There is no shortage of heart rate monitors on the market. New models are coming out over year, some have chest straps while others are wrist watch style, and still others slip over a finger to measure your heart rate. This website and blog could go on for a while reviewing each of these. However, I wanted to tackle a basic comparison, staying within the Polar family, and within the same product series (the FT series). Below you’ll find a comparison between the Polar FT4 and the Polar FT7 based on the features and compiled information from several sites.
Smart Coaching Features
It goes without saying that the FT7 is going to have a few more features to it that the FT 4, especially in regards to intuitive calculations. These calculations take your personal body and fitness metrics into consideration. These smart coaching features include:
- Energy Pointer: Are you trying to burn away the fat or trying to improve your overall fitness? The energy pointer will tell you which of these two zones you’re in and what your result will be when exercising in these zones.
- Smart Calories: Using the OwnCal application, this feature is one of the most accurate calorie counters on the market. This calorie counter takes your gender, age, body weight, maximum heart rate and height into account as it measures how hard you’re training.
- Training Load: This smart coaching feature will be your favorite as it tells you when you need to be training and when you need to be resting. At a glance, you can see if you’re over or under-training and how you can improve your work out and results.
Of these smart coaching features, only the Smart Calories feature is available on the FT4. The other two are available on the FT7.
Body Measurement Features
There are several features in this area that the FT4 and the FT7 have in common, and there is probably more overlap between the two here than in any other section. Let’s look at the similarities:
- Display your average and maximum heart rates during your training periods.
- Indicate your training percentage zone (Current HR divided by your Max HR), which will let you know if you’re burning fat, improving aerobic capacity, etc.
- Maximum heart rate indication.
- Polar OwnCal, allowing you to calculate your kcals burnt during workout.
- Polar OwnCode, a specific and unique code between the heart rate monitor strap and the wrist unit, so as not to mix up the two signals.
The FT4 will also automatically calculate your target heart rate zone based on your age. You are also able to enter your manual target heart rate zone as a bpm percentage. Conversely, with the FT7, you can enter a manual target heart rate zone yourself as the upper limit of the bpm.
Data Transfer and PolarPersonalTrainer.com
It should be noted at this point that only the FT7 has a data transfer and PolarPersonalTrainer.com options. The FT4 is not quite so technologically astute. These programs are compatible with Mac or PC, and the transfer happens via the Polar FlowLink, which is an extra accessory that you’ll need to purchase.
There are several advantages to being able to utilize the PolarPersonalTrainer.com feature on the FT7:
- It will help you to analyze your training through the tracking program.
- There is a training diary as well, and you can follow your training schedule, tracking what you’ve done. You can also use the diary to plan your future work outs as well.
- The training load feature will help you to monitor how heavy or light you are training. This is what helps you to know if you are under or over-training. The training load feature will help you to better know your limits and adjust your training intensity.
- There is a feature to vary your training programs following cycling, running, and most other outdoor sports. Training targets can be created for you in this program as well, and you can customize this according to your fitness level.
Recording and Training Features
There are only a couple of training recording features available on the FT4 (and FT7 for that matter). The FT4 allows you to track only your last 10 training sessions. In contrast, the FT7 allows you to track up to 99 training sessions before data is overwritten. You will also be able to sort through all of your training data by weekly summary as well as daily summaries on the FT7 (but not on the FT4).
Training and Watch Features
Of course, these heart rate monitors can also double as watches. These watches have several standard features, and both the FT4 and FT7 have the same watch features, including:
- Time of the day (obviously)
- Date and weekday/weekend indicators
- Two time zones
- Low battery indicator
- Alarm/snooze functions
- User replaceable battery
- Water resistant up to 30 meters.
The Bottom Line
Both the FT4 and the FT7 are popular Polar heart rate monitors and both give you great data and superb quality for the price. If all you are looking for is simple tracking week to week and you can store your data somewhere else, the FT4 might be the right heart rate monitor for you. However, if you’d like some more flexibility, more intuitive tracking and a few more advanced option, the FT7 is the heart rate monitor to go with. Neither will break your bank, and you’ll be well on your way to better health and fitness tracking.
You can also check out this helpful video review for more information: