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Polar RCX5 In Depth Review

While the Polar RCX5 was officially released yesterday, I’ve actually been playing with it now for over a month – getting the change to put it through its paces in hundreds upon hundreds of miles of real world running, cycling and swimming.  How would it stand up to the pounding, and how does it compare to the competition?

Like all my reviews, they tend to be pretty in depth (perhaps overly so) – but that’s just my trademark DC Rainmaker way of doing things.  Think of them more like reference guides than quick and easy summaries.  I try and cover every conceivable thing you might do with the device and then poke at it a bit more.  My goal is to leave no stone unturned – both the good and the bad.

Because I want to be transparent about my reviews, this unit was provided by Polar as a media trial.  It’s technically a prototype unit – though should be the same as the final production units.  Once I’m done with it, it heads back to Polar.  Simple as that.  Sorta like hiking in wilderness trails – leave only footprints.  If you find my review useful, you can use any of the Amazon links from this page to help support future reviews.

Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular triathlete out there.  I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background (my day job), and thus I try and be as complete as I can.  But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out.  Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed.

With that, let’s get onto the review!

Unboxing:

In my case I had a prototype unit, so keep that in mind. Thus it’s plausible that the final products that end up at your local retail stores may have more fanfare associated with them…or just simply more paper stuffed in there.  But, it’ll at least have these important parts, and honestly – nobody reads the paper manual anyway (PDF manual is here).

Here’s the box for the RCX5 Run edition.  Keep in mind there are multiple bundles – and while this specific box shows the run edition, I’ve also been provided the G5 GPS pod, which doesn’t normally come with just the run bundle.

Polar RCX5 Run Box StandardPolar RCX5 Run Box Standard Opened

Once we get past the shiny black box, it’s time to unbox everything – resulting in the below:

Polar RCX5 Unboxed

Once you’ve un-bagged the G5 GPS Pod armband, it’ll look like the following:

Polar RCX5 Unboxed and Unpackaged

From there, let’s dive into the different pieces.  First up is the G5 GPS pod, which includes the cloth armband as well:

Polar G5 GPS UnitPolar G5 GPS Unit BackPolar G5 GPS Unit Next to Biz CardPolar G5 GPS Unit ArmbandPolar G5 GPS Unit Armband with pod

The G5 GPS Pod is charged via a micro USB cable:

Polar G5 GPS Unit MicroUSB Charger

Then we’ve got the WearLink+ Hybrid Heart Rate Strap, which measures your heart rate:

Polar Wearlink+ Hybrid

Next up is the s3+ stride sensor, or footpod, which enables you to track speed and distance indoors while on a treadmill, as well as track cadence information.  Both can be tracked outdoors as well.

Polar s3+ FootpodPolar s3+ Footpod Back

Then we’ve got the Polar USB Datalink stick, which enables wireless transfers (it wasn’t in the original box shots above as it had to be sent over separately in my prototype package):

Polar Datalink USB Stick

Then we’ve got the DVD with software and manuals on it.  It’s almost as thrilling as Disney’s Finding Demo:

Polar RCX5 CD

And finally, the last component you’ve all been waiting for – the watch itself:

Polar RCX5 front of watchPolar RCX5 front of watchPolar RCX5 back of watch

You probably noticed there isn’t a charging unit in there – that’s because the RCX5 works off of a CR2032 battery which lasts about 8-11 months (1hr/day, 7days/week).  Once it’s done you simply open it up, swap out the battery, and resume normalcy again.  No charging!

Size Comparisons:

By far, the most popular feature of all my reviews is the rolling pin comparisons.  I do these because standard kitchen rolling pins are actually fairly similar to the human arm from a width standpoint, so it’s easy to visualize.  Further, it levels the playing field between all the watches out there and makes it really easy to see exactly how big each unit is.

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve put together the following watch assortment, focusing on the latest models available today.  Each of the watches featured below has its own review, which would allow you to compare it against other units out at that time, in the event you’re looking for more comparison shots.

Polar RCX5 & Garmin Comparison, plus Nike+ GPS

Above is the front view, and below is a side profile view.

Polar RCX5 & Garmin Size Comparison, plus Nike+ GPSPolar RCX5 & Garmin Size Comparison, plus Nike+ GPS

Above is a view of the back clips, and below is another side profile view, this time with the roller flush against the table.

Polar RCX5 & Garmin Size Comparison, plus Nike+ GPS

From left to right the units displayed above are: FR60, FR210 (same profile as FR110), FR610, RCX5, Nike+ GPS Sportwatch, FR310XT.

Running:

Out of the three sports that the RCX5 focuses on, it clearly excels the most at running.  Over the past month I’ve run virtually all of my runs with the RCX5 and found it a great and easy to use companion.  I’ve run both with and without the G5 GPS pod (using the footpod instead sometimes), as well as with the GPS pod in a variety of locations.  But before we get into accessory details, let’s just walk through the basics of the watch.

Once you’ve got the watch at the main screen and ready to start an activity, you’ll simply scroll through the sports (Running/Cycling/Swimming/Other).  Each of these sports allows you to customize everything from data fields and data pages to sensors that are paired.  Let’s start off with running:

Polar RCX5 Running Start Screen

In my case, I have a Polar Hybrid heart rate strap, a s3+ footpod and a G5 GPS sensor.  You can see the three little pairing blinky signals signifying that it’s searching for these sensors.  Once it’s done, it’ll change to the magical checkmark.

Polar RCX5 Running Start Screen

After that, it’s as simple as pressing the big red button to start your workout.  This is effectively your start/lap button, which triggers lap demarcations as well as starts a workout.  After you press start it’ll chirp and tell you recording is started.  From there, you’ll be right into your activity:

Polar RCX5 While Running Data ScreensPolar RCX5 While Running Data Screens

Once in the activity, you can display up to four data fields per page, and can customize up to 6 data pages.  This is nearly double the amount of other competitive sport watches (data pages).  You can turn off pages you don’t want to use as well.

Here’s a quick sampling of a few different data page arrangements.

Polar RCX5 While Running Data ScreensPolar RCX5 While Running Data ScreensPolar RCX5 While Running Data Screens

Now that we’re off and cooking on the run you’ll the watch is pretty much hands free.  You can even go as far as automating things like changing the views, using the HeartTouch feature.  This clever little option allows you to simply swipe your watch past your heart rate strap transmitter to perform a given action. For example, you can configure it to change views, hit lap, turn on the backlight or show the time of day.

Because this feature is a bit anticlimactic to show in photographs, I’ve turned to video instead.  If I had more creative genes, I could probably even make a music video synchronized to Journey with this feature…but I’ll save you that suffering, and instead, just stick to the facts:

Polar RCX5 HeartTouch feature

Pretty cool, ehh?

Now, you can also configure straight up Automatic Laps instead of touching the lap button, which allows you to specify a number of your choosing by which the watch will automatically mark a lap/interval.

Polar RCX5 Auto LapPolar RCX5 Auto Lap Configuration Set

This is useful for folks that simply want to have specific distance splits for later reference (i.e. every mile).  For me, I don’t tend to use this feature simply because I often use the splits/lap function to demark portion of my workout (i.e. warmup, main sets, cooldown).  However there are some cases where I’ll use it on a simple long run to see better mile by mile trending.

Another new feature that is quite popular on other watches is ‘Race Pace’, which allows you to see how you’re doing against a given pace goal for a set distance.  Translated to Garmin speak, this is functionally the same as their ‘Virtual Partner’ feature.  To enable this, you’ll go into the ‘Applications’ menu, which allows you to select Race Pace.

From there you’ll choose which sport you want, running in our case, and then configure the distance of our event.  I’ve gone with a standard 10K (6.2 miles).

Polar RCX5 Race Pace

After which, it asks you exactly how fast you intend to run that distance.  Or rather, how fast you want it to think you’re about to run.  I find that sometimes my intentions don’t live up to reality.

Polar RCX5 Race Pace Target Setting

Once that’s complete it’ll take you to the normal starting screen for running, where you can go ahead and prepare to run.  After you’ve started running, you’ll see the below page, which shows you how you’re doing relative to your intended/target pace (you may have to zoom in a bit):

Polar RCX5 Race Pace Tracking

As I noted earlier, I alternated back and forth between the G5 GPS pod, and the s3+ footpod, to determine distance.  I found both to be very accurate against both distances that are known (measured paths, track loops and other GPS units I carried with me).  So accurate in fact that at times I questioned whether or not the two units were actually collaborating on what distances to show me, since they were almost identical (within .01 miles at all times).

I often ran my longer runs with the GPS pod in my CamelBak, as opposed to on my arm, mostly because I’m not a huge fan of armbands.

Polar RCX5 GPS pod in Camelbak

I had no issues in the Camelbak.  And at times I also ran with it in my running shorts front pocket (the small key one) and again – generally no issues.  I saw a single case during one run where it dropped out, but I’m not sure if that was due to signal between the watch and the GPS unit, or the GPS unit and the satellites (the error message is the same).  But that was just one time out of 30 days, and it may well be related to having prototype units.  However, because the unit will interpolate GPS data between two points (if missing in between), the overall distance actually worked out since the gap was so short.  All in all, the RCX5 works great for running.

Cycling:

The RCX5 is a very capable bike computer, especially once combined with the additional W.I.N.D. sensors such as speed (primarily for on a trainer) and cadence.  I’d recommend that you start by utilizing the bike mount:

Polar RCX5 Cycling Start Screen

I do this simply because I find it’s easier to glance at, versus twisting your wrist – especially on a triathlon/time trial bike:

Polar RCX5 on wrist while cycling

Once you’ve got it all mounted up, you’ll go into Cycling mode, which automatically connects to any of the sensors you have previously paired for that bike, including: Speed Sensor, Cadence Sensor, Heart Rate Monitor, and GPS pod.

Polar RCX5 on bike mount cycling

You can specify and configure two different bikes, should you have different sensors on different bikes (such as a mountain bike and a road bike):

Polar RCX5 Multiple bike profiles

In addition to the different bikes, for each bike you can setup separate data field arrangements.  Each bike can support six different data pages, with four different data fields per page – just like running.

Once you’ve selected your bike and are ready to ride, you’ll simply hit start to begin.  From here you can iterate through each of the different display fields:

Polar RCX5 Datafields while cycling

In addition to regular cycling mode, you also have the Race Pace mode, just like what’s offered while running.  In this case, it works almost the same way – you specify distance, and then time – and it in turn figures out the pace for you:

Polar RCX5 Race Pace Target SettingPolar RCX5 Race Pace Target Time SettingPolar RCX5 Race Pace Cycling

In addition to outside cycling, the RCX5 works great indoors on a trainer.  By using the speed sensor I can get both speed and distance inside – ideal for the 3+ trainer sessions I have each week:

Polar RCX5 Indoors on TrainerPolar RCX5 Indoors on Trainer

Finally, one feature I find particularly useful to cyclists in the city is Auto Start.  This will automatically start the watch when movement begins. The reason I find this useful for cycling is during city riding where you may be coming up quite a bit on stop signs or stoplights, it’ll just take care of the starting for you – allowing you to focus on avoiding the darting cars.  Note that Auto Start requires the speed sensor to be present, and is not based on GPS data.

Finally, I detail each of the different sensor types a bit more later on in the accessories section.

Swimming:

One of the biggest draws for triathletes using Polar devices, and in particular the RCX5, is the ability to gather heart rate data while underwater.  And the RCX5 combined with the heart rate strap does exactly that.

Polar RCX5 Swimming Start Mode

While the RCX5 won’t capture swim data such as stroke, length or distance – it will at least capture your heart rate while underwater.

Further, all of the buttons work without issue underwater, allow you to create laps and splits, or alter the data views.

Polar RCX5 Swimming with HR

Additionally, the slimmer design of the RCX5 means that it doesn’t really get in the way compared to larger watches:

Polar RCX5 Swimming on wrist

The only challenge I’ve found with swimming with the heart rate strap is having the heart rate strap actually stay on ones body.  For women, this isn’t an issue – since the heart rate strap is typically under their swimsuit and thus not subject to the water speed pushing against the strap.  But for me (and most guys), the strap is exposed over my chest and thus when I get up to speed, or directly after a flip turn, the strap will start to slide down to my waist.

Polar RCX5 HR underwater

Over the course of just a lap or two of hard swimming the strap is usually no longer on my chest.  I’ve tightened the strap as tight as I can, as well as tried numerous positions (front, back, side, higher, lower, etc…) and all eventually result in the same result.  Likely because the strap has about half an inch of space as it crosses my sternum – where water can slide under and create a small sail to catch against.

Again, this won’t be an issue for everyone, but it’s something to consider.  And it certainly isn’t an issue if wearing a wetsuit or swimsuit that covers your chest.  And this isn’t really a Polar problem – as I’ve tried a few other straps underwater and all result in the same.

That said – if I did swim slow enough, then the data came out just fine and dandy, minus a few flat areas where I didn’t realize the strap has slipped too far down:

Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Data while swimming

G5 GPS Pod Accuracy:

If there’s one thing I’ve been amazed by – it’s the accuracy of the G5 GPS pod compared to other integrated GPS watches.  It’s not so much that I expected it to be inaccurate, but rather I was amazed at just how often it was exactly the same as my other GPS devices – whether it be an 80 mile ride, or a 8 mile interval session through the woods.

I found that in virtually every scenario it was spot on with a host of other devices I was using at the time.

There was only two specific scenarios I saw issues.  One was a recent run under some trees where I had it in my running shorts (instead of in the recommended arm band), and another was when I had it on cycling in my back jersey pocket, again instead of the recommended the arm band.  In both scenarios I saw some brief dropouts where it said the GPS was unavailable.  It wasn’t clear if it meant the GPS signal (satellite) was unavailable, or if it meant the GPS pod had strayed too far from the RCX5 watch itself.  In both cases however, the signal picked up quickly and interpolated the spaces between the two points.

In the case of the running, the distance was short enough that it didn’t matter.  In the case of cycling, it actually did cut a corner due to the road that I was travelling having a curve in it.  Though, through a bit of luck, by the end of the ride it and the Edge 800 I had on as well matched – likely because the Edge 800 dropped some satellite coverage somewhere else (otherwise the Edge 800 would have been longer).  You can see the drop below, by looking at the straight line between the two points, compared to my return, which is along the road.

Polar G5 GPS Pod Gap

Of course, in both situations you can use either the footpod or speed sensor instead, but in reality, out of the 27 runs or bikes I’ve done with it thus far, these were the only two occasions that this happened, and both of them seemed to be negligible in the overall distance.

That all said, this weekend I plan to be spending some time putting all of the new 2011 GPS based units through my usual GPS Accuracy Tests, using the same courses as I did last year.  So look for those results in the near future.

s3+ Footpod & Footpod Accuracy:

The new s3+ footpod sensor allows you to run indoors and track distance & pace, as well as tracking run turnover (cadence) both indoors and outside.  You can of course use the sensor in place of the GPS pod outdoors as well to gather distance/pace information while running.

Polar s3+ Footpod on shoe

The footpod sensor should be calibrated prior to use, to ensure it’s accurate.  Pre-calibration I found my paces off by about 10-15% from GPS provided paces.  Once calibration was complete however (just ran half a mile on the track), the sensor was spot on, nailing .25 miles every lap around the 400m (quarter mile) track.

Polar s3+ Footpod Calibration

Calibration is super quick to run through, simply specify how long (exactly) you plan to run and then start running, letting the watch know once you’re done.  I recommend either a track or treadmill to get the most accurate results:

Polar s3+ Footpod Calibration

Once done, it’ll give you a calibration factor.  This calibration factor works well regardless of what pace you ran the original calibration test at.  For example, I ran my calibration tests at about a 7:30/mile pace.  Then I went out and did a few laps at paces ranging between 5:00/mile and 10:00/mile for a few hundred meters at a time…in the end, the distances around the track were right on target.

In subsequent runs I’ve found the footpod and other GPS units to agree almost exactly (within .01-.02) on runs 5-8 miles long.  For longer runs I tended to use GPS distances simply because I was more interested in measuring that, though I don’t suspect any significant unexpected variance after 8 miles.

Waterproofing:

All of the different components within the RCX5 suite are fully waterproofed.  The watch itself is waterproofed to 30 meters, and has no issues being worn on your wrist while swimming.  This is a key differentiation as some sports watches are waterproofed to a lesser standard (IPX7) and while they can sustain up to the limit of 30 minutes in 1 meter deep water, they can’t often sustain the whacking of your wrist against the water.  The RCX5 has no issues there.

Polar RCX5 in wet run

Additionally, the G5 GPS pod is also waterproofed, albeit to the slightly lesser IPX7 standard.  But this standard is 30 minutes of submersion at 1 meter deep.  For a GPS pod, this is more than adequate.  After all, the GPS reception doesn’t work beyond about 1” below the water surface, so anything more is merely supplemental.  But it is key for being able to put the GPS pod in your swim cap and measure distances using that method instead.

For fun, I took the RCX5, GPS pod and heart rate strap and left them on a ladder in the pool for a bit – no issues at all later on.  All worked flawlessly.

Polar RCX5 Gear underwater, waterproofing

Next up is the footpod.  The footpod is waterproofed to 20 meters, which means for those of you doing trail races, you don’t have to worry about any creek/stream/river/pond/lake/ocean crossings and the unit dying:

Polar s3+ Footpod waterproofingPolar s3+ Footpod waterproofing river testPolar s3+ Footpod waterproofing river test

(Yes, I went and played in the river…and yup…still alive…both me and the footpod!)

