First look at the new Polar RC3 GPS–the first integrated GPS watch from Polar

NOTE – Sept 27, 2012: My Full In-Depth Review is now available for the Polar RC3. You can view that here.

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Today Polar announced their new RC3 integrated GPS watch – the first fully integrated GPS watch coming from Polar.  This unit primarily targets runners with a bit of cycling, though it can also be used in some multi-sport scenarios.

And for clarification, here’s a quick refresher on similar sounding watches from Polar:

Polar RC3 = This watch, simplified running watch with integrated GPS
Polar RCX3 = Simplified running watch (not GPS integrated, but supports G5 GPS pod)
Polar RCX5 = Triathlon focused/advanced watch (not GPS integrated, but supports G5 GPS pod)

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I’ve been testing the watch for a few weeks now, and thus far have been fairly happy with it.  The unit is in the same size range as most of the smaller GPS units from Garmin, and doesn’t stand out at all on my wrist – it’s pretty slim.  I’ve used it on and off as a day-watch (though, I’ve had to be somewhat careful of using it too much day to day prior to release, since it was under NDA).

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Note that while in day watch mode you can either display the fancy Polar RC3 logo (like above), or choose to hide it – like below:

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From a functionality standpoint the unit is very similar to the Polar RCX3 (note the difference of the ‘x’).  Those familiar with the RCX3 and RCX5 will find the menu system virtually identical (though data field pages differ, as well as features).

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The RC3 supports existing Polar W.I.N.D. sensors, but does not contain any Bluetooth Low Energy hardware inside of it.  This is one of the few nits I have with the watch at this time, as I feel that it would have future proofed the unit rather well.  However, if you already have Polar WIND accessories, then you’re in good shape (note the Bluetooth Smart H7 is not compatible, since it’s not WIND-compatible).

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For all of my recent runs, I’ve been wearing both the new RC3 as well as another watch.  Sometimes that’s been a Garmin, sometimes a Suunto Ambit, sometimes the Garmin Fenix, Magellan Switch.  Just sorta mixing it up.  In virtually all cases, the units have tracked super-close from a GPS distance and pace standpoint.  I’ve really been impressed with that.  Here’s the mid-way through one run’s numbers (4.42mi vs 4.40mi):

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And here’s the final numbers on one run from last week (8.29mi vs 8.28mi):

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Additionally, they’ve got instant-pace nailed, with it very consistent but with another unit, as well as by itself (note 7:37/mile vs 7:36/mile).  Of course, you’ll see fluctuations between the two watches +/- 10-15s/mile, but they’re overall in the same ballpark – and certainly usable as far as instant pace goes (again, in the beta version – as we’ve seen with Garmin units, things can change from firmware to firmware version):

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For example, here’s a short video during my Nuremberg, Germany run last week – showing the instant-pace screen on the RC3 as I ran along the path.

Now I set it to use image stabilization after the fact – which makes the video a bit artifact filled. But the key thing you’re looking for here is the middle line – note the lack of significant change in this.  This video is all about the technical stuff, not so much about the video quality.

Polar RC3 GPS Instant Pace while running

(As a random side note, I have no idea why I decided to try and hold my breath while taping the above – which means you can steadily watch my heart rate climb.  Perhaps I thought it’d make for a steadier video.)

Now the only downside to Polar re-using the existing menu system found within the RCX3 is that you have a lack of data field customization found in most other watches on the market today.  Meaning, today if I grab a Motoactv, Timex or just about any other watch, I can pick and choose the data fields I’d like.  Whereas with the RC3, I can change training view rows, but can’t truly customize those data fields.

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So the data fields I see are limited to the display order and configuration that Polar has selected across the seven pages of data fields:

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The unit does support auto-lap capabilities, which by default are set to 1KM, but you can change it to any value you’d like in either kilometers or miles.  It’s located in roughly the same place you’d configure the speed view to be either minutes/mile or mph (or, the equivalent in metric).

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As noted above, the unit will connect to both Polar WIND footpods and WIND cycling accessories (speed & cadence), as well as WIND heart rate straps.  If you connect it to the cycling accessories, you can go ahead and kick it into the cycling sport mode and view the information as speed (either metric or statue) instead.

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(With my primary bike in brokesville, I haven’t had a chance to test out the cycling side yet – but it just got all fixed on Friday, so ready to start playing with that here Monday)

With the inclusion of the GPS comes the ability to provide geographic awareness of where you are, and where you were.  Specifically, the back to start feature.  While Garmin and other units have had similar functionality for years – I found the Polar RC3 implementation much cleaner and easier to use.  In fact, I used it last week as I wandered my way back through the city to my hotel.  Super-easy to see with the gigantic arrow and distance:

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Note that the unit is waterproofed, however only to IPX7 standards – which is the not-so-great standard that many of the running-specific watches that Garmin has are also waterproofed to.  IPX7 defines waterproofing as up to 1 meter deep (3 ft.) for up to 30 minutes.  This means that while you can take a shower with it, run in the rain, and even spend some time floating in the pool – you shouldn’t swim laps with it since the unit it’d designed to handle the constant whacking on the water (like all of the Garmin non-triathlon Forerunners).  Polar has confirmed with me that will not be recommending folks swim with the watch.  Running in the run/etc will be fine, but they won’t recommending lap swimming.  For the life of me, I can’t understand why  companies don’t spend the extra few cents to waterproof these high end watches properly, especially given a cheap $15 watch from Walmart is properly waterproofed.

