Polar surprised us a few weeks ago with the presentation of its new Polar OH1+ sensor. It is an independent optical sensor that uses the technology designed by themselves (and that we have previously seen in watches of the brand) that can be used in devices via Bluetooth or, as already happened with the Polar H10, store data from several workouts in its integrated memory.
The sensor you see here is a test unit provided by Polar. As always it will be returned, so there is no compensation from you. All my opinions are always free of any pressure as I do not depend on the manufacturers at any time.
You are the ones who allow this page to keep working with your purchases, so if you like the work I do and want to keep seeing this kind of items you can help by buying through the links I provide (whether it's the OH1+ or any other product you fancy on Amazon, any help is welcome).
I don't want to get too far ahead in the initial explanation of the OH1+, I'd better get straight to the point. I have been tinkering and training with the Polar OH1+ for a few weeks and this is the result.
When brands provide me with a product, they usually send it in its original box, as if I had bought it in a store, so I can also show you what the packaging looks like, what it contains, etc.
It's standard procedure, but sometimes this doesn't happen. Is it important? Well, no, the only thing I won't be able to show you are pretty pictures of the box.
In this case I simply received an envelope with a name written on it. Will it be me? Hopefully it comes full of fresh bills...
Oh! disappointment (sorry for the pun...) There is no money inside, just a strap and a sensor.
I will start by opening the strap. It is an elastic band that can be adjusted in length. It integrates the sensor holder, which cannot be removed and is made of plastic. Depending on where you want to use the sensor you can adjust the length of the strap. It should be firm on the arm, but not hurt or cut off the blood supply. As long as there is no amputation there will be no problem.
This is how the sensor is placed in the holder itself, simply by inserting it into the plastic. It doesn't matter if the button or the LED is in one place or another, because the sensor is totally symmetrical. Of course, we want the sensor to be facing outwards, we don't want to measure the pulse of the belt.
By the way, as you can see from the inscription, waterproof to 30 meters.
What was the other thing you saw in the first image with USB connection? Well, the sensor inside the small synchronization and charging pod. Like the strap, you only have to place the sensor inside, but this time you have to take into account how you place it since the connection pins must match the corresponding location on the sensor.
Once placed inside, this is how you should put it in charge. No charger is included but you can use any mobile phone charger or if you prefer, connecting it to the computer port.
In addition to charging it while it's connected, you can also perform data synchronization, although the most convenient way to connect is via Bluetooth with your mobile phone. Let's see what the sensor offers in more detail.
Polar OH1+, what is it?
The Polar OH1+ is simply a pulse sensor. As its name suggests, it is optical; Polar OH1+ stands for Optical Heartrate One. So the first stand-alone optical pulse sensor from Polar. No, they didn't break their heads to give it a name.
An independent optical pulse sensor... it doesn't seem like anything new. In fact it is very similar in concept to the Scosche RHYTHM+ and, a little further away (because of its location on the body) to the Mio LinkBut that's the first impression.
Unlike these two, the Polar sensor only transmits data via Bluetooth, which puts it slightly behind since both models are capable of using ANT+ and Bluetooth simultaneously.
Update 23 April
Polar has launched an upgrade to provide ANT+ connectivity to the OH1
To make up for that difference Polar has built an internal memory into the OH1+, allowing you to record activities independently without the need to transmit data to any other external device. And this is perhaps the most interesting feature.
In terms of size, the Polar OH1+ is noticeably smaller than the other two.
And to give you an idea of its real size, there is nothing better than comparing it with something you know perfectly well. Its diameter is slightly larger than a one euro coin. And what about the thickness? Well, here I have already had to increase my budget, as it goes up to 4 euros.If you want to know how it will feel on your arm, just find four euro coins and put them on your arm with a rubber band. Shabby, but effective.
The sensor must be placed on its strap, which has a plastic coupling that can be slipped on. The strap, besides being elastic, also allows regulation, so you can place it in many places, the most common being the forearm or the top of it. It could also be worn on the wrist, but the two previous locations are better for good results.
And obviously, you'll want to wear the LEDs and the photoelectric sensor on the inside.
Polar has made a very simple sensor, in fact we only have one button with which to turn the sensor on and off.
