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The New Polar Vantage Series: Everything you ever wanted to know

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After just shy of five years since Polar’s last multisport product was announced – the replacement for it is finally here: The Vantage series. This series actually breaks the product line into two models, the Vantage V being the higher end touchscreen edition, and the Vantage M being the mid-range non-touchscreen product. Feature wise, they are nearly very similar, both supporting full triathlon modes.

These new models completely revamp the underlying operating system of the watch, not to mention the hardware too. The company has changed GPS chipset vendors, alongside creating the mother of all optical heart rate sensors with 9 LED’s in it.  Not to mention being the first company to introduce running power at the wrist on the Vantage V (no other sensors required).

At the same time, due to the complete revamp of the watch, there’s a number of past features that didn’t make the cut. Some permanently, and some temporarily.  For example, there’s no more navigation/routing capabilities, nor smartphone notifications. I dive into all the cuts down a bit lower.

Which, is a good time to note that I’ve got loaner Vantage V and Vantage M watches, which I’ve been using on workouts for a short time now.  As usual, once I’m done with these units I’ll publish an in-depth review and send them back. As such, this is not a review, in-depth or otherwise. Simply put – the product is too far away from completion to do a review at this time, with too many features in beta or missing.  But that’s cool, that’s why I have hands-on posts like this. Give you a feel for it as a bit of a preview.

Oh, and if you don’t want to read a bunch of text, watch this semi-condensed version of it here in video format:

With that, let’s get cookin’.

What’s new:

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I always like condensing everything down into a single bulleted section of newness. It helps you filter the cool stuff from the marketing fluff.  So let’s dive straight away into it. Fear not, down below in the ‘overview’ section I go through things in more detail too.  Note I’m looking at the ‘what’s new’ from the perspective primarily of the V800 (it’s predecessor).  Also, this list is specifically for the Vantage V:

– Addition of optical heart rate sensor (both for workouts and 24×7 HR)
– Added electronic skin-contact sensor to validate a human is attached to watch
– Added color touchscreen, still retains buttons for all athletic functions
– Changed GPS chipset maker to that of Sony (same as what Suunto 9 did recently)
– Changed max GPS-battery life to 40-hours 1-second recording with optical HR too
– Added running power from the wrist (no sensors required)
– Added new training load metrics (cardio/muscle/perceived stats)
– Added new ‘Recovery Pro’ metrics (daily recovery, training, and balance stats) – requires H10 chest strap.
– Added both segmented real-time and post-processing of optical HR data to fix quirks (I’ll explain later)
– Made watch round, from rectangular shape previously
– Reduced weight of watch from 79g to 66g

The price is $499USD/EUR for the base models in orange, white, or black. It’s $549USD/EUR for the bundle with the Polar H10 HR chest strap.

When it comes to the Vantage M, here’s the core differences to the Vantage V:

– No barometric altimeter
– No native running power, as it lacks a barometric altimeter (still works with 3rd party running power like Stryd though)
– GPS 1-second battery down to 30 hours instead of 40 hours (but seriously, that’s still incredible)
– Added swappable straps using industry standard quick release bands (the Vantage V doesn’t have this)
– Not a touch-screen, just buttons only
– No Recovery Pro metrics (but does have other training load metrics)
– Weight is a mere 45g instead of 66g

That’s priced at $279USD/EUR. That’s an awesome deal, though it’s also on-par price-wise with the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR.  In talking with Polar – they were eyeing that watch as their main competitor in this space for the Vantage M.