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Looking at the battery life, the unit is noted to have 13 hours of active use between charges, or weeks of inactive use.  In my testing I haven’t had any unexpected battery issues yet, and I’ve only had to re-charge it once thus far.  Charging and downloading of workouts is done via the standard micro-USB cable – the same one you likely use to charge your non-Apple phone with:

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Speaking of downloading, the watch supports downloading of workouts.  However, as of this writing, I don’t quite have the final software build to be able to do so.  I should have it sometime later this week.  Once implemented, it’ll allow you to upload to Polar’s online training log – PolarPersonalTrainer.com, as well as export the data out in standard Polar formats to one of the numerous 3rd party programs (or Polar’s own ProTrainer desktop program).

I’ve never been a huge fan of PolarPresonalTrainer.com, as I’ve felt the user interface is fairly dated.  That said, I’m told a UI (user interface) change is coming next Monday (Aug 20th), with an additional update coming in early September tied to utilizing Google Maps GPS altitude service to provide altitude/elevation info for all GPS-enabled units (i.e. RC3, RCX3/RCX5+G5 GPS pod, etc…).

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I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how the data looks once uploaded, as I’ve got lots of activities on there!  Though, I suspect it’ll pretty much look identical to the RCX3 and RCX5 data (when I had the G5 GPS pod paired).  Of course, looking at the UI update – hopefully that’ll bring some change as well.

In the meantime, the unit does support on-watch history viewing, making it pretty straight forward to retrieve my older runs:

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Last but not least – here’s a look at the size comparisons to other watches in the running market today.  I selected watches that most closely compete with the RC3, which were primarily running-focused watches that could also dabble in cycling.

From left to right: Garmin FR210, Garmin FR610, Polar RC3 (this watch), Polar RCX5, Timex Run Trainer.

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In summary, I’m fairly happy with this watch.  I think for a first go Polar has come fairly close to delivering what folks have been requesting from them for years (integrated GPS), and did it in a way that’s relatively competitive with other watches in the market (priced at $299, $349 with HR strap).  There’s still room for improvement in some areas (noted below), but it’s definitely a good first shot.

First look pros and cons:

Pros:
- Fully integrated GPS watch, no separate POD
- 13 hour battery life exceeds most units in this device/price class/market (usually 8-10hrs)
- Very slim watch, completely usable as day to day watch
- Very solid GPS accuracy, on par with other units I’ve tested
- No instant-pace issues (clean even pace display)
- Back to start functionality is clean and straight forward

Cons:
- Neither ANT+, nor Bluetooth/Bluetooth Low Energy compatible (no hardware inside for either)
- Limited configuration of data pages, I want more flexibility
- Waterproofing is poor (really poor)
- Online training site needs major overhaul

I’ll be publishing a full review on/about September 3rd, which is the date Polar expects the watch to be released to the general public (and I’ll have all the final software versions as well, as the unit currently has a beta version on it).  Of course, as always – feel free to drop any questions below in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them, or get the answers from those who can.

As always – thanks for reading!

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100 Comments

  1. hey, congrats for your website, i was a silent follower until today :-).
    some questions regarding the rc3gps:
    -is it possible to set laps below 1km eg 0,400m?
    -what kpi do they display in the data screens?
    -workout upload to the watch works same as garmin?
    - return function: does it displays only the direction or does it take you back on a street by street basis (switching arrow position at each turn)? just the direction for a 10k walk shouldn't be enough...
    regards,
    tudor

    Reply
  2. Hans

    Once again a great first look report. Thanks a lot form Switzerland
    One question: is there a vibration alarm?

    Reply
  3. Chris

    Great review as always... Thank you!

    Can this unit also support a stride sensor for cadence and stride length metrics?

    Reply
  4. Once again polar creates a nice looking watch with no ability to work with other things. I'm using rs800cx and by looking what garmin is doing I really miss that I haven't got garmin watch. And now what? New polar watch with (at last) built in gps that can't connect to anything has awfull web panel (I use polar pro trainer 5 cause I can't look at the web panel). Polar start thinking or you will be eaten by competition...

    Reply
  5. Do you have any knowledge of that the are going to update there website? Because of your con remark:

    - Online training site needs major overhaul

    Reply
  6. Appreciate it.

    Had my attention until I got to the waterproof part.

    Pity, I like the looks if it too.

    Reply
  7. Raul

    Hi Ray, I guess if one wants to have cadence readings it supports that too, as far as you connect to some of the Polar pods, right?
    Tks, keep pushing the pace...

    Reply
  8. One day a watch will be made that can be worn daily ( chargeable if used with gps ) that is waterproof & works android / i phone upload, until then stick with my 310 xt....

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    I was a 15 year Polar user. Had all the latest from the company. Then switched to Garmin. This latest product from Polar that still only supports WIND protocol reaffirms my correct decision to switch. If it was waterproof and had Bluetooth Smart they may have had a good product here.

    Reply
  10. When will POLAR realize that the lack of ANT+ is a real deal-breaker????

    I had several Polar (S720, S725X, RS300X), but long ago switched to Garmin, mainly due to ANT+, since I can choose Garmin, CycleOps, MotoActv, ...

    I like their watches, but... lack of ANT+ is a deal-breaker, so I won't even consider them.

    Reply
  11. Like others have said, the refusal of Polar to include Ant+ or even BTLE compatibility means I won't even consider this watch. Regardless of how nice Polar electronics are, I don't want to invest in WIND sensors that are only compatible with Polar.