Finally, the heart rate straps are fully waterproofed as well.  You’ll have no issues wearing these in the pool or under your wetsuit.  And unlike Garmin ANT+ powered straps, these do transmit successfully in the water, meaning you’re able to get HR data from your entire swim.

I discussed more of the swimming aspects earlier though, so you’ll want to scroll back on up and find the blue watery lookin’ pictures for that section.

Nightlife…errr…nightlight:

The RCX5 features a day-glow backlight that is activated by pressing the upper left hand button.  It keeps the light on for about 5 seconds before turning it off.

While you can’t control how long the light stays on for, you can switch the watch into Night Mode, which will automatically activate the light when any button is pressed, or when HeartTouch is enabled – which allows you to simply swipe the watch near the Heart Rate Transmitter strap to turn the light on.

Polar RCX5 Backlight/nightlight

Battery Life and Replacement:

Because my prototype unit may have had a bit of battery life pre-Ray on it, I recently needed to swap out the battery.  How did I know that I needed to though?  It’s got a nifty little battery warning:

Polar RCX5 Low Battery Indicator

That started about a week ago, and I just got around to swapping it out now after another 10-12 hours of workouts– so you’ve got plenty of time to work with.  Swapping out the RCX5 battery is one of the easiest things you’ll ever do with respect to staying at a Holiday Inn and becoming a watch technician.  All you need is a flat blade screwdriver and a standard CR2032 watch battery:

Polar RCX5 Battery Swapout Tools

Then, simply twist the back panel a few times and it pops right open.  From there, just grab the battery out of the back and put a new one in:

Polar RCX5 Battery SwapoutPolar RCX5 Battery Swapout

Twist it back on and you’re back in business.  The watch will ask you to re-enter your basic settings, but interestingly all of your more complex settings (weight/height/data pages/sensors/etc…) are actually saved.  So it only takes a few seconds.

Polar RCX5 Battery Swapout Complete

With that, you’re good to go!

As for the G5 GPS pod battery life, it’s about 20 hours and rechargeable via the micro USB cable noted earlier on in the unboxing shots.

And the s3+ footpod sensor has a battery life of 200 hours using a CR2430 user replaceable battery.

Data Fields:

The RCX5 allows you to specify all of the following data fields, dependent on sport.  The following data fields are available to select from and add to any of the 6 data pages that you can configure.  Each data page hold 4 lines of data each, displayed one line on top of each other.  You cannot display less than 4 lines of data (thus, the sizing is the same for all data fields displayed).

Polar RCX5 Data Fields

You can display any combination of data fields that you want to on a given page, and can disable/enable pages as you see fit, by sport.

Accessories:

Polar already boasts a pretty established line-up of accessories, all of which the RCX5 can use without issue.  I’ve divided up the different accessory types below.

Accessories: Heart Rate Straps

It would be an understatement to say that Polar offers a broad range of heart rate strap options.  They offer roughly one million different heart rate straps (said with Dr. Evil little pinky to lip), I counted them myself.  However, only a handful of them are ones you’ll want to use with the RCX5.  And in particular, you’ll probably just one to focus on one – the WearLink+ Hybrid strap.

Polar RCX5 Included Heart Rate Strap

This is the strap that supports features such as the HeartTouch option, as well as the ability to work underwater.  The Hybrid name refers though to the strap’s ability to support both Polar’s coded proprietary protocols, as well as the legacy open heart rate transmission protocols used on treadmills the world around.  This means that you can easily use it with any piece of gym equipment that supports a standard heart rate strap.

The RCX5 is compatible with the following straps:

AccessoryManufacturerStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10JKW)More Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated December 1st, 2014 @ 10:32 am
G5 Standalone GPS PodPolar$113LinkLinkN/A
H1 Heart Rate Strap (Analog Polar + Gym Equipment)Polar$51.00LinkLinkLink
H2 Heart Rate Strap (Polar W.I.N.D. units, Analog + Gym Equipment)Polar$60.00LinkLinkLink
H3 Heart Rate Strap (Polar W.I.N.D. units only)PolarTBATBATBALink
Nike+ WIND Heart Rate Strap (Nike+ App & Analog Polar)Polar$51LinkLinkN/A
Polar Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)Polar$12.00LinkLinkN/A
S3+ Running Footpod (Polar units only)Polar$101.00LinkN/AN/A
W.I.N.D. Bike Cadence SensorPolar$46.00LinkLinkN/A
W.I.N.D. Bike Speed SensorPolar$33.00LinkLinkN/A

Once you do have the right strap, you’ll see heart rate data in all of our activities that you upload, as well as see immediate heart rate data on the screen itself during use:

Completed Workout Data on Polar Personal Trainer

It should be noted that the standard WearLink W.I.N.D. strap (the non-hybrid one) won’t work in the water measuring HR – so ensure you grab the right one.

Accessories: G5 GPS Pod:

The RCX5 is being released with the new G5 GPS pod.  This smaller GPS pod is about the size of a stick of gum.  The pod comes with an arm band that you can wear, giving it clear GPS reception and signal to the watch:

Polar G5 GPS Pod

I’ve also had a fair bit of luck simply placing the pod in my back jersey pocket (cycling), or in the case of running – my front shorts running pocket (where a key would normally go).  In both cases it works about 95% of the time, but I have seen occasional dropouts.  The watch doesn’t specify if it’s losing the GPS satellite signal, or losing the GPS pod’s signal to the watch.

In my tests, the GPS pod accuracy was astonishingly spot-on with other integrated GPS devices I’ve tested.  I’m planning a full scale GPS accuracy test run through in the next few weeks, including this unit against other newly released GPS devices – so look for that.  But based on all my testing in both open conditions on the the bike and run, as well as closed tree conditions, it’s incredibly accurate against similar devices.

Also, if you have an older G3 GPS pod, it’s compatible with that as well.

Accessories: Speed Sensor (Cycling):

The RCX5 is compatible with the Polar W.I.N.D. cycling speed sensor, which enables you to gather speed data both inside and outside, when not using the GPS pod to gather that data.

Polar WIND Speed Sensor

The speed sensor utilizes a small pod that you attach to your bike frame near either your front or rear wheel.  While the manual recommends the front wheel, that’s pretty much useless on an indoor trainer (since it stays still) – so I go with the rear wheel instead.

You then place a small spoke magnet on the wheel that triggers each time the spoke passes the magnetic sensor.  This in turn wirelessly transmits to the RCX5.  On the RCX5 you simply configure the wheel circumference, which allows it to in turn determine speed and distance:

Polar WIND Speed Sensor on RCX5 Configuration

This is the same speed sensor that’s used with existing Polar units, so if you already have it – no worries on picking up a new one.  It should be noted that this is not compatible with Garmin ANT+ speed/cadence sensors, as it uses Polar’s W.I.N.D. technology.

Accessories: Cadence Sensor (Cycling):

Polar’s W.I.N.D. based cadence sensor allows you to gather cadence data while cycling.  This is measured in RPM’s (Revolutions Per Minute) and is based on the number of times the crank arm passes the sensor.  The crank arm is where your pedal attaches to (and thus, where your shoe attaches to the pedal).

Polar WIND Cadence Sensor

Typically cyclists aim for about 95RPM, however, recent research is showing that a self selected cadence tends to work out best for most athletes.  Nonetheless, no matter how you train, the Polar cadence sensor allows you to capture that data and analyze it later on.  This works well both inside and outside.

I found the sensor very responsible with my cadence changes, easily recording the data without drops or spikes.  I was able to run through a range of cadence parameters from mid-50’s up to 191RPM without any problems. You can see the cadence data in the chart below as the grey-ish line:

Indoor trainer workout data

It should be noted that this is not compatible with Garmin ANT+ speed/cadence sensors, as it uses Polar’s W.I.N.D. technology.

Accessories: s3+ Footpod Sensor (Running):

As noted previously in the full length footpod section, the RCX5 is compatible with the s3+ footpod, which allows you to track pace/distance while indoors (or outside), as well as providing foot turnover (cadence) data.

Polar s3+ footpodPolar s3+ footpod

The footpod simply attaches to your shoe and once calibrated is pretty much good to go for life.

Polar s3+ footpod vs Garmin ANT+ Footpod

(Above: A comparison between the Garmin ANT+ footpod, left, and the Polar s3+ footpod, right).

And like the other sensors, it should be noted that this is not compatible with Garmin ANT+ shoe footpod sensors, as the Polar s3+ uses Polar’s W.I.N.D. technology instead of ANT+.  As a point of reference though, I have found that both sensor brands track equally as well on their respective devices however.

Accessories: Bike Mount Kit (Cycling):

Finally, you can purchase the standard Polar bike mount kit, which enables you to wrap the watch around the mount – allowing easy viewing while cycling.  Here’s the mount:

Polar Bike Mount Kit

It simply attaches via zip ties to just about anywhere with a slightly curved surface:

Polar Bike Mount Kit InstallationPolar Bike Mount Kit Installed

From there you’ll wrap the watch band around it as if it were your wrist:

Polar Bike Mount Kit adding RCX5Polar Bike Mount Kit with RCX5

Accessories: Power Meter Support:

It should be noted that at this time the RCX5 is not compatible with either the legacy Polar W.I.N.D.  chain stay driven power meter, nor the newer and upcoming Keo Polar/Look pedal based power meters.

Downloading Data To Your Computer:

The RCX5 supports wireless downloads from the watch to your computer, enabling you to more deeply analyze your training data.  This would be a good time to point out that you can configure how frequently the Polar RCX5 records data (recording rate), down to as low as 1-second.  In the manual they actually put together an amazingly cool chart showing exactly how much storage time you’ll get for each scenario, check it out (a very small snip of it):

Polar RCX5 Recording Rates

But let’s get onto the downloading to your computer piece.  To do so, you’ll want to grab the Datalink USB stick, and simply plug it into your computer:

Polar RCX5 Computer Sync via Datalink

You’ll do some initial pairing the first time you use the watch with your computer – simply to get it all setup for future uploads.  This includes both setting the PolarPersonalTrainer.com account up, as well selecting which physical watch to pair with your computer:

Polar RCX5 and WebsyncPolar RCX5 and Websync Setup

Once you’re done with that you’ll go ahead and set the watch to connect mode, and then open up the Polar Websync client on your computer:

Polar RCX5 and Websync Setup

After which, it’ll automatically start downloading the files to your computer, and then straight to PolarPersonalTrainer.com (PPT).

Polar RCX5 and Websync Data UploadPolar RCX5 and Websync Data Upload Complete

Additionally, you can choose to simply download the files to a folder, as part of the export option.  This is useful if you plan to use the separate GPX and HRM files that it creates to upload to 3rd party applications.

Polar RCX5 Local Training Data Export-Download

Once completed exporting, it gives you two files for every activity – one HRM file (contains your training data), and another GPX file containing your GPS files.

Polar RCX5 Local Training Data Export-Download

To be clear however, if you just use the defaults it’ll just magically upload everything to the website and none of the above file stuff will matter.

Once you’ve got everything offloaded from the watch, it’s time to hit up the site.

Software: Web Client – Polar Personal Trainer:

Polar Personal Trainer (PolarPersonalTrainer.com, or PPT.com for short) is Polar’s online site that supports uploading from the RCX5 via the USB Datalink noted in the previous section. Once you sign in you’ll be brought to the main page, but I find that the Diary Page is a bit more useful place to start – as it lists your activities:

PPT Calendar Overview

From here you can select a given activity and start to get more information about it:

PPT Bike Ride Workout Complete

You’ll have a number of different tabs along the top, including the ability to more closely look at the data or your map data.  Though I’ve found that for the most part the main page above shows just about everything you want.  Here’s the Curve page though – which allows a bit more detail to be seen in the charts:

PPT Bike Ride Workout Complete - Curve Data

On the data page, you can get the various average, minimum and maximum data marks for each data metric type:

PPT Bike Ride Workout Detailed Data

In addition to the entire ride, you can also display all of your split/lap information, as recorded by the watch:

PPT Bike Ride Workout Laps/Splits Data

And even cooler is that you can edit it, per below – if you need to adjust it for any reason.

PPT Bike Ride Workout Laps/Splits Data Modification

In addition to reviewing your individual workouts, PPT.com allows you to look at Training Load data, which is a way of them displaying what your overall training impact has looked like over a given time period:

PPT Bike Ride Workout Training Load

Here’s a bit more information on the Training Load piece:

PPT Bike Ride Workout Training Load Detail

And finally, within PPT.com there are ways to graph and chart your total workouts over a given time period, both by sport as well as by HR zone:

PPT - Workout Totals

Though, there’s plenty more on the site that’s more applicable to community building, or even training in general – for example the ability to look at short videos on different strength routines, and even build a strength workout:

PPT - Strength SessionsPPT - Strength Session Videos

Perhaps I’ll circle back at some point and do a bit more of a comparison between vendor sites like PPT.com and Garmin Connect.

Software: Polar ProTrainer 5:

In addition to the web client, you can also use ProTrainer 5 to manage workout files.  While the integration isn’t quite as smooth as the website, it does still work fine for reading files.  It’s clear from everything Polar has been saying that the future of analysis services is the website.

To use ProTrainer5 with the RCX5 you’ll need to use the Websync utility to export the files into .HRM and .GPX files.  From there you can go ahead and open up ProTrainer application, and create a workout record:

ProTrainer 5 Calendar View

From there you’ll choose to attach an exercise file:

ProTrainer 5 add RCX5 Workout

Simply go ahead and select the exported .HRM file.  This will then populate the base data in the activity:

ProTrainer 5 add RCX5 Workout

You can click the little map icon to view the GPS track (though, without any maps, but you can click the Google Earth button to load it there):

ProTrainer 5 RCX5 Workout Map

Or you can click the graph icon to dive deeper into the data.  Here’s a run:

ProTrainer 5 RCX5 Workout Graphs

And here’s a bike ride:

ProTrainer 5 RCX5 Workout Graphs

While I had used the software to create a fancy workout, there doesn’t appear to be any way of getting these workouts from ProTrainer over to the RCX5.  However, you can rebuild them over on PPT.com, which I’ll talk about after the picture below.

ProTrainer 5 Create workout

While you can’t port the desktop client (ProTrainer) workouts over to the RCX5, you can rebuild them directly on PPT.com.  To do so, you’ll navigate into your calendar view and select to create a ‘New Phased Target’ (No idea why they don’t just say ‘Create workout’).

PPT how to create workout step 1

Once you do that, you’ll be brought to this screen, which allows you to create the workout in much the same manner as you do in ProTrainer:

PPT how to create workout step 2

You can specify the type as time, distance or manual (which means, you press the lap button):

PPT how to create RCX5 workout step 3

Additionally, within limits, you can specify Sport Zones, heart rate, speed or pace.  This is a bit of a nice improvement over ProTrainer, which didn’t allow you to specify speed or pace.

PPT how to create RCX5 workout step 4

The only limiter I found is that you’re unable to create more than four phases.  So in my example above, I actually have two additional pieces that I do after the main interval sets, so I was unable to add those.  I’m optimistic that this functionality will get updated/expanded in the near future.

Once you’ve completed creating the workout, you’ll select save and it’ll then automatically sync to your RCX5 the next time you sync using the Websync software.

Finally, while there isn’t a way as of June 2nd, 2011 to upload all of your ProTrainer activities over to PPT.com, the Polar folks tell me it is coming shortly and will be done via the Websync tool here in the very near future.

Random Tidbits: Creating your own sport

One cool little feature tucked away is the ability to create your own sports and sport profile.  Then on the watch, you can assign different settings to it – such as page views and data fields.  To create your own sport profile, you’ll right click the Websync icon in your tray bar and start Training Computer.  Once it’s done connecting, you’ll see the following menu:

RCX5 creating your own sport profile

We’ll go ahead and click on ‘Add Sport’ to create a new sport.  For fun, I’m going to great the Rollerblading sport, and then select that it’s type of ‘Other’, so it uses just the GPS and HRM sensors.

RCX5 creating your own sport profile Part II

Last but not least, I’ll go ahead and assign it an icon from the list:

RCX5 creating your own sport profile, selecting graphicRCX5 creating your own sport profile, completed

From now on out, I’ve got the new Rollerblading sport now showing in my watch – ready to use:

RCX5 creating your own sport profile, completed photo - rollerblading

Software: 3rd Party Options:

Using the export options available on the desktop client, you can go ahead and export out Polar .HRM files, which are recognized by virtually every software application that supports Polar devices.  Additionally, it’ll also export out the .GPX file, which are also recognized by virtually every application that supports GPX files (including apps like Google Earth).  The .HRM files contain the training data (heart rate, cadence, speed, etc…), while the .GPX files contain the GPS map data.

Thus, the trick comes with getting 3rd party apps that can recognize both files and can pair them together.  And while Polar also allows you to export files from PPT.com to a combined XML file format…

RCX5 Export from PPT

…this data is merely summary data – essentially just averages and totals, and doesn’t include location data:

RCX5 XML Export from PPT

So unfortunately, at this time the 3rd party options are fairly limited if you want to get both GPS data and training data tied together.  I’m sure that over time these two will become better support, but today the challenge is largely choosing between training data or GPS data.

