This review will be looking in depth at the Polar Verity Sense armband heart rate monitor.
The Sports Watch vs HRM Question I Asked Myself
As a seasoned runner, I’ve been very accustomed to using a sports watch like the Coros Apex to track all my activities and map my progress in terms of timings, distance and cardiovascular improvements. But there comes a time every runner’s life when they hanker for the good old days when technology was simple and they didn’t have to obsess over settings, laps, route planning, etc. That feeling came to me recently, so I embarked on a journey to find a lightweight HRM that could fit the gap between having no running data, and the vast swathes of metrics spewed out by a sports watch.
Oh, and the choice of device had one other criteria – it had to be simple to use.
Enter the Polar Verity Sense Armband HRM
Having owned several Polar running watches and chest monitors I have always been impressed with the performance of Polar products, particularly in the accuracy of measuring heart rate. Being a long-distance runner there has always been one issue I’ve faced, particularly when wearing hydration packs, chaffing! Over longer runs and long races the heart strap gradually digs and rubs across my chest, often to the point where I have to remove it. On paper the Verity Sense would be a product that could solve this problem.
The Polar Verity Sense is the third iteration of arm-based heart rate monitor from Polar. The Verity Sense has taken significant steps forward from the original OH1 and OH1+ arm heart rate monitors, which were pretty basic devices.
The key improvements Polar have added include:
- Improved battery life (20 hours battery life up from 8)
- Increased Bluetooth range, now 150m
- Addition of a swimming mode
- Dedicated mode lights added to the main face
- Secondary Bluetooth channel
- Increased storage (16mb from 4mb)
Wrist or arm-based heart rate has commonly been seen as less accurate compared to measuring a chest strap. The arm-based technology measures blood by shining a low intensity light through the skin, the fluctuations in blood flow determine heart rate. Whilst there is some truth to this claim, the Polar Verity Sense is very accurate, a fact I put to the test by wearing both a chest strap and the armband on a run.
Afterwards, I compared the two recordings and found them to be very close. I can’t say which is the most accurate as it’s near impossible to manually measure my heart rate when running. Let’s close this argument off by saying the Verity Sense provides the accuracy needed by amateur runners, swimmers and cyclists.
But let’s not leave out the hikers! If you hike and you’re interested in tracking your fitness gains without feeling you need to splurge on a chunky, expensive sports watch, the Verity Sense offers you a great middle-ground option.
Unboxing the Polar Verity Sense
I like nice packaging. It’s give you the sense the manufacturer cares about you!
Out of the box you will see the adjustable arm strap, charging plug, swim goggle connector and carry pouch.
Getting started with the Verity Sense is very straightforward, it is worthwhile downloading the Polar Flow app to enable software updates even if you are pairing this with a sports watch. The Verity Sense can be paired with any Bluetooth or Ant+ device, in my case a Garmin Fenix 6X through the pairing menu.
A single physical button is used to switch the device on, small presses can then be applied to switch the device to the follow three modes;
- Transmit data to a device via Bluetooth or Ant+ (i.e Sports watch, cycling computer, phone app)
- Data storage on the device using 16mb of internal storage, capable of recording 600 hours of training.
- Swim mode, this enables the user to clip the sense to a pair of swimming goggles in the pool or open water.
An LED- light on the back of the sensor indicates the battery status;
Green 99-80%, Yellow 79-30%, orange 29-10%, red 9-0%.
Testing the Polar Claims
As mentioned earlier, I have found the accuracy and response time to be equal to that of a chest strap. During several sessions of mixed intensities the Verity Sense has consistently provided accurate results, this is particularly useful for someone who trains specifically to heart rate zones.
The graph below shows my heart rate during a 4 x hill repeat session. The session involves 4-5 minutes of uphill at high intensity followed by a recovery period running downhill. The response rate was very impressive, the graph clearly shows a rapid response to increased effort and recovery periods.
The follow session was a long run aerobic zone 1+2 run, the Verity Sense was again very responsive to smaller changes in effort over the course of several hours without a single dropout or erratic spike.
The Verity Sense swim feature can only be used alongside the Polar Beat app, with a Bluetooth range of 150m this allows the user to record a session even with a phone stored away from the pool. The length of the pool can be adjusted in the app from 15m to 100m or open water.
Final Thoughts on the Verity Sense
I have found very little to gripe about the Verity Sense. One potential limiting factor could be the battery life which may compromise use during some endurance events (20 hours plus). This is a minor issue that can be overcome using a spare sensor or using a power bank for recharging as the monitor only takes several minutes to fully charge.
Switching the monitor on or off when wearing a long sleeve top is not a simple process as you are unable to see the monitor LED’s under the sleeve material, after using the monitor you do get used to this as the connection status is displayed on a compatible watch. It would be useful if Polar could design a larger power button that gives feedback when pressed.
It is worth noting the very small size of the charging plug gives people like me a high likelihood of misplacing it around the house, gym bag etc! I recommend carrying the sensor in a chest pocket on your jacket, or some place where you don’t carry other items.
The Verity Sense retails around the £75 area, when taking into consideration the accuracy and new and improved features from the Polar OH1 the increase of £10 from the OH1 makes the Verity Sense very good value. I believe the Verity Sense to be a market leader in the world of arm-based heart rate monitors.