    Reply
  12. Firstly- Kudos. I saw the announcement by Polar of their new product... then went to your page and sure enough, you were right on schedule with a quick look of it.

    but- you were too kind. Hey- I realize that you need to maintain good relations with these companies, but this watch is overpriced for it's features. The lack of customization puts it on par with the Forerunner 210 or the Nike watch... both of which are way cheaper. I guess the only potential benefit is that you could use a polar HR sensor which works under water... but the watch isn't waterproof! Ok- they get points for slimness and battery life- but other than that, it's basically a non-competitive product.

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    Actually the waterproofing class is not that bad. The first meter is the most difficult ones as there is not enough pressure on the o-rings. Deeper down they will seal and things are fine.

    Reply
  14. Hi All,

    Chris from Polar here.. Love reading the comments and feedback here!

    Just wanted to make a few points and answer questions where possible.

    - " Chris said...
    Can this unit also support a stride sensor for cadence and stride length metrics?"

    Yes, it's compatible with the stride sensor for cadence and stride length

    - "Bjorn van der Neut said...
    Do you have any knowledge of that the are going to update there website?"

    We have two updates planned in the near future. One next Monday(8/20) and one early September. Both combined have some major updates. With that said, we're very proud of how PPT.com has evolved. If you'd like to check it out, use this sample account at polarpersonaltrainer.com and get your own feeling on it:
    polarusa@gmail.com password: polarhrm

    With regard to Ant+ compatibility, the future is in Bluetooth Smart. While the RC3 GPS doesn't include BT Smart, this is where our future is. We're just not up to the point yet with sensor support.

    It's very easy to compare the RC3 GPS with some other GPS watches out there, but you have to understand that our focus and history has been on the physiology side of things.

    We come from a background of creating heart rate based training features that give you insight to your body and training program. We call it Smart Coaching. We have 35 years of R&D into physiology based features that help you train smarter. That's our base. link to polarusa.com

    If you guys have any specific questions or anything I know Ray does a good job at answering here, but I'm here too if you need anything. Could also be reached via email @ chris.zoller@polar.fi.

    Happy training!

    Chris

    Reply
  15. Hi All-

    I just updated the post with answers to some questions - and I see that in the time I took to write the responses, Chris from Polar has responded/commented as well. So the below is somewhat duplicate - but figured you might want my thoughts on it.

    Thanks!

    Hi Tudor-
    RE: Auto laps below 1KM
    Yes, down to 1/10th of a KM, i.e. 100m

    RE: PKI of the screens
    Sorry, it doesn't say (I don't have a manual). I'll try and find out.

    RE: Workload upload to watch
    They feature the ability to use the Smartcoach, but otherwise it acts the same as the RCX3.

    RE: Return arrow
    No, it just points back to the start location as if flying. Which is of mixed use of course. In cases like the city - it's not bad if I want the fastest route. But in most trail cases, it's entirely useless.

    Hi Hans-
    RE: Vibration alarm
    No vibrating motor in the watch

    Hi Chris-
    RE: Stride sensor
    Yes, the stride sensor itself is supported. I'll have to see once uploading if teh stride cadence/length metrics make it through.

    Hi Bjorn-
    RE: Online site

    Originally when I wrote it, I was referring to the fact that I felt it needed/needs an overhaul. However Polar reached out to me and clarified that next Monday the site will receive a user interface update (unclear how big), and then early September it'll receive additions of utilizing Google Altitude services to display elevation/atltitude data for those with Polar GPS units. I've since updated the post above to reflect that.

    Hi Raul-
    RE: Polar Pods
    Yes, it supports those.

    Hi Morey-
    RE: Competitiveness

    It depends a bit. Compared to the Motoactv, no, it's not at all competitive. Compared to the FR210 - it's a bit of a case of which functionality you like. The FR210 focuses more on specific intervals/workouts (added functionality), while the RC3 focuses more on the HR aspect of that. Thus, for someone training purely by HR - the RC3 may be of more use if they don't have a training program. Otherwise, the FR210 is a better bet as a wholistic watch. Both suck for waterproofing (same standard, and I've actually killed a FR210 in a pool too). The Nike+ is different. I don't like the closed nature of their site, but do give them props for the social/community angle. Customization on that watch is also aqually slim.

    The challenge is different folks like different things. Personally, I prefer customization of data fields over HR training programs in a watch. But otherwise prefer the other. Though definitely agree that pricing is high right now. Just my two cents.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Waterproofing

    While that may be good waterproofing - since Polar is recommending not to swim, it's pretty useless for those of us wanting to either lap swim - or use it during a triathlon (even if only for timing).

    Thanks all!

    Reply
  16. Does 'active use' mean to use the watch for a workout and record GPS, HRM, etc? And 'inactive use', does that mean to simply use the watch to display time, date, etc.

    Reply
  17. Correct - while in an activity with GPS on. It's likely higher in an activity with just HR on - though I haven't tried to see how long (no GPS enabled).

    As a day to day watch, it goes what I presume to be weeks. It's been since sometime last week since my last charge.

    Reply
  18. I guess I'm as yet uninformed about the HR training features of the RC3. I know I can do all kinds of HR based custom workouts on my garmin (and have).

    anyway- the packaging and style look nice. Just don't quite get what's special about it- given that it's about the same price as a fully featured 610.

    Reply
  19. Good report Ray. Looking forward to something that will beat the Polar 800CX. The RC3 doesn't do it for me. The Garmin 910xt is close with the customisable screens and ANT+ but not quite enough to beat the 800CX.

    The main thing that is bugging me with the advanced Polar kit is this WIND technology. It is such a disappointment in that it isn't compatible with other kit i.e. ANT+. Not sure why Polar do this.

