Polar CS400 and CS600, new cycling PC linked computers


Chris M


These products were announced last summer (August 2006) and it seems as
though Polar is close to shipping one or both some time soon. It looks
to me as if the CS400 is comparable to the current S series 7,XX and
625x but without power add-on functions while the CS600 is comparable
to the best features of the the current monitors I just mentioned and
the S810's extra memory and more frequent sampling (up to 1 second) and
beat to bear heart rate metrics (rather than calculating a rate based
on X during the given sample rate it records every heart beat). There
are also additional updates / technology upgrades like RF transmissions
of digital data from the 2.4 GHZ sensors that now can be powered for a
25" range (because of the problem of cross-talk from other users being
virtually eliminated in theory at least)

The power add-on with the CS600 (only) is also enhanced, though I
can't recall what is improved aside from fewer wires (there is one
remaining from the derailleur pulley IIRC) and the same (relatively)
high reliability of the 2.4 GHZ digital coded transmissions I mentioned
already. The best part is this is all available for a little less than
a 7/XX with its power add-on. The only downside is that (obviously)
there is no compatibility with the S-series, so those of us that have
multiple bikes mounted with sensors will need to replace all of them.
This is the first time they have done this (all previous wireless
sensors are compatible with the current S-Series though the recent
low-end computers that are similar in feature set but are more akin to
the S-5.XX models also use different technology than the S-6.XX and
S-7.XX). This will be the first time that a cycling model will be
available with all of the best features (all previous model groups have
always had a non-cycling model with beat to beat recording and more
memory). There are very few compromises. I also think that (reading
between the lines) the new CS computers use a picture element display
(aka pixels) that is "fully programmable" in that you can choose
from lots of display options, or at least more than the current models.
By the way, I don't know that anyone noticed that the firmware was
updated on the 725x and 625x (models that can use both cycling and
running sensors) to allow more display options, like cadence and trip
distance now available to put in the display options for the largest
center display line when trip distance was not available before or with
other current models until you download it to your PC) and a few other
trivial options that I forget. The only other feature I remember is the
option of programming "auto-lap" that programs the monitor to
record a lap for every preset interval. The CS400 and CS600 (and a few
others I am not sure about) are shipping with the latest Polar software
called "Pro-trainer 5.0" (based mostly on the PPP version 4, with
planning features similar to what is available on the web service) and
an updated interface.

There was a trial version of the Pro-trainer that was very unstable and
the shipping version is just as bad, however, the update is already up
and even more seamless to update from the web auto-magically and it
replaces all of the core *.exe and .dll files. It runs even more stable
than the recent PPP 4 software. I am not sure if the demo can be
updated, but it might be worth a try because the planning feature
extends the usefulness hugely. The daily plans can be saved as files
and shared, so coaches can email files for each work session. The
planning feature is similar to the current "Polar Exercise Session"
(.pes) files that can be created to load to the watch, but they can
also be assigned to the calendar, so this is a huge gain in function,
plus there are some nice additional features that make the session
plans more useful. I do not know if a coherent plan can be created as a
simple package the way that historical sessions and diary data can.
Maybe that would be a nice suggestion for them if it is not already

So, that is all I know and I am wondering if anyone has any other info
regarding features and ship dates on the main units and the separate
accessories. I see no reason for the need to change IR link technology,
but the fact that the current picklist in the IR driver controls does
not include the CS.X models (yet?) makes me a little worried. On the
other hand, the prices for the accessories are still reasonable and
street prices are the same now as when the first cycling models were
first shipped ($40 USD) and while the updated technology would justify
higher prices, the same can be said for the core units too, and the
prices are said to be lower. One last thing is that the top models have
had real-time links available and there is a slim chance the CS600 may
include this too (as the S810 does). If so, that would be pretty cool
to have, especially if used with a high quality Ergometer / indoor
trainer. The only thing missing would be Oxygen metrics and with the
portable models getting cheaper all the time, it is feasible for
well-to-do cyclists or teams / clubs with a modest budget to put
together a pretty good portable lab.