(Please note that my full in-depth review is now published and available based on the final unit and functionality. Read it all here!)
Today, Polar fully announced their new V800 GPS integrated triathlon watch. The watch covers all three sports – swim, bike and run – and does so with newfound Bluetooth Smart connectivity for sensors and phones alike. Further, it includes a built-in activity monitor for the remainder of your day when you’re not working out (like a FitBit/Fuelband, or Polar’s recent Loop device).
I’ve been using the V800 for a few weeks now, putting it through its paces in all sorts of weather from cold to…well…colder. While the device is still months away from release, and many of the features are not yet enabled in my beta unit, I’m going to run through what the plans look like and the features that’ll be included. I’ll be noting areas where things are ‘paper plans’ versus ‘already in the unit’. Note that I’ve had a ton of discussions with Polar over the last few weeks about the device, covering a lot of ground – so I’m trying to include as much of that as possible in areas where the functionality isn’t yet enabled in my test device.
First though, just as a quick note, Polar sent over the V800 for me to poke at. At the end of my poking, I’ll send it back to them – just like everything else from all companies I receive – and then I’ll go out and get my own device through normal retail channels. Just the way I roll. You can support the blog through various partners listed on the sidebar and at the bottom.
Let’s get on with it!
Oh…wait – one final thing: This isn’t a review. Yes, for real. These are my standard In-Depth Reviews. This post is just a first/early look at the unit, well before everything is done. Come back later this spring for the full review. Ok, let’s go!
In The Box & Size Comparison:
Polar would like me to point out that the box isn’t final. Nor are it’s contents. Though, I will assume that the V800 box will ultimately actually include the V800. Which, would be sorta important. Mine also included a small note to me, sorta like a love letter, except without the lipstick kiss.
Inside the box you’ll find a bunch of components, the three I’m going focus on are the three things you’ll likely find. First is the watch itself:
Then, we’ve got the USB charger. The charging clip looks somewhat like the Timex Global Trainer and the Polar Loop charging clips shacked up and had offspring.
Finally, there’s the Polar H7 Heart Rate Strap. Note that whether or not you get this will depend on which bundle you buy (with or without the HR strap). If you already have the Polar H7, then no need to buy the bundle with one.
What is notable however, is that the H7 is unique in that it will transmit over two frequencies: Bluetooth Smart, and 5kHz. The second frequency is used if you want to receive heart rate (HR) data while underwater. If not, then any Bluetooth Smart strap on the market will do.
With things unpacked, let’s take a quick look at how it looks size-wise against a range of current on-market triathlon and upper-end running devices:
As you can see, it fits in pretty well. It’s a bit smaller width-wise than the FR910XT, though about the same thickness. It’s obviously much thicker than the FR220/FR620, but, it also does a heck of a lot more.
Finally, for those coming from past Polar units, here’s how things shake up against the Polar RCX5 (the last full featured triathlon-focused unit Polar made), and the more recent Polar RC3 (first GPS-integrated running focused unit Polar made):
Let’s head outside and take it for a run.
If there’s one thing I’ve done, it’s a lot of running with the V800. And you know what’s my favorite part? Just how fast the satellites pickup. Like most new units on the market, the V800 includes satellite pre-caching, which means that it caches up to 3 days of satellite location information for quick reception.
Below, is a short video showing me turning on the unit for the first time some three thousand miles away from the last place I turned it on:
Now, here’s another video, this time showing me turning it on a day after I last turned it on:
Blazingly quick. Really sweet.
At this point, the watch will show that it’s connected to your Bluetooth Smart HR strap, and show your heart rate value on the ‘waiting’ screen. You’ll also see the GPS percentage if it’s still looking for them.
Once it’s done all that, you’ll go ahead and tap the side red button to begin the workout:
Once you’ve tapped that button, the unit is recording and actively displaying pace/distance/heart rate, and any other metrics you’ve configured. By default, it has a number of pre-configured screens. Here’s a quick look at them:
When it comes to laps, you have two options. First is to manually press the lap button (lower right) to trigger a lap. The second is to use automatic laps based on a preset distance (such as 1-Mile or 1-KM). Or, you can do both together:
The V800 does support having automatic laps at the same time as manual laps. Think of them as two separate sound-tracks (and actually, they are audibly separate, as you’ll get notifications for both).
The screens are fully customizable, though, that wasn’t enabled yet on my device, so I just stuck with what was given to me. The customization though will occur via the Polar Flow site, allowing you to add stats like Lap Time, Distance, or any number of other metrics to your screens.
From a running functionality, the unit includes a feature called ‘Race Pace’, which allows you to race against a known time/distance target. This looks and sounds similar to Garmin’s Virtual Partner feature. It does not however allow you to race against a past historical activity (such as last week’s activity).
Looking at more general instant pace, I found the unit quite smooth. Below, a short video clip from a run:
The unit also includes ‘Tap gestures’, which allow you to tap the screen of the watch to retrieve information such as recovery status or take/set laps. Further, you can also leverage Polar’s Heart Touch feature, which will enable you to customize the unit to perform a given event when you touch the watch to the HR strap (your chest).
When it comes time to pause or save your workout, you’ll do so by tapping the left ‘back’ button, which pauses it. If you hold that down for three seconds, it’ll save the workout:
Once saved, you’ll get a long screen of summary information that you can scroll through:
If your phone is within range, it’ll upload that data automatically via Bluetooth Smart and the Polar Flow app, to the Polar Flow site (with WiFi/Cell service). The mobile app is however capable of doing offline data analysis as well.
Below, you can see an example of a workout uploaded to the Polar Flow app from the V800:
At present, the Polar Flow app isn’t quite enabled for connectivity to the V800, so I couldn’t upload any demonstration workouts myself to show you how it works. However, you can see my Polar Loop review, which covers much of the Polar Flow app in far more detail. Most of the app will remain the same for key aspects such as activity monitoring.
From an accuracy standpoint, thus far, things have been nearly spot on with the FR620 and FR220 I’ve had on some recent runs:
Navigation and Routing Capabilities:
The V800 includes some nice navigation and routing capabilities. I’ll start with the most basic, and then build on that into the more advanced features. First, it includes a ‘Back to start’ function. This function gives you ‘as the crow flies’ directions back to the starting point of your activity:
This is useful in city environments where you just want to get back, and don’t particularly care if it’s back the same way you got there. The V800 can also go back to an alternate saved location point (such as your house, etc…).
This is different however from ‘Track Back’ style functionality, which tracks back on the exact same route you came. That functionality tends to be used in trails/mountains where you must follow the same track back (due to rivers, etc…).
The V800 further includes ‘Route Guidance’ capabilities, which enable the unit to follow pre-planned routes, as well as previously recorded routes. It can also follow shared routes from Polar Flow. At launch in April, it’ll just follow exiting routes, or shared routes – down the road, they’ll allow you to create your own routes. In this mode, the unit uses it’s magnetic compass to provide guidance breadcrumb style along the route. You can see an example of how the user interface will look in this mode, below:
It will be most interesting to see how others in the space react to these changes. From a competition standpoint, Suunto has all of these functions in the Ambit 1/Ambit 2 (plus a whole lot more). Meanwhile, Garmin decided against adding these functions in their higher end FR620 that were previously available in earlier generations of their units.
It’s been many years since Polar has released a useful cycling product. No, the RC3 doesn’t count (sorry, it’s a running watch, not a cycling-specific computer). But that appears to have changed with the V800. This will be Polar’s first new unit to support Bluetooth Smart accessories such as cadence sensors and power meters. And in doing so, it’ll also be the first watch on the market to support Bluetooth Smart power meters.
All of the features available to you in the running mode are also available to you in the cycling mode (minus the running footpod of course). They key difference is that in cycling mode you’ll switch over to ‘speed’ versus ‘pace’, which means using MPH or KPH such as 20MPH or 15MPH. Also, you’ll get data from the aforementioned sensors.
Polar will be coming out with both a Bluetooth Smart speed-only sensor and a Bluetooth Smart cadence-only sensor. At present, they don’t have a Bluetooth Smart speed/cadence combo sensor in the lineup. But, they will allow you to pair to other Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence combo sensors from other companies (such as the Wahoo BlueSC).
In some ways, this is the same pattern we saw with the Bluetooth Smart stride sensor, where Polar simply changed the protocol stack on it, but left it in the same ugly casing. Hopefully sometime between now and April someone in Finland realizes that people don’t want to buy two sensors both using zipties that were originally designed in 1998. It’s time to move to quick-release rubber bands and combo sensors like the rest of the industry did a few years ago.
Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter too much, since you can just buy 3rd party units anyway.
Next, we’ve got power meter support. Polar will support Bluetooth Smart power meters starting in June 2014, with an update that will be made available then.
That timing corresponds with Polar’s planned availability of their Polar/Look Keo power pedals being available in a Bluetooth Smart variant. Though, you don’t need the Keo Power system in order to get power information. Once the update is made available, Polar will support any Bluetooth Smart capable power. Today, that’s the widely available Stages Power meter, as well as the just-started-shipping PowerTap G3’s with Bluetooth Smart caps.
Now, I’ve argued that I’d like to see Polar bring that firmware update timeline closer to April. Ultimately, I don’t see any overlap between potential customers of Stages power meter ($699), and Polar’s power meter ($2,500US). I think it actually offers Polar much more if they move that timeline up and ‘secure’ the Bluetooth Smart watch/head unit market before a competitor comes out and does it for them. But, that’s just my two cents.
Lastly, and most applicable to cyclists, is that the V800 includes a barometric altimeter. This altimeter is automatically calibrated via GPS, though, it can be calibrated manually with a known elevation. This is useful as it provides what is typically more accurate elevation data than GPS-based altimeters found in most running watches (such as the Polar RC3).
[Update – March 2014: At this point the wording I’m seeing now from Polar seems to indicate that the V800 will not launch with swim tracking capabilities (i.e. distance/pace), but rather, only HR tracking – like past Polar products. Instead, this will come later in the year.]
The Polar V800 will include the capability to track swimming both indoors (in a pool), as well as outdoors (openwater). Additionally, like some past Polar units, it will include the capability to track your heart rate underwater while worn with a compatible Polar heart rate strap (the H7 is one such strap).
While indoors, the unit will track laps like all other indoor-swimming focused watches on the market, and use internal accelerometers to determine distance, pace (speed) and stroke related metrics. This is based on knowing the length of the pool (you enter that), and then it will detect turns (either flip or open turn) at the end of each segment. When in an outdoor pool, you’ll still want to use the indoor swim mode. It will use the internal accelerometers to determine distance, pace (speed) and stroke related metrics.
When outdoors, the unit will use GPS to track your swim. This will be in conjunction with accelerometer based information to provide for stroke information outdoors. [Update Feb 1st: Polar seems to be slightly changing their tune here a bit, saying that outdoor swimming metrics won’t be available at launch, but potentially down the road. Adding this note inline, though I had noted it in the ‘update’ section a week or two ago.]
Finally, the unit can connect to Polar’s H7 strap for underwater metrics. The H7 is required (or, past T31 coded straps with 5kHz transmission) because it transmits a secondary signal that will penetrate underwater. A standard Bluetooth Smart strap cannot penetrate through the water, and thus, will not work (for example, the Polar H6 won’t work, neither will any other HR strap from any other vendor).
Please note that as of this writing, the V800 beta build does not yet include swimming functionality, thus, I have been unable to try it either indoors or outdoors from a lap/openwater swim perspective. I have however taken it swimming and into water repeatedly, where it has a waterproof rating of 30 meters (~90ft) deep.
[Update – July 8, 2015: Today Polar added Open Water Swimming features (distance & stroke) to the V800; and these metrics are now also available in the Swimming profile for indoor swimming]
Triathlon, Multisport, and other sports:
The V800 includes a triathlon ‘multisport mode’. This specific term is used when a watch can be seamlessly switched between the multiple legs of a triathlon (or other multiple sport event), without requiring you reset and/or restart the activity. This means you can seamlessly transition from Swim to Bike to Run, and the unit will show the appropriate sport information and displays for each leg of the event.
The unit includes two variations. The first is an automatic Swim/Bike/Run option, and the second is a ‘Free Multisport’ mode, allowing you customization of the sport segments. After you’ve completed the segments, the unit will record the event in its entirety, with each of the segments containing separate information that’s visible to Polar Flow (the online Polar website for the V800). You’ll also have transition times recorded as well.
Further, like past Polar products, you can configure the unit to use numerous sport profiles from their online catalog. These are pulled from the Flow web service, but are predefined by Polar and cannot be added or changed (such as the name or function). These profiles can however be further customized with display fields of your choosing, and configuration such as how different metrics are displayed (i.e. pace vs speed, kilometers vs statute, HR%Max vs HR BPM, etc…).
The only downside to the multisport mode is that the V800 won’t have any quick-release kit or ability to quickly attach it/detach it to a bike. It will support a standard Polar bike mount, but that requires you to get it setup on the bike, which isn’t something you’ll want to do during transition.
Activity Monitor/Tracker Feature:
In addition to traditional sport tracking modes (like running and cycling), the V800 also includes the ability to monitor your activity throughout the day, including your sleep. This puts it in the same category as devices like the FitBit, Nike Fuelband, Polar Loop and the just announced Garmin Vivofit.
The V800’s goal in tracking your activity outside of sport is to be able to give you a holistic view of your daily output expenditure – 24×7. From this, it can more accurately give you calorie recommendations, as well as recovery recommendations. These are consolidated into the activity tracker dashboard view on the unit, which shows you a composite of your day – from workouts to walking around to sleep:
Sleep is automatically calculated without the need for pushing any buttons when you fall asleep. Note that sleep is actually measured separately from rest. ‘Rest’ is defined as inactivity within a single day, whereas ‘Sleep’ can span a day (since you might fall asleep at 10PM and wakeup at 8AM). Both are tracked using the internal accelerometers, similar to how the Polar Loop works.
The V800 will track steps and distance and report that to the Polar Flow phone app. Which in turn, uploads it to the Polar Flow site. At present, the watch doesn’t actually show you steps or distance, though it does show you calories for the day. I’ve argued however that having an activity monitor that doesn’t show you the activity on the device…is sorta pointless. Hopefully they’ll adopt my viewpoint between now and April.
The calories for the day include your baseline (staying alive) calorie requirements + workout calories burned + walking around activity + adjustments for altitude (yes, really).
Next, that information can be fed into their Training Load and Recovery calculations, which estimate how hard your effort was and how much time it might take to recover from it. This includes adjustments from resting and activity monitor information as well. This then shows up in two places. The first is on the unit itself:
And the second is within the app & associated site. While the activity monitor piece is actually active currently in my unit, my ability to get the data out is not yet active. Thus I can see the bar going across the screen as I wander around, but I can’t actually tell you how many steps that is. So, accuracy comparisons will have to wait for down the road in the full in-depth review.
Smart Coaching Features:
The V800 includes a slew of new features aimed at bridging the gap between simply providing data, and providing coaching instruction. Polar calls these “Smart Coaching” features, and there’s a bunch of them, some new, and some more vintage.
On the new side, we’ve got these three:
Training Load and Recovery: This is designed to provide a holistic picture of training load and recovery. This is similar to other load/recovery systems that you see within other platforms such as Training Peaks and TSS (Training Stress Score).
Running Index (RI): This provides a ‘score’ for each of your runs, which accounts for both aerobic fitness and running economy based on heart rate and speed. In addition, the RI value is compensated by barometric altimeter data as well.
Jump Test: This test requires the Polar Stride Sensor, but enables you to “assess leg muscular strength and power output”, along with “neuromuscular fatigue”
The above three, join the following other features on the V800:
Training Benefit: After each workout, this details out the effect of that workout, as seen on the unit in the summary information.
Smart Calories: This is uses Polar’s OwnCal system, which while outside will compensate for the impact of altitude (for example, training at 5,000ft)
Fitness Test: This is sorta like a VO2Max test, basically trying to determine how fit you are and then from there it can start to measure gains in fitness.
Orthostatic Test: In this test the unit uses your HR data with HRV (RR) to determine fatigue levels and recovery from workouts.
Looking at the earlier mentioned Training Load piece, Polar divides each workout up into one of five categories with a corresponding recommended recovery time:
Extreme: >49 hours
Very High: 25-48 hours
High: 13-24 Hours
Moderate: 7-12 hours
Light: 0-6 hours
The workout data is then combined with historical data to determine your recovery times. The unit will use the previous 14 weeks of training history to help determine these recovery times. In addition, it’ll account for other activity from that day. For example, if you spent the first 4 hours of the day at the mall walking around like a madman doing last minute Christmas shopping, and then you ran 15 miles, it’ll compensate for the fatigue from both.
Below, you can see the Running Index scores plotted over time for some apparently rather fast runner.
