Would you buy a Ciclosport Hac4 or a Polar S720?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Blackie, May 21, 2003.

  1. Blackie

    Blackie New Member

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    Have decided the time is nigh to upgrade my Polar M52. Its done its job but sadly cannot do multiple training zones and would be nice to have a watch with cycling features as well, which can easily download to a computer. (At present I use my cateye Astrale, and input the info).

    Has anyone any experience of these watches - I'm trying to see whether its worth buying the Polar S720 as in reality its true cost with power is 450ish pounds, compared to 200 quid for the Hac4(with software). I'd like the power feature. Polar for me is a solid brand, but the cost worries me. Also it seems it doesn't beep if you're outside the zones (which would be a weakness). As to the Hac4, it seems weak if it only updates after 20secs, and it seems the power feature is not as accurate, and as its a more recent product the software might not be as well developed. What do you think? Thanks.
     
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  2. rek

    rek New Member

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    This web page might come in handy for you: http://www.heartratemonitor.co.uk/hac4s710.html

    I (as do a number of others here) have an S710 and find it's great (the software being a highlight.) I've never seen, let alone used, a HAC4 so I don't really know how they compare.

    There does seem to be a lot of overlap in the functions of each, but they each have their own compelling unique features; the Ciclosport has better altitude functions, the Polar has calorie calculation and more flexible exercise/interval settings.

    The primary drawback of the Polar from a cycling viewpoint is that it's not really great as a basic cyclocomputer; there have been a couple of threads in the past (the forum search should bring these up) about these issues and the workarounds. To put it succinctly: it's a heartrate monitor with cycling functions, not a cyclocomputer with heartrate functions, if you get what I mean.

    BTW if you can find an S710 (not S710i) somewhere (probably only secondhand by now), they do beep outside the zones in cycling mode..
     
  3. kneighbour

    kneighbour New Member

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    I looked at buying a HAC4 before finally getting a S720i. I had a S710 before that, but it was totally unacceptable due to the fact that it shuts down after 5 min with no HR. Useless on my bike rides. The S710i/S720i fixed that major problem.

    There are a lot of problems with the S720i still - let me just tell you a few that I found :

    1. the LCD has a very bad rainbow artefact. This comes and goes with various sunlight regimes, but on a bad day you can barely read the screen at all. Honestly. I have had two S720i now, both with this bad problem, and other users have also mentioned it. Polar says it is a manufacturing problem, and there is nothing much they can do about it. Frankly, if there was anything else around, I would take it back for this fault alone.

    2. It suffers very badly from interference problems. And I mean - real bad. Taxis are a problem, as are tain lines (electric ones). Power lines also seem bad. Ok way out in the country, or in quite neighbourhoods.

    What this means is that you can be sitting at the traffic lights, and you could be doing 140kph! Or your heartrate is 220. I see that a LOT.

    I eventually went to the huge expense of getting the Power Output module simply so I could hardwire in the speed and cadence sensors. That fixed that - except the HR is still a problem of course.

    The problem is it is very hard to filter out the bad readings - and the bad readings can totally stuff up your download results.

    My Polar M52 hitting right next to the S720i has no such problems - works perfectly with no interference whatsoever.

    3. The cycle computer functions are fairly poor, as other users have said. For example there is no Distance function as every other cycle computer on the market has. Totally amazing and rather a weird oversight. You do have Trip Distance, but as that does not reset itself, it is virtually useless - you always forget to reset it before every ride.

    Update speed is a problem (very slow). Also all the cycle information is only on the top line - so you can only see one thing at a time, plus it is very small and hard to read. I find it almost useless for anything at all on a ride itself - except the heart rate.

    While I found the S720i pretty useless on the bike itself - it has a VERY good upload to PC function. And the PPP4 software is VERY good. This alone is the saving grace of the Polar S720i - I can put up with all the other major faults as long as the PC software is so good.

    Conversely, the HAC4 software is very poor. I am a software designer myself, and I was amazed at the very poor quality of the HAC4 software. It has not been updated for something like 5 years, whereas the Polar stuff is updated every few months. Totally chalk and cheese here.