But it’s not all bubbles and rainbows. The following features were removed from the Vantage V/M series, but are slated to be re-added by the end of Q1 2019 (so by March 31st), but they noted some features will likely be by end of year:

– Smartphone notifications (i.e. call/text notifications)
– Fitness test functionality
– Standalone device timers
– Strava Segments
– Back to start navigation
– Additional trailing summary details on workouts

The following features were removed, without specific/current plans to re-implement in the Vantage series:

– GoPro Action Cam Control
– Following a downloaded route (navigation of tracks)
– Reduced GPS recording rate activities (i.e. beyond 40hrs of GPS time, the V800 also supported a reduced recording rate to 50hrs)
– No longer option to use HR strap while swimming, only optical HR sensor [Older 5hz straps no longer supported]

Note that for functions/features that aren’t in the beta yet but are slated to be included by the time the product ships late next month, I haven’t listed those. In my mind, that’s simply just beta finalization.  Whereas the lists above are specific features that have been decided upon already as the ‘end-state’ of the product.

Phew, got all that? Good, let’s move onto a more photographic based section into the overview.

Overview:

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So let’s get right into things, starting with the touchscreen of the Vantage V. From a practical standpoint there’s no screen menu differences between the Vantage V and Vantage M. The only difference is you can’t control the Vantage M by the screen as it doesn’t have a touchscreen. Plus of course the smaller battery and lack of some metrics I’ll call out when I get to them. But otherwise, it all feels the same.

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In the case of the Vantage V, it’s actually not a case of being able to use either buttons or touchscreen. In fact, you have to use a blend of the two for certain things. For example, in order to get to the different dashboard pages (like activity stats), you have to use the touchscreen, and then confirm with a button press. Inversely, in workout mode, the touchscreen is entirely disabled.

From a responsiveness standpoint, you can see it in the video up above. It’s beta, so I won’t hold it against them at this point. In my experience testing a lot of devices, touchscreen optimization tends to be one of the last things to come together for companies.  I would say that they’re under-utilizing the buttons though. For example, when I’m at the main watch-face some buttons have zero purpose (pressing them does nothing). As my two-year-old would say – every button pressed should do something. Otherwise, you just assume it’s broke.

Since we chatted buttons we should at least talk hardware for a moment. The buttons have a pretty nice etching in them, as does the rest of the band of the Vantage V. The Vantage M buttons (below on the white unit) are a bit more simplistic.

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Meanwhile, as the Vantage M doesn’t have the swanky etching pattern, it does make up for it by having swappable straps. They use standard watch quick release straps. That’s a feature the Vantage V lacks.  Speaking of which, Polar is selling a few straps of their own, and I think the grey one actually looks pretty nice.  The orange will be appropriate for Strava employees.

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Back on the watch, you can swipe to access the different watch face dashboards. One for activity, another for training load, past workouts, and heart rate. Some features aren’t implemented yet, so my understanding is Recovery Pro will also show here once enabled on the unit itself.  In the case of the Vantage M, you use the up/down buttons to access these.

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You can dive into each of these by pressing the button. For example, here’s the new training load status. This includes your cardio training load, but will also include your muscle load and perceived effort as well.

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The muscle load will come primarily from running workouts on the Vantage V with running power, as well as cycling workouts with a cycling power meter. Whereas the perceived effort is asked of you every time you open up the Polar Flow smartphone app and look at one of your workouts:

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In many ways, the training load is very similar to what we see with FirstBeat, and even uses some of the same terminology (which in turn is also based on TRIMP).  You can see some of how this flows from one of the pages of a presentation I got from Polar.  Note that the user interface elements on these screens (and really anywhere you see photos in my post) aren’t necessarily final.

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In discussing the features with them it takes upwards of a month to get really solid data out of it, and I’m just over a week now – so things are still a bit jello-like in terms of the status it gives me. But I can see it starting to turn a bit of a corner and giving me more useful feedback.  Here’s a shot from Polar on what this should look like longer term:

30 days overreaching with increased injury and illness risk

And then the two overlaid:

Buildup horizontal

The next piece of that puzzle is the new Recovery Pro metrics (only on Vantage V). This is driven by data from the Polar H10 HR strap. So if you don’t have that chest strap, you won’t get these metrics. They don’t believe that the optical HR sensor gives them enough accuracy of HRV data to get these details correct. I don’t necessarily disagree with them, but I also don’t think it’s black and white either. I think there’s some middle-ground like what Suunto and Garmin have implemented.

