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Polar OH1 Optical Heart Rate Band – User Review | GadFit

October 22, 2017

The Polar OH1 ($79.95) was delivered about a month back and while I’ve been using it, I never got down to documenting the user experience properly. So here it is, late but hopefully still of use 🙂

This is Polar’s single Bluetooth Low Energy HR sensor that can perform independently without a mobile device – almost like a wearable but short of a display.

Polar OH 1 in box

I was initially skeptical and confounded which segment of the market the OH1 sensor is catering to. But after a month’s worth of use, I have a better idea now. Naturally, the Polar OH1 is targeted at those  who wishes to ditch the chest strap HR monitor but lack an accurate enough reason to do so, pun intended. And at those who wish to track their workouts without having to bring along their mobile devices, think Polar H10 but without the chest straps.

POLAR OH1 LOOK AND FEEL

Polar OH1 in USB port

The Polar OH1 optical HR band has 6 LEDs, just like the Polar M430 and Polar M600. Setup can be done either using a computer or a mobile device – both requiring an internet connection. The OH1 charges via a clasp with a USB connector which can be plugged directly to a USB port for charging and syncing.

Polar OH 1 worn on upper arm

The device is to be worn on the upper arm or forearm but not on the wrist. The OH1 sensor slides easily along the armband so it’s convenient to put on and thereafter adjust.

Polar OH 1 LED

Personally I wear it on the underarm so that I can easily press to start and monitor the status of the wearable based on the colour of the LED from the sensor. I also like the wearable to be discreet so I wear it on my upper arm instead of my forearm.

Polar OH1 in pack and comparison

The actual optical HR sensor module is tiny in comparison to the Scosche Rhythm + wearable. It wouldn’t be fair to compare the 2 in terms of capability since the latter is almost 3 years old but size is definitely worth an examination.

As for wearing and comfort, it’s hardly noticeable if you didn’t have it on too tightly. However, you will feel it if you’re doing strength workouts such as bicep curls; not uncomfortable but just noticeable.

Polar OH1 in clasp

The HR measurements are recorded on device in the 4MB storage which can record up to 200 hours worth of activities. Polar didn’t make any mention of using the Polar OH1 for swim based activities based on their publicity materials other than the fact that its waterproof to 30m.

The sensor only has a single button and a single LED light capable of displaying the status of the wearable by emitting different coloured lights.

Polar OH1 with Garmin vivoactive 3

The Polar OH1 is Bluetooth enabled and will sync and record data to compatible iOS and Android devices. Compatible wearable hardware such as Polar’s own or other company’s can also tap on the Polar OH1 as an external HR monitor with BLE.

Polar has also confirmed compatibility with some of its team software such as the Polar GOFIT. Also, this wearable will transmit HR readings to compatible Bluetooth enabled gym machines.




POLAR OH1 PERFORMANCE

I compared the HR readings from the Polar OH1 to that of a Polar H10 or a Polar H7 over 3 types of activities.

  1. Run on treadmill or outdoors
  2. Intervals on Elliptical machine or stationary bike or hills
  3. Strength training with free weights and machines

The Polar OH1 was worn on the upper arm for all 3 work outs.

Polar OH1 vs H7 treadmill

Besides the minor wiggly movements towards the end of the workout during cooling down, the performance of the Polar OH1 nearly mirrors that of the Polar H7 chest strap HR monitor. The results shouldn’t surprise since most decent wearables are capable of producing similar results when properly worn.

Polar OH1 vs H10 intervalsOnce adequately warmed up, the performance of the Polar OH1 is spot on for interval type workouts. Though I have to stress I expected nothing less since I’ve had good experience with both the Polar M600 and M430, both of which sport the 6 LED optical HR sensors.

Polar OH1 vs H10 strenght workout The performance of the OH1 blew me away at the strength training component. I’m impressed because my workout routine consisted exercises which are upper limb heavy. And I’m starkly aware how challenging it can be for optical HR sensors to capture readings from a limb that is constantly flexed and moving vigorously.

  • Hammer curls
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Tricep pull downs
  • Hamstring curls
  • Lat Pull Down
  • Bodyweight push ups
  • Seated row

I also ended the entire workout with core workout consisting of 3 sets of front planks, side planks, and glute bridge.

Given that the OH1 can operate independently, it’s going to be my go-to device for optical HR sensor comparison in future along with the Polar H10.

As for using the Polar OH1 during swim activities, I’d provide that in an update soon.



POLAR OH1 IN A NUTSHELL

Polar’s OH1 will cater to a niche group of users who wish to obtain more accurate HR readings compared to wrist based HR measurements but without the chest straps.

As a PE teacher in school, I see immense value in the Polar OH1. it’s unobtrusive, wears easily for both boys and girls and is good for 200 hours of workout. More than sufficient for a week’s worth of use. As for the lack of display, the kids may be tickled from the start at seeing their HR data but that vanishes once they get used to any wearable as the week passes.

Polar OH1 main feature

I also see other opportunities where the OH1 might show its true prowess; such as yoga or pilates classes where the last thing you want is your mobile device next to you. The OH1 has performed well in strength training and I can assume those who bench wouldn’t like a wearable on the chest. There’s potential for team sports as well where the location where the wearable is worn should ensure safety for the athlete in the event of a collision or fall.

Also If Polar can formally declare the OH1 swim accurate, that’d be potential to tap into another market on top of the runners and cyclists.

You can purchase the Polar OH1  $79.95 from Amazon where there’s usually a small discount, great return policy, and free delivery depending on where you reside. In return your purchase helps to offset the costs associated with the running of this site. Would love to hear your views in the comments section and thanks for reading!

Polar OH1 HRM Technical Summary

  • Wrist based HR measurements
  • 6 LED OHR
  • 4MB storage for 200 hours of training tracking
  • Bluetooth enabled – Android and iOS compatible
  • Connects to compatible wearable hardware (Apple Watch, Garmin Vivoactive 3 etc)
  • Broadcasts to compatible Bluetooth enabled gym machines and compatible Polar apps
  • Water proof to 30m
  • Rechargeable 45mAh battery for up to 12 hours of use
  • Over the Air firmware updates




1 Comment

  • Reply the5krunnner July 29, 2017 at 6:10 am

    it will probably do Bluetooth smart transmission and also the 5khz polar transmission bandwidth. charger port looks like a cutdown M200 and I missed it was for the upper arm. are you saying it’s forearm AND wrist? or just forearm?

    it will likely work with polar beat and will be able to be firmware updateable thru beat. like the H10.

    it’s an interesting beast. obviously polar could make it really easily. but they must have seen a market for this sensor (obviously) … i’m not quite sure in late 2017 what precisely that market(s) is/are.
    bizarrely the best fit might be for cycling with strava … but i’m not sure they primarily intend that. I suspect they are going for the gym/fitness class market.

    upper arm wearing will give them KUDOS points for optical accuracy (like scosche)…doing it in an easy place! maybe HRV as well?

    sub US$100???

    maybe a standalone device for swimming to sync back to BEAT on a smartphone? might that then imply that the replacement V800 has no optical??? (doubt it)

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