From a ‘what’s cool standpoint’, I’d say the RI and Training Load pieces are the most relevant, and the biggest leaps forwards for Polar to be competitive with other platforms out there. It’ll be interesting to see how much of the calculation side they reveal longer-term on the Training Load piece, as most other platforms detail a bit more of the science behind the numbers. Further, it’ll be interesting to see how Polar’s platform compares with existing systems out there.
Polar Flow – Online Analysis Site:
Once you’ve completed your workout the unit will automatically upload it via your phone (or PC) to the Polar Flow site. This is Polar’s new fitness-focused site going forward (away from PolarPersonalTrainer.com). The site will enable everything from device customization online (and then push to the device) to workout creation and analysis.
In addition, Polar will make available tools to migrate data from Pro Trainer 5 – so those folks hanging out on the desktop software can make the leap. As part of my final in-depth review I’ll take a look at how the features match up.
For those using either the Polar Beat or Polar Loop today, much of this won’t seem radically different. What is different however are many smaller nuances of the display of the data to fit better with the features of the V800.
Below is an example of a cycling workout from the V800 uploaded to the Flow site. You’ll notice that in addition to the common maps and summary information, you’ve also got social information up top – such as likes and comments (these are controlled through privacy settings). So it’s somewhat Strava like.
The site includes calendar and summary views of all your activities, so you can look at totals by different metrics over time (such as a weekly or monthly report).
As you saw earlier, the site also includes the new features related to Training Load and Running Index, and as well it will track the Fitness Test results, Orthostatic Tests, and Jump Tests.
Further, the site will enable you to compare completed activities against your past historical efforts (for example, the same course), as well as other people’s efforts (friends, coaches, me…). Though, this feature will not be available at launch.
Today, the Polar Flow site does some fairly cool stuff when you upload workouts from Polar Beat, for example, this workout I did yesterday that shows portions of the route along the way:
Here’s a running workout at the high level as well:
All this carries through to the V800. Further, as noted earlier Polar is adding in the ability to create workouts on Flow and then transfer them to the device. These workouts can have multiple steps and targets, as seen below.
Of note above is the ability to ‘Save a copy to my favorites’. Within the V800, there’s a concept known as ‘Favorites’, which are easily accessed from the main dashboard. These are frequently accessed workouts that you may do often, and don’t want to dig down into the watch a bit deeper to access:
As you can see, the site looks years better than the PolarPersonalTrainer.com site does/did, and is coming along nicely since it was introduced this past fall in conjunction with the Polar Loop activity monitor.
Obviously, given it’s somewhat new there’s still some gaps compared to other competitive platforms, but everything I’m seeing points to Polar having the right resources focused on bridging these gaps. One area that hasn’t yet been announced is whether or not the V800 will have a live tracking function (like the Garmin FR220/FR620), which would also likely be integrated into the Flow site and likely be made available across other devices/apps like the Polar Beat app.
The one area that remains outstanding however is open access to the data. Polar had planned to have the Polar Flow site have an API in place by the end of the year, and I don’t believe that’s been implemented yet. It will be critical for Polar that all workouts from the V800 (Swim/Bike/Run/Full Tri) are able to be exported to 3rd party services for other/further analysis. This includes ensuring that those exported files includes all relevant data such as laps, sensor data and location data, at 1-second recording rates.
In addition to an online site to track your workouts, Polar will also be introducing a new online site/service that coaches can log into and specify workouts for coached athletes. This would allow a coach to prescribe a given custom workout to an athlete, and that workout would automatically appear within the scheduled workouts for the given athlete (from the athletes online dashboard). Then, the workout would be available to transfer to the watch for the athlete to execute.
Once the workout is completed by the athlete and uploaded, the platform will allow a coach to view the athlete’s completed workout automatically and make comments on the workout via the site (which will be visible to both parties).
This is notable because the major player in the space today – Training Peaks – doesn’t actually have full device integration. And on the device competition side, Garmin doesn’t have any sort of coaching platform. While some may see this as a new venture for Polar, that’s actually not accurate. In fact, Polar has long had various coaching platforms used primarily in the educational system (schools/universities/teams), with special coaching software and even school-focused variants of some of their popular heart rate monitors (which held slightly different model numbers).
At this point, Polar doesn’t have a ton of information about the program. In fact, the sum total of information they were able to give me was approximately one PowerPoint slide, of which, the first line was the title of the program, and the last line was the embargo date. So, there’s a lot to be unveiled here.
It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out. On one hand, it’s pretty cool sounding. However, on the other, it’s going to be challenging for Polar to make ground in this area since coaches will be highly reluctant to go to something only good on a single platform (Polar) for a single device (V800). Individually coached athletes typically are on a wide variety of devices across a wide variety of price ranges, and most individual athletes won’t simply go out and buy a new $400 watch + new accessories for it.
However, where Polar likely will have a better run of things will be for teams, such as entire track teams and other sporting teams. In those areas where the organization provides the units and can ensure uniformity of devices, Polar will be able to deliver a very compelling offering that no other device maker can do today.
Product Comparison Charts:
I’ve added the V800 to the Product Comparison Tool, which means you can mix and match it against any other watch/unit that I’ve ever reviewed for feature comparisons. While I’ve validated everything below with the Polar product team in Finland and in the US, do keep in mind that because it’s still early in the release cycle things could change (either good or bad changes). For the sake of simplicity, I’ve just selected the Polar V800, Polar RCX5, Garmin FR910XT and Suunto Ambit 2s in the chart below. However, you can easily make your own change with any device you want here at this link.
|Function/Feature||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated April 9th, 2021 @ 10:20 am New Window|
|Product Announcement Date||Jan 6th, 2014||Mar 21, 2011||OCT 4, 2011||APR 29, 2013|
|Actual Availability/Shipping Date||May 2014||June 2011||JAN-APR 2012||May 2013|
|GPS Recording Functionality||Yes||Separate GPS Pod||Yes||Yes|
|Data Transfer||USB, BLUETOOTH SMART||irDA Wireless||ANT+ Wireless||USB|
|Waterproofing||Yes - 30m||Yes - 30m||Yes - 50m||Yes - 100m|
|Battery Life (GPS)||Up to 50 hours||1 year (GPS separate)||20 Hours||50 hours|
|Recording Interval||1s||Adjustable||1s or Smart||Variable|
|Ability to download custom apps to unit/device||No||No||No||Yes|
|Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)||Yes||No||No||No||Music||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Can control phone music||No|
|Has music storage and playback||No|
|Streaming Services||No||Payments||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Contactless-NFC Payments||No||Connectivity||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Bluetooth Smart to Phone Uploading||Yes||No||Via Wahoo Fitness Adapter||No|
|Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)||Yes||No||No||No|
|Live Tracking (streaming location to website)||No||No||No||No|
|Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)||No||No||No||No|
|Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)||No||No||No||No||Cycling||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Designed for cycling||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Power Meter Capable||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Power Meter Configuration/Calibration Options||Yes||N/A||Yes||Yes|
|Power Meter TSS/NP/IF||NP||N/A||Yes||No|
|Speed/Cadence Sensor Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Strava segments live on device||Yes|
|Crash detection||No||Running||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Designed for running||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Footpod Capable (For treadmills)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (internal accelerometer)|
|Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)||No||No||No||No|
|Running Power||With extra sensor|
|Race Predictor||Yes, via Race Pace||No||No||No|
|Run/Walk Mode||Yes, via timers||No||Yes||No||Swimming||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Designed for swimming||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Openwater swimming mode||Yes||N/A||Yes||Yes|
|Lap/Indoor Distance Tracking||Yes||N/A||Yes||Yes|
|Record HR underwater||With Certain Polar Straps||Yes||No||No|
|Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)||Yes||N/A||Yes||Yes|
|Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)||Yes||N/A||Yes||Yes|
|Indoor Drill Mode||No||N/A||No||Yes|
|Indoor auto-pause feature||Yes||N/A||No||No|
|Change pool size||Yes||N/A||Yes||Yes|
|Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths||20M/Y to 250 m/y||N/A||20m/22y to 100y/m||15m/y to 1,200m/y|
|Ability to customize data fields||Yes||N/A||Yes||Yes|
|Captures per length data - indoors||Yes||N/A||Yes||Yes|
|Indoor Alerts||N/A||N/A||Yes||No||Triathlon||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Designed for triathlon||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Multisport mode||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Workouts||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Create/Follow custom workouts||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|On-unit interval Feature||Yes||Yes||Yes||Barely|
|Training Calendar Functionality||Yes||No||Yes||No||Functions||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Virtual Partner Feature||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Virtual Racer Feature||No||No||Yes||No|
|Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)||No||No||No||No|
|Tidal Tables (Tide Information)||No||No||No||No|
|Weather Display (live data)||No||No||No||No||Navigate||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)||No||No||No||No|
|Back to start||Yes||No||Yes||Yes (added Aug 30, 2013)|
|Impromptu Round Trip Route Creation||No||No||No||No|
|Download courses/routes from phone to unit||Yes||No||No||No||Sensors||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Altimeter Type||Barometric||None||Barometric||Barometric, GPS (FusedAlti)|
|Optical Heart Rate Sensor internally||No|
|Heart Rate Strap Compatible||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Heart Rate Strap Capable||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Speed/Cadence Capable||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Footpod Capable||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Power Meter Capable||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Lighting Control||No|
|ANT+ Bike Radar Integration||No|
|ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)||No|
|ANT+ Remote Control||no (but can control GoPro)||No||No||No|
|ANT+ eBike Compatibility||No||No||No||No|
|ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)||No|
|Shimano Di2 Shifting||No||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart HR Strap Capable||Yes||No||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Capable||Yes||No||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart Footpod Capable||Yes||No||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Capable||Yes||No||No||No|
|Temp Recording (internal sensor)||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Temp Recording (external sensor)||No||No||No||No||Software||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|PC Application||Polar Flowsync - Windows/Mac||PPT/Websync||GTC/ANT Agent||Moveslink Agent|
|Web Application||Polar Flow||PPT.com||Garmin Connect||Movescount|
|Phone App||iOS/Android||Polar Beats||iOS/Android||Suunto Movescount|
|Ability to Export Settings||No||No||No||Yes (online)||Purchase||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
|Chain Reaction Cycles||Link||Link||Link||Link|
|Wiggle||Link||Link||Link||Link||DCRainmaker||Polar V800||Polar RCX5||Garmin Forerunner 910XT||Suunto Ambit2|
Again, remember you can easily make your own change with any device you want here at this link.
