Polar FT2 Heart Rate Monitor Review

Now I am in the middle of my winter training, i often find myself training on the stationary or spin bike in the gym. In order to maximize my time spent training indoors I’m a big fan of using a heart rate monitor to both help structure my training as well as track my work load.

While I tend to use my Garmin Edge 800 for outdoor rides as well as indoor rides on my turbo trainer, I was recently in the market for a cheap, reliable and functional heart rate monitor to use in the gym and for the occasional run. After much research I ended up buying the Polar FT2 heart rate monitor watch.

Polar FT2 Wrist Watch Unit

Below is my review of this unit after a few weeks use. As with all the reviews here at Century Training i’m not being paid for this review and endeavour to be as honest as possible.

In The Box

In the box you get the wrist watch unit, the chest strap transmitter and a small instruction manual. Here are how the specs line up.
Key Specifications:

  • Battery Life: Approx. 2 years
  • Battery Type: CR2025
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Weight: 33 grams
  • Cost: from $60

The whole premise of this unit is it’s simple functionality. There are many more expensive heart rate monitors out there that have many more features however the FT2 is aimed at the lower end of the market. The FT2 aims to provide the core functions you’d expect from a pulse monitor alongside clean simple design.

As you can see below the FT2 is incredibly light, weighing in at a meagre 33 grams.

Polar FT2 Weight

Build Quality

I’ve used Polar monitors before (namely the cycling specific CS300) and found reliability to be very good, no matter how badly I treated it. So far the FT2 seems to be responding the same.

The strap is made from polyurethane and the back of the unit is made from stainless steel to protect mechanism. As you’d expect from a sports watch the FT2 is water resistance to 30m. In reality this means the unit is suitable for bathing and swimming.

The Transmitter

Polar FT2 Transmitter
The transmitter is made of fabric (back half) and soft plastic (transmitter and sensor part). It clips together easily by simply connecting the the two plastic ends. These plastic ends remove the problem of metalic snap joints corroding up after lots of use – an issue with earlier Polar models.

Polar FT2 Strap Clips

The manual advises you to moisten the sensors prior to working out in order to help the sensors to pick up your pulse. However i’ve tested this quite a bit and found the transmitter works fine without doing this. On the whole the strap is comfortable to wear and easy to adjust.

 

Ease of Use

On the plus side I love the fact that during a workout you can scroll through the different screens (workout duration, heart rate etc) by simply bringing the unit up close to the sensor on the heart rate strap. This means you’re not fiddling around with both hands mid workout. Combined with the large display this makes the FT2 very user friendly  during a workout.

The flip side comes when trying to adjust the units settings, date or time having only one button means you’re faced with a laborious task of scrolling through various menus in order to get to the data you want to adjust. While I found this initially frustrating, once set up as you wish, you should rarely need to make changes.

 

The Menus

Obviously the menu structure is limited, particularly as the navigation is restricted by the unit having just one button. Pressing the button when in the default time mode scrolls through the various menus as follows:

1. Time mode – Displays the time, day and date.

2. Exe – Records your data as you exercise.

3. File – Displays the last stored training session data.

4. Zone – Allows you to set you target heart rate limits. You can set audio alarm when you’re out of the zone.

5. Time – Used to set the current time.

6. Date – Used to set the cuurrent date.

7. User – Used to set your age.

 

Performance

So far so good. I’ve been using this device for a few weeks and have not had a problem. Common problems with other monitors are usually issues with the transmitter and receiver dropping connection. I’ve not experienced any issues at all.

The unit stores data from just the last workout you’ve recorded so you’ll need to record your workout data after each session. Data recorded is the length of the workout, average heart rate, max heart rate and date of the workout.

The light weight of the unit means it doesn’t get in the way while you workout. Despite this the wrist watch seems fairly resistant to scratches and bumps. I’ve dropped mine a couple of times and it still looks like it’s just come out of the box.

Polar FT2 Summary

Advantages:

  • Cost
  • Polar Reliability
  • Large Display
  • Hands free scrolling
  • Simplicity

Disadvantages:

  • Only store last workout
  • Single button makes changing setting a bit laborious

This little unit does exactly what it promises. It offers a cheap relaible way to monitor and record your heart rate during exercise. Of course there are limitations (such as the limited memory size) however you must remember that this is an entry level heart rate monitor. If you’re looking for bells and whistles, look elsewhere. This is a functional, reliable unit and one i’d definitely recommend.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

81HappyDolphins June 22, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Hi………………………. if I was to keep the watch in a pocket rather than on my wrist would it still monitor my workout? Just wondering as I already wear a fitbit flex so don’t want to have another device on my wrist

Reply

James June 23, 2014 at 10:07 am

Hi,
Yes the Polar would still track your heart rate and record your workout.

Reply

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