That said, some programs can combine two pieces of data – even though they don’t logically understand them as being tied together and from the same course.  For example, Sport Tracks can do this, following this handy tip from Chris.  First, you’ll import the HRM file in:

RCX5 import into Sport Tracks

Once that’s complete, you’ll go ahead and repeat the process for the separate GPX file – this time telling it to update the activity:

RCX5 import into Sport Tracks Part II

After which, you’ll be all set in Sport Tracks:

RCX5 import into Sport Tracks Part III

It’s a bit more labor intensive than just a single file – but it does do the trick.

Training Peaks also acts in the same manner as well, again allowing you to upload the data – and even combine the data – but you have to manually tweak the time codes on the files in order to get them to line up correctly (Thanks JDKite for the tip!).  That’s because Polar chooses to set the GPX file in local time, instead of UTC time – thus causing a misalignment.

To do that you’ll need to crack open the .HRM file in Notepad and tweak the time to UTC time, it’s easy, simply shift the hour number to whatever UTC is (in my case, 4 hours between EST and UTC).  The full instructions are in the last post here.

RCX5 import into Training Peaks

Then close it up and upload both files to Training Peaks:

RCX5 import into Training Peaks Combined

Once that’s done, it’ll display correctly in Training Peaks as a single file:

RCX5 import into Training Peaks Data & Graphs

I’m optimistic that in the future Polar will either adopt a file format that allows all data to be in a single file, or work with other software companies to encourage them to support the two-file-format method.

Comparison Chart:

Function/FeaturePolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated December 5th, 2014 @ 7:54 amNew Window
Price$220.00$449$399$399$499
Product Announcement DateMar 21, 2011Oct 1st, 2014Aug 6, 2015July 10th, 2014July 10th, 2014
Actual Availability/Shipping DateJune 2011Early Oct 2014Spring 2015Sept 2014Sept 2014
GPS Recording FunctionalitySeparate GPS PodYesYesYesYes
Data TransferirDA WirelessUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFi3G (Cellular), USB for music downloadUSB & Bluetooth SmartUSB & Bluetooth Smart
WaterproofingYes - 30mYes - 50m50mYes - 50mYes - 100m
Battery Life1 year (GPS separate)40 hours8 hours (GPS w/3G), 4 hours (GPS/3G/Music)25 hours50 Hours
Recording IntervalAdjustable1s or Smart1-secondVariableVariable
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerNoYesTBDYesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGood via GPS PodGreatTBDGreatGreat
AlertsSound/VisualVibrate/Sound/VisualVibrate/Sound/VisualSound/VisualSound/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGoodGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoYesNoYesYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoYesNoYes (no steps though)Yes (no steps though)
ConnectivityPolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingNoYesNo (has internal 3G)YesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoYesNot to phone, but via 3GYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoYesYesNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoYesNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoYesNoNo
CyclingPolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
Designed for cyclingYesYesNoYesYes
Power Meter CapableNoYesN/AYesYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsN/AYesN/AYesYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFN/AYesN/ANoNo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesN/AYesYes
RunningPolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
Designed for runningYesYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYesYesYes (internal accelerometer)Yes
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoYesNoNoNo
VO2Max EstimationYesYesNoYesYes
Race PredictorNoYesNoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorYesYesNoYEsYes
Run/Walk ModeNoYesNonoNo
SwimmingPolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
Designed for swimmingNoYesNoYesYes
Openwater swimming modeN/AYesN/AYesYes
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingN/AYesN/AYesYes
Record HR underwaterYesNoN/AYesYes
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AYesN/AYesYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AYesN/AYesYes
Indoor Drill ModeN/AYesN/AYesYes
Indoor auto-pause featureN/ANoN/ANoNo
Change pool sizeN/AYesN/AYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool LengthsN/A17M/18Y TO 150Y/MN/A15m/y to 1,200m/y15m/y to 1,200m/y
Ability to customize data fieldsN/AYesN/AYesYes
Can change yards to metersN/AYesN/AYEsYes
Captures per length data - indoorsN/AYesN/AYesYes
Indoor AlertsN/AYesN/ANoNo
TriathlonPolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
Designed for triathlonYesYesNoYesYes
Multisport modeNoYesN/AYesYes
WorkoutsPolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesNoNoNo
On-unit interval FeatureYesYesYesBarelyBarely
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoYesNoNoNo
FunctionsPolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesYesTBDNoNo
Virtual Racer FeatureNoYesNoNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoYesNoNoNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNoNoNo
GeocachingNoNoNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoNoNoNo
NavigatePolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoYesNoYesYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoYesNoYesYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoNoNo
Back to startNoYesNoYesYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoYesNoDownload pre-created onlyDownload pre-created only
SensorsPolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
Altimeter TypeNoneBarometricGPSGPSBarometric
Compass TypeNoneMagneticN/AMagneticMagnetic
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableNoYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableNoYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableNoYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNo (can control VIRB though)NoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNoNo
Di2 Shifting IntegrationNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNoYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoYesYes
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoNoNoNoYes
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNoNoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsNot FB, but other PolarYesTBDYesYes
SoftwarePolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
PC ApplicationPPT/WebsyncGarmin ExpressNoMoveslink AgentMoveslink Agent
Web ApplicationPPT.comGarmin ConnectYesMovescountMovescount
Phone AppPolar BeatsiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidMovescountSuunto Movescount
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoYes (online)Yes (online)
PurchasePolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
Amazon LinkLinkLinkN/ALinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerPolar RCX5Garmin Forerunner 920XTTimex One GPS+Suunto Ambit3 SportSuunto Ambit3 Peak
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Summary:

In summary I’ve found the RCX5 to be a great all around heart rate monitor and GPS enabled watch.  I’ve been very happy with the accuracy and the overall ease of use, while also finding the watch itself makes a great day to day wrist watch (especially since the battery lasts 8-11 months!).  From a triathletes standpoint it covers all three sports in ways that most other GPS based sport watches can’t – especially in the water with HR monitoring while underwater.

The only areas that it falls short in for me is the lack of integrated GPS (having a separate pod leads to losing the separate pod), lack of power meter support, and the ability to export out full workouts with location data to other more capable software programs (i.e. Training Peaks, Sport Tracks, etc…).  I think with some work on the software backend, that last piece can be resolved however.  And the same goes for power meter data – at the very least I’m optimistic they’ll make it compatible with the upcoming Polar KEO power meter.

Pro’s and Con’s:

Pro’s:

– Battery life is awesome – 8-11 months
– Very slim design, fits on all wrist sizes easily, not too big
– Heart rate monitoring works underwater
– GPS pod has been very accurate in my testing
– Footpod is also very accurate, no issues there
– Super easy to use, menu’s are clean and organized
– Uploads wirelessly to PolarPersonalTrainer.com

Con’s:

– Separate GPS pod with armband
– Footpod is a bit big compared to competitors (2-3 times the size)
– No power meter support (neither their own Polar PM’s, nor ANT+)
– Limited data export capabilities including full GPS location information

Pricing wise, the units start at $329 for just the watch, and go up to $469 depending on the accessories you pick up.  Fully pricing information is available here.

Found this review useful?  Here’s how you can help support future reviews with just a single click!  Read on…

Hopefully you found this review useful.  At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device.  The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love).  As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers an exclusive 10% discount across the board on all products (except clearance items).  You can pickup the RCX5 below. Then receive 10% off of everything in your cart by adding code DCR10JKW at checkout.  By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get a sweet discount.  And if you happen to spend more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.

Polar RCX5 Multisport Base Watch
Polar RCX5 Multisport Base Watch – Red Color
Polar RCX5 Multisport GPS & HR Bundle – Black

Note: There’s a gazillion different bundles, so you can just click any of the above links and then look at the related bundles.

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit (though, no discount).  Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells).  If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.  Though, Clever Training also ships there too and you get the 10% discount.

Thanks for reading!  And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.  And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below.  Thanks!

As you’ve seen throughout the review there are numerous compatible accessories for the unit. I’ve consolidated them all into the below chart, with additional information (full posts) available on some of the accessories to the far right. Also, everything here is verified by me – so if it’s on the list, you’ll know it’ll work. And as you can see, I mix and match accessories based on compatibility – so if a compatible accessory is available at a lower price below, you can grab that instead.

AccessoryManufacturerStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10JKW)More Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated December 1st, 2014 @ 10:32 am
G5 Standalone GPS PodPolar$113LinkLinkN/A
H1 Heart Rate Strap (Analog Polar + Gym Equipment)Polar$51.00LinkLinkLink
H2 Heart Rate Strap (Polar W.I.N.D. units, Analog + Gym Equipment)Polar$60.00LinkLinkLink
H3 Heart Rate Strap (Polar W.I.N.D. units only)PolarTBATBATBALink
Nike+ WIND Heart Rate Strap (Nike+ App & Analog Polar)Polar$51LinkLinkN/A
Polar Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)Polar$12.00LinkLinkN/A
S3+ Running Footpod (Polar units only)Polar$101.00LinkN/AN/A
W.I.N.D. Bike Cadence SensorPolar$46.00LinkLinkN/A
W.I.N.D. Bike Speed SensorPolar$33.00LinkLinkN/A

Finally, I’ve written up a ton of helpful guides around using most of the major fitness devices, which you may find useful.  These guides are all listed on this page here.

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241 Comments

  1. great review as per always! One thing you didn't touch upon was the ability of its multisport mode, i.e. to change from one sport to the other on the fly, from the promotional video is that possible? Does it include T1 and T2? and is it easy to do?

    Secondly and slight more off topic, do you see an update of the 310 anytime soon, I like the look of the RCX5, but the lack of integrated GPS plus no uploading to TP is a real dealbreaker. Otherwise it looks like a great watch..Especially its size!

    Reply
  2. Maybe I missed it, but I'm wondering how long does the GPS pod last on one charge? It's great that the watch itself has such a long battery life, but if the GPS pod fails then that's less awesome.

    Reply
  3. Ray, I'm concerned, I think you need a longer rolling pin.

    p.s great review, I'll stick to my 310 still, very nice looking watch though ;)

    Reply
  4. imho, the separate gps pod is certainly one of the negative points for this product.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Thanks for the great review!

    1. GPS Chipset?
    2. Integration social networking sites?

    Reply
  6. Dekel

    Ray, about the accuracy test you plan to do, I wanted to mention that from my experience with the Forerunner 405, the watch continues to search for satellite even after it reported that the satellite lock is completed. This means that I get better accuracy if I start the run several minutes after turning the watch on (instead of running after ~30 seconds when the watch reports satellite lock).

    I don't know if this is an issue with newer watches. However, for your test, it is important that you turn on all GPS units at the same time.
    Also, if it is not too much trouble, maybe you can do the following test:

    1) Turn on all GPS units

    2) When all units report satellite lock is finished, run the measured course.

    3) Rest for a few minutes.

    4) Run the course again, and check whether the new measurements are the same as the old.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  7. fanstastic and in depth as always. what about the ability to schedule workouts and training programs or intervals as the rs800cx? it had the best programmable intervals and should be continued at the new watch.

    also, how easy is it to move from one sport to the other during training? older polar watches needed to stop the exercise and start again. what about this one?

    thanks again, you are awesome!!!

    Reply
  8. Roy

    Awesome review Ray, once again! But you seriously NEED some new bar tape!

    Reply
  9. Great review Ray, Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    No barometric altimeter? Why nothinga about it in a review? It makes this not very functional for bikers who don't want to use GPS pod.

    Reply
  11. Hi Ray,
    THX for the review, it's on top :)
    After the depth review, what would you suggest between the RCX5 and the 310XT if for me to have a separate GPS is not a problem.
    And as asked Cannastar did you test the transition from a sport to another (like for a triathlon )?
    Best wishes from switzerland!
    Lionel

    Reply
  12. Geoff

    Great review. Lack of built in GPS is a biggie though, and I think will lead to a lot of people purchasing a garmin instead, especially at that price!

    Will you ever be testing a Suunto watch? T6, T3, ?

    Reply
  13. Thanks Ray!

    I think this calls for a tri-battle bewteen it and the 310xt. Ease of use, "multi-sporting" and in transitions etc., accuracies, and fun factor.

    Reply
  14. bonjour vas tu faire un essai de distance en mer avec le capteur gps du rcx5 comme l essai du 310 garmin
    desole pour le texte en francais j arrive a suivre tes essai avec le traducteur de google
    Thierry

    Reply
  15. Thank you for very much your in depth review. You do a great work, Ray!

    I am in favor of the design and battery life allows you to use it as a normal watch.

    It could be very interesting to see a comparison to or review of the Suunto t6d, because it also operates with external GPS pod. Do you have any comments on that?

    I am also worried about having the GPS pod mounted to my arm. Have you ever tried to bring the device in the small pocket back on your running tights?

    Reply
  16. Christian

    excellent Review, As always and Others stated before!!

    I am right deciding on a new watch mainly for cycling and running.
    what would you recommend from your practical experience? the forerunner 610 or the rcx5??

    thanks a ton
    Christian

    Reply
  17. Thanks Ray, awesome review. Perhaps the best review of a Polar product I've ever read.

    Still, some questions. Echoing another comment above, how does the RCX5 handle programmed routines, like intervals. I have to agree that setting up these programs on PPT 5 and using the RS800CX to run them was very powerful and easy to use.

    Also, how does PPT.com compare to the standalone PPT software? This might require more program-to-program analysis, but one of the best things about the RS800CX was that it came with, and worked with, PPT 5.

    Another question I have is how the GPS pod and Footpod work together. One of the reasons I use the 310XT much more now than my RS800CX is because the footpod and gps work in tandem, with the footpod picking up if the GPS drops out. You can also set the 310XT to read instant pace from the footpod, but keep averages from the gps. You can't do that with the RS800CX. Can you do it with the RCX5?

    The other reason I use my 310XT more now is the onboard GPS. This isn't so much a comment on your review, but just a general comment. I really have to see the new GPS pod in person. As much as I love Polar monitors, the non-integrated GPS is an issue - I just hate having to deal with another sensor on top of the footpod and HR strap.

    Finally, can you use the RCX5 without the HR strap? It's been my experience that you can't use the RS800CX without the HR strap on - the device simply won't record anything unless if finds a HR. This is a downer and perhaps the main reason I use my 310XT so much. Sometimes, I just don't want to measure my HR and go through the hassle of putting the thing on. I just want to go run. Can you do that with the RCX5, or do you need to be measuring at least HR before it will record anything?

    Thanks Ray! Awesome review as always!

    Reply
    • dimckee replied

      Thanks for a great review. The one thing that I am keen on is the ability to use customised training routines, ie a routine that more complex that simply an interval based routine of warmup, n x interval + rest, cool down. This can be done on several of the Garmin devices (310, 610, 910 etc). Can it be done on the RCX5?
      Many thanks

      Reply
  18. Great review.

    I am willing to bet the problem you experienced with getting the separate .hrm and .gpx files to merge on trainingpeaks.com is the same as I had with the RS800CX.

    According the the .gpx file spec the timestamp should be specified in GMT/UTC timezone. Polar sets the timestamp in their .gpx file to the time on the watch.

    You have to change the time in the .gpx file to GMT/UTC timezone. Then when you upload to TP.com it will match the .hrm and .gpx files together accurately.

    Reply
  19. great review as always. Like Toumas I was wondering how long does the gps unit charge last?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  20. Anonymous

    What's with the extra cable housing that appears to be coming from another computer mount, on the left side of your bars?

    Slowtwitchers everywhere cried when they saw that nest of cables on the front end of your bike.

    Great review though, as I've become accustomed to. Thanks!

    Reply
  21. Oh this look great! I love a bunch of those features. I wish my current one could auto lap. love love love. Now I just need a money fairy. heehee

    As always great great review!

    Now I'm off to find a review on treadmills. Mine just died.

    Reply
  22. Awesome!! I love your reviews.
    A big Thank You from Germany.

    Reply
  23. Excellent review, did you happen to do an OWS with the GPS in your swim cap?

    Reply
  24. Rod

    Another excellent review...as always. Like others who have posted, I'm also interested in the ability to create advanced runs i.e. several intervals or more complex runs with varying distances and rest periods. Can these be created? If so, can it be done on the watch itself or through PPT.com
    Do you prefer the 610 or RCX5? Thanks again for your review.

    Reply
  25. ps3

    has any one thought about designing/ adapting the equivalent of a foot pod for swimming ?

    Reply
  26. Limegren

    Wow. That is one sexy watch.

    Reply
  27. Carlo Lipizzi

    Great review, thanks a lot!

    I have couple of questions:

    - is the RCX5 compatible with Firstbeat-like SW? It needs to have "single beat" recording capabilities, to calculate EPOC and Training Effect. My RS800X has it

    - is it compatible with previous versions accessories, such as foot pod, bike speed/cadence?

    Thanks a lot!
    Carlo

    Reply
  28. Hey Ray,

    It's actually pretty simple to combine the two files in SPortTracks.

    I do it all the time to merge GPS+Cadence from my 310XT with HRM+Elevation from my s625x

    Detailed howto post is here.

    link to syringe.net.nz

    Reply
  29. Hi Ray,

    Verry complete rewiew...As usual.

    Thank you verry much.

    Reply
  30. Ray,

    great review !!!