On the opposite side there is a control LED that will give us basic information about the operation. That LED is quite powerful, if you train near an airport at night you may have some problem...
Depending on the number of blinks and the colour of the blink, you will be able to know basic status data. It will light up green when it is detecting the heart rate or white if there is a problem. It will light up red when the battery is low or blue when we are synchronising via Bluetooth. And the number of blinks can also vary. All of this is described in the instruction manual.
As far as charging is concerned, there is the other adapter that is included in the package. We simply have to remove the sensor from the strap and place it in the charging adapter. This same adapter will be useful if we prefer to connect the sensor to the computer instead of synchronizing it with the phone.
Modes of use
Before starting to use the Polar OH1+ the first thing you should do is connect it to your phone or computer. Not to do the initial setup to indicate where you are going to take it -which, as much as the manual says, is simply for Polar statistical data-, but to check if there is any firmware update available.
Once you have everything set up, it's time to start using it. We have two modes of use:
- As a sensor associated with a device - Use it with a device such as a watch, phone, etc. Not just Polar, but any watch that has Bluetooth sensor connectivity. Remember that it is not ANT+ compatible.
- As a separate sensor - Without being associated with any other device, it can record the heart rate data of any workout. In this mode it also allows you to transmit heart rate data, for example to gym machines that have a Bluetooth connection.
The first mode is the most basic of all, replacing any other sensor you may have previously. It is the default mode that the sensor is in as soon as it is turned on, and we can tell that it is in that mode because the status LED blinks only once (either in white or green).
To link the sensor to any device it simply has to be switched on, no pairing mode needs to be set. Once switched on you only have to do a sensor search.
After matching you will have the heart rate data on your screen.
You might say why not try it with Polar models... Well, precisely because the beauty of a standard like Bluetooth is that it allows everything to communicate with each other, regardless of the brand. So the device you're recording your workout with will be the one that records and stores the data, whether it's a phone or a watch. Simply a sensor.
It is the second mode of use in which the Polar OH1+ is something new because you can use it independently without being connected to any other device. In this mode it will also be transmitting data via Bluetooth, so for example you can have it connected to a machine at the gym and see your heart rate while saving the activity to synchronize it at home.
To put the sensor in this mode, you simply have to turn it on first, and then press the button twice to start recording data. From then on, the status LED will start flashing twice instead of once, and will continue to use the same color code.
When you finish training, just quickly press the sensor button twice again. Please note that when using this mode it is not possible to temporarily pause the recording, when you press the button again it will start recording a new session.
The OH1+ has sufficient memory capacity to store up to 150-200 hours of training data. This data can be downloaded by connecting the sensor to a computer or via the Polar Flow app, available for Android and iOS.
Once the sensor is synchronized this is how you will see it on the Polar website.
In this case I have changed the activity type manually (through the mobile application, not on the web), since by default it will be saved as a generic indoor training.
Heart rate data comparison
Now that everything is clear about the Polar OH1+ sensor, it is time to talk about the most important thing: the quality of the data it provides. No matter how many functions the sensor may have, if the recording it performs is not correct, it would be useless.
Polar is the only manufacturer that has two different optical sensors; a more basic one that is the one we can find in Polar's more economical range (M2oo or A370, for example) but not for that reason with bad records, and another one which is the one we are concerned with and which we can see in the M430 or the M600.
My experience with this sensor has always been quite good, and in the case of the OH1+ I expect it to be even better for two main reasons: weight and location.
First of all, in terms of weight, as the sensor is very light (only 5 grams) it hardly suffers from movements or vibrations. Compared to watches of 70 or 80 grams the differences are remarkable.
Secondly, by poder placing the sensor on the forearm or upper arm, we are carrying the optical sensor in a much more reliable place to get a good pulse rate. Because we are avoiding the movements of the wrist when running, or the vibrations of the handlebars of the bike or when performing any activity; and because they are much more "fleshy" areas where it is much easier for the sensor to find the pulse.
So before I started testing the OH1+ the expectations were already quite high. I have done training with the Polar OH1+ in different sports, always comparing graphs with other pulse sensors, and here are the results.