    This makes the HAC4 a very hard thing to justify buying. I also read many posts where users found that the mount was poor - and the unit fell off the bike fairly often. The HAC4 manual is almost unreadable - this says something, I think. We are all used to laughable transalations from Taiwan - but from Germany? It indicates to me that the designers have not spent very much time or effort on the whole package.

    The only real saving grace of the HAC4 is that the US Postal team are using it this year for the TDF. And also the gradient functions (Polar has none).

    The problem is - there is not much choice. The HAC4 might be ok, but it seems second best to the Polar. The Cateye looks very poor in comparison - barely worth consideration. The SRM looks pretty good, but it is way too expensive. As far as I know, that is about it for choice.
     
  4. kneighbour

    kneighbour New Member

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    Be very wary of buying an S710. They have a 5 minute shutdown function if the HR is missing for 5 minutes.

    This means that if you have a flat tire, or have a coffee during a ride, the unit will stop recording. You basically cannot get off your bike for the whole ride.

    If you do, you MUST remember to restart recording. And I can almost guarantee that you won't. So you only record the first part of your ride.

    If you do - you end up with two or more files for the one ride. The new PPP4 software will allow you to merge these together - although it does take a bit of working out. But then you cannot email these merged files to anyone (I always send my data to my work address as well). This seems like a bug, so I guess it will be fixed eventually.

    Simply be aware that this 5 minute thing might be important for you. For some people it makes no difference.

    The newer S710i fixes this problem - it is now 30 minutes.
     
  5. rek

    rek New Member

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    The software can be configured to automatically error-correct the HR data when it's downloaded from the unit, and you can fill in error-prone parts of the speed/cadence graphs quite easily with the error correction tool (just need to click points on the window and it bridges the gaps)

    Not really -- you just have to remember to take the watch with you if you're going to be off the bike for any decent length of time. And since it's a $600 piece of equipment, I'm not going to leave it lying about for any decent length of time ;)

    It is annoying at times, but I don't really see it as a deal-breaker.
     
  6. jestork

    jestork New Member

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    Haven't tried the Polar, but I am pleased with my HAC4. My two sports are cycling and skiing - that led me to the HAC4, as it has very good altitude functions, and can be set to a skiing mode, tracking downhill skiing speed, descents, etc.

    The cyclometer functions seem to work well - distance, speed, cadence, etc. Additionally no problems at present with the HRM.

    Software is a little kludgy, but works. For documenting tours for future club rides, etc., I particularly like the altitude profile, which can easily be combined with a map with the route highlighted, and then printed out.
     
  7. kneighbour

    kneighbour New Member

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    Of - course - I do this after almost EVERY ride now. I still have to correct the HR readings. The automatic error correction does not seem to do anything at all - I have never seen it correct anything yet. If it does, it is fairly subtle. It certainly never removes the erroneous HR readings.

    But you simply cannot correct most of the speed/cadence readings as you do not know which ones are incorrect. With HR it is easy - it always goes to a very high reading - so anything higher than 200 I simply remove. Not so with speed - unless it is really bad, of course. Same with cadence. Which ones are wrong?? I usually have no idea. And it is not merely academic as it wrecks the ride distance calculation.


    Sure - but it is not really practical. When you get a flat tire - you are not thinking about the computer. And I have hopped under a tree for a bit of shade - forgetting the computer. And of course you would - you are tired and hot.

    Well, after losing a few rides, it was for me. The thing is you simply have to focus on the thing for the whole ride - making sure it is working. For me - I focus on the ride - it is hard enough simply to do that without having to worry about one more thing. For $600 I expect more than that.

    And cost is not an issue. The bike is worth a LOT more than the computer - and I also have a GPS fitted which is also worth more. So I never let the bike out of my sight - even at a coffee stop. And preferably not much further than an arms length away.
     