    It's hard for POLAR to compete with GARMIN...
    Three reasons:
    1. Integrated GPS,
    2. ANT+ support
    3. Support for TP, ST, etc...

    Regardless of how cool the watch looks, or it's features, it'll never be enough to offset those three factors.
    These are all dealbreakers to me, so I'm sticking with my garmin devices.

    Reply
  31. @PS3 - check out the Finis Swimsense. Ray did an excellent review of it on the blog.

    Reply
  32. @Cannastar - I saw this at a SBR expo and it didn't naturally transition through S/T1/b/T2/R. It would be nice to have a mode where you could set up this up in advance, if it were flexible it would even cater for lap splits if pre defined. That said for GPS mode you could just assign what was what later, the data is the same.

    For the WIND accessories only this would require the unit to poll for the sensor when you hit lap (say every 5 secs), when it detected a new sensor it would then swap sports. Would be cool no?

    Not sure if you can transfer the Polartrainer web files to Protrainer software but I love that software... Not having it might be death knell for my Polar use.

    Final comment, the RS800 build quality was shocking, mine is essentially a new watch several times over, buttons not working, functionality like lights failing. I really hope Polar have sorted their QC out.

    Reply
  33. James Wright

    Great review! Thanks so much.

    For me, this is no doubt going to replace my 310xt..

    I DON'T want GPS built in.... For a few reasons.

    1: I beginning to loathe GPS.. The pace delay is always crap. Takes sometimes 10-15 seconds for my pace to "catch up"

    2: I never remember to recharge until my battery is dead. This happens constantly and I lose so many runs.

    3: I trust my bike sensors more than GPS, and beginning to believe it the footpod tech as well.

    I will likely buy the RCX5 with footpod and bike sensors and call it a day. The build quality of my Polars have ALWAYS been better than Garmin. Polars customer service is also way better.

    I'm going to start an anti gps movement in the sports world. Mark my words you will all see the light

    Reply
  34. Good Evening Everyone-

    Two items, first, I've just added a bunch of sections that cover some of the questions asked here, including:

    1) Added Battery Life and Replacement
    2) Added Backlight Section
    3) Added ProTrainer 5 section
    4) Updated how to integrate Sport Tracks and Training Peaks
    5) Added how to create your own sport on RCX5

    Secondly, I wanted to answer the questions here posted in the comments:

    Cannastar-
    RE: Transition between sports T1/T2 times

    There isn't an easy way to fully automate this, you have to essentially change sports. It's easy on dry land in training, but in a fast paced race situation...I'm not so sure.

    Tuamos/Mike-
    RE: GPS Pod

    It's listed at 20hrs per charge, and I've done a long ride and a handful of workouts before I charged it, and never had an issue.

    yaagTri-
    RE: Rolling pin

    I do indeed have a larger one, but it's also a bit wider, so it's not working as well as I had hoped. ;)

    Anon-
    RE: GPS Chipset and social networking sites

    No integration with social networking sites at this time, and the G5 pod is currently listed as mostly confidential in the FCC database (the RCX5 itself is however opened). I'll ask the Polar folks and get an answer. Failing that, the confidentiality unlock date of the G5 pod is June 19th:

    link to fjallfoss.fcc.gov'

    Hi Dekel-
    RE: Accuracy tests

    This is pretty much in line with how I do them. Mostly because it takes so long to setup all of them. Thanks!

    Hi Roy-
    RE: Bartap

    I know...I know...about the only time I use that road bike is product review shots. I'll add it to this weekends task list.

    Anon-
    RE: Altimeter

    No altimeter, barometric or GPS based is included/presented.

    Hi Geoff/Lionel/Christian-
    RE: Recommendations

    It really depends on what you're looking for, whether you want integrated or non-integrated - as well as support for things like power meters.

    I am looking at testing Suunto devices, but at the moment the plate is pretty full.

    I'll be looking to put together a recommendations post here probably in the next month or so - I'm waiting for a few other items to hit the market.

    Hi Jomolungma-
    RE: Protrainer

    I've added a new section which covers most of your Protrainer questions. I'll be diving into a PPT vs Protrainer software suite in an upcoming post in the next few weeks. At the moment, I think I see the PPT site as being very much like Garmin Connect - good for the basics, but lacking in detail for power users.

    RE: Pod vs GPS distances

    If you have the speed pod, the RCX5 will use that data over the GPS pod. Meanwhile the GPX file will come from the RCX5. If you look carefully at one of the screenshots above you'll see how one HRM file showed a slightly different length than the GPS file. :)

    RE: Using RCX5 without strap

    No issues at all, works fine using any or none of the sensors.

    RE: Don't you just live like a few hundred yards away, ya know...and didnt't say 'Hi' last week while I was out running? ;)

    Feel free to hit me up if you want to play with them in person a bit.

    Hi jdkite-
    RE: TP fix

    Awesome, thanks for that. I've updated it with the trick - appreciate it!

    (Part 1, Part 2 next)

    Reply
  35. (Part 2)

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Housing cables

    Hmm, I'm actually not sure if I understand. Are you talking the trainer tri bike pics, or the outdoor road bike pics? I assume tri bike. Or are you talking about the CompuTrainer head units? In the picture there's a computer which connects to two CompuTrainers, a fan which plugs into a wall, and a white coard leading out the door to a fridge. I think that's it.

    Hi BMoney-
    RE: OWS Swim in cap

    I haven't yet, but will have the opportunity to in the coming weeks (unfortunately there's no swimmable openwater within an hour's drive here, without getting arrested).

    Hi Rod-
    RE: Protrainer/intervals

    Check out the Protrainer mini-section I added, should help out.

    Hi Ps3-
    RE: Swimming footpod

    Yup, see the Swimsense or Pool-Mate pro. Here's a comparison post:
    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Hi Carlo-
    RE: Firstbeat like software

    Let me do some poking on that.

    RE: Previous generations of accessories.

    It's compatible with the previous W.I.N.D. bike sensors, and the G3 GPS sensor. The chart I have though states that the previous S3 sensor is not compatible (only the S3+), but I'll double-check.

    Hi Chris-
    RE: ST Combo dish

    Good point, never considered just combining them...such a clean solution. I've updated that section and included a link over to ya. Thanks! As for anchor tags, it's on the to-do list, maybe I'll knock it out this weekend.

    Thanks all!

    Reply
  36. Two things that others have not already asked about:

    1: The watch lacks the usual (for Polar) barometric altimeter. Do they use GPS data instead and a topographic map on the website to correct the somewhat erratic GPS altitude data?

    2: When you say that you can export .hrm and .gpx data from PPT.com, is that a manual process? What about having the .hrm and .gpx files exported automatically everytime you upload a new workout, is that possible?

    Reply
  37. Anonymous

    Will it work with an Apple Computer?

    Reply
  38. Anonymous

    Does it collect RR-data?

    Reply
  39. Ray,

    great detailed review and size / look comparison with other units. I was wondering if the watch still supports lap calibration feature from previous models - here is how it works - run with no auto lap or programmed exercise. Take a lap at start of measured distance, take another lap at the end of measured distance. Hold Light button for 2-3 seconds and in offered menu find Calibrate in the sub-menu find Lap distance (or something that sounds like it). There you can calibrate while running which is great for use on treadmills where you may find the distance reading differ due to different cushioning of the treadmill belt.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  40. ps3

    @Ray and @halfwayround
    I am aware of swimsense and pool-mate... i follow this blog avidly.

    What I mean is a device like a footpod that would work with an existing device, and record stroke count, and estimate distance.

    1. this would work for open water swimming as well as a pool.
    2. it would be more cost effective than buying a dedicated device.

    I think a waterproof foot pod sending data using the polar protocol might simply need software to interpret the data stream as swimming strokes instead of strides.
    Biggest problem with this may be not a big enough potential market

    @Ray
    thanks for this awesome site

    Reply
  41. Gerry

    This looks awesome. Thanks for the great review!

    I just received the Garmin 610 about a week ago. As much as I love it - I do a lot of different things (a little running, little cycling, lifting, plyometrics, etc - would like to get into swimming but dont so much today) - the Garmin solution & Garmin Connect dont give me a great customizable way to distinguish between activities unless I use their pre-determined categories - even then it still wants to treat them as a run or ride (requiring a distance entry).

    The only downside I think for me is the separate GPS sensor. That being said, since my 610 is still returnable - wondering if this is a better option for me based on doing many different things. Any thoughts?

    Reply
  42. m

    The press release says immediately available, but no one seems to sell it. Any suggestions on where to get one?

    Reply
  43. Great review, very clear and usefull. Do you have some photos with the zoom view (show only two rows of data with bigger fonts)? I need prescriptions but not always use glasses (never while swimming, because do not have rx goggles and sometimes run without them). Easy reading is a must for me. Big and clear numbers is what I need.

    Is possible to change the watch view, look like the date row is too small?

    Reply
  44. ekutter

    I actually switched from being a long time polar fan when the 310xt came out. I used the RS800 for running and CS600 for biking. Sounds like this new watch fixes some of the issues but not all. A couple questions:
    1. Polar used to have issues where if it lost signal with a device like HR or speed sensor for over a certain amount of time (30min I think), you had to reset your workout to get it to reconnect. Any idea if this is still the case?
    2. No barometric altitude is a major step backwards.
    3. Have you tried the under the swimcap test? If you have the watch on your wrist and the GPS under your swim cap, does it record GPS? Having it work with HR in the water is great. Do you know if this is done but using the old analog signal while in the water which made early Polar watches record HR while swimming work great.
    4. What is the recording interval and how long does it record?
    5. Sounds like you can now customize all data fields to any parameter. It used to be that each line in the display was limited to a select set of data fields so there were some fields you couldn't show on one page at the same time.

    Thanks for the great review.

    Reply
  45. ekutter

    One other quick note. In the past at least, my Polar foot pod stayed almost perfectly accurate for 8 to 10 miles then slowly started getting off. After around 13 miles, it always was off by 2 to 4% compared to the first 7 or 8 miles. Never figured out if that was due to my stride changing or laces getting wet causing more stretch and a looser pod. GPS doesn't have this issue.

    Reply
  46. Ted_S

    Polar just posted a manual for the G5 GPS:

    link to polar.fi

    The manual states that the battery is not removable, that it is not covered by the guarantee, and that it will have "a notable decrease in its capacity" after 300 charging cycles.

    Is there any official word on how Polar will handle replacement of units with diminished battery capacity? Returning a unit to Polar would be inconvenient and probably expensive. Tossing it and purchasing a replacement would be less inconvenient but very expensive. Replacements are currently priced at $139.95.

    Reply
  47. Is the G5 GPS battery user replaceable?

    Reply
  48. Anonymous

    Hi Ray
    Great review thx :-) but does it have a vibrate alarm or only sound ?
    /Erik

    Reply
  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  50. Thanks for the great review. I just wanted to get some clarification on the difference between the G5 GPS pod and the foot pod. What info will I not be getting if I don't use the foot pod? I do triathlons and don't want to use 2 pods. The 4 pieces of data I'd like to see are pace, distance run, stopwatch time and time of day. Can I see this info with just the GPS pod?

    Reply
  51. Hi - really useful review! I'm going to start using RR-data to analyse HRV changes, but I am uncertain if the RCX5 collects R-R data? I've read different things different places... Given that it includes coaching-capabilities which uses the R-R variation it must somehow register these... Can you extract them to a file for use in fx Kubios or similar?

    Keep up the good work & thanks again :-)

    Jonathan

    Reply
  52. Carlo Lipizzi

    I asked FirstBeat if the new Polar RCX5 is compatible with their software, that means if the device has R-R recording capabilities. The answer is "it's not" (see below). They will support the new Garmin 610.

    I guess Polar is using their own newly developed algorithms to estimate sessions training values.

    {email from FirstBeat] "Unfortunately it seems that the new Polar RCX5 does not record R-R interval data and therefore support for this device cannot be made.
    Garmin Forerunner 610 support will be added to the next Athlete update, planned to be released on July."

    Reply
  53. Thanks for your review.
    I am a user of the RS800CX and one of the things I hate the most of the watch is the Red Button (Start/Lap button). This button usually gets stuck and it is frustrating because it does not respond when you press it. You have ot press it several times to make it work.

    Has Polar done anything about it in the new RCX5?

    Thanks.

    Reply
  54. Anonymous

    I am not Garmin Fan or anything.

    But, is'nt rcx5, Garmin FR60 with better and HR sensor and ability to link with external GPS unit? (for 3 times the price???)

    Rain,

    You had reviewed several Garmin watches. Do you see Polar better in terms HR and training assistance?

    Do you think Polar rcx5's is really worth the cost?

    Srini.

    Reply
  55. @ Carlo Lipizzi - Yeah i checked with firstbeat too and they support several both Garmin and Polar monitors which do not in themselves support R-R data but still somehow manages to use Firstbeats algorithms to calculate calories and effort. It mystifies me a bit because I thought FB needed R-R data. I am mainly interested in R-R data because Heart Rate Variability is an interesting measure in regards to not just my running and recovery but also says something about stress and relaxation.
    Best :-)

    Reply
  56. Luigi

    Hi Rain,

    Great review as always!

    same question as Anon...Would you be able please to post your thoughts about 610 vs RCX5? I mean, in terms HR capabilities, Training funcionts and so on. I know that RCX5 is completely waterproof, but honestly, who is going to the pool with a heartrate monitor and strap? A comparison btw the 2 woulf be much appreciated! Thanks

    Luigi

    Reply
  57. Hi All-

    Just a few notable updates to the review after the weekend:

    - Added section on how to create workouts on PPT.com, as well as clarification on

    workouts created with ProTrainer (This is in the software section, about 3/4ths the

    way through)

    - Added external box shots (This is at the very begining)

    - Added photo descriptor tags to all photos, to assist the vision impaired with

    programs like JAWS.

    With that, let's dive into the questions.

    Morton-
    RE: Barometric Altimeter

    I'm a bit surprised as well to be lacking an altimeter. And in the case of the

    online site it would be fairly easy for them to add elevation data based on the GPS

    track. Today that does not exist.

    RE: Exporting files

    You can export an XML file from PPT, but that's kinda useless since it's just summary

    data. Instead, you can export from the Websync software, which places both the .HRM

    and .GPS files in a folder. There's no way to automatically do it every time.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Apple Computer Support

    Yes, it supports OSX or later.

    Hi Anon/Others:
    RE: R-R data

    No, it does not. The file only contains a single HR measurement per second, with no

    additional data recorded.

    Hi KXux-
    RE: Alternate Calibraiton Methods

    Yes, the s3+ and the RCX5 both support on the fly calibration.

    Hi ps3-
    RE: Footpod for swimming

    Ahh, yes, I see what you mean. The closest today would be Lapview, which isn't quite

    released yet, but is on the ANT+ platform and not for Polar. But essentially it's a

    handband that you wear on your goggles that tracks distance/pace and then sends it to

    your ANT+ watch.

    Hi Gerry-
    RE: Garmin Connect Categories

    There should be even more categories you can modify on Garmin Connect, I've always

    been fairly impressed with what they have there (even stuff like horseback riding)

    and many subcategories as well.

    That said, the biggest differentiator is indeed the GPS pod - so it's a tough

    decision to make if you want a fully inclusive product.

    Hi M-
    RE: Retail Availability

    The Polar folks tell me they're filling the local stores first, and online stores

    last. So, hit up your local running folks and see if they have it.

    Hi jcueto-
    RE: 2 data lines

    I will add some zoomed photos mid-week, just gotta head outside and take them,

    surprisingly I don't have any.

    (Part 1 end, part 2 below)

    Reply
  58. (Part 2 start)

    Hi Ekutter-
    RE: Reconnect lost sensor

    Nope, it'll automatically reconnect based on my testing.

    RE: RE: Swimcap test

    I hope to do a swimcap test in the coming weeks, the biggest challenge is there are

    no legal places to openwater swim in the DC area.

    RE: Recording Interval

    See the chart mid-review, but as low as 1s (full chart with exact times is in manual

    as well, it's very comprehensive).

    Hi Ted-
    RE: G5 Battery charge

    Correct, it's a non-changeable battery, sorta like an iPhone. Unclear on

    replacements, but it's a very valid question - I'll circle around the Polar guys on

    it.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Vibrate Function

    No, there is no vibrating motor and/or function within the watch

    Hi Andy-
    RE: Using without footpod

    As long as you have the GPS pod you'll get everything except footpod cadence

    (turnover), which is only provided via the footpod. Distance/pace/speed/etc is all

    good with just GPS.

    Hi Jonathan/Carlo-
    RE: RR data

    No, it does not export this data into the .HRM files unfortunately.

    Hi Esteban-
    RE: Red button

    I've not seen any issues with this in the month or so that I've had it. It works

    every time (well...except the times I completely miss the button).

    Hi Anon/Luigi-
    RE: FR60 vs RCX5 and stuffs

    I wouldn't argue with that. I think it's certainly going to be a challenge for Polar

    from a pricing and functionality standpoint. Both in competing in the high end

    market (310XT/FR610) and the low-end market (i.e. FR60).

    As for a RCX5 vs 610 post, it's something I'm looking to put together here shortly.

    This week is pretty full, but next week might have an opening.

    Thanks all!