My Initial Thoughts:
In general, I’m very impressed with what Polar has stated they plan to do with the watch. I think it represents a significant jump forward for them as a company, and to a large degree, an acknowledgement of how far they’ve fallen behind in recent years. But, the V800 joins the Polar Loop (and prior to that, Polar Beat) as recent products that really nailed the markets they are looking for. For example, I think it’s brilliant that they’ve included an activity monitor into the unit – helping bridge the gap between a typical watch and the FitBit’s of the world. It’s also sweet that they’ll likely become the first wrist unit to support Bluetooth Smart power meters. Further, bringing in-house a coaching platform will also be a very interesting move to watch.
On the battery life side, they’ve made an interesting play at both the Garmin Fenix and Suunto Ambit, going with a low-frequency update mode to get 50hrs of GPS-on time for extended workouts. Typically, the unit will get 13hrs of GPS time in 1-second recording mode. I’ve argued to them that splitting the difference in a ‘Ironman’ style mode like Suunto added would be appealing for many folks who need just a few more hours to finish their iron-distance events (up to 17 hours).
Now, as I alluded to – everything is great on paper. But, the unit I have today has pretty much just the core running functionality active/ready. Thus, all the ‘good stuff’ that you want out of the unit won’t come for some number of weeks or months, in later beta cycles (all before final release of course). Thus, I can’t know for certain how it’ll turn out. Though, Polar tends to have a very solid track record of doing what they say – and doing it in a generally bug-free manner (much better than most others).
Of course, there are some minor nits that I have with the unit that aren’t beta-related. But I think that Polar will listen to the feedback I’ve given them (both publicly here, but in more depth privately), and I suspect we’ll see those things resolved by release. They seem eager to listen to my suggestions and have conversations about them, so that’s great to hear.
Overall though, I’m looking forward to seeing the final product come together. The technical platform they have (with Bluetooth and the accelerometer), means that the sky is the limit for how they want to implement new features and functionality in software updates, so they’re well positioned for the foreseeable future.
Frequently Asked Questions – V800 and related:
This is my attempt at reducing redundant questions based on common and/or expected questions. I’ll continue to add to this over time as I see repeats. Thanks!
When will it be available?
Polar is stating April 2014 for availability, with the blue color variant coming a bit later.
Update 3/29/2014: Polar is saying units will start shipping in late April, with arrivals in early May.
How much is it?
$399/€399 without the HR strap, and $449/€449 with the HR strap.
I’m looking at places online to purchase it, and XYZ store says they’ll have it in March!?!
They’re lying to get your order. Yes, really.
When will your in-depth review be posted?
It’ll be posted once Polar delivers final hardware and/or software to me. This is primarily to protect you against making purchasing decisions based on a beta product that could have bugs introduced later after my review (though, that’s always a possibility). Thus, about 1-2 weeks after the final hardware/software is released to me. At this point, my understanding is the hardware is final, however of course, the software is far from final.
Can it be used for swim/bike/run and does it have multisport mode?
Yes, it can be used for all three sports and yes it has a multi-sport mode. However, at this point in beta, the swimming is not yet active nor is sensor support beyond the HR sensor (i.e. cycling or running stride), thus I haven’t been able to test those features.
How well does it work swimming, what metrics does it show?
At this point in the beta unit, swimming is not yet enabled. Polar has not yet clarified exactly which metrics they’ll show in swimming (either for indoor or outdoor swimming).
[Update – July 8, 2015: Today Polar added Open Water Swimming features (distance & stroke) to the V800; and these metrics are now also available in the Swimming profile for indoor swimming]
What file format does it export in?
The unit will provide standard Polar .HRM+.GPX files for running and cycling (last past Polar products). Swimming file formatting is TBA.
Does it connect to Bluetooth Smart devices?
Yes. Upon release in April 2014 it’ll connect to the following Bluetooth Smart device types:
– Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Strap
– Bluetooth Smart Cycling Speed & Cadence Combo Sensor
– Bluetooth Smart Cycling Speed-Only Sensor
– Bluetooth Smart Cycling Cadence-Only Sensor
– Bluetooth Smart Running Footpod (Stride) Sensor
In June 2014, Polar will add support for:
– Bluetooth Smart Cycling Power Meter Sensor
Does it work with non-Bluetooth Smart, Bluetooth devices (i.e. Bluetooth legacy devices)?
No, it does not, only Bluetooth Smart.
Does it work with ANT+ devices?
No, it does not. It connects to Bluetooth Smart devices. It will NOT connect to any ANT+ power meters.
Does it support existing Polar W.I.N.D. sensors?
No, it does not. It does support the existing H7 however, with the 5kHz transmission for underwater reception of HR data. However, that strap is not using W.I.N.D..
Does it support power meters?
Polar has stated they will enable Bluetooth Smart power meter support starting in June 2014. This will be in conjunction with an update to the transmission technology for their Polar/Look Keo power system (today, that system uses POLAR W.I.N.D.). They have confirmed that they will support the standard Bluetooth Smart power meter spec, which is currently used by Stages Power for their dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart product, and in the last few weeks, by PowerTap for Bluetooth Smart-only PowerTap hub caps.
Can you please tell me some random sexy technical things that didn’t fit?
Sure. The unit is aluminum with a stainless steel shell with aluminum buttons. The glass fiber edge is a reinforced thermoplastic case. The black and white display uses Gorilla glass, and the display is 128×128 and can display 4 metrics in a single view. The unit contains up to 99 hours of storage with concurrent GPS and HR data. The GPS chipset is made by SiRFstar. The V800 weighs 79g, and is 12.7mm thick. It contains a 350 mAh Li-pol battery. The barometric altimeter is capable of measuring altitude, descent/ascent, and incline. It contains 13 languages, including Japanese and Simplified Chinese. The airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow cannot be measured however.
C’mon, you must have something else geeky cool that didn’t fit?
It’s true, I do. For the real geeks in the crowd, the V800 will include Bluetooth Smart sensor relay/broadcasting. This means that if you attach a HR strap to the V800, it will actually rebroadcast that transmission as another BLE HR strap. This is useful for group-based sessions, and for folks who may have secondary apps/devices that want to connect to the same HR strap.
Can I use it as a day to day watch?
Yup, it’ll last at least 28 days in that mode while doing continuous activity monitoring (GPS off). You can change the watch face a bunch of different ways, as well as specify a single alarm and configure the ‘starting’ day of the week.
Does it do ‘smart watch’ style notifications (calls/text messages/etc…)?
In talking with Polar, they definitely see the potential for this (hardware is designed with it in mind), but at this point they haven’t decided if (or when) this would be added to the V800. But, they noted that should it be added, it’d be a simple firmware update. Whether that’s for free or paid would be TBD.
What is the battery life with GPS on?
