here are some first thoughts.

IN A SENTENCE

Apart from the lack of ANT+ support, Polar appear to have nailed this sub-market with a VERY LARGE nail. Nice Job.

I first covered this a few months ago (here) when it was officially registered with the FCC but now I’ve updated that info with some of the new stuff that’s come to light and, yet again, added an opinion or two of my own. Feel free to share your views too, below.

Polar have decided to re-use the high-end, 6-LED sensor found in the M430 and M600. But they are integrating it into a waterproof, arm-worn band. There are similarities in functionality to Polar’s excellent new chest strap, the Polar H10 ie workout caching and firmware-upgradeability via Polar’s BEAT app.

 

Polar OH1 Review – In Detail

Click the image below to read the actual review! This page was written as ‘commentary’ when the OH1 was announced.

Polar OH1 Review & Discounts | Optical HR Sensor, Arm-Worn

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Accuracy – proof will be in detailed testing. But I’ve used the same Polar sensor a lot and it’s been one of the more accurate optical sensors for me.
  • Comfort and position – Polar are focussing on the wearability on the arm and recommending wearing on the lower and upper arm. It will be OK on the wrist too but those other parts of the arm are MUCH more likely to get more accurate results, even for gym work.
  • At 12 hours the battery life is good enough and real-life usage should be pretty close to that as it only really has one job to do.
  • BLE/Bluetooth compatibility – OK this is great for apps and for supporting Polar/Suunto sports watches but, once again, Polar are missing a large chunk of the Garmin-related market by not including ANT+. I’ve said it before. I’ll no doubt say it again. So, basically, it is primarily designed to work with the Polar BEAT app but will work with any Bluetooth smart compatible app or device.
  • Charging is pretty cool. It looks a little ungainly, but the cradle plugs STRAIGHT into a USB port (like the M200)….no need for a cable
  • It caches up to 200 hours of workout data – although this needs clarification. The Polar H10 has a similar storage capacity but can only store one file…(Edit: info is unclear, see comments below, but suggests multiple files can be saved with the OH1)
  • Waterproofing to 30m means that it can cache swim data. Polar V800 users will have to wait for a firmware update if it is to work with their watch; it currently only will cache data for Polar’s BEAT app – that WILL sync to your FLOW account though. It would be nice if FLOW can merge 2 lots of data from the same session (I don’t think it can???)Polar OH1 review
  • It’s priced at £/$80, which is probably about right. VERY surprisingly that comes in at LESS/SAME than the current AMAZON prices of £99/$80 for the Scosche. Polar will be hoping more for the larger ‘gym/class’ market, whereas I suspect that the Scosche is designed probably more for people like me (and you!). That’s prat of the problem, the target market won’t all read blogs like this (although some of their friends might), so Polar have a more expensive, more traditional marketing campaign to run.
  • In Polar’s press release they also talk about future new functionality introduced by firmware, which is good as it will need some tweaking to reach new markets.

OPINION

Well. I suppose it’s ‘Let’s continue with yet more opinions’. A bit more general now though. Despite the lack of ANT+ this device has potential. oHR whilst swimming (Garmin can’t do it) must be a relatively small market in itself but there are plenty more markets:

