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/ANT+ (update via firmware) HR sensor that can perform independently without a mobile device – almost like a wearable but short of a display.
I was initially 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 wish 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
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.
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.
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.
Recently, I’ve started wearing the optical HR sensor on my thigh region when it got uncomfortable on my arms and the results were splendid. You can scroll down later and check it out in the HR graphs portion of this review.
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.
The HR measurements are recorded on device in the 4MB storage which can record up to 200 hours worth of activities.
The optical HR sensor is also swim safe as Polar announced a swim goggle clip in March 2019 that allows the wearable to be clipped to the swimmer’s goggles. The company doesn’t officially sell the goggle clip yet but if you reside in Singapore, you may purchase it from Polar Singapore at $10 SGD.
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.
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. ANT+ compatibility has been released as of 20th April 2019!
To enable this, make sure you turn the ANT+ feature on within the Polar Beat app if yours is the older OH1 unit.
WRIST HR PERFORMANCE
- Run on treadmill or outdoors
- Intervals on Elliptical machine or stationary bike or hills
- Strength training with free weights and machines
The Polar OH1 was worn on the upper arm for all 3 work outs.
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.
Once 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.
I’m very impressed with the Polar OH1’s performance in strength training because my workout routine consisted of 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.
This is my workout routine.
- 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 mentioned earlier in the article, this is the HR graph of the Polar OH1 when compared versus the Polar H10. Location is left thigh. Splendid!
As of 2019, Polar started selling a swim attachment to complement the OH1. The purpose is to enable HR readings from the temple region in swim-related activities. Again, the tool of comparison is the Polar H10 and this is the result.
I regularly use the Polar OH1 for swimming activities and only whip out the H10 when I’m testing versus other devices. That’s how much faith I have in this tiny optical HR sensor.
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.
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 also 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.
Various wearable tech sites I regularly visit have posted positive reviews about the OH1 and I completely agree. Inconspicuous, full-featured, convenient; key considerations for a piece of wearable to be frequently used.
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!