Polar CS300 £124.50
It’s fair to say Polar are the leading name in monitoring heart rates for many athletes, and its mid-level CS300 is aimed at people who dabble a toe into a couple of sports. So if you’re one of those people who go running round and round the park during the winter and ride the bike when the weather springs up, the wrist-mounted CS300 is ideally suited.
Heart rate monitors and style have never really gone hand in hand, and while I won't go as far as to say the CS300 is good looking, it's far from ugly, being small and oh-so definitely nice looking, with a chrome-lined display and minimal clutter surrounding it. Just five short buttons protrude from the body for navigating the contents.
On the wrist, it’s comfortable, with a soft rubber strap and lots of holes for getting the fit just so. A supplied plastic mount allows fitting to the handlebars for easy on bike viewing. Where Polar have really made huge steps forward in recent years is the development of the WearLink Transmitter chest strap, which is easily among the best available. It’s a softer affair than previous incarnations, and the battery in the transmitter is user replaceable too.
For features, you would all get bored if I was to list everything the CS300 is capable of, but to summarise, it records heart rate, calories used, Polar’s OwnZone (an automatic calculation of training zone intensity with audible and visual alarms), clock, countdown timers, and when used in conjunction with the wireless speed and cadence sensors, records current, average and maximum speed and pedalling revolutions. It may not offer all the bells and whistles that the more expensive all dancing Polar models offer, but for most people it supplies just enough information without bordering on the excessive. And with Polar's online training service, you can easily keep track of your progress.
In use, the Polar takes little time to familiarise with its navigation and available functions. The buttons allow easy progress through the clearly defined labels, giving quick access to previous training sessions and such else. The large display means just a quick glance at your bars or wrist informs of your current status. What you choose to view on the screen is up to you too, with various combinations a mix of current speed, current heart rate, % of heart rate max, cadence and so on.