I'll start with a simple basic workout that is very affordable for any pulse sensor, whether optical or chest: 12 minutes of warm-up, 12 minutes at a faster pace, and I'll finish with 12 minutes of cool-down, but all without major changes in intensity beyond the start and end of the core period.
During warm-up there is a strange situation with the Polar recording, and that is that while the other two sensors have slight rises and falls of one or two beats as normal, the graph of the OH1+ is practically a straight line. It does not mean that the record is bad, in fact as I indicate is located 1 or 2 keystrokes of the other two, but it highlights so much linearity.
I won't take it too much into account since I made this first test with an old firmware version, but it's simply something that catches my attention. It's also possible to appreciate a small delay in the moment I start to increase the rhythm, which is also perceived in the Scosche's graphic but to a lesser extent.
During the rest of the interval the frequency is progressively increasing by maintaining a constant intensity, and when I finish (and stop on purpose to cause a rapid drop in pulse) everything perfect. Both the Scosche and OH1+ have a slight delay with respect to the Garmin sensor on the chest, but nothing major.
We are now going to go on with another more complicated training and, now yes, with the latest firmware version on the device. In this case it is not a training series with sudden changes in intensity, but it is one of constant ups and downs so despite trying to maintain a stable pace there are slight changes in heart rate.
The actors are the same, adding also in this case the optical sensor of the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR. In this case the graph we are interested in observing is the one in green, which is the one corresponding to the Polar OH1+.
As it is always the case with almost all sensors (optical or pectoral) it is always difficult to have a total match from the beginning, a warm-up time is necessary. In this case all start to mark the same after 40 seconds, although the Scosche decides to have a momentary loss until it marks the correct again. It also has two sudden drops, probably due to a punctual cut in the transmission.
In this first stretch the worst offender is the Spartan Sport Wrist HR, which has some occasional problems in the moments where I slightly accelerate the pace. Meanwhile the OH1+ graph is happy along with the other sensors.
From that moment on? Happiness continues among the four members of the comparison.
Another training of variable intensity, but at a lower pace. Pre-race activation by doing short intervals increasing the pace and then jogging again.
The start is as usual somewhat uneven, with the OH1+ and Garmin 935 needing a few more seconds to get in sync. The Fitbit Ionic is also erratic but quickly joins in with the others. As long as the pace remains steady and easy there is total sync.
If we take the HRM-Tri sensor's graph as correct -which, looking at its development, seems to be the most accurate- we see that the other three optical sensors suffer from the same defect: a slight delay in the recording.
When the chest sensor graph goes up or down, both Polar OH1+ and Garmin 935 respond at par and with the same intensity, albeit with two to three seconds delay, but always in sync. The Fitbit Ionic shows slightly lower performance.
In short, very favorable results in race training, let's explore other sports.
If you've been following optical pulse sensor tests before, you'll know that while running doesn't usually present many problems, it's when you're on a bike that complications arise. So let's see how the OH1+ performs when it comes to pedaling.
Here in theory there should be five sensors instead of four, but unfortunately one of the watches I was wearing to record data (a Forerunner 230) changed sensor without me noticing, so the HRM-Tri's record is duplicated instead of having additional data from the Scosche.
The training consists of two parts (and a last cooling down), with an initial period doing ascents to 16-18% with their corresponding descents, and then a session of 9x3min intervals on the flat. Varied training to be able to extract a lot of information from the sensors.
We are interested in the purple graph, corresponding to the Polar OH1+. Despite not having the Scosche, there is another optical sensor in the test: the one integrated in the Garmin Forerunner 935. And I double the bet for the chest sensors since in addition to the HRM-Tri I also wear the Smart Sensor of Suunto.
In the first part of the training you can see how both the Garmin optical sensor and the Suunto chest sensor are having a hard time. The poor recording of the first one was to be expected, the incorrect data from the Suunto chest sensor is much stranger, and is probably due to movements of the tape when two are worn together. It serves at least to confirm that we should not always trust the data from the chest sensors.
On the other hand, the Polar sensor is quite well synchronized with the Garmin sensor, which in my experience (not with the sensor, but with the effort applied) is the one that shows the most accurate data this time.