The unit has two options. First is battery life of 13 hours with 1-second recording, regardless of the sport. The second mode, is a reduced recording rate with up to 50 hours of GPS-on time. This is similar to what we’ve seen with the Garmin Fenix and Suunto Ambit. I don’t generally recommend the 50-hour recording timeframe unless you’re doing activities that are slower-paced, like hiking.
Does it have Live Tracking capability like the Garmin FR220/620 and Garmin Edge 510/810?
Polar has stated “that’s a possibility” but have not confirmed if and/or when it might be included in the product.
Do you think Garmin, Suunto or Timex will deliver new triathlon watches this season?
Historically speaking, Garmin is on target for a new triathlon watch this season (a successor to the FR910XT). However, when exactly, and what features remain undisclosed. Suunto has been doing spring releases (April) for their Ambit products the last two years, but again, whether they continue that tradition remains unknown. Finally, Timex has been pretty quiet. So while we certainly could see a new unit from them, I wouldn’t bank on it. There or course be other players in the market as well, either new to the scene entirely (i.e. Bia), or from other companies with past products in the space (i.e. Magellan). Time will tell…
Do you recommend waiting till April?
There’s a lot of factors there, notably the fact that what will or won’t be included for other watches hasn’t been released. I tend however to be of the camp to buy what’s available now, and start training, rather than waiting. Which doesn’t mean to go out and buy a FR910XT instead of the V800, but rather, to make decisions based on your events and training schedule. What if Polar slips to June? Or if Garmin announces in April, but isn’t available to June (like usual)? How do those impact your season and races? Finally, note that like any other high-demand product, initial capacity orders will fill up quickly. Thus, if you wait till April to order (4 months from now), I highly doubt you’ll get your unit anywhere near April.
Will Polar release a new cycling computer this year?
I don’t know. But, they’ve long stated they plan to release a Bluetooth Smart enabled cycling computer. It would seem logical that would happen. Traditionally speaking, most cycling companies don’t make announcements in early January. There’s no reason to. Nobody is buying cycling gear then, and it allows them to hold back details for competitive reasons until Feb/March when people start pondering going outside again.
Update: Yes, they announced the Polar V650 – read about it here.
Why haven’t you answered my question below yet?
In general, it’s likely because either I, or Polar, don’t know the answer (or they wish to not yet disclose it). Or, because I hadn’t yet slept in days and decided to sleep for an hour or two.
Wait, when did you say your in-depth review will be released? Why haven’t you released your review yet?
My review will be released once they have final software/hardware (currently targeted for April 2014). I will update this very line item once I have final hardware/software.
With that, thanks for reading!
Found this post useful? Or just want a good deal? Here’s how:
Hopefully you found this post 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 posts 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 exclusive benefits on all products purchased. You can read more about the benefits of this partnership here. You can pickup the Polar V800 or accessories through Clever Training using the link below. By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.
Polar V800 Black Edition with or without HR strap (select drop-down to change)
Polar V800 Blue/Red Edition with or without HR strap (note June for blue/red)
Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the V800 or accessories (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.
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.
As on the RC3 where it has Running, Cycle 1, Cycle 2, then Other Sports 1 and 2 to record data for non running/cycling activities, does the V800 also have this Other Sport mode for recording my activities that are no triathlon specific? Thanks!
On the RC3 the profiles were fixed, you couldn’t edit them, but on the V800 you can create sport specific profiles, like Weight training, Iceskating or even Horse Riding. You can have 20 different Sport Profiles on the watch and an unlimited number on their webplatform, Polar Flow.
Ray, what Firmware is your device running?
Mine still says 1.0.0, so either I’m missing something on how to update the firmware (quite likely), I’m thinking the PC app should do it automatically, or the firmware number on my device isn’t changing?
The flow computer app check available updates every time you connect your V800. Today Polar released a new FW v 1.0.3 and I got an notice on my mobile app that I need to update the FW.
Does anyone know already what changes the new firmware 1.0.3 has?
– better sync with Mobile app
– more accurate recovery time calculation
– minor bug fixes
Hello Ray and all the V800 owners.
The watch is waterproof rated in 30M. According to diferent tableaus in the net, looks like the watch barely suits for swimming. Some say it’s not even safe for that activity.
Therefore, with that rating, I should not be surfing wearing the watch, should I?
Why is it not safe for swimming??
This bothers me too. Everywhere I looked they said either 100m or 50m for swimming. Never less. Garmins are 50m. Initially I’m sure it’s going to be ok. But what after a year?
That’s the point. Google for “water resistant” and you’ll find out that 30M rating does not mean you could dive for that amount of meters.
I don’t want to be pessimistic, but I’m with @Grzeg1: What after a year? What can we expect?
I’m thinking on buying this watch.
Ray thanks for your pre-review.
I’m going to buy a polar v800. I’m a runner. Do you think it is useful for the run? Where can I buy online a stride sensor Polar bluethoot? I’m in Rome and Polar Italy do not sell it! 🙁
I apologize for my English
This bothers me too. Everywhere I looked they said either 100m or 50m for swimming. Never less. Garmins are 50m. Initially I’m sure it’s going to be ok. But what after a year?
According to the V800 User Manual:
Water resistant 30 m/50 m Suitable for bathing and swimming
Water resistant 100 m Suitable for swimming and snorkelling (without air tanks)
As far as I know, is the Water Resistance Marking in Pseudo “Meters” no international standard (like e.g. IPX / ISO 20653). See link to en.wikipedia.org last sentence: “Manufacturers water resistance classifications are interpretations and are not part of any ISO standard definition.”
So I would go with the classification table of the polar manual which means it is suitable for swimming.
As a general rule of thumb, I wouldn’t believe everything one reads on the Interwebs.
As Johannes points out, there’s no issues here. The whole 50m not being good enough for 50m (or even swimming) is a bit of an urban legend that continues to perpetuate, largely by the diving community (scuba).
While it may be true for cheap knock-off watches from China, it’s simply not true for major brands that do actually do their own testing (Polar, Suunto, Garmin, etc…).
I have just read your replies on the Interwebs ;))
What I’m trying to say is:
The “m rating” is supposed to mean “static pressure of x meters of water”. So 50m means 5 ATM. It’s been like that for years. I remember reading on the 100m rating of my first water resistant watch I bought 20 years ago.
For years manufacturers said that 5 ATM (some said 10) was required for swimming. It seems others, including Garmin, follow that today.
I just don’t understand why Polar gives the watch lower rating. The only reason that comes to my mind is they just can’t do more than 3 ATM and they give what they can. And this is what makes me a little bit worried. I’d like it to be dry inside in a year’s time when the warranty is over.
Hi, after a week of testing the v800 I really love it for some things and hate it for other things, and don’t mind on one thing.
1. Produkt design and feel-factor.
2. connectivity to iOS.
4. over all distance and track recording
5. readable display (day and night/great backlight)
6. Diary on the v800
9. THE BIG ONE / actual pace (on a wide open field its ok / in the park with trees it’s crap. On a constant pace of 4:45 it gave me readings form 6:00 to 3:54 and changing every other second). I really hope here for the stride sensor. BUT as far as I can see I could’t do it like with the RCX5 with different shoe calibration. This is something they really have to focus on.
10. handling of planed training. Its very funktional, that I can plan training sessions in advance. And even can have the instructions of my trainer on the v800. But can someone of Polar please explain why, if set on an automatic interval, no lap is recorded? Please fix it soon.
11. some training sessions don’t sync properly to flow. Hopefully fixed with the released update.
12. the strap is too long for my wrist. Please release a small size replacement strap, and please make it a little softer.
13. 79g. I was really worried about the weight. Ok the v800 really could be a little thiner, but the weight is ok.
Thanks for the quick mini review. Since we are all waiting for Ray’s review patently, it’s nice to hear feedback from others that have the v800. You’ve answered my question about the weight. I have a Forerunner 620, and it’s fine, I like the live tracking so my Wife can see where i am on my long runs, but the built in activity tracker is what excites me about the V800. If the V800 gets live tracking, and can export to Firstbeat Athlete, I might move over to Polar (long time Garmin owner from the 201,205,305,610 & 620.) What were you using before the v800?
I second the call for a smaller strap. I’m male and have a slimish wrist but have never had a strap that literall almost wraps all the way back round to the watch. I reported this to Polar as soon as I received my unit.
I’ve had the V800 for about 12 days and it’s been working great.
My view on some of the comments from other users:
Activity Monitor: It doesn’t show steps like my Fitbit. I have to synch it to my phone to see steps. I probably won’t use the activity monitor all that much, I don’t see myself wearing this watch all day, every day.
