Polar OH1: An In-Depth Review

oh1-review

At a Glance: Quick Ratings

Heart Rate Accuracy

97%

Comfort during Exercise

99%

Ease of Use


99%

Battery Life


90%

Where To Get It

A Deep Dive Into Polar OH1

Another innovative product from the company that have been improving heart rate monitoring for over 40 years. The Polar OH1 is an optical heart rate monitor that can be worn on either the upper or lower arm.

It has the added functionality of being able to both BROADCAST and STORE your training data. In broadcast mode heart rate data is sent via Bluetooth to compatible devices.

In standalone mode HR training data is stored internally. This review of the Polar OH1 has been written and prepared by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic.

The Polar OH1 has been adopted by CardioCritic as the GOLD STANDARD for optical heart rate monitors. CardioCritic will use it to judge the performance of all other optical heart rate monitors for future tests & reviews.

  • Who Is It For?

  • Video Review

  • Pros

  • Cons

The Polar OH1 is an optical heart rate monitor sensor that is worn around the arm. It can be worn on the upper arm, above or below bicep, or the lower arm.

It is aimed at anyone interested in monitoring heart rate on either a smartphone (iOs or Android) or compatible watch (Bluetooth connected eg. Suunto Spartan, Polar V800, Polar M460 etc).

When paired with a compatible smartphone running the Polar Beat app (or other fitness app like Google Fit, Strava, Endomondo, MapMyRun etc) the OH1 broadcasts accurate heart rate data for real-time review.

Polar have been leading innovation in heart rate monitors since 1976 – we have reviews of loads more Polar Fitness products here.

Broadcast or Store

An innovative feature of the Polar OH1 is it’s ability to work in STANDALONE training mode. Simply turn it on and press the button TWICE to enter standalone training mode.

The OH1 acquires the exerciser’s heart rate from their arm and stores it in it’s own internal memory.

Up to 200 hours can be stored internally. At the end of the training session all the data is wirelessly uploaded to the Polar Flow app installed on your smartphone for convenient review.

Main Features and Functions

Heart Rate Accuracy

LED heart rate technology has been around for several years now but we still get asked how accurate it is. The OH1 has performed brilliantly in the many tests we’ve put it through over the last couple of weeks.

The OH1 uses 6 x proprietary LED optical heart rate sensors similar to those used by the Polar M430 (another 5 Star CardioCritic review).

CardioCritic has used the Polar OH1 for 8 x training sessions.

It’s been perfect for everything but one bike ride. This particular ride features an intense hill sprint effort where my heart rate quickly increased to 168 bpm.

The riding style was aggressive and the road far from smooth. The OH1 failed to detect this short spike of effort as can be seen from the heart rate graphs here.

The control model in this case was the Blueleza chest strap heart rate sensor paired with a Garmin Edge 820 (reviewed here). For all other sessions there has been NO NOTICEABLE deviation from the heart rate acquired via CHEST STRAP.

We could have not bothered to mention this single minor failure, but it highlights how even a 5 Star product can have it’s little wobbles now and then. CardioCritic is confident to recommend the Polar OH1 for the vast majority of exercisers.

Heart Rate Graph from an Intense Interval session

This is the heart rate graph extracted from the internal memory of the Polar OH1

Max HR was recorded at 169 BPM

Heart Rate from Chest Strap style HRM

This is the same session’s heart rate data acquired from a Blueleza chest strap heart rate sensor paired with a Garmin Edge 820 (review).

Max HR recorded as 171 BPM

Blueleza Chest Strap versus Polar OH1 Optical Heart Rate

Polar’s own blog site suggest the OH1 is not their most suitable product for professional athletes involved in high intensity interval training. For those sessions the Polar H10 is the recommended heart rate sensor.

It’s hard to beat Polar H10 when it comes to extremely accurate heart rate measurements in a fast-paced situation, such as a hard interval training session. (Polar.com BLOG)

Simple USB Charging Bracket

Easy to Use

Standalone Mode

Broadcast Mode

OH1 or Polar H10 / H7

There will be some people who may be a little bit confused now.

They know they want to add heart rate monitoring to their phone’s fitness app but they can’t decide between Polar H10 chest strap sensor (or even the older H7) or this Polar OH1.

Polar themselves recognize this as a bit of a conundrum and as such have answered the question here. In short, unless you are a professional athlete performing a high volume of intense interval training the Polar OH1 is the cheaper and more convenient choice.

The Polar H10 is reserved for Elite athletes and those who swim (as it can store a single HR session on it’s internal memory). The Polar OH1 may work in the pool, but it is NOT guaranteed to. The Polar H10 is.

Review Summary

The Polar OH1 is an innovative product from the world’s longest established experts of heart rate monitoring. It has all the unique selling points required to make it a best seller.

It’s easy to use, discrete, comfortable, compatible with dozens of third party products including iOs and Android devices.

We had just one hiccup while testing it and that was just a minor heart rate spike missed during a hill sprint. In defense of the OH1 the rider was moving around considerably and the road is anything but smooth.

The Polar OH1 has been adopted by CardioCritic as the GOLD STANDARD of optical heart rate monitors. The Polar OH1 will be used to judge the performance of all other optical heart rate monitors for future testing.

Wanted something a bit different? Learn about the polar a370 with sleep tracking here! 

Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt has been a tech geek for as long as he can remember. Whether it's laptops, cameras, or projects, he's obsessed with it all. When he's not researching the latest tech products, he likes to go on long hikes with his dogs.

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