  • SCOSCHE: The Scosche is not as pretty as the Polar. The Scosche has 8 hours of battery life and not the 12 of the Polar. The Scosche doesn’t cache data. Those are three MEGA factors for the target markets – many of whom will use apps (at the side of a gym room). Scosche might pay the price of failing to invest in their product over the years of success it has enjoyed.
  • MIO Link – I think the MIO link has had it’s day. It’s day was good but the world has moved on. Again the MIO can’t cache data and effectively can only be worn on the wrist, leading to potential inaccuracy.
  • Pure swimming: Yes we’ve alluded to that already. The other benefit of the upper arm location is that the speed of the water in that area is probably not so great as to flip the sensor when moving or when pushing off. That latter assertion will need validating but most swim chest straps need to be worn tight to avoid flipping when pushing off hard eg HRM-TRI, Suunto SMARTBELT and Polar H10. And the HRM-SWIM I just find uncomfortable. this is less of an issue for those who wear costumes/tri-suits of some sort as the chest strap is covered. so BRING ON the non-costume wearing mass number of swimmers who wouldn’t be seen dead (normally) wearing a chest strap in the pool
  • Runners – yes why not? Just like the Scosche. Except you can leave the Beat app at home if you like.
  • Cycling – Yes! Polar’s marketing is actively targeting this, rightly so.The upper arm will be a good location. Wrist-based oHR suffers lots of motion artefact issues and I’ve found that, for example, the new Garmin Fenix 5 range struggles to get continuously good HR readings in that location. But this will be no different to the Scosche. A nice companion for the newish Polar M460 bike computer nevertheless.
  • GYM CLASSES – this will be a key market. The caching will be important in cases where the smart phone or other device is left in the bag at the side of the room ie in a position wher enormally it could get disconnected. Scosche can’t do that. Many gym classes also have exercises that involve rigorous wrist movement, again favouring the Polar’s upper arm position.
  • GYMLINK – This is NOT available with the OH1. This signal is the one that transmits underwater as well as being compatible with some gym equipment. With the H10 (which can support simultaneous BLE and GYMLINK) then there is the scope to record (app) and link to a device (V800) – we will start to find other uses where multiple connections  will be required where, for example, cyclists want to record data on strava and on a head unit. AND where, for example, runners on Zwift might want to do similar “Bluetooth plus something else for simultaneous recording will be important”…just look at what is happening with bike power meters as evidence. POLAR TAKE NOTE. This is more problematic with Bluetooth for Polar as to solve the problem then need dual Bluetooth or Bluetooth+Gymlink (partially) or Bluetooth+ANT+…and the latter probably isn’t going to happen.
  • 24×7 HR tracking – yes, why not. Much more viable than a chest strap. There IS scope for nighttime HRV at low HR rates (yes it is possible and has been achieved by WHOOP and others) and super-proper recovery stats for proper athletes. This could be a first….but that will need new firmware.
  • Triathlon and 2018’s replacement for the V800 – don’t get excited here. Yes the product would work with the V800 replacement but I would be surprised if the V800 replacement did not have inbuilt optical HR.( If the replacement V800 does NOT have oHR then I think Polar have made a mistake as the OWS scenario does not probably lend itself to an upper-arm worn oHRM.)
  • Weights – again a similar argument to cycling against wrist-based sensors. The Polar should be good here because of the wering position..
  • Team sports EXAMPLE: when you play soccer you shouldn’t wear jewellery ie a watch – it’s dangerous. Polar already have a TEAM solution based on the H10. The OH1 could just give another wear-location option to people who don’t like those pesky HR straps. Team sports usually require CACHING if you think about it, the OH1 has it but this may NOT be the intended market.

I see swimming and team sports as relatively small markets, I could be wrong. So the OH1 is very much an accompanying caching device for Polar’s BEAT app. That’s a large potential market. Does that market NEED super accuracy? Probably not. But we all seem to want and prefer at least the illusion of accuracy.

Of course there will be lots of people who use it for other things than we have just discussed but I don’t think they will be the main target markets.

CAVEATS: If you read the above link for TEAM SPORTS (also here), you will see that GPS capability possibly COULD be enabled later in the OH1 if the hardware is viable for that. If you also read through the H10’s capabilities then you will see it DOES have an accelerometer, albeit currently not enabled. So IF the OH1 also has either an accelerometer, GPS capability or some other sensor(s) then the target markets could be different again (ie more target markets)

 

Polar OH1 Review & Discounts | Optical HR Sensor, Arm-Worn

Happy Days!! I Iike heart rate monitors for some strange reason that I’m not quite sure of myself.

Oh yes. The answer to the question in the title was: ‘Oh WOW!’

 

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15 thoughts on “Polar OH1 | OPINION | Oh WOW ! or Oh NO ! ?

  1. From the Polar blog post on the OH1 it says

    “For example, Polar H10’s internal memory works with Polar Beat and can store one training session, whereas Polar OH1 has space for up to 200 hours of training data. ” So looks like it will do multiple workout files.