The way this feature works is that after putting on the H10 strap you’ll do an Orthostatic test. That’s roughly two minutes of lying down followed by two minutes of standing. It measures your HR during that time. After which it’ll give you a score:

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Once you have three days of scores you’ll start to get recovery information. This information will show up in a variety of places, but at present it’s not fully implemented in the app/site (due to beta state).

Of course, Polar has done all their own legwork here for both training load and recovery, as opposed to licensing that from FirstBeat like Garmin, Suunto, and probably a dozen others have done.  In some ways, I wonder if that was the right decision. Which isn’t a slight on Polar’s crew – not at all, nor is a direct praise of FirstBeat. Rather, it’s purely a business thought. Polar’s spent a lot of time on something that best I can tell is no better than what FirstBeat offered. And as I’ve noted in the past, many of the people working in this particular space tend to move around between these companies (helped by the fact that they’re all located in Finland).  But I just look at the totality of new features on the Vantage series and wonder if the ROI was there for this, compared to just licensing it.

Next, there’s the settings menu, which they’ve re-aligned a bit of how things look in there. It’s a nice change, a bit cleaner. And for those familiar with the Polar interface you’ll recognize most of the groupings.

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Sensor pairing is in there, but at present the beta can’t yet pair 3rd party sensors – so I can’t quite test that yet (probably within the next week or so). Once enabled, it’ll be Bluetooth Smart sensors of the usual variety. Cycling power, heart rate sensors, speed sensors, cadence sensors, and also 3rd party running power sensors. No ANT+ sensors supported here.

Next, let’s hit up some of the sports modes. There’s two ways to get there. The first is to long-hold the right red button, or the second is to navigate via the lower left button to sports.

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Once there you’ll see all the modes synced from the watch. You’ll see the little HR icon illuminate once it has optical HR lock, as well as the GPS icon once it has GPS lock.  All of this happens pretty quick.

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And now’s a good time to talk about that beast of an optical HR sensor. I’d love to have sat in on the conversations on the design of this one. It’s got 9, yes 9 LED’s on it. It’s got four sets of dual red/green LED’s, followed by an extra green. And technically, I just lied to you. There’s also an orange LED in there too (absolute center pairing) – making that 10 LED’s. But the orange one isn’t used at this point and Polar isn’t seeing the benefit to enabling it based on their testing to date.

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One interesting tidbit that Polar will be doing behind the scenes is retroactively correcting the optical HR readings, within 60-second blocks. So while you’re working out you might see a given incorrect reading (such as 205bpm), but then 60 seconds later the watch will actually correct that in the file in the watch after it does some post-processing.

Polar is looking at patterns more broadly than just typical instant HR validation to correct for errors, and is instead retroactively looking at bits where it got things wrong and fixing them before you ever even upload the file. Of course, it’s a bit hard for me to demonstrate this at this point, but it was pretty interesting to hear that Polar is doing it.

On the inside, you’ll see those four silver dots. Sure, they enable charging of the device on the charging clip, and also sync of data when attached via USB. But more importantly, they’re also electrical sensors that can measure the quality of the skin contact. They can use that to determine whether or not you’re wearing the watch, so they don’t bother to turn on the sensors if not.

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Polar was pretty clear that they wanted to have the most accurate optical HR sensor. And while I don’t have enough data yet to confirm that, early results seem positive. And if nothing else, they could use all those LED lights to land planes in the fog at the local airport.

Ok, onto running we go. Simply because by choosing running I can show you running power. Once we’ve started our run the touchscreen gets disabled and changing pages occurs via button presses – just like most watches.  You can customize these pages on Polar Flow like past Polar watches.

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Most of the pages shown here are pretty much the norm – not much new. Common metrics like pace, heart rate, distance, time, etc… Except now it’s all in pretty color graphs and with nice clarity – and the screen is super clear.

