If you're serious about keeping fit and making sure that your body is operating at its maximal performance, you'll no doubt already be aware that a heart rate monitor can be an invaluable tool. And if you're aware of the benefits of a heart rate monitor, it's a safe bet that you've heard of Polar - a company that has been at the forefront of sporting and fitness technology for as long as I can remember.
Over the years I've owned a few Polar heart rate monitors. My current unit is the Polar S720i, which was pretty much top of the Polar tree a few years back when I bought it. I was therefore very surprised to find that the latest models from Polar make mine look like an antique, both in terms of design and features. The FT80 that I'm looking at today sits at the top of Polar's Fitness and Cross-Training range, and is aimed at people who partake in a variety of activities and need to get the very best out of each and every workout.
The first thing that struck me when I opened up the FT80's box was just how good it looks - put simply, the FT80 makes my old S720i look like a brick strapped to my arm. OK, so the FT80 isn't as stylish as a Tag Heuer Carrera, but it's very slim and the strap is completely integrated with the watch, making the whole thing wrap around your wrist seamlessly. Gone is the big red Start/Stop button on the front fascia of previous models, and although this means that it's not quite as easy to set new laps, it's definitely a step forward aesthetically. Not that it's too much of a chore to press the side mounted button for lap timing of course. Oh, and the battery is now user-changeable, which is a definite bonus.
There are five buttons located around the edge of the FT80 - at the top left is the backlight button, while the bottom left houses the Stop/Back button. On the right side are Up and Down buttons for cycling through menus and a central OK button. Despite the FT80 being an incredibly feature rich piece of equipment, Polar has managed to make it unfeasibly easy to use. In conjunction with Polar's Personal Trainer website (more about that later), you can create and customise a training programme to suit you, but the FT80 is so clever that you don't even need to do that.