  8. Kristian

    Kristian New Member

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    The s710i does have a gradient measurement in the software. just select a certain hill and then look at the whole selection info. This works pretty well except I have been going out looking for the steepest hills to test it and I havent go a reading over about 7%. This worries me as im struggling up these hills (that to me feel between 10% and verlical!!!) <-- bit unfit. I cant imagine climbing in the alps up 10% climbs for 15+ kms
     
  9. kneighbour

    kneighbour New Member

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    You are right to be worried. I felt the same as you do - the figures looked way too low.

    So I went out and bought an inclinomter for the bike. This is like a spirit level that fits on the handlebars. This gives readings like what I expect - and about DOUBLE what the PPP4 software reports.

    ie, where PPP4 reports a 5% gradient - I actually measure a 10% gradient on the bike.

    I have not done this scientifically, but it does seem to me that the PPP4 software way under reports the gradient.
     
  10. Kristian

    Kristian New Member

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    Man is that good to hear!!!!!
    I would like to know the real values but at least it has been under and not over estimating. Thanks for the info:)
     
  11. Leon

    Leon New Member

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    My 710 does not have anywhere near the sort of interference issues mentioned here.

    My heart rate is fine, cadence needs one or two corrections and speed a couple. It takes me all of one minute to correct after the upload.

    I must admit there is not a lot of traffic or power lines or radio towers or anything for that matter. It is in the middle of the desert.

    Leon
     
  12. GearGrinder

    GearGrinder New Member

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    i cant see the hr monitor underestermating the gradient. Its a simple formula/ Remember it calculates the average gradient. Maybe the selection you chose was large so you got a lower grade than you thought. make a small selection and see
     
  13. kneighbour

    kneighbour New Member

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    Give me a break! I can certainly select the correct part of the curve.

    I am a computer programmer - I know how to use a computer.
     
  14. kneighbour

    kneighbour New Member

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    Then you are truely fortunate. I am actually returning my second S720i today. I did a couple of rides on the weekend where I couldn't even read the thing - the rainbow artefact was so bad. And I got back after an 80km (80.22km) ride and found that I had supposedly done 120km - with an average speed of 139kph! Not bad if it was true. And this is with a hardwired speed sensor.

    Well, there you go. The thing is how do you determine which readings need correcting? You say you corrected a few readings - probably the ones that looked way out off - how do you know that any of the other readings are correct? I can tell (usually) that something is not right by the distance the PPP4 software reports. If it is not correct, then I simply know that the speed readings are incorrect. But which ones? After you spend 10 minutes or so "correcting" speed readings, you suddenly see how stupid the whole thing is - why bother? You suddenly don't believe a thing the unit is reporting.

    I will see what a 710i is like - the S720i is pretty poor stuff.
     
  15. GearGrinder

    GearGrinder New Member

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    what do you mean here kerry? It does, does hvac have more?

    heck kerry calm down i was just trying to help :)

    Iv found i get irregular hr reading if the temp is below 20 and a wind gust comes up it dry's the moisture off the hr strap. I then get hr readings of 220+.

    Iv since tightend the strap a bit and it has not happend. (wind now cannot got under hr strap)

    ok kerry with the gradient feature. i get 5.4% for mt mee
    from smell farm to top where there is that road to the right.
    what gradient do you get for that.
     
  16. Kristian

    Kristian New Member

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    I get plenty of interferance in the car (not that i needit in there). The readings go crazy. I havent had any probs just riding on the road but like you said Kneighbour, how can you tell a false reading if it isnt obvious.
     
  17. ifly4mesaair

    ifly4mesaair New Member

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    try ekg gel with the strap .. you can get this stuff at wal mart or wal greens ... doesn't seem to dry out ... worked for me anyway!!
     
  18. ifly4mesaair

    ifly4mesaair New Member

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    kristion .. i too have had problems in the car .. mine has electronic speedo .. and gets even worse when ac is on
     
  19. cacti

    cacti New Member

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    Mesa guy,

    You think it's bad in a car??? Try it in the A320!!!

    Just wanted to see how worked up I get after an all nighter from LAS down to MEX...
     
  20. ifly4mesaair

    ifly4mesaair New Member

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    Dang i just wish i was flying an a320 .... who cares if the polar works up there ... he he ... but just out of curiosity how worked up did you get????
     
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