    Reply
  59. jll

    Thanx for the answer... RCX5 looks sweet but I need R-R-data... so it's either the ugly Polar 800 or Suunto which doesn't talk to the Endomondo portal I use... Hmmm... The problem with gadgets is, you can never get win-win-win as there is always a lose in there somewhere :-)

    Reply
  60. great review, as always...

    I just wonder why Polar still use GPS Pods and don't make a watch with integrated GPS...i hate pods...but i understand that is a good deal...for Polar.

    Reply
  61. Very nice review as always. The watch looks pretty sleek, and at first glance the website looks somewhat more powerful than Garmin Connect. However, with the GPS sensor being separate, I think I'll stick to my 310XT (albeit with a Polar Wearlink HR strap) :P

    Reply
  62. StePolque

    Great Review!!

    is it possible to export the gps file in a no-polar tool i order to see the shape of the track (see the climb and check the heartbeat, speed etc..). like what happen with garmin in the web tool??

    Reply
  63. Rob

    Advantage Suunto for having a replaceable wrist band. It looks like the RCX5 doesn't have one. Great looking watch, but what happens after the wear and tear on the band?

    Reply
  64. does anyone uses the RCX5 with a trainingprogramm?

    I just ran a 47min Basic Run with 10min
    warmup, followed by 32min sportzone3 and 5min cool down.

    I ran too far, so at the time i should started my cool down I was 1.5 km away from home. I had the choice to ignore the cool down and the peeping or expand the cool down.

    I wish I could just lock the middle part until I manually start the cool down when i am 5 min away from home.

    does anyone have a solution?

    Reply
  65. Anonymous

    Great Review.

    Question regarding using GPS when swimming. I know it doesn't support it, but if you were able to keep the G5 waterproof (perhaps in a small plastic pouch) and you put it under your swim cap, do you know if the watch can still receive the signal from the G5.
    I am guessing that as your hand enters the water the watch may lose the signal. I am wondering though whether the period of time when your hand is out of the water is sufficient to capture the data.
    Any ideas?

    Reply
  66. Brilliant (the best review) i am convinced this, the RCX5 is a game changer. Garmin's battery life ruins their new unit compared to this.

    @Anoymous comment - seriously?

    Does anyone know a store selling RCX5 Multi in the UK yet? I am getting excited..

    Reply
  67. Tim

    Great review indeed.
    I've got just one question.

    Which module/package do you suggest?
    I'm into multi sport, but I wander if the G5 GPS sensor is sufficient.

    Or do you suggest using both the GPS sensor, together with the S3+ stride sensor and the CS cadance sensor?
    Or maybe just the S3+ stride sensor and the CS cadance sensor and no GPS? (GPS is always nice to have ;-) )

    Thanks

    Reply
  68. I currently own both a FR60 and Polar 800cx. The polar has to go back for significant repair. I do triathlons and have been considering the new rcx5 or a new garmin this summer. No hurry as A race is not til November. I ride with power and a Garmin 705 so do not need power functionality on the watch. Thoughts? Wait? Thanks for your great reviews.

    Reply
  69. Hi there,

    thanks for that awesome review and your blog. You're really putting a lot of time and passion in your blog. I appreciate it and wish you a nice weekend!

    Cheers from Austria
    Schwingi

    Reply
  70. Does the RCX5 support firmware upgrades (without having to send it back to Polar) ?

    Reply
  71. Anonymous

    Hi Ray,
    Regarding the data lines, you can zoom the top and bottom line, so you only have two larger datalines in the display. You do it by pressing the up or down botton in 1 sek. while you´r training.

    Br Carsten Denmark

    Reply
  72. Mr Martin

    Nice review!

    Took mine for a run this weekend and I'm very happy with the data I got.

    Do you know if Polar will add support for creating Swimming and Tri-programs at polarpersonaltrainer.com? That would be cool!

    Would be nice with some calculated altitude too since there isn't a built in altimeter. Will they add support for that as well in the near future? Should be an easy task for their programmers. The Google API could be used for that if I'm not mistaken :)

    //Martin

    Reply
  73. Anonymous

    I guess my questions are answered:

    1. G5 GPS chipset = SiRFstarIII GSC3f/LPx ?
    (see pictures at link to fjallfoss.fcc.gov (thanks for your input on this)

    2. Facebook integration on PPT is a fact
    link to polarpersonaltrainer.com

    Reply
  74. Hi

    I have just read you great review and had a question that I am not sure if you have answered.

    If you are running with the foot pod and the gps.
    I have have recently had a run where a part of the trip was underground and my Garmin Forerunner 305 didnt switch to the foot pod automatic. I now some of the newer Garmin does that.
    What do this Polar do?

    Reply
  75. Anonymous

    I have created two new sports for warmup and cooldown.
    This make it easy to switch over to the running session in between and keeping the data logs seperate. During the warm up session the ownzone optimizer feature can be used. This keeps the ownzone optimizer feature from popping up at the start of the running session.

    The export feature in the data link software creates seperate hrm files for each sport selected during the traing session. This makes it easier to load only the running session into ppt5.

    The big advantage with a seperate gps sensor is the greater battery life of the watch itself.

    Reply
  76. Anonymous

    Thanks for the great review. Two questions:

    1 I have almost 10 years of data on ProTrainer 5 & RS800. As far as I understand, none of it can be moved to the Web. Is this correct? This will be a major issue for many current Polar users.
    2 The current ProTrainer 5 does not suport Apple OSX. Is there an upgrade now that supports OSX? This is the other major reason that I will not upgrade. As far as I know, you can only access data through protrainer Web for Apple- meaning a loss of 10 years of data.

    Reply
  77. Hi DC, in your review of RCX5 (create workout with polarpersonaltrainer.com) you pointed "Additionally, within limits, you can specify Sport Zones, heart rate, speed or pace. This is a bit of a nice improvement over ProTrainer, which didn’t allow you to specify speed or pace." but :
    polapersonlatrainer.com has a maximum of 4 phases related to: Type ( manual, time, distance) and Limits (no limits, sport zones, heart rate, speed and pace).

    ProTrainer5 has a maximum of 12 phases related to: Duration ( manual, time, distance, increasing HR, decreasing HR) and Intensity target ( free, sport zones, HR, pace, speed and cadence).

    Also. ProTrainer lets define sport-specific heart rate zones.

    Reply
  78. I think that is one of the such a lot vital info for me. And i am happy reading your article. But wanna remark on some common issues, The website taste is wonderful, the articles is truly excellent

    Reply
  79. Hey Ray
    I just saw your page today for the first time. Great page!!!

    I am not sure which watch to buy.
    I have used the Polar RS400 for some time now and it needs to be replaced, and since i have started to do more multisports (running skiing (downhill as crosscountry), cycling and thinking of trying out triathelons next season.
    I need a watch I can use to everything and still look good on the arm (therefor no 310xt as its bulky and "ugly" looking even tho its probably the best).
    The Forerunner 610 seams great and looks great, but you can't swim with it... But do you use the watch so much when swimming??? Never done tri's before so I am a rooky. But I find the F610 better looking then the Polar RCX5, but it seams as RCX5 have better functions? Also for analysing data after a training seasion? (I probably will not use a 3rd party sofware.)
    Which do you recommend? Which was the one you instectivly liked the best?
    And last, what is "power meter support"?

    Hope you can help a confused norwegian guy!

    Cheers!
    Marius

    Reply
  80. Anonymous

    Thank you for the review. Itwas excellent! One question for you. The Garmin 610 has a walk/run function for ingteral training. Does this watch have a similar funtion?

    Reply
  81. I'm getting highly variable results with obtaining HR while swimming indoors in a chlorinated pool. One day, it works great, dropping out only when the strap slides too low. The next day, it drops out 2/3 of the swim whether the strap is high and tight or not.

    This is discouraging...

    Reply
  82. I'm not finding the GPS selection under swimming - am I missing it? I usually stuff my Garmin 310XT under my swim cap and it captures my open water swim perfectly, as it's on the upper back of my head and exposed to air. But it doesn't capture Heart Rate.

    Either Polar didn't envision RCX5 use for triathlons or the signal doesn't transmit from GPS unit to watch through water. If the latter, I would find the unit useless for me, as it is very spotty in pool swimming and no GPS when outdoor swimming.

    I'll try setting up Open Water Swim as an "Other Sport" next time I swim outside.

    Reply
  83. Just did a quick simulation.

    1. RCX5 set as Other Sport with GPS enabled.
    2. Watch immersed in a dish of water, several inches on each side.
    3. HR strap on.
    4. GPS activated and in armband.
    5. Walked 1/3 mile.

    The map shows a smooth path but during the course "Check GPS Sensor" message appeared and I pressed the Red OK button.

    Pace varies from zero to jagged up and down.

    It looks like GPS data transmission to watch may be spotty.

    Only a side-by-side with the Garmin 310XT will tell for usre, but there may be hope.

    Reply
  84. Me again - heh.

    Found this on the Polar Forum, posted by the Polar Moderator:

    "Polar G5 water resistance is IPX7 = Not suitable for bathing or swimming. Protected against wash splashes and raindrops. Do not wash with a pressure washer.

    This is because the battery is rechargable and even if it would be waterproof, gps is using W.I.N.D technology, so it is not transmitting information under water."

    I also note the Polar WIND Hybrid strap is not read by my Garmin 310XT or PowerTap Joule2. So they are using a proprietary ANT+ I guess.

    Odd - when I saw my HR reading on a treadmill at the gym, I thought they might use open stadards but maybe they sell proprietary chips to equipment manufacturers to read their data rather than using an open standard.

    Reply
  85. K

    Great Review!! Thanks for your hard work. Looking at the RCX5 or the 610 but scared by all the glitches in the Garmin 610 now. Better screen and looking product but the RCX5 is waterproof. Yippee. Want for everyday and cycling too.

    MAY I PUT MY PLUG IN THAT THE SEPARATE GPS POD IS A PLLUUUSSS!!!! It seems like the 610 is fairly inaccurate compared to others but this RCX% with separate pod is accurate with the larger Garmin 800 GPS and others.

    Reply
  86. Hi,

    Does the GPS allow back on track function or/and navigation to a waypoint? (I guess no...)

    Thanks for your great work!

    Reply
  87. I am now getting consistent HR recording using a Polar T31-Coded strap under a tight rashguard short sleeved shirt, with the strap very tight, in a chlorinated pool. With the strap tight, and a tight shirt, the strap doesn't slip on strong push-offs and fast swimming.

    It seems the WearLink Hybrid strap shorts out after 20-30min swimming - must be some leakage in the strap between the electrodes.

    Note the T31-C strap pairs automatically but is not recognized if I attempt to pair using the watch menu. Rather odd...

    Reply
  88. Michael Loh

    Hi Ray,

    Your RCX5 review is great! I tried using it during swim but the strap keeps slipping off my chest. I have not tried wearing trisuits over the chest stripe, have you?

    Another comment: I used Other Sport during siwm to use the GPS. I slide it inside my swim cap and it works fine. Unfortuntely I'm still looking for ways for the chest stripe.

    Reply
  89. Excellent Review.

    I saw this review as I was looking for a G5 GPS Review and not the watch.

    I have a RS800CX and I really like it, no matter the looks, I use it for running only at it has all you need.

    However I'm not happpy with the S3 sensor and was looking to get the GPS, but the reviews on the G3 showed high innacurary.

    So for this I would like your help in a few questions:

    1. Is the G5 GPCs a good match for the 800CX? It won't affect any of the advantages of the watch.

    2. How is the accuracy of the G5 GPS compared with the G3 GPS?

    3. The combination 800+G5 GPS is better that the new Garmin 610?

    thanks for your help.

    Reply
  90. Anonymous

    Trying to decide between the Polar RCX5 Multi and the Garmin Forerunner 310XT. Which would you recommend?

    Reply
  91. Anonymous

    I own the RS800CX and love it. Also owned the G3 GPS unit for a while, which I hardly used, due to its size. I now alternately run with the S3 sensor and the G5 GPS unit. Both work great. On my usual training routes I am content with the S3, which starts transmitting as soon as I start the watch. No waiting around outside the house for a while. When travelling or trying new routes, I place the G5 GPS unit into my running shorts. No need to wear it on the supplied armband. I have peace of mind that my watch lasts up to a year with its long life battery and that the G5 can be recharged via my laptop USB port. I have almost 10 years of running data and prefer to have that available on my computer and not on a cloud based server. Looked at the new Garmin 610. No thank you!

    Reply
  92. Hi StePolque-
    RE: Export of GPS Track

    I'm not seeing any way to create a KML/GPX file unfortunately from the site. But you can grab the GPX file from the folder using the tool.

    Hi Sebastian-
    RE: Training Program

    You can specify a manual step such that when you're ready it'll trigger.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: G5 in swimcap

    I haven't tried it yet, but below Maverick notes in comment #87 that it was successful.

    Hi Tim-
    RE: Which module

    I would go with the GPS sensor, unless you want the cadence information on the stride sensor (or do a fair bit of treadmill running).

    Hi dsware-
    RE: Which watch

    If you ride with power, then you're best to wait for now.

    Hi Schwingi-
    Thanks!

    Hi Andrew-
    RE: Firmware updates

    Yes, it does support updates.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Zoom

    Yup, discoverd that a bit ago - but thanks for noting it here!

    Hi Martin-
    RE: Swimming/Tri Programs at PPT.com

    I'll ask next time I talk with the Polar Guys.

    Hi Esmelf-
    RE: Footpod

    The Polar will actually be used as primary, and the GPS purely for a track purpose, thus, it won't really switch per se.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Lots of data for migration

    It's something that's being actively worked on, but timeslines aren't clear.

    Hi PintX-
    RE: PT5 fields

    Interseting, mine didn't seem to have the additional fields, though I may have missed it - but that's great to hear it does!

    Hi Marius-
    RE: FR610 and water

    No, the FR610 is not water friendly for any extended period of time (or for swimming), nor does it support HR in the water.

    RE: Power Meter support

    This is for cycling power meters, which measure power in watts - a unit of how much work is being done.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Walk/Run function on the FR610

    No, the RCX5 does not have this function.

    Hi Mav-
    RE: HR Strap in pool

    Yeah, very similiar to what I saw - hard to get good results due to slippage. My wife has no issues though with the strap under her suit.

    RE: RCX5 in dish

    Did you really walk a 1/3rd of a mile with it in a dish of water to test it out? If so...that's totally awesome.

    RE: Protocal

    WIND is a Polar protocal, and is unfortunately quite different from ANT+, which is by ANT. Meanwhile, the Polar straps (some) can be read by the gym treadmills as you noted - something only one treadmill supports for ANT+.

    Hi K-
    Thanks!

    Hi Remix-
    RE: Navigation back to a waypoint

    No.

    Hi Mav & Michael-
    RE: Dedication to the swimming cause

    I have worn trisuits over the chest strap without issue. Good to hear on the GPS pod in swimcap working!

    Hi Tomas
    RE: 800CX

    Unfortunately, I haven't spent any time with the 800CX so I can't comment there. I can say that the G5 is comparable to the FR610 from an accuracy standpoint though.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Which watch (FR310XT vs RCX5)

    It depends on what you're looking for really. If you want underwater HR readings, the RCX5 is the way to go. Meanwhile, if you need power meter support, the 310XT is a better option.

    Hi Anon-
    Thanks for the comments, good insight!

    Thanks all, and sorry for the delay here - been a bit of a crazy few months with wedding and honeymoon, just getting a chance to catchup on all the past comments.

    Reply
  93. Popita

    Hi Ray, outstanding review, many thanks!

    I have 3 quick questions:

    1. Does the Garmin 610 or the Polar RCX5 have the ability to display "% of max heart rate" in one of the live screens during a run? I find this feature is very useful especially for more mature runners, like me, who make adjustments based on this number and it saves me the trouble of doing arithmetic during the runs.

    2. What are the watch functions of the RCX5 and what alerts does it have both as a watch (alarms) and during the run. You already explained it has no vibration: does it have screen blinking, beeping?

    3. Does the RCX5 pick up other people's heart rate monitors or does it remember who you are the way the Garmin 610 does?

    Thanks again!

    Reply
  94. Popita

    Hi Ray,

    Congratulations on your wedding!

    Reply
  95. Hi Popita-
    RE: %Max

    Yes, both the FR610 and the RCX5 show HR as either BPM or % of Max.

    RE: Alarms

    It beeps and the screen visibly shows the alert.

    RE: RCX5 picking up other peoples

    Assuming your using the latest WIND straps, it'll remember which strap is yours and not get mixed up.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  96. Does RS800's S1 sensor foot is compatible with it?
    Great review.
    Cheers,
    Hiroshi.

    Reply
  97. Ray,
    Very helpful site--Thanks!!!
    I previously had a Polar 710i with cadence and speed sensors. Will those sensors work with the RCX5? Does the handlebar mount for the 710i work for the RCX5?
    Would attaching--possible?--the GPS5 to the bike helmet be worthwhile?
    Gracias,
    Bob

    Reply
  98. Great review, as always. The next time you talk to the Polar people, could you please ask/convince them to include an integrated clip on the backside of the next version of the G5? Just like on the Apple iPod Nano. Or at least a loop of some kind. That would make it so much easier to secure the G5 to a belt, a pocket, a backpack, a waist pack, a bike helmet, and so on.

    Reply
  99. Anonymous

    What's with this so precious GPS data? You don't know where you're going or you don't know where you're coming from? Or you were so drunk - as I am right now - that you didn't remember what kinda round you actually ran, cycled, go in for? I can understand GPS navigators (in cars), but this is mindless.

