Polar A360: Polar's new HR tracking fitness band explained

We had so many questions after the A360 reveal – so we asked them
Polar A360 explained
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Last week Polar took the wrappers off the Polar A360, its new activity tracker with heart rate technology.

For the uninitiated, the Polar A360 offers daily activity and advanced training metrics with notifications. The screen shows calls and smartphone alerts, as well as data from workouts. There's no GPS, which will disappoint runners and cyclists, but all session information is loaded into the Polar Flow app.

Read this: Polar A360 review

The Polar A360 will retail for $199.95 and comes out in November 2015.

But it left us with so many questions: why doesn't the A360 come as part of the Polar Loop range? And if it's more than an activity tracker but less than a watch – who's it for?

Well, we fired some questions over to Marco Suvilaakso, director of product management at Polar to find out. And here's what he said:

Who is the Polar A360 aimed at?

Although anyone can use the Polar A360, it's especially beneficial for consumers who are looking for a convenient, 24/7 way to track activity, easily transition into a training session any time, and also stay connected to friends/work via smart notifications throughout the day.

People who go to the gym, attend fitness classes, focus on cardio fitness (i.e. swimming, running, cycling/spinning, treadmill, crossfit, dance, etc.) will enjoy the A360.

Where does it fall in with the Loop? How come it doesn't carry that branding?

The Loop/Loop 2 are specifically designed for activity tracking (i.e. tracking steps, calories burned, sleep tracking and overall activity). The Polar A360 includes activity tracking, but with the inclusion of optical heart rate and training options, is more of an in-depth fitness and training device.

How is heart rate data categorised? What are the end uses for that data?

Polar heart rate zones divides training into five distinct zones based on percentages of your maximum heart rate. With these zones, you can easily select and monitor training intensities and follow heart rate-based training programs.

Immediately following a training session, the A360 will provide the user with a training benefit. Training benefits are based on Polar's sport zones, and are determined by how much time you spent and how many calories you burned in each zone.

The A360 will tell you if a session helped you build endurance, burn fat, was good for recovery, and others. Additionally, users can sync their data to Polar Flow where they can view their progress and receive guidance on how to reach their wellness/performance goals.

Do you track resting heart rate over time, and can you monitor that metric?

The A360 tracks heart rate once a user begins a training session; at this initial phase, it does not track resting heart rate or heart rate constantly during wear.

In your press materials you talk about "training guidance". What kind of training guidance can it offer?

Following a training session, the A360 will provide immediate training benefits on a particular training session. Throughout the day users can check the Polar Flow app and see various ways to meet their activity goals.

They can also see the history of their activity and recommendations as to how to be more healthy. Please see below for a few examples on feedback and recommendations.

With no GPS isn't this band a little toothless for anything beyond general activity tracking?

Unlike products that purely track activity, the A360 offers wrist-based heart rate to offer more in-depth information than just steps and calories.

Users can use heart rate data to improve fitness levels and see how much harder (or easier) they need to work during particular training sessions. For example, a user participating in a spinning class can quickly see which heart rate zone he/she's in, and adjust immediately in order to maximise fat burning or endurance. Over time, this person can track not only how their fitness is progressing but also determine what they need to do in order to improve.

Moreover, we wanted the A360 to be small and discreet enough for many people to want to wear it all the time. GPS is a power hungry feature that requires a bigger battery and antennas that would have forced us to grow the size to the point where it's not as discreet and light.

Check back of a full review of the Polar A360 as soon as we get hands on with the device.