Heart rate measurement with a Bluetooth strap Polar H7
If you’re interested in a sport tester and have a smartphone, consider the option of connecting your phone (for example, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S5, etc.) with your chest strap. You’ll get an advanced sport tester with GPS for a price of basic sport tester (the price of the phone itself is of course not included).
Nowadays, smartphones have very popular sport apps that thanks to GPS record your route, speed and many different information. Therefore, it was only a matter of time (and available technology) before chest straps appeared. Chest straps connectable with mobiles are around for a while now, but it was always a very special solution. However, today the Bluetooth Smart technology has become more common and even the biggest players decided to conquer the sport tester market.
Finnish Polar came up with a Bluetooth chest strap Polar H7. It’s a chest strap as you know it from higher class of Polar sport testers, enhanced with the Bluetooth Smart technology.
A lot of other manufacturers made their own Bluetooth chest straps. However, Polar H7 is still interesting because it can send signal into Polar sport testers and at the same time into a mobile phone enhanced with the Bluetooth Smart technology. And if you only need to connect to your phone, you’ll get by with a cheaper model, Polar H6.
When it comes to compatibility, if you have an iPhone 4S and newer, you won’t have any issues. However, if you’re an Android user, the situation is a bit worse. Due to diversity of devices and Android versions, it may happen that you won’t be able to pair the phone with your chest strap. The basic assumption for functionality is to have Android 4.3 or newer and of course support for Bluetooth Smart.
Polar also offers Bluetooth chest strap for phones with older versions of Bluetooth, but let’s get back to Polar H7.
What do we need to measure heart rate?
We have a compatible phone, we have a Polar H7 chest strap, but in order to start using it, we also need an app. There’s a variety of options and it really depends on what you choose. The most popular ones are Endomondo, Runkeeper, Sporttracker, or Polar Beat. All of these have support for chest straps. If you used any of them before purchasing a chest strap, you can go straight to pairing.
You may be surprised, but you won’t be able to find your chest strap in settings as a basic device. The chest strap pair straight in your sports app.
Before pairing, take the chest strap on. If it’s not on your body and doesn’t measure your heart rate, it turns off and doesn’t send data; for battery life purposes, then you can start pairing inside the app.
What data will I receive from the strap?
It doesn’t depend on the chest strap, but on the app that you’re using. The chest strap only sends information about your current heart rate into the phone. That data is then processed by the app itself which decides what other information it’ll show.
Heart rate and burned calories are displayed by most of the apps, but if you want to see the heart rate zones or graphs, you’ll have to pick the app more wisely.
We’ve tested several apps. For the most time, we use Runkeeper and currently, we’re testing Endomondo and Polar Beat. We won’t dive into details about specific apps, but we’ll try and summarize the pros and cons.
Endomondo is one of the most popular sports apps. It’s available both in free and paid version. It’s a fast app that offers a lot of data even in its free version. However, the best part is the fact that it’s available in Czech. If you don’t have any trouble with English, it doesn’t matter, but if you don’t know any world language, Endomondo is the right choice. It offers a lot, it looks good, it’s fast and it gives you plenty of interesting data. For monitoring the development of your condition, you can try out different tests (1,500 meters running, the Cooper test, one-mile walking, etc.).
All the data can be seen on-line at www.endomondo.com (the site is not available in Czech).
We use Runkeeper the longest, it’s been several years actually. The design is good and at the time, it also had good voice alert; the voice wasn’t so robotic as it usually is. It offers paid and unpaid version as well. With the premium version, you get some great features. Unlike Endomondo, some features like graphs are available only in premium version. Runkeeper is good because you can set certain goals. Loose 5 kg, run 50 km per month, etc. Your development is then shown in the graphs.
However, the speed on iPhone 4S is really bad. While Endomondo and Polar Beart boot up almost instantly (2-5 seconds), with Runkeeper it takes up to 15 seconds or more. It seems irrelevant, but when you start running and you realize that you didn’t start up the measuring, it can take a while before you start the app. Plus, you also have to wait before the GPS turns on.
We hope this get’s fixed in some next update.
The „default“ Polar app. Nice design, great speed and enough of data. However, it shows less information that its competitors. Polar Beat is free and with a one-time payment, you can buy special features (as seen on the picture beyond this text; the middle screen). Endomondo and Runkeeper offer a monthly subscription.
An interesting gadget named Relive is available within the on-line app. From your activity, Polar can create a short film. A sample can be seen here.
If you already have a strap and you’re choosing an app, we recommend downloading several of them a try them out at once. After several training sessions, you can compare the data offered to you, the layout, the design, or the speed. And after a thorough evaluation, you can pick the one that fits you. The phone should be fine with that and it shouldn’t dry out the battery.
The solution phone/chest strap is very good. With a simple way, your phone becomes a sport tester with GPS. A lot of apps are available and we believe everyone will find his/her favourite.