    The swim features aren't a problem, as pressing a "lap" button on the watch is sufficient for me, but as you say, why it is recommended not to press buttons under water. Very annoying.

    Reply
  20. Si.

    To Chris@Polar:

    1) Is the RC3 the GPS model of RCX3, so in the future there will be an RC5 with GPS, for the RCX5 ?

    2) Any plans to have more waterproof and screen customizations, so it can be used by triathletes ?
    (or maybe this will be the "RC5") ?

    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
  21. Anonymous

    Is the watch detected as a removable device when connected to a PC, much like the FR210? I suspect not but it would be great in order to easily grab the data when on the move with your phone/tablet.

    Reply
  22. Hey Si.

    "Is the RC3 the GPS model of RCX3, so in the future there will be an RC5 with GPS, for the RCX5?"

    Right! same platform as the RCX3. I mentioned above, not to replace the RCX3, and not a replacement for the RCX5 or RS800CX. I'm personally into triathlon, the RCX5 has NOT been removed from my wrist (I've got the tan to prove it=))

    "Any plans to have more waterproof and screen customizations, so it can be used by triathletes ?
    (or maybe this will be the "RC5")?"

    Triathlon is not the target market for the RC3 GPS. It is however for the RCX5.

    This is our entry to having an option with integrated GPS. Will we have more? Absolutely, but I can't share a timeline right now =)

    Chris

    Reply
  23. Nice preview; could have considered this one, but if the waterproofing/-resistance is as lousy as you described, it's not an option. I've had enough issues with the old Garmin FR210, and if this Polar is as bad (or even worse!) it is out of the question.

    Reply
  24. Anonymous

    Once again thanks for an excellent preview. Can you yet comment on how easy it is to switch from one sport to another in mid-workout? Either from warmup to weights to bike or bike to run, for example? In other words is this HRM that can work for running or biking or is it truly a multi-sport watch. Thanks!

    Reply
  25. Anonymous

    ANT+ is owned by Garmin.. Polar isn't going to pay Garmin for technology.. bluetooth is the up and coming technology anyway....

    Reply
  26. Hi Anon-
    RE: Switching between sports midworkout

    It requires you to end the session and restart a new activity/session. There's no multi-sport workout functionality. Essentially you're pressing the bottom left button twice (pause, then end), then starting a new activity by pressing the mid-right button twice, after selecting your sport. Definitely not a multi-sport watch, but also not too bad either compared to some.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: ANT+ being owned by Garmin

    Yeah, I've heard that arguement before - but it just doesn't hold water. Every other company in the sports technology realm uses ANT+ today, except Polar. Everyone. Timex, Magellan, CycleOps, and every sensor out there. All Garmin competitors - every one of them.

    The licensing fees for ANT+ are trivial, far less than Bluetooth (BTLE sensors are slightly different, but this wouldn't be a sensor unit, so it's still expensive). And I can just about guarantee that if Polar came along to ANT+, they'd waive just about every fee they have, which are (again), still tiny compared to BT fees. Hence why there are 300+ companies using it today in sporting.

    Long term, I do agree that Bluetooth is the way to go. But that's the kicker- the RC3 doesn't include Bluetooth, so it's sorta a moot arguement. I had really hoped they'd lead the way here. Without it, they set back BTLE by at least 6-8 months in my opinion (with respect sports). Here's what I wrote a couple weeks ago about it:

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Just my two cents of course...

    Reply
  27. Bluetooth is an open and royalty free standard. There is no license fee.

    Reply
  28. I should point out that I am working as Bluetooth Sports and Fitness working group Vice Chair.

    Reply
  29. Bluetooth standards can be downloaded here. No registration required.

    link to bluetooth.org

    Reply
  30. Ni Niclas-

    Good to have you join the conversation!

    Aren't you still going to have certification costs, BTLE packet sniffer costs, and potentially the profile tuning suite costs? As well as the relatively small (in comparison) membership fees?

    I'm not saying there's not benefits to those - but the reality is that those barriers are likely blocking some of the smaller entrants from adding BTLE support.

    I may be misunderstanding - but I believe all those costs still apply even if base access to the protocal is free. Of course, there's benefits of access to BT from a marketshare persepective, those are well established.

    As an aside - I'd certainly love to chat more on the sports side. I'm sure you've read my post above on the challenges with BTLE in sport - and to date nobody has refuted it, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on how some of those issues are going to be addressed. If you want to chat via phone or e-mail I'm happy to.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  31. Does it show average lap pace when you're lapping? That is a major annoyance I have with the rcx3 and why I've gone back to garmin. I want to know my average lap pace throughout the lap, not just at the end.......

    Reply
  32. Timvc

    Great Review!,

    You write: "From a functionality standpoint the unit is very similar to the Polar RCX5 " don't you mean the rcx3? if I compaire the 3 watches on the polar site i see more similarities in functions between the rcx3 and the rc3gps.

    gr Tim

    Reply
  33. Ray, I sometimes drop by here, if there is Polar stuff reviewed.

    Bluetooth is not for profit organisation. Everything that you pay goes back to the members, events, salaries for the staff´, IT etc, There are so many ways that you can arrange your business when it comes to the SIG. It depends on your competence, what you like to have achieve, product and business model. Most companies actually don't pay any membership fees to the SIG at all. They simply use a prequalified component (Bluetooth module) and creating an end product is for free. The second largest group just pay a registration fee to the SIG to get the product registered and a qualification fee to a testing house, but probably no membership fee. I don't know. There are 16 000 companies in the SIG. Then there are other possibilities: Volume wise they are probably the largest ones. The qualification fee is surprisingly low nowadays because so many products are being qualified every year. Independent qualification is a good thing. It sets a standard for quality. The testing houses have automatic equipment that do most of the job. Basically each company needs to check the what makes sense. For small companies the SIG used to have a program to let them in for half the membership price, if you need a paid membership. You should speak with the SIG. They can advise you.

