Earlier this year we weren't exactly enamoured with Polar's A300 fitness tracking watch that gave up the M400's GPS for a slightly cheaper price tag. And while the new A360 doesn't have GPS either, it makes up for it with a built-in optical heart rate monitor, a colour touchscreen display, and a sleeker design.
At around €199 (around $312), Polar's new A360 is priced similarly to how the M400 was back in September of last year, and marathon runners and long-distance cyclists who still prefer a fitness tracker with GPS that can keep tabs on how far and how fast they have travelled might still want to consider the M400.
But the A360 is Polar's first wearable that doesn't require a separate chest strap to monitor the wearer's heart rate, although one can still be used if you find them more accurate than the company's proprietary optical sensor on the band itself. As a result, the new A360 is targeted at a different fitness demographic, namely those who genuinely care about their fitness regiments at the gym every morning, but aren't necessarily in training for an upcoming Iron Man race.
Like any fitness tracker worth wearing these days, the waterproof Polar A360 tracks your daily activities including steps taken, calories burned, when you've worked out, and even how well you're sleeping at night. All that info is made available on the fitness tracker's colour touchscreen display, but it's also synced to an accompanying Polar app available for iOS and Android devices so it can be shared, graphed over time, or monitored by a trainer.
The A360 also has smartphone notifications, and when synced to a mobile device over Bluetooth, it will use subtle vibrations to alert the wearer to incoming calls, emails, calendar events, text messages, and whatever else they have chosen to keep tabs on. It also keeps track of how long it's been since you've last been active, so if you sit at a desk for endless hours at work, it will provide occasional reminders when it's time to get up and move around.
On a full charge Polar's A360 will keep tabs on your activity for a full two weeks, including an hour of intense training every day. Your mileage will vary if you've got notifications turned on for every last social media interaction, but that's better than the Fitbit Charge HR, and even Polar's own Loop 2, just announced back in July, that can only muster about eight days even with its rudimentary LED pixel display.
If GPS isn't particularly important to you, the new A360 — available starting in November — is definitely an improvement to the disappointing A300. Still, it's not clear that it will stick, especially in light of the success of incredibly affordable fitness trackers like the $US20 Misfit Flash Link that do more than what most gym members need. Or the fact that smartwatches, which include all of these features and more, are becoming more and more ubiquitous.
But if you do have dreams of one day tackling an Iron Man challenge, the A360 sounds like the perfect companion as you start to get more serious about your fitness.