The FT80 can be purchased by itself, or with the G1 GPS receiver and if you’re planning on doing a fair bit of outside exercise like cycling or running, the G1 is well worth the extra cost. The G1 uses GPS technology to measure speed and distance during your workout, and transmits that data to the FT80 on your wrist. This is nothing new, but this Polar system is just that little bit more refined than similar setups I’ve used in the past.
First up, the G1 is powered by a single AA battery, so it’s simple and cheap to replace. Polar estimates around 30 hours of use from a single AA cell, which is pretty reasonable. The G1 also gets a satellite lock very quickly, and manages to hold onto it even when riding underneath tree branch canopies – an environment where many GPS receivers have struggled in my experience.
The G1 isn’t the smallest of units, but it comes with a wide, adjustable, elasticated band for wrapping around your upper arm. Once the strap is adjusted correctly, you barely notice that the G1 is there. There’s a single button that powers the G1 on and off, and indicators for satellite lock and battery condition. The beauty of a two part system is that it allows the FT80 to be so slim, while also giving a choice to consumers, some of whom may not need the GPS functionality.
If you partake on a lengthy cycle ride or run equipped with the FT80 and G1, you’ll be rewarded with a plethora of useful information at the end of your training. The FT80 will record all the data from your workout including average and maximum heart rate, average and maximum speed, the length of time spent in each of your three intensity zones, the distance travelled, the overall time of your training session, how many calories you burned and the percentage of those calories that were fat. You’ll also get a brief summary highlighting how that particular session has affected you, whether that be improved fitness, increased maximal performance or improved fat burning.
The FT80 can store a significant amount of data, allowing you to compare days and even weeks of training information anytime and anywhere. But of course you’re going to want to offload all that data for reference and analysis, and here Polar has made another big leap forward. On my old S720i the only way to get the data off was to use the built-in infrared port, which works well enough, although it’s getting harder to find notebooks that even sport IrDA ports these days. So, Polar has done away with that archaic data transfer method and come up with FlowLink.
FlowLink is an undeniably cool feature, and Polar should be congratulated for bundling this kind of technology with the FT80. Being that the FT80 sits at the top of the model range, it comes with FlowLink in the box, rather than it being an optional extra. What you get is a FlowLink pad that connects to your PC via a USB cable, then when you want to synchronise your FT80 you just take it off and place it on the pad – it really is that simple! I haven’t encountered this kind of proximity dependant data transfer in a retail product before, although I’ve seen lots of similar technology demos.