Polar A360 against Garmin Vívosmart HR



Polar and Garmin are part of historic brands of sports watches. And they compete on all fronts: M400 against Forerunner 220 for the running, V800 Fenix 3 Triathlon, Loop 2 against Vívofit for the activity tracking. Then when they announce all 2 their first optical with cardio activity tracker, the ads made a splash.


in addition, Polar A360 and Garmin Vívosmart HR came out almost at the same time and with similar promises. The intended audience is the same. I am regularly asked which one is the best.


so the game begins!




heart rate measurement

Polar joined on the A360 its first optical sensor. Meanwhile, Garmin already had a first experience with the Forerunner 225, but chose to integrate a new sensor in the Vívosmart HR (the same as that incorporated in its GPS as the 235 Forerunner watches, the Fenix 3 HR and the HR Vívoactive).


from the technical point of view, the Polar A360 systematically takes 1 measurement per second, which is not the case of the Garmin Vívosmart HR. The latter has a sampling frequency variable, like the smart mode of acquiring GPS, which goes from 1 to 7 seconds (for what I could see on the CSV files).


so, how did this difference translates to the level of accuracy? Hey well surprised when compared with a heart rate belt, it is the HR Vívosmart which gives the best results.


both have a feature common to all optical sensors: they work very well for split type sessions, with high intensity and variations of pace. However, it is the curve of the Vívosmart HR which is the more reliable compared to a heart rate belt.


and if the need arises, you can use a classic heart rate belt with the A360 as Vívosmart HR. Nevertheless, pay attention to the transmission protocol (Bluetooth for Polar, Garmin ANT +) to choose a compatible belt.



frequency heart 24/24


the Garmin Vívosmart HR measures the frequency heart 24/24. In this case, the sampling frequency is still variable, based on your activity. If you do not move, it will measure your heart rate every 10 minutes. And more you move, the more measures to bring closer. With this feature, it will calculate your heart rate at rest each day. This data can be used to refine the cardio to your workout zones.


the Polar A360 does not measure the heart rate continuously (for the moment, but it is expected in a future update).



transmission frequency cardio to other devices


the Garmin Vívosmart HR can send the heart rate data from the optical sensor via ANT + compatible Garmin devices, such as a Forerunner GPS watch, a bike counter Edge or the Virb action camera. For the moment, the Polar A360 does not. But Polar has already announced that this feature would be added in the next software update.



GPS


game draw! Neither one nor the other is equipped with a GPS chip.



display


on this criterion, the verdict is clear: great color screen to the A360 Polar against a small black and white screen for the Garmin Vívosmart HR. Both have a backlight. However, it should be noted that the display of the A360 is not always on, press the button or use the automatic function by turning the face screen.


the A360 allows to choose the screen base among 4 different views. On my side, Vívosmart HR to just change the display in horizontal or vertical. On the other hand, it is possible to configure the display of screens and data displayed during a sporting activity.




autonomy

Impossible to compare data from manufacturers, because they do not measure the same things (with or without smart notifications, with or without sport).


overall, the 2 are equal, expect between 2-5 days depending on your use. The screen of the A360 consumes more, but it is not lit at all times. For its part, the cardio optical sensor of the Vívosmart HR is constantly, which is not the case of the A360.



customization


the Polar A360 bracelet can be disassembled and changed. Comes in 5 colors: black, white, pink, blue and green.


Vívosmart HR is not removable, but it is still available for purchase in 3 color choices: black, blue, or purple.



seal


the Polar A360 is waterproof to 30 m then the Garmin Vívosmart HR is waterproof to 50 m. Concretely, it not really make a difference, you can you swim with the 2.



smart notifications


2 bracelets activity tracker have a small screen that does not display a long TEXT in full. It is still possible to read the message in its entirety in several screens the Garmin Vívosmart HR, whereas this is not possible on the Polar A360, which limits its use.


for the rest, it’s the same. Every 2 to display the name of an incoming call, pick up (without being able to speak) and smart notifications in push to applications on your smartphone.



activity monitoring


2 bracelets are trackers of activities that allow to measure daily activity in terms of the number of steps, calories burned, distance covered. They are also all 2 sleep track. I compared the results of my tests and we can say that they have the same precision.


Vívosmart HR measurement of the additional data, as the number of floor mounted and heart rate. 2 will warn you by vibration in the event of prolonged inactivity.



application and web site


the 2 brands offer with their activity tracker, a web site and an application (with the possibility to transfer data wireless via Bluetooth). Garmin Connect to view more statistics than Polar Flow. But the app is much more clutter, the interface isn’t simple at first.




price

before concluding last criterion: the price.


polar sells the A360 at €200.


Garmin sells Vívosmart HR 150.



verdict: Polar A360 or Garmin Vivomart HR?


eventually, my opinion will be summarized in 2 choices (+ 1 budget issue):


  • you want features to use in sport in addition to activity tracker? -> Vívosmart HR

  • you give priority to the successful design? -> Polar A360

  • you have a tight budget? -> Vívosmart HR

are 2 trackers of activities benefiting from the experience of 2 brands well engaged in sports watches. That’s why their ads did sound great. Especially as it was the first products with a cardio optical sensor developed in-house for the 2 brands. Overall, they are at the level of what you expect a cardio optical sensor end of 2015 / beginning of 2016. That is, do not think to do the split, but they work well for sport of medium intensity sessions. At the level of the cardio, the advantage is the Vívosmart HR, which is more reliable and makes follow-up 24 h/24.


at the technical level, i.e. the sensors and measured data, the Vívosmart HR does more things than the A360. It allows more customization of screens during a sporting activity.


otherwise, level design, there is no picture: the A360 is much more beautiful than the Vívosmart HR. And its color display has also made a much prettier.


to the price level, it may seem surprising, but the Vívosmart HR, which offers more features less expensive. Then why not?


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