    There is enormous amount of patents / IP in Bluetooth. When you qualify you get access to these, Another thing is that you also get some protection. It is not possible for one member to sue another when it comes to Bluetooth technology.

    The profile tuning suite can be used for testing and qualification. It probably would not be your main tool.

    We shouldn't mix cost and investment. An investment is when you buy a good tool and you can take it away in the taxation over they years.
    To gain insight, debug and optimise you may like to buy packet sniffer and this is a good investment as it will increase the quality and decrease development time.
    Ellisys and Frontline make those, and there are many other. Texas Instruments has a simple sniffer for free.
    Bluetooth is good in that there is a lot of tools to chose from, but yo don't have to. The first Bluetooth project I took part in was done completely without any support tools.

    I would be happy to continue some discussion offline. This discussion do not belong here. I am not interested in participating in any standards wars. I am a practicing engineer and have been working on Bluetooth since Wibree got to the SIG.

    Niclas Granqvist

    Chief Communication Systems Architect, Polar
    Bluetooth Sports and Fitness WG Vice Chair

    Reply
  34. Ted_S

    I was particularly happy about two new features of the RC3: it is the first directly Mac compatible unit; and unlike the RCX series, data can be downloaded directly to a computer. The lack of this later feature stopped me from considering any of the RCX models.

    I wonder (and this is something I'd really like to see tested) how much accuracy is lost by having an integrated GPS sensor. GPS signals are blocked by the human body, so having the receiver on your wrist is far from ideal. I've been very happy that I can wear the various Polar GPS receivers on the band of my visor or hat.
    If your workouts are not on mountain paths with frequent switchbacks, and you also don't have nearby buildings or trees, then there is unlikely to be a noticeable difference. But add in some overhead foliage to block signals, or some mountains or buildings to not only block signals but also set up reflected signals giving false positions, and then wearing the GPS receiver as high as possible might start to pay off. It won't make these problems go away, but at least you won't have the loss of additional satellites by blocking the signals with your body.
    It's not by chance that the first handheld GPS units developed for the Army had an optional external antenna which bolted to a helmet.

    Reply
  35. Well I am glad polar is getting into the integrated GPS game... I was a LONG user of polar and recently made the change to garmin the 910 as I dream of triathlons and the separate GPS with 800CX was just a PITA.

    How long you ask... I just tossed a copy of PC Coach... I think Ray may have been in high school when I had that and the polar coach.

    The 910 is not perfect as the instant pace still is way off and the no watch function has me scratching my head.

    Reply
  36. Looking at the Niclas's BT Spec link I see that as well as the heart rate spec there is a running speeds and cadence spec which I was not aware of but I don't see any cyceling specs.

    I would like to add support to my Android app IpBike. I am just trying to work out if it's feasable at the moment, e.g. Android OS suppoprt and what I need software and hardware wise to be able to do the work as well as what it will cost me.

    Reply
  37. Anonymous

    Cheers for this review Ray. I have been mulling over which GPS watch to get and got excited when I first got news of the new Polar. However, having seen your review and comments from others, I think I will probably go with the Garmin 610.

    Reply
  38. Anonymous

    Hi Ted!

    Ted_S said...
    "I was particularly happy about two new features of the RC3: it is the first directly Mac compatible unit; and unlike the RCX series, data can be downloaded directly to a computer. The lack of this later feature stopped me from considering any of the RCX models."

    With my MacBook Air & RCX5 I do:
    Polar WebSync > Training Computer >Training Data > Export Selected and I get all training data directly where I want on my mac.

    Tommy Granlund

    Reply
  39. Anonymous

    Nice, will buy. Not in shop yet.

    Reply
  40. Ted_S

    Does the RC3 require using Polar WebSync to get data into a format usable by Polar ProTrainer software? I haven't used WebSync, but by its name it sounds like it requires first transferring data to a Polar website and then downloading it to a personal computer to use with PPT5 or other analysis and display software.

    In this review I read that "[T]he watch [will] allow you to . . . export the data out in standard Polar formats to one of the numerous 3rd party programs (or Polar’s own ProTrainer desktop program)."

    In my mind this means that it allows direct download to a PC as do the RS800CX and other units that use the IRDA interface. Direct download to me means that a web connection is not needed.

    What's the answer? Can I get training data directly from the RC3into my PPT5 software on my PC without a web connection or not?

    Reply
  41. Anonymous

    Don't know about RC3 but RCX5...

    WebSync seems to be aimed for transferring training-data from the watch to the internet service, but there is also the option of getting the raw training-data files as well without internet connection. My files from rcx5 are .hrm and .gpx files.

    The training-files stored on PPT:com service can also be downloaded as .xml files. The firstly uploaded and secondly downloaded xml-file don't provide too much information.

    Ted_S, are you using parallel desktop 'cause your talking about native support for mac and PPT5 for PC. Anyway training-data from Websync->mac->PC->PPT5 should work if the training-data filetype hasn't changed in RC3. I don't know about WebSync for PC, but probably it works the same way as for Mac.

    Reply
  42. Ted_S

    Thanks to everyone who helped me figure out how the data transfer process works with PT5.

