Polar A300 Fitness and Activity Monitor Watch Review

Polar A300
Polar A300. Polar

The Polar A300 Fitness and Activity Monitor is both a 24/7 activity monitor and a sports watch. It counts your all-day steps, tracks your sleep quality and has inactivity alerts when you've been sitting too long. You can also track workouts, including heart rate and zone alerts when teamed with the optional Polar Bluetooth heart rate monitor chest strap.

Who is the Polar A300 Right For?

It is designed for people who want to step up from a fitness band, such as the Polar Loop or Fitbit Flex to a pedometer watch that can also track workouts and support a heart rate monitor.

The time and day/date is always visible, plus theĀ  progress towards your all-day activity goal. It automatically tracks sleep and you track workouts with its training session function. It has Smart Coaching features to give you feedback about lifestyle choices and the benefits of your training sessions. It does not have GPS speed/distance built in like the Polar M400 or Fitbit Surge and lacks many running watch features that serious trainers may want.

Style: The watch face is black and it slips into a silicone watchband, which buckles on like a standard watch strap. You have a choice of six colors and you can buy bands in the other colors to easily change the look. The connector is tucked away inside the strap so it can't irritate your skin, and the back of the watch has a plastic surface next to the skin to reduce contact with metal. Although it is a large watch, it isn't overly thick and it has a sleek, sporty look.

Is it Walker-Friendly? Yes, it displays your all-day steps and "walking" is one of the training session types you can track as a workout. One weakness is that it doesn't show estimated distance or steps for a training session.

Is it Waterproof? Yes, it is water resistant to 30 meters, suitable for bathing and swimming.

Setting up the Polar A300: Set up a Polar Flow account online to get the full benefit of their fitness tracking and Smart Coaching features. You can also link it with the Polar Flow app (iOS and Android) for syncing and viewing data on your mobile device via Bluetooth Smart. There are no ongoing fees to use the app or online dashboard. Enter your gender, age, height and weight to get accurate calorie expenditure and heart rate zones.

Power and Memory: The A300 charges via a USB cable. A charge can last as long as 26 days of 24/7 activity tracking and an hour per day of activity training tracking. The watch gives you low batty notifications. It has a memory capacity of 60 hours of training, so you can go for weeks without syncing.

Ease of Use: Although there are five buttons, using the A300 is very intuitive. It is easy to scroll through screens and see a lot of your important stats on the watch itself. It is easy to start and stop a training session and to pause and resume.

What the Polar A300 Tracks

Watch Display: You can choose between two time-of-day watch faces.

I like the numerical day/date display with an activity bar showing my progress towards my daily activity goal. It has a backlight and you can set an alarm.

Today's Activity: The A300 tracks all-day steps. It recorded the same number of steps as the Fitbit Charge worn on the same wrist. Beyond just steps, it tracks the intensity of your activity and your daily activity goal can be reached faster if your activity is more intense. Your goal is based on global physical activity recommendations for your age and gender and how you rate your training background. The Today's Activity screen shows you:

  • Active time in minutes: this is a total of light, moderate and vigorously active minutes.
  • All-day calories burned (includes basal metabolic rate as well as activity calories). If you are dieting, you can match this figure to what you eat, although there is no diet-tracking feature with the Polar site.
  • Steps
  • Distance - estimated from your height or step length.
  • Time to go to reach your goal by either jogging (vigorous-intensity activity), walking (moderately-intense activity) or being up (light-intensity activity such as standing or moving slowly). It's very motivating to see how you can achieve your goal.
  • Inactivity alerts: If you have been sitting for an hour, you will get an inactivity alert on the watch. You either need to get up or press a button in order to keep from getting an inactivity tag for that hour.
  • In Diary view online or on the app, you can review past days and also see a total distance per day and review any workouts your logged for that day.

On the Polar Flow dashboard online or on the app, your daily activity is shown as clock graph. Each minute is color-coded for activity intensity. You can see when you were active throughout the day. You also get a total time for each type of activity, plus inactive (sitting or lying down) time and time asleep.

Training Sessions

Set up sport profiles for your favorite workout activities so you can quickly start a workout. You can add a heart rate strap to measure intensity and better track calories burned. During a training session, you see the total elapsed time and calories burned. I found it disappointing that it didn't display other data such as distance or steps for walking or jogging workouts.

Buy from Amazon.com

Heart Rate Workout Features

If you use the A300 with a Bluetooth heart rate strap, you can also see your automatic heart rate zones and you can get in-zone and out-of-zone alerts. You can set it to view either beats per minute or percentage of maximum heart rate. It records the time you spend in each of five zones from 50% to 100% and displays them for the workout.

You can set a target zone and it will vibrate and beep to tell you when you are out of zone.

I enjoyed the ease of locking a zone during a workout. That allowed me to warm up and build into my target zone, lock it in and then be alerted when I was above or below the zone.

After a session, you can view your workout on the Polar Flow site or in the app and see more details. These include a graph showing your heart rate minute by minute during the workout, average heart rate, maximum and minimum heart rate, time in five different heart rate zones, workout calories burned, total time.

Sleep: The A300 automatically detects sleep time (if you sleep lying down). You get a total sleep time and duration for restful sleep, restless sleep, and a percentage of restful sleep. You can use the activity clock display to see times you may have gotten up during the night.

Activity Analysis and Coaching: In addition to viewing the activity totals, you can also see analysis on how your level of activity that day can benefit your health and fitness.

The app gives suggestions for fun activities to reach your goal

Portability: You don't have to take your smartphone along to have the full power of using the A300 and seeing your data. You will lose data if you don't sync it after 60 hours of activity tracking.

Bottom Line on the Polar A300

Drawbacks:

  • No tie-in with a diet-tracking program. However, you can use the calorie total to track with the one of your choice such as our Calorie Count app or site.
  • Minimal workout tracking features. It doesn't tell you steps, distance, laps, etc. Fitbits and the Polar M400 give more workout details.
  • You have to actively sync the data with the app, it doesn't sync in the background.
  • It lacks "smartwatch" features. It doesn't give incoming phone/text notifications as the Fitbit Charge and Surge do.

Positives:

  • Excellent integration with the Polar heart rate monitor strap. Easy to use and view the heart rate zones. I really love the vibrating alert for in-zone and out-of-zone.
  • Great lifestyle coaching to encourage reaching activity goals through a variety of ways to be active.

I recommend the Polar A300 for walkers who want to achieve their minimum daily activity and reduce sitting and inactive time. You will get the best use of it for workouts with the optional Polar heart rate monitor strap.

If you want more running watch functionality, the Polar M400 GPS Sports Watch or the Fitbit Surge Super Fitness Watch would be a better choice.

Buy from Amazon.com

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer.

Continue Reading