    The most important data (IMO) is the sport zones, training load, results of interval training and overall stats in general. Foot pods and cycling sensors do this job regardless where you're at.

    The most obvious reason why there isn't barometric altimeter is, that there's an optional GPS sensor. Which is a mistake (IMO). To have a good cycling monitor, for example, buy (specialized) CS500, which do not have any GPS bs, but has altimeter support.

    It all comes down to design and usability. There's just technical restrictions what you can and can't have. To integrate GPS, for example, will make the widget bulky and heavy, and you're going to run out of battery before you know it. That's the simple fact with current technology.

    Fine watch and fine review, but the all-encompassing approach of RCX5 is actually it's greatest flaw.

    Reply
  100. Anonymous

    Hi all.
    Just got the unit and I´m trying to set personal sportzones on the unit. After syncing with ppt, the watch goes back to original sportzones. What am I doing wrong?
    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  101. I previously used the S625X and moved away from it to a Garmin 305 mainly because I saw that the GPS on the Garmin was more accurate that my S1 footpod even though it lags by a few seconds and the Garmin also displays 4 fields of data at a time. Also I did have issues with my Polar picking up HR data from my strap, often it would just read 00 on the watch while I've never had an issue with the Garmin strap.
    With the RCX5, the 4 fields issue is solved, I'd rather use the footpod than the GPS and it seems that the accuracy is improved there as well. are there still issues picking up data from the chest strap? Also can you let us know how the GPS fairs under a swim cap in OWS?
    What is the deal with power meter support? it seems odd that there aren't even any provisions for power meter support considering this is such a high end watch.
    How could there not be any altimeter, my S625X had one and my Garmin 305 does it via GPS. If I see that I lost 2:00/mile for .5 miles don't I also want to see the reason why as well as the incline grade I'm climbing? Will the G5 measure altitude so it can at least be viewed in PPT?

    Thanks, and keep up the great work!

    -Steve

    Reply
  102. Anonymous

    Great review. I am trading in my Polar S625X for a new HRM. I am an intermediate runner/novice biker. I use distance, pace, HR zones, etc. on my Polar. If you had to choose one - the Garmin 610 or the Polar RCX5?

    Thanks.

    Reply
  103. Great review. Would you recommend this for strength training as well (ie. gym)? I mix my running with strength training/weght lifting at all times... Many Thanks... Kambiz

    Reply
  104. Anonymous

    Thanks for the detailed review. This is great as always. I've some concerns whether to choose the footpod + bike sensor or the GPS pod and the RCX5 model. I'm a triathlete recently preparing for my first IM and want to get detailed training data. For running I'd need a tool which could give me accurate pace(speed) under every kind of conditions, and don’t really prefer the 2-3 sec delay which generally comes on most of the GPS devices. Usually I run in wooded area so GPS won't really work always as I experienced with a borrowed GF 305. For cycling I'd definitely like the ability to analyze my route on the map and so on, but since I always got my GPS cell phone in my back pocket I guess it’d collect the same data as the polar GPS sensor and the WIND speed sensor would give all the data during the training which I need. Are you aware of any software or internet page which could match the GPS data which my phone collected (elevation data also available) with the training data which is stored in ppt? There would be no need to carry an additional tool in my pocket (G5 sensor). Thanks for the help.

    Reply
  105. Just job on the review. I love Polar. Last year I talked to you about Sporttrack vs. Polar and I got the idea you didn't understand what I hoped to do, now I see why. You have really tightly structured workouts, which is great, but I do lots of work on road stage simulations with lots of sporadic yet still structured goals. I need to be able to create adhoc reports and to calculate times on certain sections of the hills for example.

    If you go in to the *.HRM files in Polar Windows software, you can choose any of the samples (where ever your sample rate is records their the samples) and create laps from any of them after you complete your work. In other words, you are not dependent on hitting the lap button.

    I would like to be able to do this on my Garmin Edge 500 and Forerunner 305.

    Any suggestions? It seems like I can't even find the supposed samples my devices record. I set the sampling rates for each second, but where do I find this and how can I create adhoc reports, as though adding my own lap "button press event" if that makes sense yet.

    Thanks for the great work you do. I like the new watch, but the new GPS also works with the CS600X, which for me is the best model, time for me to change back I think to Polar, but I'd like to try to get better reports for the year or so I have recorded only with Garmin.

    Thanks again, Chris

    Reply
  106. Anonymous

    Ray, could the watch switch between the GPS and the footpod when say it lost satellite signal when running through a tunnel and continue to record distance through the footpod? Thank you. Regards - Dennis

    Reply
  107. Anonymous

    Hi,

    I think the most important on the rcx5 is that you can't create personal sport zones.
    I did a running test to determine my personal heart rates.
    If you create a phased target in your diary (not that from Polar).
    You can't edit the HR zones.
    Only directly on the rcx5 you can, but than you can't create phased targets.
    After synchronizing it resets the HR setting back to standard.
    You can create personal targets but no sport zones.
    I think the curves in personal trainer are useless if yo can't change it .
    You really should talk with Polar about that.
    Than it would be a great watch.

    thanks

    Steve

    Reply
  108. Anonymous

    Hi!
    Couldn't find the following on RCX5: "2) Added Backlight Section"

    Reply
  109. Hi Rainmaker! Great reviews. It was time for me to upgrade my Polar F55 so when the RCX5 was announced I preordered it. My main complaint with the F55 was that after 1 hr or so into the workout, the HR readings were jumping all over. One second 220, next 80. I tried all the tricks, gel, lick, wear the band upside down in your back, everything. I assumed since I sweat like the proverbial pig, once all my clothes, the band, etc. were soaking wet, it would short circuit the signals. So the announcement of the RCX5 being able to worked under water sealed the deal for me. Unfortunately, no luck. From June to September I was ping-ponging the sensors, the watch, the belts with the Polar support guys trying to find out what the deal was. Finally I got a refund, briefly tried a FR610 (absolutely NOT recommended, the screen flaked out in the first week), and now I have a Suunto t6d.

    Reply
  110. Anonymous

    Outstanding review Ray. I recently just brought the RCX5 RUN and I'm very pleased with it.your review gave me more insight about the watch than the the manual so Kudos to you sir. My question is when i workout at the gym the equipment I'm working out on is Polar. from the Treadmill to the Bicycle and others. Does the watch automatically sync or do you have to do it manually?
    Vaughn

    From NY

    Reply
  111. Hi Ray,

    I'm the RCX5 contest winner. Thought I'd add my own pros/cons that I've noticed after putting this watch through the paces. I'm just a runner and I'm comparing it to my other watch, the Garmin 305.

    Major Pro's
    (1) Size - Can be worn as regular watch
    (2) watch band (and the watch itself) seems more durable than 305

    Major Con's
    (1)Can't set up interval workouts on the watch, must do it online first and download. This is stupid.
    (2)Display must show 4 fields. Cannot change it to show less fields and larger fonts.
    (3)working with the files in 3rd party logs (sporttracks, runningahead.com) is a real pain. Distance value on the watch is diffferent when you import

    If you mainly run, and you don't need to wear this as a regular watch, the Garmin units are clearly superior (and cheaper).

    Steve J

    (I'm glad I won it, and I'll use it some, but I wouldn't buy it.)

    Reply
  112. Serg

    Thank you, Ray, for the review. There is thing which is not very clear. Can the GPS pod be used while swimming or not. Someone suggested to place it under the cap. Does that work or not?

    You did a test leaving it under the pool water. And while it looks like it is sealed it does have a metal mini USB socket which water would be in direct contact with and I wonder if it would not start getting rotten after a contact with a salty sea water (more agressive). Also 30 min swim might not be sufficient for some of the longer open water swims...
    Thanks.
    Serg

    Reply
  113. That is a great review. Thank you very much for that. I'm still struggling a bit between the Garmin Forerunner 610 and the Polar RCX5. One of the main reasons is that all my training files are loaded into Garmin Connect website. Would you know if it's possible to loaded the Polar files into the Garmin website? I guess the .GPX one we can, but will it contain all the training stats?
    Thanks, Gus
    PS. I just can't believe the Garmin 610 is not completely water proof!!!

    Reply
  114. Ray, great review!! I'm new to RCX5 with G5 and Speed on my road bike.....however, I was trying to setup my second bike simply using the G5 as speedometer, but now RCX5 shows Bike 1 in Cycling 1 and Bike 1 in Cycling 2 at the same time.....cannot get Bike 2 for Cycling 2.....can you help and advise how I can fix this? Thanks.

    Reply
  115. Anonymous

    dc rainmaker,
    can you seamless record from bike to run on the rcx5?

    Reply
  116. Anonymous

    Thanks for the review. I've tried at length to get a Wearlink+ to work in the pool and even with a tri vest on to keep the unit close at all times it is far too unreliable to be of any use. On the other hand a T31-coded works almost flawlessly with the same watch (RS200 in my case) in the same pools. Again this is with a vest on but I got the feeling the T31 would work better without a vest compared to the all-fabric Wearlink (haven't tested). Pleased to see that RCX5 supports the T31-coded. One more impediment to purchase removed. Shame all this Polar stuff (eg the G5 GPS) communicates using Polar proprietary protocols however. Would like to use the G5 GPS unit for other purposes (eg for better GPS reception on my BB 9900 for Endomondo purposes), but I don't see them using ANT+ any time soon and Bluetooth would perhaps use a lot more power.

    Reply
  117. Excellent review. I've been using a Polar S610 for the past 12 years. I got it because it had the programmable interval function. It's been extremely reliable and I've been able to use it in the pool as well. The wrist band's broken a couple of times. Then it started to fog when using it in the pool. I turned to Polar who for around $65 switched the whole watch body, glass and wrist band. Just kept the heart of the device. Looks completely new, and in fact it is! So I'm back in the pool. What a great service!!

    I've got to admit I'm really curious about your upcoming review of the Motorola MotoACTV with its built in GPS and the Wifi syncing. Looks like a new paradigm.

    I wonder how Polar will respond as they, in my view at least, mainly compete with training, research and medical features.

    I wonder if the MotoACTV will be as advanced in its pulse measurement technology. Of course using the MotoACTV in the pool is a no go.

    Reply
  118. IanC

    Great and very helpful review Ray!

    Suppose you're running a race and have both the GPS pod and the S3+. The system will use the S3+ for cadence, but which will it use for pace? The reason I ask is that we race around city centres so there's a good chance of GPS dropout. If the system were smart enough to rely on the S3+ for pace info until the GPS came back online that would be great but if not then I'd rather forget the GPS altogether because I couldn't stand losing the pace info.

    Reply
  119. Anonymous

    I saw some mention of no altimeter. Does this mean that this monitor can not track any info about incline, such as extreme hill training, feet climbed, etc.? That would really change the value of the data collected. Thanks.

    Reply
  120. Great review. I am new to tri and am looking for a training aid. Not sure I can wait around for the Garmin 910XT. I will go ahead with the Polar as it looks like it will do the job just fine.

    Cheers
    Quinny

    Reply
  121. Looks to me that the only discipline the rcx5 takes the cake in is open water swims, since you can put the gps in your swim cap and view your data while swimming along with your hart rate, everything else the 910xt seems to be superior in. Still waiting on the comparison between the finis and 910xt to see which performs better in the pool. But the rcx5 has no provisions for power meter or pool swims and only does altitude based on gps ( no internal altimeter like their older watches)

    Reply
  122. Jan (CZE)

    If you scratch Polar on the screen you will have to buy new one, it is not replaceable!!!

    Garmin 910 XT is better choice..

    Reply
  123. Anonymous

    Hi Ray, thanks as always for the terrific and incredibly detailed review. A couple of comments/questions about the RCX5:

    1. Do you know if it is possible to configure the RCX5's various data display screens to show fewer parameters, but in a larger size? The only large numbers I see in the writeup are from "watch mode" -- the displays for all workout modes appear to have four lines, with small numbers. If this is not possible, it would seem to be a big win for the Garmins (410/610/910), which appear to have a much cleaner and more readable display (which is configurable to boot).

    2. Is it possible to download data from the RCX5 to a laptop, and then import it into some standalone training software application (PPT or any of the third-party yools), _without_ having to ship the data to Polar's website? If not, this is also a showstopper: in addition to the obvious privacy concerns (some people simply might not want their physiological data to be sent out over the internet), it would mean that you can't dump and view data unless you have an internet connection -- not ideal for road trips and such.

    I would really appreciate your perspectives on these. Thanks again for the terrific reviews!!!

    --Grant

    Reply
  124. Hi, I have purchased the RCX5 based on your review. It is everything you said it would be. Great Review as always. This watch is awesome.

    Reply
  125. I don't know if this is an issue with newer watches. However, for your test, it is important that you turn on all GPS units at the same time.

    Reply
  126. Anonymous

    i have a ft80 im a bodybuilder who does also a lot of cardio, do you think this would be a good switch?
    my email address is giovanni.handzic@yahoo.com
    i would appreciate your opinion.
    thanks

    Reply
  127. Anonymous

    Have been chasing Polar for an answer on the number of phases for the RCX5. I had assumed that the limitation was to do with PPT and that we could expect to see this expanded at some point soon.

    Polar confirmed today that for the RCX5 this will not happen as the phases are hard coded into the watch.

    This is very disappointing news and had I known would not have purchased. Nowhere in user manual or in their marketing does it mention that the RCX5 is limited to 4 phases.

    While there are good points with the RCX5, Polar did not do their homework. Potential buyers should be aware of this before they purchase.

    Great product reviews by the way!

    Reply
  128. hi ray,

    really a great review for, maybe u should include the watch built and feel, so that we know how good the product is...

    like others, i also torn between FR6100 n this RCX5....

    i think, FirstBeat in 610 quite interesting, but the main drawback is the watch not waterproof....

    so, is there any function in RCX5 that work same/almost like what FirstBeat offer?...

    thanks.

    Reply
  129. hi ray,

    does rcx5 support interval training/workout like FR610? thanks!

    Reply
  130. Lee

    Hi there. GREAT review. I was just wondering if I can shower with the watch still attached? I always forget to take my watch off when I'm showering. And can I run with both the watch and the GPS while it's raining without running into any problems what-so-ever? I'm especially concerned about the GPS. You mentioned it to be water-proof while you're swimming; does that also apply when I'm running or cycling in the rain? Plese answer ASAP, I'm thinking about buying it.

    Reply
  131. Anonymous

    The RCX5 is a great HRM. I have been using it since October 2011. However, two important features are missing for a top HRM like this one (at this price!): NO ALTITUTE DATA derived from GPS (Polar guys you gotta fix this via software or firmware update!!), NO R-R (heart rate variability) data. That is a pity!!!

    Reply
  132. MJ

    Great review. Thanks for the work on this.

    Reply
  133. DignityOptional

    Yes, the down-slipping HRM strap... I'm toying with adding home-made bra straps to mine (fibreglass-reinforced strapping tape should work nicely); but you'd need to be an exceptional individual to go in a public pool with them.

    Reply
  134. Great reviews! Been reading a few in the past dates. Detailed, compleate and easy to understand.
    I have a few questions, as I can't decide what watch to choose. I'm between the Polar RCX5 and the Garmin 910xt.
    I'm a multi sport trainer but actually I'm trying to focus my training more on water sports, mainly kayaking and windsurfing, apart from the bike, running, swimming and gym training I normaly do.
    Which one do you think would perform better for tracking routes, distances and speed while doing these sports? Apart from th HR and other features.
    Thanks for your time!

    Reply
  135. tom parker

    Hello. Got a question for you. If you put the G5 GPS sensor in your swim cap during a swim, it will capture your distance/speed/pace data, but, will it show it on your wrist unit DURING the swim, or will you not be able to see it until you get home and download the data? Presumably your wrists are out of the water enough that the G5 will contact to it enough of the time to give you realtime info... yes? Anyone tried this?

    Reply
  136. Anonymous

    Question: Is there any need to even deal with the bike/speed sensors? Why wouldn't I just use the GPS function, slip the GPS sensor in my jersey and be on with my day. Would that work?

    Thanks for the great review!

    Reply
  137. Primarily for folks that want bike data indoors on a trainer, or want cadence data. Outside, yup, GPS is good for most folks.

    Reply
  138. Hi Rain!
    Thanks a lot for your review, it's just the best in all webarea.
    One more question, nobody knows, but it's so easy.
    Concerning your replay #95 to Popita re:Alarms.
    If I go over my HR limit what kind of alarm sound shut make the RCX5? Is it just fast single beep (squeak) repeating something like HR beats of your own? It was in all previous Polar units for example rs300.
    Or it sounds like some kind of service melody?
    My rcx5-RUN doesn't sound like fast single beep, just like short melody. That very uncomfortable for me.
    In quick menu if I'm trying to change the volume level every touch up/down sounds with the right single beep. But when I start my workout and go under or over my HR limits there is no fast single "beeps" just some "bird song".
    Sorry for so many words )))
    Keep well.

    Reply
  139. Anonymous

    Great review and a great HRM.
    Bit surprised at the lack of mention of the annoying strap. It's a bit of a pain to take on and off and it's not first watchstrap in history so why can't Polar get it right. Still I hope better than strap on the 300's - three of which I've had and three of which have broken wayyyyy to quickly. Living in Thailand difficult, costly and pointless to send back.