Recovery Status: This will supposedly become more accurate with updates but for right now I am just ignoring it. I went for a moderate 9 mile run and it told me I needed 7 day and 15 hours to recover. Either that is a glitch or my V800 has no respect for me.
GPS Signal: No issues at all. It finds the signal very fast and even through trees it keeps the lock. However, that is just on tree lined streets. I haven’t tried in a dense forest environment.
Swim: No problems in the pool, I really couldn’t believe the heart rate monitor would work in the pool but it did.
Strap Length: Fine for me but I could see the strap being too long for some people. You could just trim it if it really bothered you.
Weight: No issues. Certainly no worse than my old Forerunner 405. In fact comparable to my day to day watch (Casio Pathfinder).
Synching with my iPhone: Fast.
Polar Flow: Synchs up through my phone and then I can see it all on my laptop. I’m withholding judgment on Polar Flow, I think it’s going to go through a few overhauls.
Wishlist: I know I am not getting all that I can out of the V800. The online videos and instruction manual only take me so far. I’d like to see more “how to” guides posted to the site.
RCX5, and I loved it. Especially actual pace was awesome. No jumping between 3:50 and 6:00 back and forth. Hope there is some cool solution.
I’d like GPS distance, because it’s independent from track or shoe. But actual pace is crap. Stride sensors for pace and distance are much superior, on common ground where you can adjust on the fly. But on unknown ground it tends to change accuracy. So @Polar please come up with some clever cooperation between GPS and Stride together.
Are you doing the orthostatic testing? I’m doing it every morning and the recovery status calibrates through it. It’s very reasonable to me. You can still workout but in the balance status is where I do well in my quality sessions.
I don’t believe you can do the orthostatic testing with a mio or 4iiii (someone should check). No heart rate spikes so far with the polar. Plus, polar monitors seem to do better with people with irregular heartbeats. Garmin just blanks out.
Does anyone have any information about the start date for sale online without HRM?
I guess I should preface my question by mentioning where I’m coming from. I’ve traditionally been a casual exerciser who has made the transition in 2014 to being consistent with training, participating in regular half marathons and centuries, hired a endurance coach and gotten blood work, customized training plan, etc. Even thinking about getting swim lessons sometime this year and doing a tri next season.
I’ve always used Garmin devices (currently have FR620 and Edge 500), but I’m interested in a “One watch to Rule Them All” perspective for training activities, hence the interest in v800. I’d consider the Fenix2, but honestly, Garmin Connect has soured me. I’m having all kinds of problems getting my 620 to work with GC in regards to transferring scheduled workouts, etc. It’s been a buggy enough process that I’m now considering moving platforms to Polar.
So, I’m wondering if Ray’s upcoming review will include slightly broader subjects such as Platform vs. Platform considerations, beyond just comparisons between devices. I’m interested in a couple of things: Are their some true, viable differences between each companies proprietary training and recovery information, or is it just Marketing BS? Also, are each companies platforms to some extent commodities at this point? I’m trying to understand if either Garmin Connect or Polar Flow websites are just the repository of your data, and really, there’s nothing truly different between the two of them? If that’s the case, is it really just a matter of getting your data to more comprehensive sites (subjectively) such as TrainingPeaks and Strava? Of course, I do realize that Polar has a looong way to go on integrating relationships with 3rd party sites, but I’m assuming that will happen. I guess where I’m going with this is I’d love to get perspective from more experienced folks on these platform questions in addition to the understandable comparisons between actual devices.
Thanks for your great site Ray! Very helpful for a newbie like me.
Many thanks for your comments, it’s really interesting to hear complaints about garmin connect too.
I own a polar RC3 but I am really angry by the poor ability to use programs. As soon as you create a program in the watch, you can’t have changes your polar heart zone. Coupled with the poor flexibility of workouts, I was considering to switch to a Fénix 2 or a V800, with at least greater workout ability.
I tried briefly Polar flow and Garmin connect to estimate how convenient it was to create my usual workouts. And so far, I found garmin connect more “user-friendly”, especially with repeats, while Polar Flow is definitely nicer and a big improvement compared to personal polar trainer. But ultimately, I think that strava (discovered thanks to Ray) is the best place for me to analyse and store my trainings.
Obvioulsy, your comment suggests that the software of Garmin is not a perfect world neither. It was the main advantage I saw for the fénix 2 over the V800, these watches being almost identical in terms of features. I thus continue my reflexion about the finest replacement of my RC3 (which continue to answer 75% of my needs and is with me in 100% of my activities).
Just offering an opinion based on my observations – It seems to me that in this space, there is almost an inverse relationship with those individuals who need deep, reliable, well developed features (e.g., complex interval training setup, data analysis) and those who are looking to the newest units.
For example, Polar’s RS800CX and Polar Pro Trainer 5 provide greater depth in these areas than Polar’s newer units (RCX5 and RC3 which sync to Polar Personal Trainer). Everyone hopes that the V800 will be the heir apparent to the RS, but its integration with Polar Flow and the current lack of data export ability call that into serious question at least in the short term.
The current units, again in my opinion, seem to be lost between consumer appeal and appeal to hardcore users of the products. Don’t dismiss some of the older models with a proven track record.
I think that it will take a year to really see if the V800 is a worthy ‘one watch to rule them all’ and I strongly suspect that it will be a rough ride in the early going.
I completely agree. There is many nice features in the RS800 and Pro Trainer, eg. Trainingload calculation, Different shoes with calibration, etc. which are in the v800 and polar flow far from implementation. For sure I will wait at least 6-9 month before I switch. Nevertheless I really like the v800 and polar flow (data in the web, can see it on my ipad, bluetooth etc. Hope Polar will translate many of the good RS800 and Polartrainer things to the new platform.
How is it possible that all these team runners and triathletes have been using the V800 for sometime and still the firmware/software is incomplete? Were these athletes competing with a device that wasn’t giving them the information they required during their events?
Is there any proof of that they were actually using it?
Most pro athletes have their own coaches that give sets, targets, and weekly workouts. Their form of *racing* is quite different from age groupers style of racing.
Besides no pro would risk his race performance relying in a pre-release product…
Does anyone else who has received their V800 have issues with tap gestures?
I’m unable to get the watch to respond to tap gestures at all, despite changing various tap sensitivity settings.
For several solutions see this thread in the Polar Forum: link to forum.polar.fi
Actually its working quite well, but don’t expect that it is working like a smart phone touch screen (it’s accelerometer based). A firm slap with two flat fingers will do it.
Thks Johannes, I’m actually impressed that the v800 forum doesn’t seem to reveal any major bugs or problems when compared with the Fenix2 forum which appears to still behave as a beta product, even after several months past its release date. Also noticed that unlike Garmin, Polar has a dedicated forum moderator that actually answers questions! That’s a huge positive
Can any Fenix2 owners here that have tested the v800 provide feedback as to which watch is more solid/reliable for a trail runner?
Thanks Johannes – I’ve got it working. I have to say, you really have to kind of slap it quite hard to get it to respond to gestures.
Can’t help feeling that repeatedly slapping the face of any watch is going to shorten it’s life …
Do what I do. Hit the strap just above the screen rather than the screen.
Great review! Thanks for sharing all your experience here
I am waiting my V800 here in Italy in two days but already playing with the PolarFlow features.
Seems that the possibility to plan a phased target with race pace is missing?
-> What about 1 mile at 5:00 , than half mile at 5:30 repeated 5 times, I can choose only distance OR time combined with HR zone?
–> Do I need to setup 10 different targets using the Quick race pace functionality
I always had difficulties in reading data while running, the RCX5 had the possibility to select only 2 rows instead of the 4 in each individual display view so the characters are bigger but I did not see this in the V800 manual.
ps sorry I already posted in wrong place
For anyone that pre-ordered the black v800 from clevertraining.com, please note that the product page states shipping in late July as of this morning and the blue one in August. I sure hope that this is a typo on their part, especially for the black one. I sent them an email yesterday to find out the status as to when they will ship but I have not heard back from them yet. Keeping my fingers crossed. Other sites still say shipping in early June and one states it will ship on June 6, 2014.
Ray (or anyone), would you know more details about this?
You’ll be getting an e-mail here any minute from CT on the topic. Polar just notified all retailers about an hour or so ago that the non-bundle ones will now be shipping in late July. Only bundles will be shipping from Polar near-term, and the non-bundles won’t ship till the end of July. Yes, I agree, it’s pretty lame of Polar.
Thanks for the support via Clever Training though!