    Initially in reading this review I understood that the RC3 was able to transfer data directly to PT5 the same as I have for a decade with RS series Polar computers (which use the IRDA interface).

    I sent an email to Chris@Polar, asking for clarification. He said that data transfer for the RC3 is exactly the same as for the RCX3 and RCX5.

    After a lot of searching I found a step-by-step illustrated description of how the process works on the Polar website:

    Home>Support>Polar ProTrainer 5™>FAQs>Data Export from RCX5/RCX3/CS500 to ProTrainer 5

    I learned that it is a two step process of first downloading the data from the wrist unit to my computer using WebSync and then transfering training files, one at a time, into PT5. This is not nearly as fast or as simple as the direct transfer into PT5 with the IRDA interface. But at least the transfer does not require use of the internet, which was a misconception that I had after reading reviews last year of the RCX5.

    The name of the software that does the transfer, WebSync, added to the confusion. I assumed from its name that it functioned only in transfers via the web, and not that it had a double life just transferring data to a PC or Mac.

    Reply
  43. Anonymous

    Do I have failed to notice it or isn't there an option to set your speed to 'km/u'?

    Reply
  44. It's there. Settings > General Settings > Units > Change to Imperial or Metric.

    This in turns changes everything from miles per hour (MPH) to KPH. And minutes/kilometer as well.

    Reply
  45. Anonymous

    Alright, thanks for the quick reply! :) And are these setting changes also present in the Garmin Forefunner FR10?

    Reply
  46. Yup, there too. Only, you do have less overall settings on the FR10 than the RC3.

    Fwiw - current plan is next Tuesday, September 4th for RC3 In-Depth review.

    Reply
  47. Anonymous

    The RC3 GPS is indeed interesting, but I'm just not going to buy it because I can't use it for swimming. I'm hoping Polar will release the RC5 GPS soon after the RC3 GPS, although... I've heard that due to so much function on the RC3 GPS that it can give you a headache to scroll through the menus while jogging.

    Reply
  48. I do wish I could turn off some of the data pages. I thought about that tonight during intervals, I was trying to find certain data pages and it was a lot of scrolling while I was otherwise trying to run pretty hard without runninginto someone.

    Reply
  49. Anonymous

    Unfortunately this makes the right pick a little bit tough...

    The Polar watches are of great quality, but due to too much data overview and the steep prices I have my doubts about buying.

    The Garming Forefunner FR10 is reduced to the essentials, however a heartbeat monitor is what I'm missing. The wristband doesn't look that comfortable, and the watch's design itself looks like a cheap version of the Polar watches.

    Reply
  50. What about the FR210 - seems to slide right in there from a price standpoint, and features as well.

    Reply
  51. Anonymous

    The waterproof is IPX7 so it's of no use for me.
    I think I'll just hang on for a little while and wait for either the Polar RC5 GPS or another-to-be-released GPS watch with slightly less features.

    With the new GPS integration progress I'm certain that we'll be seeing a lot more GPS watches in the next couple of months.

    Reply
  52. Anonymous

    I'm not sure though that the RC5 GPS will have improved features for swimming. I'd be thrilled to see it recording data such as strokes, distance, laps and speed.

    Reply
  53. Anonymous

    Your Comment - "I can’t understand why companies don’t spend the extra few cents to waterproof these high end watches properly, especially given a cheap $15 watch from Walmart is properly waterproofed."
    How many Walmart watches for $15 have a USB socket to keep water proof? Come on, once they go wireless then you'll see water proof, until then, deal with it!

    Reply
  54. There are methods to internally waterproof USB ports just fine. Other watches and sports devices use them.

    Reply
  55. Richard

    Hi Ray,
    Thanks for the excellent first-look review. I'm curious as to how you think this compares with the Forerunner 610? Or are they in different categories?
    Unless, of course, that will be in your full review when it comes up, in which case I'll just keep an eye out for hat. :)

    Thanks very much! Always enjoy reading your blog.

    Kind regards,

    Richard

    Reply
  56. AL

    Hi there,

    Love your reviews on sport watches, keep up the good work!

    I've been on a Garmin FR 305 for a while and recently got a RCX3. Love the minimalist look on the Polar but here's the deal breaker: no customisable screens. Having to keep staring at the watch and continuously scroll through the pages just to see certain bits of information is just plain annoying. I can't believe no one at Polar realised what a bad mistake they've made and they continue to do so with the RC3.

    Reply
  57. Anonymous

    Is it possible to have altimeter (cumulate) and temperature without activating the gps function?. (The old 725x had already this info, that I find very relevant, and we've lost that with the rcx family)

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

    Reply
  59. To Cris @ Polar

    1)Is it possible to update the software for the RC3 GPS so that the elevation from the GPS can be included in the HRM and training log summary as the data is already there available?

    2)Is it possible to update the unit software so that the data screen can be customized?

    3) Are you planning to update the unit software?

    4) Are you planning the features as described in 1) and/or 2) for a future high-end, non entry level unit?

    4) If not 3) but 4), can I trade in my RC3 for the updated unit?

    Reply
  60. Anonymous

    Hello,

    would you please let us know what kind of screen (plastic vs glass) does the watch feature?

    thank you,

    Adrian

    Reply
  61. Jerc

    Hi!

    Which watch would you choose this one or garmin FR210?

    Reply
  62. castellàanglèscatalàAlpha
    greetings from Barcelona-Spain-

    I have the new rc3 gps hr and wanted to ask if you can export workouts from ppt to carry also for example in "Endomondo" or other similar program.

    If I have to have my previous sessions polar, I can import the ppt program?