    Reply
  140. Hi!
    Do you know if the battery can be changed at service points?

    Thanks,
    Tamas

    Reply
  141. Yes, the battery can be changed via a standard user-replaceable battery (couple dollars).

    Reply
  142. Anonymous

    Hi!
    Thank you so much for an awesome review - very help full! Im sorry if someone has already asked this and i just missed it, but i cant seem to find an answer anywhere. I have the polar s1 footpod from a few years back, would that work with the rcx5?
    Thanks again!

    Reply
  143. sbonder@friedbonder.com

    Couple of questions. I have a garmin 610. as i get older, the display is sometimes hard to see, particularly messages like HR or even the virtual partner info. The display on this watch seems larger and easier to see, true? Also, are the advertised training programs/coaching of any value or just marketing hype? I'm a bit of a low mileage hacker, but want to step up my game. Also, I am going to start incorporating swim, so this watch seems like a good bet. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  144. sbonder@friedbonder.com

    one more thought -perhaps going to the garmin 910 would be better that switching to Polar. Keep my footpod, gets me the swim functions, familiar interface, etc. But, it lacks the "coaching" stuff the Polar advertises. Really looking forward to your thoughts. thanks for the great site. On, and one more "by the way," if you can figure out a way to make a bit from a link to REI rather than Amazon, I'll use it for most purchases.

    Reply
  145. Hi Scott-

    Yes and no. The displays between the FR610 and RCX5 from a readability standpoint are pretty close. I'd say the FR610 has a slight edge at night, but during the day the two are fairly similiar.

    The training plans can be useful, but I think that in general you can grab the same thing from other sources online for free. They are fairly basic, but, it's handy that it's semi-integrated into the online site - which makes it cleaner.

    So, in short, I'm not sure I'd make the jump between the 610 and the RCX5 - since they are so similiar from a visbility standpoint. Hope this helps!

    Reply
  146. Dave

    So it's a long way down the road from RCX5 release. I got one initially but returned it during the Mac non compatibility period. I've got the 910XT and am training a lot for a half IM just now...and the bike issue on the QR mount is becoming a real pain. I'm thinking about returning to the RCX5. I don't have or plan to have a power meter in the near future, and as far as swimming goes I'm using the lap button more than anything else (including SWOLF which is seemingly constant) now. Curious to know if your thoughts on the device have changed over the last while.

    Reply
  147. David

    I am curious about the issues with 910xt QR mentioned by Dave. What are those issues and what does the RCX5 do differently that would avoid those issues?

    Reply
  148. Great Review..as always!

    Reply
  149. -BM-

    Great review. Pricey little bugger,

    Reply
  150. Another great review

    Reply
  151. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  152. Ray, RCX5 does not have a female version right? Because the RCX3 does.

    So I want to know if the RCX5 is suitable for a female wrist?

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Reply
  153. The watch is nice and slim (actualy, outside of the RCX3 - it's the slimmest watch out there), so there's no problems with it on a women's wrist (my wife has tried it, and she's super-tiny and with small wrists). Enjoy!

    Reply
  154. Hi I love your reviews! I am a beginner (in running) and I want to buy a watch. But their are so many out their. What I would at least want to have: GPS, heartbeat and that it records my runs and that I can review them.
    I would like to stay under 200,- . What would you recommend ?

    Reply
  155. Hi Petra-

    Start here:link to dcrainmaker.com

    It's still accurate, especially for the category you're looking at. :)

    Reply
  156. A few insights from talking to a service technician at a Polar distributorship following my questions and to friends with Polar and Garmin watches:

    1. In order to preserve water tightness in RCX5 or to that matter also RS800CX buttons should not be pressed when in water.

    2. The lens of RS800CX and to that matter of similarly shaped Polar watches is more succeptible to scratches and fracture than that of the RCX5/3.

    3. Data viewing in RCX5 is better than in RS800CX because the lens is flat rather than curved.

    4. I wonder why watches with barometric alttiude meters do not incorporate elevation data with GPS distance to provide a more accurate distance computation of slopes which is longer than the horizonal projection provided by GPS(Pitagoras).

    5. I do orienteering sport (running off-trail using magnetic compass and topographic map). I'd like to log GPS race data, with 1 second intervals, for up to 3 hours, donwload it via bluetooth to my desktop, superimpose data on competition topo map and compare my actual track to the ideal track. At the same time I'd like a watch that I can use for day to day life with no need to charge it frequently. I also occasionaly sweem. What would you recommend?

    6. With rechargeable watches, especially with Garmin it would be helpful in your reports to add information about how many charge cycles can be expected from installed batteries before they drop, say, below 50% of their original capacity, and how much does it cost to replace it. I was told that users were told by Garmin resellers that they are better off buying a new watch at a discount and that they do not replace rechargeable batteries.

    I enjoy reading your reviews.

    Reply
  157. Dave

    Roni, I read on Polar's FB page that PPT is soon to be updated to display altitude from the G5. Quite cool - would also like a firmware update to allow footpod cadence and stride length but speed/pace from GPS at the same time.

    Reply
  158. Hi Ray:
    Love your reviews. I like the details you provide as those are the ones that usually lead me to making a decision. However, would it be an idea as part of the Summary at the end if you could do a comparison among the different watches, indicating in which areas one is strong and the others are weak. For example the integrated GPS in Sunnto Ambit appeals to vs the separate unit with an armband for the Polar RCX5? Or how does the online or standalone software for uploading data compare between the different bradns (movescount.com for Suunto, personaltrainer.com for Polar).

    Just a thought.

    Thanks,
    Noel

    Reply
  159. hi guys I have a polar RCX5. I am just after replacing the battery in the watch and I tried to hook the watch up to the heart monitor and it not connecting do I replace the battery in the heart monitor aswell. Is there a procedure you do after replacing the battery in the watch thanks regards alasdair :)

    Reply
  160. Anonymous

    hey RAinMaker, is it possible to use a foot pod on your wrist will pool swiming to record dist/cadence especially with Polar's RCX5 or other non acelometer systems

    Reply
  161. Hello!! I am in an issue right know I have the FR405 and I want to change it for a FR610 or a Rxc5. I'm a runner and starting to do mountain bike. My objective is to start swimming and in an early future star on road bike. I have an issue in staying in garmin or going to polar!!! It's seems the issue of polar is the gps but has more features than the 610!!

    Which one do you think is better?

    Reply
  162. Anonymous

    I've been using the RCX5 for a month now and although a good watch it's really let down by the user interface on the computer and it's ability to measure distance. On a measured route of 4 miles the RCX5 (no footpad, just GPS) was out by over 350metres. My pace was completely out, whereas my friend's Garmn 110 was spot on. This has been a consistent factor over the last few weeks and a real let down: I'm running a consistent 7.26 mile and my friend who is behind me is running a 7.09 pace.....

    Reply
  163. Anonymous

    Incline not measured?!?!
    Great review as always but one MASSIVE flaw with the RCX5 that needs to be highlighted is the lack of measuring gain/loss of incline.
    Before I purchased the RCX5 I read loads of reviews of Garmin and Polar but missed noting that the RCX5 doesn't measure the total incline I have done after a run. For me this is such an obvious feature so I didn't even think of checking it.
    Any runner who is slightly serious and running longer distances knows that incline is a huge factor.
    Very dissapointed to realise that the watch was lacking this feature!

    Reply
  164. Thanks Anon-

    No, the only fields that are available are really just the ones that I listed in the fields table above.

    Sorry!

    Reply
  165. You might want to put up some big disclaimers on the part where you put the G5 GPS on the pool ladder.

    Mine got submersed just a few inches for just a few minutes, and it's now dead.

    The part of your review where you put the G5 GPS on the pool ladder might lead users to be less careful with the G5 GPS than they should be.

    Reply
  166. Hi Unknown-

    You should absolutely return it and get it swapped out. The unit is waterproofed to IPX7 (the G5 GPS pod), which means that it's required to withstand 1m deep for up to 30 minutes. If it's not doing that, definitely sounds like there was a defect.

    Bummer!

    Reply
  167. Just wandering for cycling do polar have their own cadence sensors or do you just use garmin ones.

    Reply
  168. Simon Kidd

    Hello

    Was there a test with the Pod in the swimcap and the watch on the wrist ?

    How well did it perform ?

    Thanks

    Reply
  169. Hey,
    I just read your review on RC3 GPS and wonder if the RCX5 has/will have the capibility to only show 3 or 2 rows in the training displays? When running I want bigger characters!

    Thanx,
    Andreas

    Reply
  170. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  171. You cannot setup training views with less than 4 lines before the training.

    But if you hold the up button during training, the second data field will di

    sappear and the first one will be enlarged.
    Holding the down button has a similar effect; it will enlarge the fourth data field and hide the third.

    So you get a view with 2 big data fields or 3 (two small and one large).

    Christian

    Reply
  172. Chris

    Just wondering how many bikes you can link the RCX5 to. I can't seem to add a fourth bike. I still only have two bikes, but when I upgrade a bike, I want to keep the data separate for each bike. Is this possible?

    Reply
  173. WOW thank you for the detailed review -- super helpful -- I was wondering about the mapmyrun software as I have been using that with my phone and now synced the polar training site to it -- it does not seem to import maps/splits -- any experience with mapmyrun?

    Reply
  174. Robert

    Great review!

    You said that you expected the interval function to change, allowing more than 4 phases, has this happened yet? If not, do you know of plans to expand this functionality?

    Reply
  175. Hold either right button for 3 seconds and it doubles the size of the text on the screen. Either 2 lines or 3 lines. So cool.

    Reply
  176. Great review. I only have polar personal trainer program and would like to be able to compare runs a bit better. When I tried the export function it only gave ma an option of HTML files from the Training diary which I don't know how to use with any other program. How can I export files to try with the training peaks software including gps or is it worth looking into the other polar training program. So far watch easy to use so persisting, but feel limited with data. Thanks Ro

    Reply
  177. Good morning,

    I can not decide which of those products for triathlon: Suunto t6c/t6d, Garmin 910XT, Timex T5K444 (Ironman global trainer), Polar RCX5 or RS800CX. Which is in your opinion better and why? What are some of them missing from your point of view?

    Thank you for answer,
    Dalibor Uhlir

    Reply
  178. martyfromburt

    I have had the RCX5 for 8 months now and find it:
    - fantastic in use (large display, customisable data views)
    - much easier to transfer data (no faffing with IR alignment)
    - way easier to change batteries (I have had shops who supposedly knew what they were doing mess up the waterproofing on at least two S710s)
    - in general a huge improvement over previous incarnations.

    Strangely though, it does not display your heart rate whilst in "pause" mode - a feature I really miss.

    However I find myself using my RS800CX MORE!! Why? Lack of any sort of altimeter on the RCX5. So I use the RCX5 when I am at work in London (flat, no hills) and my RS800CX for runs/bike rides at home (where it is very hilly).

    So lack of altimeter is for me a show-stopper which stops me fully endorsing the RCX5.

    Reply
  179. Anonymous

    Great review.

    I agree with the comment about the altimeter. Very frustrating. Without altitude data it is hard to gauge how you are going when comparing speed and HR curves, and how you handle hills. Annoying when you have to resort to a $5 iphone app to supplement a $300 device and then try to combine the two in a third-party app.

    Hope they address this soon.

    Reply
  180. Hi DC
    May I ask you to use your undisputed authority to influence the Polar's folks to finally get to fix the ugly shortcoming which doesn't allow to put more than 4 intervals in phased target on polarpersonaltrainer.
    We can't fixed the stupid decision that there is no altimeter in the RCX5. But I would really love to use all the force possible to make them fix this simple shortcomings about phased target planning.
    I wrote the letter to customercare@polar.fi about all of it and get general answer "We will take it into considerations in future products". This answer sounds to me like "We don't give a damn what you talking about".
    I'm a WebDeveloper and I'm sure this isn't big challange to fix this bug. More on this, even now you can change the repetitions of the intervals with firebug from 12 to whatever you want and it actually gets saved into a device. This makes this shortcoming even "funnier". The intervals are controlled through JavaScript and unfortunately couldn't be hacked through Firebug.
    Please DC help us all athletes to make this world a better place for us ;-)

    Cheers,

    Milosz.

    Reply
  181. S. Robi

    Hi Ray, great review.
    I'm a very long time user of Polar products and as so I don't understand the lack of the altimeter.

    As for the G5 GPS , mine went down into the sea 6 m deep for 2 hours and when activated it worked ok.

    I have a q. (silly one ,may be it was discussed before)
    The HR display is blinking continuously regardless it's value. My ex zones are defined . May be somebody here or you can help me to fix it.

    Reply
  182. Anyone know if you can plug the GPS pod into a portable charger to extend its life? I have use this trick (thanks ray) with my Garmin 305. I love the idea of stowing the GPS pod in my pack with the battery pack and running for 20+ hours in a 100 miler.

    Reply
  183. Congrats DCRM for the great reviews! Keep up the good job...
    Quick question: Are firmware updates available for Polar products (RCX5 in particular) as they are for Garmin models? And if yes, were should I look for them?
    Thanks for all the support.
    DF

    Reply
  184. Anonymous

    incredible review. thanks.

    looks like your review showed that up to 2 bikes can be set up (bike 1, bike 2). Is this correct information? I was hoping to set up 4 bikes (trainer, road, mtn1, mtn2)

    any ideas?

    Reply
  185. Hi.

    Have had RCX5 for a little while now and while I do like the unit, it fails in a couple of areas for my mind.
    1/ There are issues where the unit will not repeat the same phase during a phased workout, as is quite clearly stated as being possible in the PPT manual. This means you are only able to repeat between 2 different phases (phase 3-4 5x) compared to repeating a single phase (phase 3 only 5x). This basically limits you to Warmup, Work, Recovery, Cooldown. Polar say they are working on the solution, but I have had this question with them for a number of months now, with little feedback.

    2/ The unit is a bit of a bugger to use during a Multisport event. You have to pause (stop recording for a brief period), change profile (eg from swim to bike), and then continue recording.

    Another trap I have found is if you have the auto stop/start feature active while cycling during an event, when you enter transition and rack your bike, your RCX5 pauses too, and so when you go to pause to change profile (eg bike to run), you are actually completing your event, and having to restart again with a fresh event for the run. A trap for young players.

    Reply
  186. Daniel

    GREAT review!
    Very usefull, I think i'm ready to the purchase of one of these...
    Greetings from Chile!

    Reply
  187. Thija_59

    Hi,

    Review very usefull

    I would like to know if the red button can be used while swimming ?

    I have read that buttons can't be used under water


    13 Informations Importantes
    Utiliser le cardio dans l'eau
    Vous pouvez porter le cardio pour nager. Toutefois, il ne s'agit pas d'un instrument de plongée. Afin de préserver l'étanchéité, n'appuyez pas sur les boutons du cardio sous l'eau.


    13. IMPORTANT INFORMATION
    Caring for Your Product
    Using the Training Computer in Water
    The training computer may be worn when swimming. It is not, however, a diving instrument. To maintain water resistance, do not press the buttons of the training computer under water.

    if someone can confirm that limited usage of the red button...

    thank you,

    Thija

    Reply
  188. JM

    Hi Rainmaker
    Thanks for the great review - I have gone for the watch and happy so far.

    One question though, in the training programs, I can't find one that will create a specific "triathlon" training program, it only allows to create either run or cycle or other programs. I find this silly if this is meant to be a triathlon watch... Am I blind and just cant find this?
    thanks for your help!
    J

    Reply
  189. Thanks for the detailed review. I was on the fence about picking the RCX5 up but after this review I got it. Your explanations are spot on and much more understandable than the manual. Thanks for putting the effort into it. I do wonder when they will expand the number of workout phases you can put in beyond 4.

    Reply
  190. Bob

    I have been using the watch for about a year, and I find your review on target and informative.
    My complaint with this watch is the wrist band. Yes it is difficult to look at while in the aero position on the bike, but it is even more difficult to get it off my wrist and on the bike. Why can't the wrist band be as easy to put on as the G5 GPS arm band. I don't race (or swim) with the GPS on, and it is easy to put on in T1, not so with transferring the watch form the wrist to the bike mount.

    Reply
  191. Paris

    Hi. First of all let me just say that both your site and your reviews are just fantastic. I was looking for a good HRM mainly for weight loss, fitness, multisports etc and I couldn't really decide. At the beginning I started looking for some cheap options but finally I decided to go for the more completed and expensive options.

    Anyway I was between the RCX5, the RC3, the 310, the 410, the 510 and the 910, the M5, the Quest, the Ambit etc. Having read all your reviews I decided to order the RCX5 since it seemed to check most of the right boxes for me. Big screen, highly customizable screens, waterproof, light, more heart rate zones oriented, great duration and user replaceable battery. The lack of an integrated gps is obviously a minus but I am happy with the external one.

    Now why I didn't choose the others? All gps models suffer from low battery duration. I have 2 mobiles, 1 tablet, 1 laptop so I didnt want to have another device to charge on a daily basis. Also since the batteries are not user replaceables I am afraid that as time passes they will perform less and less. More specific the RC3 isn't as customisable. Both 310 and 910 are great but huge and ugly. 410 bezel is a nightmare and 610 isnt waterproof. Also people complain that its back made their hands green due to some coating isuues. The M5 and Quest lack some features and the Ambit is too expensive and not really a multisport watch.

