09 October 2018

Polar M430 - Optical HR Sensor Accuracy - Part 2/2

As you can read in this article, I have a lot of problems with Polar M430. To be more precise the problem is with an optical HR sensor. The mentioned article has many readers every day, so the logical conclusion is that I'm not alone with bad optical HR readings.

After a mentioned article was published I got a lot of comments and suggestions from readers from all over the world. Nothing helped and almost surrendered. I bought a Polar 7 chest strap and all problems went away. Well, it still bothered me because the bought item didn't work as expected. And I often don't want to bother with a chest strap or I even don't have it at hand.
Before I write an article, I want to talk with Polar support. From four emails (to global support, to German support and to Slovenian support) I got only one answer with - as you can expect - usual corporate answer. You know what I mean: polite answer where said that they are happy to answer me and with similar suggestions like in User manual.

Weeks and months with problems were behind me when a new type of error occurs. Look at it:

This type of error occurred suddenly after 70 minutes of training. It simply stops showing a number. I stopped at the top of the hill and dry the hand, move watch, change hand, tried on wife's hand ... it simply didn't work. It was very close to throwing the watch away. And to be even more pissed off, it starts to works again when I came home.

So after some months, I tried again. I checked Polar's website for service. And guess what - the problem starts on their website. As I'm from Slovenia, I tried with www.polar.si and I can see this:


It looks like they don't have a redirection to their main site where Slovenian site is available.
But there were hidden another bug:

After a click on Service button, the page reloads and again and again ... I simply can't find where is service for Polar watches. Maybe you think that I should use a button for e-mail? I tried that some months ago and I'm still without an answer.

After asking on forums, I got an address of service. For all Slovenian Polar users - it is Urca in Ljubljana. They kindly accept my loved watch and asks me if I can send them some TCX files.

Without the watch, I decided to use Polar Flow with a chest strap. And guess what? A Polar's main application doesn't support it!! You can use a Bluetooth cheat strap Polar H7 with other application, but not with Polar Flow. You have to install an additional application on your phone - Polar Beat. Only Polar knows (do they?) why Polar Flow can't work with a Bluetooth chest strap. I have talked with some friends and they confirm me the same outrage.
Polar Beat is a simple application and its functionality should be integrated into Polar Flow. But even if it is simple, users expect Start, Lap, Pause and Stop. But not with Polar Beat. There is no Lap button! And when you want to stop training, you have to use a Pause button first. OMG.
Polar Beat - can you find a Lap or Stop button?

Otherwise, it works as expected and it automatically uploads results to Polar Flow. Again - why two applications instead of one?

Polar Flow on the web is a fancy, but it is far from what older PolarPersonalTrainer offers. And besides that, it still shows childhood diseases. Just for an example:


Why Polar didn't update a PolarPersonalTrainer with many useful functionalities (comparing trainings for example)? I don't know.

After some days my lovely M430 comes from service. It gets a new HR sensor (a short remark from service was written by hand, so I'm not sure if its name is BCASE). I immediately went to a short walk in a forest with M430 on my hand. The first hour with new sensor looks promising and I barely wait my usually climbs.

At first minutes, I was a little disappointing. The first minutes doesn't show an improvement. The measuring starts with a usual delay (showing much lower HR then real). But now it starts to work properly within five minutes. It isn't good, but it is a little better.
You can see the problem here:




But I found another problem when I came to the top. Instead of falling down, the HR jumps as hell - only on the watch of course). This (unimaginable) wrong readings were on display for some minutes.

It looks that changing HR sensor didn't help. My conclusion is that Polar M430 has a real optical HR problem when my body drastically changes behavior. This is when my heart starts to work much harder or slowing down from the effort.

Yesterday I found another problem at home (not on training):


An information for readers who think that I don't know how to use this watch. I have tried many positions on my hand. Cold and warm skin. Upperside and downside. Left and right hand. Shaven hand. Dry or wet skin. Full battery. Clean sensor.
Nothing helps except wearing a chest strap. With a chest strap, it works like it should.

Conclusion:
As I write before, the main problem is when the heart starts to work much faster and when it slowing down quite fast. Don't understand me wrong. I'm a Polar user for almost twenty years and until M430 I didn't have many problems. My point is that buyers of optical HR watches are aware of potential problems and check if it works on their hand.
It would be nice to test if new Polar Vantage with new optical technology works better. Polar - can you provide me a test Vantage V?
Don't miss an article: How to get more accurate heart rate readings?.

7 comments:

silentbob said...

I got the exact same problem. And drew the same conclusion: when the watch loses track of the heart rate, it gets into some undefined state. Instead of accepting that it can not measure anything and putting out a message, it seems to work with (wrongly) calculated values. I also got the case that the watch lost track of my pulse and calculated some kind of average value. So the pulse went down slowly and even when i put my watch off when i took a shower it still showed some value. Finally i bought a H7 sensor. I also contacted support and got no real reply.

silentbob said...

I got the exact same problem. And drew the same conclusion: when the watch loses track of the heart rate, it gets into some undefined state. Instead of accepting that it can not measure anything and putting out a message, it seems to work with (wrongly) calculated values. I also got the case that the watch lost track of my pulse and calculated some kind of average value. So the pulse went down slowly and even when i put my watch off when i took a shower it still showed some value. Finally i bought a H7 sensor. I also contacted support and got no real reply.

Iztok Grilc said...

Silentbot - thanks for your comment. It really looks that Polar has serious problems with optical HR metering on some hands. And it looks your's and mine are between them :-(

Sasa said...

Morda moj komentar komu pomaga...
Today (after 1 year of no major problems) on my M430 I got message "Couldn't find heart rate". Checked web site (https://flow.polar.com/diary/activity) to see if it is measuring my activity and it was. Then tried usual reset method (holding all 4 corner buttons) but it didn't help.
So i went to other reset method which is:
Browse to Settings > General settings > About product > Restart device.
Press the START button and then choose Yes to confirm the restart.
Ant it solved the problem. Watch started to measure heart rate again...
(Last method would be hard or factory reset but wasn't needed).

Iztok Grilc said...

Nice to read :-) but reset didn't help in my case.
But it is worth to try.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comparison would be if you try some used M430 from friend, that he knows work fine. If U have such an option of course:)

Iztok Grilc said...

Similar to your suggestion - my wife tried my M430. And she didn't have a problem. I'm sure that skin/constitution/fat/xxxx has a lot to do with the problem.