The Polar S625X heart rate monitor stands out among the many heart monitors on the market aimed at serious athletes whether amateur or professonal.
In fact, this Polar heart rate monitor watch is the ultimate in sports technology – it is like having a performance lab with you on every workout.
The monitor is designed primarily for runners and tri-athletes to provide in depth data to help you improve your performance whether you train by yourself or with a coach or personal trainer.
While standard heart rate monitors have helped improve sports performance via heart rate monitoring and control for many years , it is now possible to get data on two additional aspects of your workout via your monitor – pace and distance.
GPS Versus Foot Pod Inertial Technology
Though GPS heart rate monitors were thought at first to be the answer to the ability to get speed and distance data, they are not suitable in every environment – they do not work well beside tall buildings or under dense tree foliage for example.
While some manufacturers such as Garmin with their Forerunner 305 GPS technology have made great inroads in improving signal reception, for the S625X Polar have used a different solution which relies only on attaching a small device (Foot Pod) to your shoe
The Polar S1 Foot pod (included with your monitor) gathers speed and distance data in any environment indoors or out and continually feeds the information to the monitor during your workout.
Following calibration to match your own unique running style, the measurement is pretty accurate, at least as accurate as you can get by any other method. Calibration only needs to be done once – when you first set up your monitor – as the data is stored in the monitor memory.
The Foot Pod works by using inertial technology to accurately measure the acceleration of the S1 foot pod more than 1000 times a second. It uses this data with advanced algorithms to calculate foot angles and gait velocity, translating the measurements in to real-time speed and distance with close to 100% accuracy.
It is the same type of technology used in aerospace positioning and guidance systems and in industrial robotics. Some users don’t bother to calibrate as the Polar S625X claims to be 97% accurate out of the box and that is enough for many runners.
You can display total speed and distance data and also your pace and kmph or mph. And you can use the monitor to exercise either within particular heart rate zones or within a particular minimum and maximum pace setting. (An alarm will alert you if you breach the pre-set levels)
What else does the Polar S625X offer?
Apart from the Foot Pod, the Polar S 625X has so many features that you may get bored long before you read them all. But for completeness here they are: –
- The S625X has Polar Own Optimizer. This is a recently introduced proprietary feature which allows you to monitor your fatigue and fitness levels to indicate whether you are over training, under training or getting your training just right – a kind of “wellness” indicator which tells you whether to ease up or go all out during your fitness session.
- Polar Fitness test measures your fitness level in just a few minutes to give a Polar Ownindex result. It measures cardiovascular fitness at rest and predicts your maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) (the results are equivalent to that measurement usually from 20 to 95 and are as accurate as any submaximal fitness test). Test results are influenced by gender, age, height, weight as well as heart rate and variability at rest. With the PolarS625X you can measure your own fitness (and own fitness improvements) without any exertion.
- The monitor records a complete file of your training session data as well as five summary files. You can either view these on your monitor or use the optional infrared connection device to send your training data wirelessly to your PC. (If you have a laptop you may find you can already interface to the unit through an IR window). You can then view the data in many different ways and monitor your performance over a number of sessions. Polar Precision Perfomance software is supplied with your monitor.
- The Polar 625X has an altimeter which gives altitude and ascent – useful for hill training. It gives temperature readings too.
- The monitor allows you to set up to five exercise sets for interval training which can be time-based or based on heart rate zones and recovery calculation. You can input the data on your PC and upload to your monitor which is far easier than inputting on a watch monitor. The uplink feature on the monitor also allows you to download exercise sets from the Polar website to provide structure and variety to your workouts without having to set them up manually yourself.
- The Polar heart rate monitor S625X works with optional bike hardware to measure cycling speed, distance and cadence. The unit is fully compatible with all Polar cycling sensors.
- The OwnCal feature shows calories burned during the current exercise session and an accumulated number of calories over a number of sessions.And you can set daily and weekly exercise goals in terms of calories to be used.