The interval section is rather more positive for the optical sensor of the Garmin although it continues to have slight delays. In the meantime, everything remains quiet at home on the Polar OH1+ which, except for a slight delay in the rise and fall of the heart rate, produces a graph without any strange artifice.
The same can be seen in the cooling itself, where except for a small delay in the Polar's graph, everything continues to be perfect.
The result does not surprise me at all, because as I have already indicated, the location of the sensor on the forearm is much more beneficial for correct readings. Here it is not at the expense of all the vibrations to which the watches are subjected. It is not that Polar's sensor is infinitely better than that of the other manufacturers, simply that it is located in the most satisfactory position as it is independent of the watch itself.
And I'll leave one of the best parts for last. Remember I said it's waterproof? And that it allows you to record in its memory without the need for an external device?
Yes, it can also be used for swimming, and it can record the heart rate of your training session perfectly as you can see in the comparison against the Garmin HRM-Swim sensor.
You won't have live data or podr you'll consult it while you're training but the record is frankly good, nailing one by one all the sets of 100 meter intervals performed in the pool. And I can say that during the entire workout there was not a single weird movement or discomfort from the OH1+; whereas the Garmin sensor, despite being the specific model for pool swimming, did slip once when I pushed myself hard into the wall.
In short, an outstanding result for the Polar independent optical sensor, which would only be able to record the pulse variability in activity to aspire to be the replacement of the Polar H10, because in terms of recording heart rate I can certainly give a remarkable high.
Buy Polar OH1+
I hope that this complete analysis has helped you to decide if it is a valid device for you or not. All the work I do you can consult it without any cost, but if you want to support the web and with it the work I do, the best way to do it is to buy your new device through the links I provide below. And if you don't buy it today, remember to stop by when you are going to do it!
Through these links not only will you get a very competitive price and the best customer service, but I will also receive a small percentage without costing you any additional outlay, which is what allows me to continue offering you proofs like this on the page.
If you have any questions, remember that you have the comments section at the bottom, where I will try to answer all your questions.
Opinion Polar OH1+
The same thing has happened to me with the Polar OH1+ as with other devices this year. Initially it gives me the impression of being something that the market does not need or that will not bring important new features, but after some time of use it grows in me a sense of appreciation that I did not have before.
When the sensor was first introduced it seemed somewhat unnecessary to me; especially with the lack of ANT+ connectivity which, whatever the manufacturer says, limits its saleability. From a business standpoint Polar is losing money by not making the OH1+ with dual Bluetooth/ANT+ technology.
But as I've used it, I've liked it more and more. The good recording it makes at all times is of course the most important thing, but what I've liked most is the ability to record workouts. It's very easy to put the sensor into recording mode and it's always been very reliable both at the start of the activity and at the end. Likewise, the timing of activities has always been perfect, without a single glitch. The only thing we can miss is the ability to put the sensor on pause while we're resting in a workout, but adding more features can jeopardize the simplicity and immaculate operation of the sensor.
Maybe it's not for the sports I practice, since I always require more information and in real time, but the exercise recording function and the ease of doing it (unlike the Polar H10, which requires you to start the recording from the phone) is simply fantastic, not to mention all the possibilities it opens for me to use it to perform analysis of other optical sensors.
Compared to the Scosche sensor it is just as accurate in measurement, but if you don't need ANT+ connectivity it's easy to opt for the OH1+. Not only for its ability to record activity in memory, but also for its smaller size and greater autonomy (12 hours for the OH1+ compared to 8-9 for the Scosche). But again, the main (and only) downside is the absence of ANT+ connection, which prevents poder to use it with Garmin devices prior to 2017 or Suunto prior to 2014.
Help the site
This page, like any other page you see on the Internet, needs to be compensated in order to continue to function. If you make your purchase through the links on the web you'll be helping out the blog a little bit and becoming part of the Running a Marathon family. It's a small family, but it's cool!
This is the only way in which the blog generates some money, since there is no compensation from the brands. The only income comes from the purchases that you, the users, make through the links provided.
If you liked the analysis, don't forget to share it on your social networks. Not only will you be helping me, but you will also be helping your friends find this page.
Thank you for reading, and especially for supporting the page!