Let me add that I ordered the watch only. The prroduct page with the HRM still states early June. Now I am confused. If the difference between the two is a month and a half, I might have to change my order to include the HRM. The Polar F6 my wife uses needs a new strap anyway and the H7 works with it I found out by testing it out when I bought the H7.
Not what I wanted to hear. Its a conspiracy theory to get us to spend more money!!! 😉 I don’t want to wait around till then so my only choice would be to change my order to include the HRM. Guess I’ll have two H7’s. Good thing the H7 works with my old Polar F6 my wife uses. Grrrrrrr!!!!
I agree with TommyBoy, getting us to shell out more money. I just called CleverTraining and upgraded my order to the HRM version. The watches with HRM were supposedly sent to CT today and were sent extras with the HRM cause they figured people would change their mind… like me who couldn’t wait any longer! UGH!
My retailer in UK is going to respect my original order (without H7) even though they are only getting stock with HRM, only fair given I already paid for it. They’ll just take the H7 out of the box before sending it to me.
With this less than ideal change of polar’s mind delaying the deliver of the non-bundle V800 , I was gladly surprised to found the crew of CT very accommodating. Besides, I made a wrong order and they corrected without changing my date of deliver. Very nice!
I just confirmation that CT has shipped out my v800 hrm bundle.
Hi, I had to reach out to Clevertraining and upgraded my order to NOW include the HRM strap. I am VERY disappointed at Polar for the crap they’re putting us through! Clevertraining offered me a very easy way to upgrade my order via paypal, so THAT was GREAT (thanks folks!).
But DC, if there’s any chance you have to tell them that this is unacceptable behavior by a vendor … I don’t even really know why I’m still sticking to wanting to have the v800 based on Polar’s annoying behavior. Probably, only because the hype they created was really good! (Marketing sucks – LOL)
Hi Ray, first of all thanks for your great work here.
I am a runner and riding MBT. For now I own a Polar RCX5 mit GPS Sensor. Recording the track is very good, but to get back to the starting-point would be a great feature to me. I am now thinking on what clock I should buy or shell i stay with my RCX5? Which clock would you recomand me?
I am considering between the polar V800 and the Fenix 2… Thank you very much
You scarried me Bleuette with your California thing, don’t know what i’ll do ! What other watches are not using these chemical things ? Thank you
Jeff, no worries. No imminent danger whatsoever, unless you’re shredding five tons of POLAR cases and feed your baby.
Thank you for your message. I’m really hesitating between it and Fenix 2 … Don’t know what to do, cause i’ll train 85 % running, 10 % hiking, 4 % riding, 1 % swimming
Welcome, Jeff. Not sure whether you would go for ultra distances (Fenix2), you are into activity monitoring (V800), working swimming metrics NOW (Fenix2). Just systematically go through the very excellent product tables of Mr Rainmaker for these devices – good chances you’re going to find your decision. Good luck.
Thank you for your answer. So hard to choose ! I’m trying to decide since 1-2 months and I can’t decide ^^ Hesitating too with the TomTom multisports cardio, but it tseems to have problems with the moi system
No topic anymore!
Garmin 910 has. Fenix 2 and Forerunner 620 hasn´t that “California Thing”
Fenix 2 I had to change twice because they didn´t work properly . With FR620 I was very lucky . the first watch was all right-all around! And I can rely on it.And so we became good friends right away.
As far as Polar V 800 is concerned, after my intensive recherche, the result is :I`ll wait till Christmas, then I am going to buy it.
Jeff, I anwered to your post athough some of the people here hate me bringing that bad news to discussion and stones will be thrown/boomeranged in my direction again .Like in ancient Rome man who brough bad news were killed. 😉 So I´ll keep my knowlege founding out by my recherche for me! (first I practised the “golden rule” here: treat other people like/as I will treated by yourself. Now I`ve changed it to platimun rule” : treat other people like/as they want be treated. And all are happy now!)
Herzlichst! Bleuette Naomi
treat other people like/as I will treated by myself
How do you know Garmin don’t give that California warning for those products?
How do you know they don’t just stick an extra label on the outside of the box to units they know are going to be sold in California?
That’s what I’d do rather than put a scarey warning in the manual for every unit sold worldwide.
We’ve already established Garmin sells things with this issue or else they wouldn’t have it on their website
This will be my only say on this topic.
I have lived in California all my life (45 years). That stupid proposition 65 warning is on pretty much “EVERYTHING” I buy that is electronics related and then some. Sorry to say, but that warning will still be there come Christmas time and many many many many many many many many (Are you getting the point now?) years to come. All those products I bought and I have no ill side affects. Doctor states I am doing great as well. I feel so much better now ignoring that stupid warning whenever I read some of the instruction books or manuals.
Looking forward to getting my V800 here really quick. 🙂
Hi Ray, just wanted to thank you again for all the work you have done on this and all the other products you review. I’m another person who checks your website every day too see if there are any new updates! Much appreciated.
A quick query regarding Bluetooth Speed/Cadence sensor comparability for the Polar- I have just picked up a Topeak Panobike sensor as it was much cheaper than the Wahoo Blue SC in the UK- just wondering if you have had a chance to try it and if it works?
Would also be interested in others experiences with these sensors? Thanks.
I have played with it a bit actually. Thus far the second unit seems mostly fine. I haven’t put it through any major tests.
The only downside though is that it doesn’t have an ‘arm’ to it, thus for some frames/crank arms it might be a tough fit to get connectivity well to the magnets.
Hi Ray, many thanks for the reply.
I’m eagerly awaiting my V800, which should be delivered today/tomorrow so have bought the Panobike Sensor in anticipation, and glad it looks like it will work!
In the UK at least, there is very little choice in the BT Speed/Cadence sensor market, with Wahoo, Topeak and a few others and a lot of knock-offs.
Given the Wahoo is pretty much £50 everywhere and the Topeak can be bought for £30 easily, it seems a no-brainer. Point taken on the design though, it’s not for everyone.
I will respond back with my experiences either way.
A couple of points I’d be interested in your thoughts on-
Coming from a FR305 > MotoActv > V800 and thus from ANT+ to BT, I have to say that as an interested observer, it seems a bit of a mess in the BT camp at present.
HR monitors seem OK, but the seeming lack of adherence to BT profiles for various sensor data seems a real drawback. ANT+ (the kit I have had anyway) just seems to work, and work well?
Purchasing the V800 – easily the most frustrating purchase in recent times.
Never mind the delays, finding somewhere to pre-order was a pain, shelling out £400 upfront for the privilege, and then having to cancel this when it was again delayed for another few weeks.
Ending up purchasing direct from Polar, just so I can get it in time for an upcoming race. I actually debated long and hard whether to do this, and give the company my hard-earned after ‘shafting’ their suppliers and distributors so badly, but the product is the only one which suits my needs at present. A poor start to the relationship though.
Final question- is there any official Polar forums for discussing the V800?
Keep up the good work, and best to The Wife.
Larry – there’s a Polar forum for the V800 at link to forum.polar.fi
I got mine from Polar in UK as well.
They have a fun ordering system!
No word from them for two days then an email appeared saying: “Hello there, You just bought an item from our web store” as if I’d ordered it just then.
Then the status in my order history was “processing” even after it had been delivered.
Finally they sent me an email saying it was “on its way”…a day after it had been delivered.
Mike, many thanks for that. Looked but couldn’t find it!
Hi Stephen- yes, same here regarding the out-of-sequence emails! Very strange.
Looking forward to finally cracking it open (metaphorically speaking) tonight..
While waiting for CT to ship out the watch soon, I can’t help but hope a few of you current v800 owners found a way to “hack” the watch and implement your own functionality (similar to Suunto’s Ambit 2). I was really impressed with some of the macros created by the Suunto owners. If Polar was smart, it would release a free developer pack for consumers to fully exploit all the cool functionalities/sensors packed in the watch – look at Apple’s (or any smart phone’s) app store as an example. That would definitely give the “iWatch” a run for it’s money.
My ideal watch – Polar V800 with Suunto Ambit 2 programmability. A Pobit!!
Forget the Suuntos Apps … Android and iPhone will show what is possible and workable on watches via apps. Just for running I will use the Polar V800 and still the Garmin FR610.
V800 without HRM is in stock at CT!
Oh! CT changed the status to late July without HRM model. Sorry…
And now changed the shipping date of even the HRM bundle to mid June (was early June). Harumph.
Just to be clear, the date shown on the site is for new orders placed (and, CT is typically very conservative when it comes to dates – so it might be sooner). Your specific date will vary based on when you ordered. You can always ring up CT (or e-mail) and they’ll let ya know where ya stand. Cheers!
Thanks for the support!
Happy to support – thanks for the discount!