    • thank you

      I read the same sentence. It is not clear and is ‘playing with words’. It specifically does NOT say it will handle more than one workout file.
      but,like you, I could read it that ‘it probably will’

      • Also just saw they have a blog post comparing the OH1 and H10.

        Built-in memory Up to 200 h of HR training (OH1) For 1 training session (H10)

        Definitely will be interesting to see how it’s implemented, and if they can update the H10 to do multiple sessions.

  2. I’ve phoned Polar UK as to whether the fitness test will work with the v800, in a round about way they said yes. It will work with a future version of the beat app fitness test, so should work with the v800

  3. “24×7 HR tracking – yes, why not. Much more viable than a chest strap. There IS scope for nighttime HRV at low HR rates (yes it is possible and has been achieved) and super-proper recovery stats for proper athletes. This could be a first….but that will need new firmware.”

    I’ve chatted with Polar support and ask about R-R intervals. They told me that:
    “(06:47:32) Melissa: No, sorry it will not measure RR”

    So, no RR measurement. Maybe with firmware update? The only RR accurate HRM based on optical sensor readings is Zoom HRV wristband (here analysis:http://www.hrv4training.com/blog/wrist-based-hrv-analysis-update).

    Do i miss something? I will keep my H10 for now.

  4. I just bought the OH1. Strangely it can sync to watches (like the Garmin 935 and polar m400) but not to non-native phone apps. It can only sync to the polar beat app on my android phone but not strava/runtastic/runkeeper/mapmyrun on the phone. Even deleting the polar app and restarting the phone did not help.

    • I will try some more apps (I only tried 3 or 4…all were good)
      The problem might be that you leave the apps open.
      close every app and THEN open a new app…should be fine.

      PLEASE let me know if not and I will investigate further

    • (i have similar experience with H10) Did you try to unpair it first from polar beat, that’s how i solved my problems. It seems it doesn’t allow me to pair with different devices while being pair to polar beat app. I guess only one pairing at the time is possible which is weird because it should be multi-point BT4.0 right? Anyway,I had same issue when i tried to connect it to my Apple Watch instead of polar beat and read out the heart rate from Apple workout for example. I know, is apple native. i didn’t try runastic/runkeeper…

      • Thanks everyone. The problem was with using polar flow/polar beat on the phone with the firmware update. It established a conventional bluetooth connection instead of the BTLE connection, which then renders all apps unable to use the device except for the polar apps even after polar flow/beat is closed or uninstalled. The BTLE connection that Strava or runkeeper uses -requires that the HRM is not connected via the conventional Bluetooth, very strangely counter-intuitive but thats they way it works.

        What I finally did after multiple futile phone restarts was to make the phone forget the bluetooth connection. After this, the device was liberated to use BTLE. And if you have polar beat turned on the phone – best to force stop it or the app will usurp the connection even if it was swiped off. Polar was unhelpful and did not reply me, runkeeper support was the one that solved this for me.

  5. I have purchased and used the Polar OH1 together with my Polar V800 and Polar Stride Sensor. Although it is extremely comfortable compared to the chest strap (any version), the HR recording is weak. Definitely not for interval training or athletes for whom the HR accuracy is a must have.

    What I mean by weak – the sensor is slow to take notice of sudden changes in the HR (for instance when I stop at a street crossing or I start running).

    You can check my actual session here: https://flow.polar.com/training/analysis/1834849966

    Running the slider will show you the way the OH1 records my HR while my speed and pace move up or down.

    This is recommended only for those who do not really care so much about HR accuracy (me included).

    • thank you for your comments Cristian
      I don’t think you can come to that conclusion based on your data.
      your heart rate will take up to 30 seconds to respond to a change in your speed.
      The OH1 should record the actual heart rate at the time as my tests showed (above , in the body of the post).
      Perhaps there is someway you can compare the OH! to another device? eg you could record/cache the OH1 data and use your old strap with the V800. that way you get two sessions.
      The issue with doing a comparison based on that is that sometimes there are slightly different timestamps on the different files. eg the two devices have different times and/or you pressed ‘start’ at slightly different times.
      Having said all of that there could be an issue with how the V800 displays/records the data (or something else!)

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