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Polar A360 Looks to Challenge Microsoft Band

It seems that every activity tracker that costs more than $100 is now incorporating a heart rate monitor, and Polar is following suit with its newest device, the A360. This wrist-based device has a customizable, color display, sleep tracking and delivers smartphone notifications. Available today for $199, how does the A360 stack up to similarly priced wearables?

Although Polar is perhaps best known for its chest strap heart rate monitors, its newest all-day fitness tracker is the first by the company to incorporate an optical wrist-based heart rate monitor. The A360 has a small color display whose interface can be customized. I like that the icons can be rotated to run vertically down the length of the rectangular screen; I've found that trying to read text on a horizontal band while running can be tricky.

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The A360's silicone strap is removable; later this year, Polar will sell additional color straps for $25 each. The center module itself is waterproof enough for swimming, too.

As with other activity trackers, the A360 can record your steps, calories burned, heart rate and sleep. It can also be used as an alarm clock, and track discrete activities, such as if you're going for a run or a bike ride. Unlike the Microsoft Band 2, which also costs $200, the A360 lacks built-in GPS.

The A360 will also be able to receive limited smartphone notifications, such as texts, caller ID and calendar events. However, you'll have to take your phone out of your pocket in order to respond. Notifications will initially be available on iOS devices, with Android support to come later this year.

Polar says the A360 should last up to 2 weeks on a charge with a one-hour training session per day. Recharging the device is done via a covered microUSB port on its underside; I can't tell you how much I appreciate this feature, as so many fitness trackers use proprietary chargers that, once lost, require you to purchase anew, rather than using a generic cord.

When used in conjunction with the A360, the Polar Flow app will provide wearers with coaching recommendations based on their daily, weekly and monthly activity. Additionally, you'll be able to share your workout information with a personal trainer. 

In my brief hands-on time with it, the Polar A360 showed promise; stay tuned for our full review after the device is released in November.