Great Polar Heart Rate Monitor Functionality
With the Polar S625X you also get standard heart rate monitor functionality such as:-
- Ability to display your heart rate as beats per minute and percentage of maximum heart rate as well as average heart rate over your session
- The Polar watch S625X allows you to set up to 3 target heart rate zones and alerts you when you stray from them
- 24 hour watch with day/week indicator
- The Polar 625 X also has stopwatch functionality giving lap times with 99 lap memory and average, minimum and maximum heart rate per lap. There is also an auto-lap function which clocks data at pre-set intervals. /li>
The Polar S625X :-
- has a large easy to read display with a split screen and backlight /li>
- comes supplied with the comfortable Polar wearlink chest strap transmitter coded to avoid interference with other heart rate monitors.
- is water-resistant to 30 meters
- has a CR2032 lithium cell battery with an average battery life of 18 months
- has a two-year warranty
Any Problems with the Polar S625X heart rate monitor?
Although the monitor has an excellent 4.5 out of 5 rating from 25 reviews at Amazon, there are one or two issues with the Polar S625 which have surfaced there and in other reviews which you need to be aware of, although most reviewers make it clear that they are pleased with their choice despite any of these.
- Some reviews say that the pace and distance measurement is not 100% accurate. Although by calibrating the foot pod you can get close to 100%, you will not get a completely accurate picture. (The claim from the manufacturers is actually 97% accuracy out of the box with up to 99% with calibration – figures which equal or better those found with GPS or even from exercise treadmills.) This is as accurate as you really need for training purposes.
- There are some complaints about the unintuitive nature of the Polar software. I have to say that it IS pretty complex and you do have to read the manual to get the best out of the software.
- Some think that the Foot Pod looks large and bulky on their shoe. However, you will not notice it once you are running with it. It is not heavy. Most forget which shoe it is actually on when exercising.
- Others think that the watch/monitor is too bulky on their wrist. It’s not really for everyday wear with a suit or even a casual look and it is generally less bulky than a GPS unit.
- The Polar software is not MAC compatible.
- As with most Polar heart rate monitors you are not advised to change the batteries yourself (they are precision instruments and the operation should be carried out by professionals at a service center). Batteries in the Foot pod and wearlink transmitter belt are easily changeable yourself.
- If you want to use your monitor to measure distance and speed for sports other than running and cycling look at using a GPS monitor such as the Garmin Forerunner 305 instead because the Polar S625X is really aimed at runners and cyclists.
- The S625X is also lacking directional features such as a compass to help with navigation – it was mainly designed for those running similar routes each week and is not an outdoor/adventure product.
Alternatives to the Polar S625X Heart Rate Monitor
A better deal for runners who cycle?
If you are likely to want to buy the bike components for your monitor take a look at the Polar S625X Multisport package on Amazon which has both the foot pod and the bike pod for measuring speed, distance and cadence. The S625X package may save you some money over buying the S625X together with separate components.
You may also find that you reach the same space by looking at the Polar S725X heart rate monitor which is a cycling package without the Footpod – you can buy the Footpod separately. Note though that the older Polar S725 (without the X) does not support a footpod at all.
The Top of the Range for runners?
If you are only interested in running as opposed to cycling, you may like to also look at the recently introduced Polar RS400 and Polar RS400SD or the Polar RS800 and Polar RS800SD models. (You can’t get the bike accessories for these so take care if you think you might want to add these at a later date).
While we don’t have many user reviews for these to make a Best Buy award at this stage (and some of the few reviews that do exist have been critical of the quality of the electronics) the Polar RS400 and RS800 models offer better PC software and more fitness tests than the S625X though they are more expensive.
The Polar RS800 and Polar RS800SD include a digitally coded chest belt which cuts out even more interference from other heart rate monitors and you get high level data such as beat to beat heart rate analysis and R-R intervals. With the Polar sensor S3 stride pod you get accurate running speed, pace and strides per minute and stride length figures too.
Of course, if that’s all too much information and you’re not even sure what R-R intervals are you’ll get plenty of functionality with the Polar S625X to keep you happy for many moons.
The Polar S625X is a great heart rate monitor for runners (and also cyclists with the additional bike pod accessories). A valuable performance lab and personal coach on your wrist.
Where to Buy the Polar S625X
Polar sell only through a few licensed dealers online and you need to choose one of these to ensure that your warranty is valid. You can get the S625X Polar heart rate monitor here right away through licensed retailer Amazon and have it on your wrist in a day or two giving you powerful feedback at your next training session.