The Polar FT7 performs basic pulse-reading functions and includes two programs that can make training easier. However, this heart-rate monitor doesn't keep distance or pace records.
Works great, but lack of stopwatch disappoints. Reviewers consistently praise the accuracy of the Polar FT7 and its new fabric strap. "The FT7 picks up my heart rate immediately at the beginning of my workout and the signal never falters," says a user at Amazon.com. An avid swimmer reports that the transmitter is inconsistent when used in water, but says the monitor performs "flawlessly" on all other accounts.
Two key programs help users improve their workouts: Polar EnergyPointer displays the effect of your training -- fat burn or improved fitness -- and OwnCal is a calorie-expenditure calculator. Owners say both programs work accurately and sync to the chest strap without issue. However, some dislike the FT7's lack of a stopwatch and lap timer for interval timing, and that data transfer requires the optional Polar FlowLink (*Est. $50). With that accessory, users can upload workout data from the heart-rate monitor and track overall progress on PolarPersonalTrainer.com.
Training programs are uncomplicated, intuitive. Despite its many features, wearers find the Polar FT7 easy to use. They call its backlit display a relief in dim lighting, and HeartRateWatchCompany.com says the HeartTouch feature -- which allows the user to change the screen without pressing buttons -- is "way cool" and works perfectly. The graphical target zone indicator, an upgrade feature over the more basic Polar FT1 (*Est. $45) , is large and clear and can be read easily during exercise.
Another plus that consumers note repeatedly is the FT7's soft fabric chest strap that replaces the rubber strap found on most heart-rate monitors of the past. One user says she doesn't even notice the strap when working out.
Owners call both the EnergyPointer and OwnCal programs incredibly easy to use thanks to Polar's support page and setup videos. Others say the watch is easy to navigate even without such guides. "I was able to put it on and start using it in five minutes," says one owner at Amazon.com. The maximum heart rate is user-set and has a warning alarm for danger zones, although many reviewers say the alarm is hard to hear if there's much background noise.
Polar takes credit for the battery, but little else. FT7 owners love its user-replaceable battery. Earlier Polar models and some current ones require users to send the heart-rate monitor back to the manufacturer to have the battery replaced, and for a charge if the unit's out of warranty. That gave Polar models a limited lifespan and was a point of contention. Some reviews say the replaceable battery is what tipped the scales in favor of the FT7.
There aren't a ton of complaints regarding Polar's customer service, but a few owners are very unhappy. The FT7's rather generic warranty covers the monitor and strap for two years from defects without misuse or abuse, but some owners who tried contacting Polar say they either received no response or a delayed and unhelpful response. Some dissatisfied users had better luck returning the unit to its place of purchase than contacting Polar.
Review Credibility: Excellent The Polar FT7 is among eight heart-rate monitors tested at ConsumerReports.org. Editors rate each unit for accuracy and ease of use, give each an overall score and pick best buys.
Review: Polar FT7, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
Review Credibility: Very Good The Polar FT7 gets 4.2 stars out of 5 after reviews from more than 550 owners. While most are pleased, a significant minority finds faults or purchased monitors that failed prematurely. Several are dissatisfied with Polar's customer support.
Review: Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good The Polar FT7 makes this list of the best heart-rate monitors, but About.com's guide to walking doesn't conduct a full review. Bumgardner simply notes the unit's important features and how it compares to her favorite Timex models.
Review: Top 7 Heart Rate Monitors Over 100 Dollars, Wendy Bumgardner, Jan. 1, 2011
Review Credibility: Good About 40 mostly happy owners weigh in on the Polar FT7 here, but there are a handful of complaints. One user says the alarm sounds aren't audible, and another is disappointed that the FT7 doesn't do a good job of recording swimming workouts.
Review: Polar FT7 Unisex Fitness Heart Rate Monitor, Contributors to HeartRateMonitorsUSA.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Fair This site's review of the Polar FT7 is a summary of staff members' opinions, but testing isn't detailed. The write-up isn't completely comparative but does mention other models like the FT80, where users can find features that are unavailable on the FT7.
Review: Polar FT7, Editors of HeartRateWatchCompany.com, Not dated