Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Polar RS300X Review

I'll be straightforward up front in this review. Do. Not. Buy. This. Piece. Of. Shit.

Okay, now for the details on why I feel this way. First, a bit of back story. My employer has a fancy rewards program that allows employees (and spouses) to earn money by simply being active. We get a free pedometer to carry around with us during our daily routine and it tracks our steps and active minutes. Pretty low-tech stuff but it's a way to prove that we're moving and we get rewarded for it. While there are some flaws in the program and the pedometer, it's free, it's easy, and I get money. In other words, why not?

Enter the reward redemption. I got one for walking (or running) what felt like a million miles and debated long and hard how to spend it. And if you know me, that money sitting in my virtual wallet was just burning a hole. So I finally splurged on myself and bought two high-price items that I had only dreamed about. The first was a camera. I love it so far. The second was a GPS watch. I hated it so much I sent it back within a week.

And what was that GPS watch? It was the Polar RS300X and it came with a heart rate monitor strap and a G1 GPS sensor. After using it a day or two, I realized I needed the Flowlink just to download the data. That was the first problem. Nowhere was it made plainly clear that I needed the Flowlink to get to my data. It's really just a fancy USB device that reads the magnetic signals from the watch. And it looks like a coaster for a coffee mug.

Once I downloaded the data, I was ready to chuck everything out the damn window. Or into the toilet. Or into the toilet and then out the window. But I'm getting ahead of myself here so let me back track yet again.

The watch came and looked all sorts of pretty. I had to set my age, weight, time, etc. and that worked great. It was pretty easy to figure out without the instructions. And then things went downhill. The strap on the watch was not comfortable to wear. Too many loops, holes, and pegs to mess with. The heart rate strap was interesting and since I've never worn one before, I was intrigued by it. It fit comfortably and looked pretty easy to put on, take off, and take care of.

Then comes the G1 GPS unit. It was fucking HUGE! I had assumed (I know, a bad thing to do) the GPS unit was in the watch itself like a Garmin or Timex or something else. Turns out it was not in the watch but a huge thing you had to wear on your arm.

It doesn't look that big, right? WRONG! It's as big as my fist. The size of a coffee mug. Larger and heavier than two smart phones. And they expect you to strap it to your arm like it's a tiny watch-sized device. Oh but wait, there's more! I got this specific combination because I assumed (there I go again) that I could look at where I had run. As in, I run down a new trail and I can map it out later when I sit down in front of my computer. Nope. Not gonna happen. You see, the G1 GPS sensor only tracks your distance, not where you've gone, elevation change, and certainly not anything even remotely close to mapping.

Which means, it's like carrying around a fucking boombox to listen to a cassette instead of an iPod. Yeah, totally behind the times on technology and size. Oh, and the price for the watch, heart rate strap, and GPS sensor? $175+ on Amazon. Wow. Let's pay thousands of dollars for a damn cassette player. Oh, and don't forget the special Flowlink for another $50 just so you can see that your GPS unit didn't track shit.

Can you tell I was upset by this purchase? Sarcasm aside, I really try to be fair in my reviews. I really try to find the good in things and really try to be positive about new things I try. But this is one thing I've reviewed that I really could have taken a hammer to just for the sheer pleasure of destroying it. Even if it meant losing my money. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and I returned everything for a refund.

What will I be using to fill the gap left by Polar? I'd really like to say toilet paper but there really isn't a gap at all. You see, I picked Polar because they are the only devices that synch with my employers fitness program. So because I hated the Polar so much, I'll be sticking with the free (and cheaply made) pedometer they sent me. To keep track of my time, I'll continue to use my $30 Timex. That thing is a beast and works great. And to keep track of my GPS route, I'll use RunKeeper on my phone. While it isn't entirely accurate, it's easy to use and it turns my phone into a multi-tasker instead of a uni-tasker.

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