Polar AXN Outdoor Computer

Review by planetFear
Wednesday 4th October 2006

I should start by making one thing clear: this is not a watch for dainty wrists or lightweight-gear freaks. It weighs a ton and can only be described as chunky. I wore it on my left wrist for an interval session on a running track and it actually aided my cornering on the bends. It may be worth changing wrist every so often to avoid getting one well-developed, muscular arm, leaving the other one puny and weak. That said, if you are beefy enough to carry it off, this is a hard wearing, stylish watch which looks just as good around town as it does up a mountain. In contrast to many of the other garish heart-rate monitors on the market, the Polar AXN actually looks smart and functions well as an everyday wristwatch. The inch-thick user manual takes a bit of reading, but once you’ve got the hang of it the interface is fairly intuitive.

Of course the ample shell is packed with features. Primary among these are the heart-rate and altitude monitoring, which allow you to download the data onto your PC after a workout (via an infrared or headphones). The supplied heart-rate strap is comfortable and better-designed than any other I have worn – unlike other straps you can even change the battery, which is a real bugbear of other models. 

The well-established Polar software will automatically create pretty graphs and training diaries for you to geek over. You can set zones, add markers, find averages, compare workouts – you could quite easily spend more time analysing your training than you spend actually doing it. Not only can you download the data afterwards, but you can actually view it in graphical form as your workout progresses; you can see a profile of your route so far or a constantly updating heart-rate curve. A welcome distraction on a long run and it certainly looks impressive when you show it to your mates.

Less convincing are the watch’s navigation features, which consist of a compass that can be set to a bearing. It’s a nice idea, but in practise the compass tends to freeze quite often and its scrolling digital display is no substitute for an old fashioned needle floating in oil. It also includes a barometer which can keep you updated on atmospheric conditions, again with a graphical display – useful if you are camped out at the Everest base camp, but less useful in day to day circumstances.

Overall this is the perfect watch for someone who wants to combine functionality and features with style. It’s ergonomic and looks good, but it’s just too big and heavy for any activity where weight is an issue.


More details on the Polar Website


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