    There is the option that you report the RC3 speed Km / h?

    thank you and congratulate you on your blog

    Reply
  63. Anonymous

    You use to say Polar was the only one who does not use ANT+. Repeating this 1000 times does not make this true.
    Suuntu uses ANT (which is not compatible with ANT+), Nike+ is different and Sigma Sport (whose bike computers and hr/running watches are quite popular here in Germany) uses its own STS system.

    And don't forget many watches that still use analog hr. These even include some pretty decent models - The Globalsat GH625M can be found for 80€ and includes PC interface, GPS tracking, intervall training and much customization.

    Christian

    Reply
  64. I hear what you're saying - but in the grand scheme of watches across the world, the Globalsat GH625M and Sigma Sport watches aren't hugely used. I understand pockets of local uses (there are other watches out there in similiar situations) - but from a global view of watches, these aren't viable options.

    As for Suunto - they've moving to ANT+ now, as we're seeing with Ambit. Agree on Nike+ though, that's valid.

    Reply
  65. Anonymous

    Hi, your blog is really interesting.

    Are you going to write a full review of this Polar?

    Reply
  66. Gil

    Hi, great reviews you have here!

    Just wondering, does the watch has autopause function? Say you're running in the city and stop at a traffic light or something.

    Also, can you set intervals alarm? Like every 20mins or so, for hydration alerts while on the run.

    It is possible to share what are the data configurations shown for the various data screens that it shows? I understand that full customization is not available.

    Thanks alot and great job with the website!

    Reply
  67. Warren

    Good review as always!
    I have a heart rate sensor: WEARLINK®+ TRANSMITTER (Not W.I.N.D), is it ok for RC3 if I only buy the RC3 without H2 heart rate sensor??
    Thx...

    Reply
  68. Anonymous

    Which are differences between this watch and timex run trainer?

    Which one is better?

    Reply
  69. Oleg

    Have polarpersonaltrainer been updated yet? If not, when will it be updated?

    Reply
  70. ADM

    Hi, just recently came across your site - awesome, many thanks! Like Anon above, I was wondering if you were still planning to do a full review of the RC3? I've finally decided to replace my trusty S625X which I've had for about 8 years now... always liked Polar, something about being Finnish and out of the mainstream. (Back then also I took the view that GPS wasn't really good enough.) Anyway, the reality is that I don't use all the advanced Polar HR training facilities, so I suspect from what you've written elsewhere I should be aiming to move to the FR610. (I am an advanced watch user rather than an advanced runner and willing to pay a bit more for a watch I really like.) I do however use the S625X near-instant response on current pace to check pace on even very short (<1 min) speed intervals and I suspect that, to do that with the FR610, I'll need the foot pod as well. Does that all make sense?

    Reply
  71. Just a super-quick note in between flights. Yup, in-depth RC3 review is on for tomorrow (Weds, Sept 26th).

    Thanks!

    Reply
  72. Anonymous

    Still waiting for your in-depth RC3 review. Or is it just me that can´t find it?

    Reply
  73. Hi All! The Full In-Depth Review is posted here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    Thanks!

    Reply
  74. Anonymous

    first i want you to excuse me my english. i haven´t decided yet what gps i want to buy. i´m between garmin 610 and polar rc3. in terms of style i prefer polar but now i run with a garmin 410 and i have no dougth that the quality of this garmin is great. the auto lap of the polar sounds a bip? the gps tecnology sinal are similars? The energy charger of polar is exclusive with usb cable? you know, if there´s an adaptative possibilitie to use the usb cable of polar in the garmin charger? thanks. luis

    Reply
  75. Hi Anon-

    The autolap on the Polar works essentially the same way as the FR410, and does beep upon completion. The GPS technology used in both is roughly the same. The FR410's isn't quite as good as that found in the RC3. The micro-USB utilized in the RC3 is not exclusive to Polar, you can use any micro-USB cable. In fact, I have mine charging next to me right now using a Jawbone cable.

    There is no method to charge the Polar RC3 however using the Garmin FR410 charging clip. Totally different charging clips.

    Reply
  76. SA runner

    Great review - just want to know how long the battery lasts in GPS mode. I'm thinking of buying this watch purely for the Comrades in SA - 90 Km run so need it to last anything from 9 to 11 hours continuously.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The watch itself will go on for months (GPS connectivity doesn't really impact it), but the GPS pod (G5) will max out at 12 hours of battery.

      Reply
  77. Runner Ann Arbor

    Thanks for the wonderful review -

    I just replaced my Garmin 410 with the RC3 GPS and I was thinking on my run today about an auto-pause feature that I always used on the 410 when riding. I don't seem to be able to locate that on the RC3 which was always something I liked for riding. Any chance you've found one and I just need to get it hooked up to the computer?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  78. Stefan Albinsson

    personaltrainer has been updated but that did not help the elevation chart. According to tech support the RC3 does not have the sensor to record a the elevation curve, it can only read ascend/descend data. It kind of suck!

    Reply
  79. Steve Groves

    Well

    I have had my Polar RC 3 since it came out in Australia 8 weeks ago. I do like the unit and it suits my style of training. Also happy with the Personal Trainer interface. But not happy the button covers are starting to fall of the watch first one went after 6 weeks and now second gone now. I have had to recall my recommendation to a mate to buy one based on this which must be poor build quality. Has anyone else had this problem?