    Anyway that's just my opinion. Thanks again for the great reviews.

    Reply
  192. Tamar

    does it allow for timed run/walk routine like the garmin 910 or garmin 10 ?

    Reply
  193. Dave Partington

    Hi Rainmaker,

    My Garmin FR610 has recently decided to delete runs, reboot when it feels like it and generally just not give me any confidence in it any more. It's out of its warranty so I was looking at this as a replacement/alernative for it.
    Having used both devices, do you think this is the BEST alternative option??

    Thanks!

    Dave, UK.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hmm, that's really tough. I think you may be disappointed going from the FR610 to the RCX5, mostly because the GPS pod isn't integrated - so you have two devices.

      I'd almost look more at the Polar RC3 instead. It's not as customizable as the RCX5, but it does have everything self-contained.

      Reply
  194. Dave Partington

    Thanks for the reply - I don't mind so much not having the GPS integrated as I do most of my runs with a back pack anyway, although it could be a problem in races but I don't think the arm strap would bother me if I was only having to wear it occasionally.

    The thing that put me off the RC3 was the lack of lap average pace noted in your review.....I think I might miss that!

    Maybe I should wait for your review of the new Timex Run Trainer 2.0 then??! :-)

    Reply
    • Jose Quintero replied

      As a sports watch seller, i hold every brand dcrainmaker has reviewed here. If you're interested in easy and quick customization of intervals go with the new timex run trainer 2.0, but don't forget memory is a little bit small. Rc3 is easy to use and has a 12h battery compared to the timex(8h). I have the RCX5 run with G5 gps and I run a lot with it since september and believe me its a true pleasure and doesnt have any bugs. I have the armstrap with the G5 gps when needed and im glad not to have it included in the watch. I wouldnt like to be charging it all the time. hope it helps

      Reply
  195. Hi Rainmaker,

    Have you tried swimming with the gps sensor? Does it works well in the open water?
    Do you use the arm band? My RCX5 came without the armband for the gps sensor so I wonder how could I mount the sensor while swimming?

    btw. Great reviews! Thanks for all your work :)

    Greetings from Poland!

    Reply
  196. Tom

    Very comprehensive review. Thank you!

    Sorry if I missed this but I have the RCX5 + GPS G5 and I can't figure out how to use the altitude tab on download in order to view climbs/descents etc.

    Anyone?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • jon replied

      The Polar GPS does not itself track altitude (as you may know). Therefore, PPT has to take the data and go out to Google Maps to derive the altitude. You have to enable this in the settings tab in PPT, the specific place to go is, as I recall, shown on the altitude tab prior to enabling the feature. Also, I believe that it will only populate the tab for imports made after you enable the feature (it will not go back and populate the tab for previously imported workouts).

      Reply
  197. Jessie

    Hello, i purchased this watch this week. I have program some interval workouts and i synchronised it but i Still dont see the programs in my watch. Do i have to do something else to see it ? Thanks a lot !

    Reply
    • Edgar replied

      Same problem for me. Despite synchronizing the watch and having recorded a program, it is nowhere to be seen on the watch. I don't even have the function "programs" on display to be able to select it. Weird.

      Reply
    • Edgar replied

      Just found the solution. When you create your program in PPT (for example interval) you have to select the sport. Make sure it is one of the sport entered in your watch. I had "run" on PPT and "running" in the watch, so it didn't match. Once you have the right name of sport, it should synchronize and then only, the option "Program" will appear on your watch menu.

      Reply
  198. Albert

    The RCX5 performed very well for a few weeks but now it's stuck on cycling sports profiles and can't any more be shifted to running profile which is my favourite sport profile. Tried everything........

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Hi Albert- Have you tried ringing up Polar support? They may be able to get you un-jammed.

      Reply
  199. Ed

    Great review! Does the RCX5 have vibration alerts like the Garmin 310xt? Thanks.

    Reply
  200. Ed

    My concern is that I must be able to hear my heart rate target over any ambient noise involved in my sport. I currently use the 310xt but the heart rate (in the watch) stopped working (I tried a different Garmin strap and the watch does not work). How is the sound on the RCX5? Is it as loud as the 310xt? Thanks.

    Reply
  201. pierre

    first, thanks for the great reviews. quick question regarding the RCX5: would you say the foot pod or qps pod would be your preferred method of getting pace/distance? I run in the mountains, as well as down at sea level so I'm wondering if one is more accurate than the other. thanks very much.

    Reply
  202. Matthias

    Hey,

    first of all thank you for every single one of your great reviews! I love your page beeing a bit of a hardware addict. Excuse my english, if there are some mistakes - I am from germany and a bit rusty when it comes to writing ;)

    I recently bought a rcx5 unit, after I got a bit upset about my old fr 210 and the growing interest in swimming. I am pretty happy with it so far, except for the realtime pace function - it jumps around within 2 minutes/km hence it's pretty useless, while the overall total accuracy is pretty good. My fr210 was set to calculate the average pace over 1km laps and did a good job delivering believeable data. Did you suffer the same inaccuracy displaying actual pace and did you find any compareable function to the garmin's lap average at the rcx? Or do you have any other solving ideas?

    Many thanks and regards,
    Matthias

    Reply
  203. Adam

    Hi Ray,

    I almost bought myself a new 910XT to get a few extra functions which after reading your in-depth review I no longer need to buy as I found out that I can do it all with my RCX5. A little thing I noticed with Training Peaks integration is that if you export the file as you described in the review but then use TP Device Agent to import the file you don't need to combine the two files and hence change the time on the GPS file to get the data to line up. Makes for a very easy download to TP.

    Also wanted to know if when you create a new sport, ie Openwater swimming so that I can add the GPS to the sport profile if you can specify which HR frequency to use or if it somehow automatically knows which one to use when under water or if always looks for both frequencies and just uses which one is available. Have you or any other readers experimented with this. I will do so as soon as i get to some open water and let everyone know if I dont hear back from you in the meantime. Love the reviews, this is my goto place before I buy any new equipment, keep up the great work.

    Adam

    Reply
  204. Lars J

    Hi there,

    I was thinking about the multisport issue, i.e. changing from swim to bike to run, or actually swim-t1-bike-t2-run. It seems that how to deal with this in race, or other time-pressed situation, is less than optimal.

    Would a possible solution be to press the lap button, go onto the new lap, be it either t1, bike, t2 or run, i.e. keep the same sport, and then afterwards, with software in post-race analysis, change each lap into what sport?

    I am fairly certain that this is possible, although it might be somewhat tricky. One side effect, with same sport on watch during race (given that suggestion would work) might be difficulties to view data from accessory sensors such as gps, speed, cadence, etc. However, this might perhaps be solved by preconfiguring a 'multisport' sport in the watch.

    Any thoughts on the idea?

    And, thanks for a great site, reviews and all.

    Lars J

    Reply
  205. Nikolai

    Can anyone from of personal experience tell me, please, how this unit compares to Polar RCX5, purely from tri point of view, leaving all evident tracking specific advantages of Ambit aside.

    And....not trolling here, genuinely wondering... 2 dollar digital watch will last you whole year, but 500+ dollar unit when only used as digital watch lasts 50 days max... Yes it doesn't cost 500+ because it's a "just a watch", it's much more, i got it. But why it's only lasts 50 days in watch only mode. No gps, no hr, nothing, just clock - 50 days!
    Can anyone explain?

    Reply
    • Nikolai replied

      Sorry everyone.... meant to post it on Ambit 2 review thread...

      Reply
  206. Thija_59

    Hi every one,

    i think i've got a problem with my RCX5 watch (GPS on and S3+ on) :
    - The "hearttouch" is more and more difficult to "put on" (i've just change this sensor's battery - Cr2025)
    - Every 3 month I've got to change the battery of the watch (CR2032) - data save every 1s :
    ~ 30h with autosync on/light on/GPS on/S3+ on/sleep function 22h->07h for the 1st battery
    ~70h with autosync off/light on/GPS on/S3+ on/sleep function 21h->08h for the 2nd battery
    ~65h with autosync off/light on/GPS on/S3+ on/sleep function 21h->08h for the 3rd battery
    ~ 60h with autosync off/light on/GPS on/S3+ on/sleep function 21h->08h for the 4th battery

    Does anybody have the same kind of trouble ?

    Do i have to return the watch ?

    Thank you,

    Thija

    Reply
  207. Bert_59

    Thya,
    You might have to have your watch checked. I use my RCX5 for outdoor excercises on avg 4 times a week avg 2 hours with GPS and indoors 1 time a week 1 hour without GPS. On sleep from 0:00 to 7:00. 3 months now and still running on same battery. Only, I do not use sound or light, and I have no S3. Autosync is direct when I start my laptop. Or,... it is he way you put your batteries in. you have to be very carefully not to make contact with your hands on both electrodes. Good luck.

    Reply
  208. Robbie

    I just noticed a very sweet discount ($100 off) at CleverTraining on the RCX5 (Link). Tempting, but being almost 3 year's old (though feature-rich), one wonders if an update--or a new RC5--is just around the corner.

    Any rumours from Polar?

    Reply
  209. Robbie

    Thank you Ray. Obvious now that you've pointed it out ;)

    The V800 looks like a thoroughly modern HRM/GPS. I have an Edge 500, but I need a watch for nordic skiing/roller-skiing (and running/MTB), Until the V800 is released, the Ambit 2 and the RCX5 seemed the most compelling for that mix (and both Fenix to some degree).

    Now wondering if I should wait for Suunto to bring out their "Ambit3" and see how it measures up to the V800.

    Any whispers about a new Ambit3 in the pipeline?

    Reply
  210. AlexG

    Hi Ray, I read some of your reviews with big interest. I currently own an RCX5 and thinking about buying a Polar Loop, also maybe using it with my phone(note3). The RCX5 i use it mostly for tracking GPS data when cycling and the Loop will be used everyday.
    Would the <a href="link to dcrainmaker.com; title="viiiiva strap" work with both the Loop (uses Bluetooth) and rcx5 (ANT+) in the same time?

    Reply
  211. Neil Sutherland

    Hi there Everyone,

    Just wanted to ask a very basic questions and wanted a bit of feedback. I am stuck between the Nike+ Sportswatch and the RCX5. I have a pair of flyknits but am unsure which would be best for a serious runner like myself.

    Also, do you have to have either the GPS or stride Sensor to tell how far you've run, or does the watch itself monitor that?!

    Thank you for any help!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Honestly, I'd really look at other, potentially more modern units these days (see this: link to dcrainmaker.com)

      But, to answer your question, the RCX5 does require either the GPS or the stride sensor to get distance. It does not have either built-in. Whereas the Nike+ has GPS built in.

      Reply
    • Neil Sutherland replied

      Thanks, I really appreciate the help!

      Reply
  212. Mark

    Hi there,
    I go for spinning at the gym and I was wondering if the RCX5 would work in the gym with a spin bike?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, but you won't get speed/cadence unless you find a way to attach it.

      Reply
  213. Fr Jim Achacoso

    First off, thanks for the in-depth review. It was crucial for my decision to finally order the RCX5 GPS, plus the footpod and 3 footpod cases (since I use 3 different shoes for 3 different training modes), plus the bike cradle (since I do tri).
    Let me share with you my solution for the migrating chest strap when swimming (something that really used to vex me too): simply put it in place on your sternum with a 3-inch strip of medical (first aid) adhesive tape. No need for the tape to extend below the strap (since there is absolutely no tendency to migrate upwards) but just above. Then snap the transmitter on top of the tape.

    By the way, I also use a 1.5-inch strip across the sternum to protect my skin from chaffing with the chest strap on long runs, precisely in that area. I used to apply a bit of vaseline, but it interfered with the electric contact with my skin.

    Reply
  214. Mike

    I always liked the RCX5 for its looks and a few days ago wanted to know how much those things are selling around eByy and I have to say I was very surprised by the high prices. Can anyone explain this phenomenon to me. Personally I just gave away my garmin fr60 and switching to a tom-tom multisport although the ambit2 s nearly won the competition. But again, how come the RCX5 remains this popular?

    Reply
    • Matthias replied

      Well I guess there is a Market for those who look for a device without intern GPS-Chip in favor of a slimdesign and a long lasting battery. Further there was no other triathlonwatch from polar until the v800. I think the price will decrease when the v800 becomes more available (and proves as reliable).

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's probably worthwhile to note that if you look on Ebay, most of the RCX5's being sold include a slew of accessories - which drives up the price a bit. For the unit alone, they aren't beyond that I'd expect. But I'd definitely agree with Mattias's points on lack of other units and that it'll decrease as the V800 becomes more available.

      Reply
  215. Very good and thorough review. Just want to mention that you can use my tool (http://www.polarconverter.com) to combine hrm files and gpx files into tcx files for importing ;) Seems like there are a lot of Polar users that struggles with the same problems I had before.

    Reply
  216. werner

    I'm a using the RCX5 since it's release. Still now and then a question pops-up. Like is the Multisport Sport Profile changeable?
    When doing multisport a summary display showing
    "tot kcal" (kcalories)
    "tot A_B" (distance)
    "tot clock face" (time)
    is added to the predefined sport profile views.
    How, where can I customise this summary multisport display? I'd like to have "time of day" instead of "kcal". Or, distance as first line so I could switch to big number display
    any suggestions?
    The question I've already posted on the Polar WebSync forum with no reaction.

    Reply
  217. Lars Hilde

    When pausing an exercise (lower left button), the RCX5 doesn't display training data, only showing the "sport logo". This is really annoying. I would like to pause, and have look at how long i have exercised and other data. When pausing, it is only possible to end the exercise or switch to another sport. Am I right, or is there a sollution for this?

    Reply
  218. therewillbemud

    Hi Ray, first I'd like to thank you for taking the time to review this product in such detail. However, there is a problem that I've discovered with this device that isn't mentioned in the review and I think it's worth making people aware of it. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO USE CUSTOM HEART RATE ZONE LIMITS WHEN THE DEVICE IS PROGRAMMED WITH A WORKOUT. IF THE DEVICE IS PROGRAMMED WITH A WORK OUT OF ANY KIND, THE HEART RATE ZONE LIMITS WILL BE OVERWRITTEN WITH THE DEFAULTS DEFINED BY POLAR AND THEY CANNOT BE CHANGED WHILE THE WORKOUT IS SCHEDULED. This for me is a major fault, it isn't mentioned anywhere in the product promotional literature or the user manual and had I known about it I certainly would not have purchased the device. I can see that this has been mentioned a couple of times on this thread and is also a subject of discussion on the polar forum - link to forum.polar.fi. Please could you update your review and highlight this issue so that others may be made aware of it before they spend £250 on a device that they then find to be unfit for purpose (like I did)?

    Reply
    • DC Rainmaker replied

      Hello-

      Thanks for dropping by. Ultimately, I use the device in certain ways that fit my workout styles. While I understand trying to seek out every limitation possible, I have to be realistic that people use devices in different ways. Given that it's been over three years since publishing and your comment is the first one here regarding that implementation - I've gotta believe it's a lower use case.

      Plus, you're comment is here and I don't delete it, so I suspect folks will find that.

      Do keep in mind that at this point the device is effectively on a discontinued list, thus I'd really recommend other devices that are newer and more powerful (for the same or less in most cases).

      Reply
    • therewillbemud replied

      "I use the device in certain ways that fit my workout styles. While I understand trying to seek out every limitation possible, I have to be realistic that people use devices in different ways"

      - I understand that and my comments were in no way meant as criticism of your work; I found the review very helpful, and thanks again for doing it.

      "...your comment is the first one here regarding that implementation - I've gotta believe it's a lower use case."

      - It looks like this has already been mentioned twice on here; by 'Anonymous' on August 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm and 'Anonymous' on September 13, 2011 at 7:50 pm.

      Reply
  219. Daniel

    Hi,

    I have a question bout the s3+ stride sensor calibration procedure, I don't know if anyone could help me.

    I have tried to calibrate more then ten times, with every method listed on the user manual, and all the times the RCX5 confirms the previous calibration factor, ie 1.000 (factory default).

    I left the RCX5 and the s3+ three times in the local Polar repair center and I can't get a straight answer from then what if this is normal behavior or something is wrong with one or both equipments.

    And I had big differences between the real distance and the measured distance, and also some strange big oscillations on speed/pace even when at almost constant pace.

    At first, they said the problem was that I was using the factor 1.000 and I didn't calibrated correctly, since the factor was the factory default. Now they say that the problem was happening because I calculated the factor manually and inserted this value after the calibration process "did not worked", and in reality It would had worked if I didn't changed the factor. But the value always stayed the same (1.000 or other, if inserted manually).

    Could any other RCX5 + s3+ stride sensor user tells me what is the expected result of a calibration?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Karl replied

      Hi Daniel,
      I left my s3+ sensor with 1,000, because my results with it where pretty good. I did a run on my usual route for which I know the correct data an typed it in after the run. It worked perfectly for the next run, but then the distance started to be off again. I guess in my case it's just the battery of the s3+ sensor, but the calibration before worked fine for me without any issues.
      Maybe you try to calibrate the sensor after a run over a known distance, like I did.
      Good luck!

      Reply
  220. Karl

    I know it`s been a while, but I am still wondering if there is a chance to get my data from my RCX5 into polar flow. Does anybody know?

    Reply

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