And you (as usual) are correct – just got an email from CT that it shipped!
Curious… When date did you place your order?
Just went back and checked – it was April 18th.
Thanks for that. I ordered on May 11, 2014. Hopefully I will get a notification soon that it is shipping.
Does anyone know if you can use the Mio Link as your HRM with the V800?
I used the mio link succesful on the same arm during a fitness/Bodypump session yesterday.
So yes basic functionality does work. Only have the V800 for 48hrs so didn’t have the chance to test more.
Thanks for the input!
I assume the BTLE portion of the Mio Link would communicate with the V800, but I was not sure if anyone has tried pairing anything other than the Polar/Wahoo BTLE HRM’s…
Did anybody find the Progress section of Polar Flow (online) not synchronizing with the Diary section? For example, a run done and recorded on a Wednesday would appear as Tuesday in Progress? The same phenomenon apparently is occuring on the Polar Flow iOS app.
I had sent that bug note to Polar several months ago. Recently they replied they were still working on it. The date error seems to be in every category on the Progress page.
I recently re-submitted more current examples of the disconnect and the image files for each.
I ordered mine from CT March 26 or so day of pre-orders; CT emailed me yesterday to let me know that Polar was delay shipping watch only; I switched to Watch + HR strap, rec’d my confirmation of shipping yesterday. What an awesome store and 10% discount thanks to you Ray. I’m in Canada and even with duty and taxes and shipping it’s cheaper than buying in Canada, not that any of my stores are showing the item as in stock or pre-order yet. Cheers, just sharing.
Do you In-Depth review for V800?
Hi Ray, I have a few questions about the FOOT POD BLUETOOTH ® SMART:
1. Is it possible to use at the same time the foot pod and the heart rate sensor? The reason I ask is because both are connected via bluetooth.
2.Is the speed displayed automatically from the foot pod when it is connected and the distance / route via GPS?
3. Do I have a choice whether I want to have displayed the speed by using GPS or foot pod?
Thanks in advance
1) Yes, no problem.
2) Yes, it comes from the footpod even while connected via GPS
3) No, you do not.
Thanks Ray! 🙂
Do you know, if they will release it in a later firmware.
That you can choose yourself what to be used for speed pod or gps?
It’s not currently on the list I have.
In regards to the BLE, can a BLE footpod and/or MIO Link HRM be used by the V800 and an iOS at the same time to record your heart rate and stride data to Polar Flow and Wahoo Fitness?
No, unfortunately not. In theory the V800 supports re-broadcasting of BLE devices (specifically, HR). But in reality, that only seems to re-broadcast to other devices.
I received my V800 today – it was a looooooong wait! 🙂
VERY happy now.
But….My watch does not request any firmware updates and and is apparently sporting firmware 0.16.19Should I not have 1.0.3? Any one else have time problem?
So I have now established, that I am indeed running a very very old firmwareversio – I just cannot get my V800 to update.
I connect it to my computer, the Flow sync routine runs through the sport profiles etc….it gets to “checking V800 update” and after ~30 seconds just jumps to the browser. Flow reports that my V800 is ready for use.
I have tried two different computers – both Windows 8 (64bit) and no luck.
I see on the Polar forum that I am not alone on this one – anyone got and ideas? Thank you!
Same problem here. No update ans still to 0.16.19.
Just for fun, where are you from? Quebec Canada for me.
Where do you see the firmware version?
I got Mine on Friday. Charged it and used it.
So far I Love it.
Have the Same Firmware, seems to be latest official release.
Used it for intervalls (needs improvement, old RS800cx was better in setting interval Goals), also used it for swimming with GPS on. Looks not smooth but at least something. Other running and biking worked flawless.
Fast syncing with iPhone and ipad.
Great review Ray, trank you very much for all the Time You spent on testing gadgets.
Based on them my girlfriend bought the tomtom cardio multisport is so happy to train without the cheststrap. The miosensor Inside the V800 Would be perfect.
Can you give the link of this swim data? I am curious how the gps data look like.
Ok, so it not a “canada” problem :-).
Flow is updating on my iphone. Maybe with this it will work…. Is it supposed to be possible to update firmware via polar flow ?
Finally, received the V800 from Clever Training! Huge thanks for the recommendation Ray. They provided phenomenal customer service. Does anyone have any knowledge of how to get the V800 FW updated to 1.0.3, mine like some others is still stuck at 0.16.19 and fails during the Polar Flow Sync process using the USB and installed program on a MacBook Pro?…
The watch is a bit large for me to wear all the time as a woman, not heavy, just bulky. I was wondering about wearing the Loop most of the time and then switching to the watch for training. Would there be any disadvantage to that in terms of integrating the data, or the quality of data obtained by the Loop versus the V800?
I’m basically running and cycling besides a bit of fitness studio training. I do love my RCX5 and it was fine for all I did until I began to run in the wildernes. Then two things turned up for me:
1. the RCX5 does not have vibration alerts
2. There was no kind of livetracking showing my wife that I’m still “somehow alive” 🙂 on longer runs
That was the reason I added the Garmin Forerunner 620 for outdoor and indor running – which does all I wanted. But as beeing addicted to Polar and convinced of their products (and polarpersonaltrainer) I was very keen to get hold of the V800. Plus quite obvious taking a chance of using all of the Bluetooth sensors and features available.
Having the V800 now for a week I’m a bit of indecisive of what the device and I currently are at.
We’ve read what it is capable of and we know what Polar has announced will be in the pipeline and when to expect it (like export of data, import from polarpersonlatrainer, swimming etc).
But currently I see several disadvantages in my personal use that I’d expect from a device from a major player like Polar in that price region:
– vibration alert not intense enough for me
– sound alerts not loud enough in certain environments
– wrist band digging into the arm
– charging status in “%” is missing
– no power save mode on the display in the night (like RCX5 does have), here even more important to save battery
– vibration and sound alerts are not as versatile configurable as on the Forerunner 620
– I haven’t found a possibility that I can view the status and figures of many of the sensors the V800 does have (like temperature, pressure/altitude, steps, distance walked etc.) on the watch itself outside of any training session (and not by using the flow app on the mobile).
The watch impresses with a lot of sensors and definitely does have a gorgeous display (though smaller than expected) and I can’t see a reason to add more screens in ceratin sub-menus (status?) to display such figures.
What even concerns me really at the moment is that its fully unknown if Polar will add the feature of livetracking which basically should be possible following certain comments here (and as the phone app is taking most of the load to handle this part of communication). This would be kind of important to me (not for posting it to Facebook or Twitter, though this might be of higher interest for some other V800 users).
In general it would be highly appreciated if Polar could decide on publishing what additional features will make it into the V800 and probably when to expect (apart from the already known import/export/swimming stuff). Guess that would be welcome by quite a number of potential V800 byusers/users – even though the device is targeted to the professional sector (or at least those people counting themselves to this group in any way).
I must admit, I’m not a professional and far away from this, but also not tempted to ever reach that level 🙂
Nevertheless it could be that the V800 could become the One thing from Polar to beat all of the others, but unfortunately not now.
Besides all of what I’ve written above I haven’t yet talked about the Polar Flow website which (quite clear thats also coming down to personal opinion) for me not working anyway as good as polarpersonaltrainer. I love data and I love graphics but I don’t need the graphics and letters such oversized as they currently are while on the other hand the level of information displayed has been totally reduced. Not taling about what can be entered/altered manually.
So… that’s just my 2 cent on where I am with this device, my expectation from it and my personal feeling of lacking features currently. I’m most likely going to sell it and wait a year unless Polar comes up with more concrete plans of implementation.
it should read:
The watch impresses with a lot of sensors and definitely does have a gorgeous display (though smaller than expected) and I can’t see a reason NOT to add more screens in certain sub-menus (status?) to display such sensor data.
Is it ok to shut off the V800’s GPS if I’m using a BLE footpod to run on the treadmill?
there is a specific Treatmill sports menu without GPS … but you can also define to have the GPS off. As you prefer.
Huge thanks Trimaster! Added and edited the Sport Profile.
Is that me or the iphone app update from saturday just slow down the process of sync?
By the way, i’m still on 0.16.19 firmware. Is there anyone who succefully update his watch since friday night?
But I have to say that the watch work very well. I’m very impressed about this watch. I’ prefer it from Fenix 2. Open water swim works very well!
How do you check the firmware?
As of this morning I’ve published my final in-depth review, which is available here: link to dcrainmaker.com
As such, I’ll be going ahead and closing the comments section on this post simply to keep things tidy. Feel free to head over to the in-depth review and continue discussion/questions there.