    Reply
  80. Darren Wedding

    YES MY WATCH FAULTY ASWELL. I have been a long time user and fan of Polar. I too was very excited to receive my Polar RC3 which I ordered online from the US and had delivered to me in Singapore. After less than one month of use, I too had a first, then second button fall off my watch. I loved using the watch and was bitterly disappointed by this fault. I have now retuned my watch for a refund and will now reluctantly consider another brand of GPS watch

    Reply
  81. BC Okmen

    Hi ,

    First of all I would like to tell you I am big fan of your blog and love reading all your post.
    Also we are at this time visiting in paris and wanted to visit The Girl's cupcake shop but the exact dates we are in paris 17-25 Jan is when your shop is closed so unfortunately could not but hopefully will be in paris end of Feb and really hoping to taste those delicious looking cupcakes :)
    My question is regarding the RC3 watch. I have the RCX 5 and am very happy with it but I liked the built in gps function and went ahead and got it.
    I would like to know if I can charge the watch with ipad charger instead of doing it with my macbook ?
    Thank you again for all great post .....

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Ahh, bummer! Indeed, she gets back that morning (which, is shaping up to be a really messy morning weather-wise). So, if you end up getting stuck that day going home (likely), feel free to stop in on Saturday and get cupcakes. :)

      Failing that - of course, we'll be here at the end of February.

      Yes, you can charge the RC3 (or GPS pod) with an iDevice USB charger (the block part obviously), I do it all the time.

      Reply
  82. BC Okmen

    Hahaha ok that's a deal if we are stuck will definitely be there saturday morning.
    I had read from your blog you have been to Istanbul and that is where we are from actually.
    But if we do get back on friday hopefully will be back on the 24 feb and will visit that week :)
    ps. tonight it seems like the snow is melting but we will see what happens .... I personally don't like the cold so I think if I am going to feel the cold there must be at least snow to enjoy it :)))

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Sounds good!

      It looks like a pretty sharp cold front comes in Thursday night, with more snow and solid-sub-freezing temps (10*F!):

      link to weather.com

      Reply
  83. BC Okmen

    wow !!!! if one is to get stuck anywhere due to weather, Paris is the place :)
    thank you for the info ..... I again thank you for your ocean of info including the weather :)
    it has been a great delight finding your blog .... how I found it is another story .... ok I'll tell :)
    i was searching for winter gear for running and your page immediately drew me in :) your Zurich run just gave me the shivers making me think of my run around the lake with millions of stuff on with not even a drop of snow:) did I mention I don't like the cold :)

    Reply
  84. Hong Chee Wai

    Hi,

    I have a unit of CS500. As I know the hr transmitor is using WIND techology.
    I just want to know that is it my current hr transmitor competible to RC3?
    I plan to get 1 unit without hr transmitor.
    Your comment is highly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  85. shawn wiethop

    i am having an issue with my RC3 not picking up a GPS signal. a button was inadvertantly pushed while in my bag and it ran the battery completely dead. after that the GPS will not connect. the instructions say that the GPS will shut down when the batterry gets low, but it doesnt say if it needs to be turned back on manually or if comes back on when the battery is charged. all my profiles say that it is on....im confused and frustrated!

    Reply
  86. Hi Rainmaker,
    I find nothing in the manual. I can import a file gpx in rc3? thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, it does not. It doesn't support any sort of navigational features.

      Reply
  87. paulo terroso

    boas , estou interessado em comprar um bom relogio e a minha duvida é entre o rc3 gps e o rcx5 com gps a parte , pratico quase todos os desportos e sei que um tem gps incorporado e o outro não, mas para si qual é a melhor opção. em relação a funções o rc3 gps é melhor que o rcx5 .é que eu aqui em Portugal arranjo o rcx5 com gps , fita cardíaca a prova de agua e pen base de dados pelo preço do rc3gps ate ao fim do mês depois o rcx5 volta a ficar mais caro . aguardo resposta vossa , obrigado.

    Reply
  88. Pierre

    Hi DC Rainmaker
    bravo pour ce site bien formulé et très riche !
    I am using an iphone + runkeeper.
    I wanted to buy the RC3 GPS but the lack of automatic upload of the data on the polarpersonaltrainer.com bothers me.
    When can we expect a new version of RC3 GPS ?

    Bonne soirée

    Reply
  89. Norberto

    Hi Rainmaker,

    Would you prefer this RC3 instead of the RCX5 even if your primary goal isn't using it for triathlon?
    I am looking for a new HRM which I can use for running and biking and that doesn't require a battery recharge every 12 hours or so. For that purpose I am very fond of the external GPS sensor.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Generally I'd always prefer the RC3 over the RCX5 - simply because I prefer single-devices rather than split devices.

      Reply
  90. Angelina

    Hi! Great rewiew. The RC3 GPS has everything I want in a trainingwatch, BUT it's to big for my wrist! (14,5 cm) Do you know if Polar are going to make one in female-size? The Garmin 220 fits my wrist perfectly, but dont't have all the heart-rate functions and intervall-training-modes that I want...

    //Angelina

    Reply
  91. JP

    Loved thin review and want ahead and bought the watch!

    Does anyone know if you can set up an alarm that alerts you when you drop off a set running pace? I figured this would be useful after using it a few times but haven't figured out if this is an option.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  92. jonathan

    Hi

    Can you download the data to strava from the polar

    Many thanks

    Reply
  93. Damirkos1

    Hi,

    I am the owner of the tested watch. Last time on one of my harder runs I went through a 20m long tunnel under the railway and (I assume because of the electric field above) GPS went crazy and logged 2 km spike off my route with some crazy fast times... So the question is, can I remove those auto laps (in polar personal trainer app) which were logged and clear the route of those extra 2km which I did not run.

    Thank you!

    Reply

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