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The biggie though is running power. That’s coming directly from the wrist, with no extra sensors needed. This is only on the Vantage V though because that’s the only one that has a barometric altimeter. The Vantage M lacks that and thus lacks the quality of data needed. This is the same requirement as Garmin has for their running power (but their power also requires an extra sensor).

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The running power is displayed on what appears to be about a 10-second smoothed average. I based that on how long it took when I stopped running for the power to come down. At this point I think there’s actually a bit too much smoothing in it, but that’s minor stuff they can tweak.  In any event, the running power is based on GPS pace, and not footpod or wrist-detection pace. This is notable because it does NOT work indoors (treadmill), nor should it work in a tunnel Polar tells me (I haven’t found a tunnel long enough to meaningfully test it yet).  Assuming you’re outside though, this data will be written to your files just like a cycling power meter. And 3rd party apps can easily handle it as well.

You can see it below shown on one of my runs this past weekend, lower down in the graphs, as well as up above in the summary section.

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The next question is whether or not running power is ‘accurate’. Well, first off, if anyone says that it’s accurate or inaccurate, just close that browser tab. Seriously, there’s no definition of that agreed upon by anyone out there with any meaningful scientific credentials. Instead, I’d argue that running power is more in the ‘is it plausible’ range, with a side of ‘is it at least consistent’.  Even Polar noted in my discussions with them that there are many interpretations of how to measure running power and at which point it should be measured.

But certainly you’ll want to know how it compares on the same run to Stryd or Garmin Running Power? No problem, I’ve got you covered down below in the accuracy section on that bit. Short version: It’s half-way in between them. Again, no idea whos right or wrong. But I did encourage Polar to be as open as Stryd, Garmin, and RunScribe have been in terms of publishing papers and studies that support their algorithm and thinking.

Like others, Polar has done a bunch of work on validation here. They too went to a force-plate treadmill to validate their power metrics, and the results they shared in a presentation seem promising. They also went out and did some pretty technical measuring of hills and did all the science math backwards to validate the numbers after test runners ran them. But again, so did Stryd – yet these two companies don’t match on the same run.

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Now, don’t mistake me for thinking I’m down on Polar. Cause really, I’m definitely not. Instead, I’m just ‘less optimistic’ about running power in general. Mostly because we can’t seem to get any two companies to agree.  As such, I think it’s tough for consumers (or myself) to know what to make of it. Or whether to trust it when training. Similarly, as much as we as humans want our cycling and running power numbers to equate, there’s no science that says they should. Just like our heart rate numbers for cycling and running certainly don’t match for the same perceived effort.

Moving along to other newness, we’ve got Polar leveraging a new GPS sensor/chipset in their Vantage series. They’ve switched from SiRF to Sony, just like Suunto did in joining forces with Sony. At present Polar is leveraging GLONASS, but not yet Galileo. That’s a limitation by Sony, which doesn’t yet support it. Polar says there’s a chance they’ll be able to update it down the road via firmware update, but that’ll really just depend on Sony doing so.

With this new GPS chipset, Polar is going to be able to get a whopping 40 hours of GPS and optical HR on recording time, all at 1-second intervals. That easily surpasses the 1-second rates of Garmin and Suunto.  But it also falls short of Suunto and Garmin’s less-frequent recording rates aimed at really long ultrarunners. Polar doesn’t have any secondary less-frequent update modes on the Vantage series like it had on the V800.

Finally, as I noted up in the earlier section – there is no routing or navigation on the Vantage series at this point. They do plan to add in a basic “back to start navigation” by the end of March 2019, but there’s no plans for downloadable route navigation like seen on past Polar products. That might make this a tough sell at $499 for some folks, given many cheaper products have that as a baseline.  And once in the Vantage V’s price point, it’s honestly unheard of to not have breadcrumb style navigation and routing. Still, Polar did note in my meeting with them that they’re focused on paying attention to feedback and will certainly take things into account going forward.

And just to be a bit clear on why these features are missing: The Vantage series is a complete code re-write for Polar. Thus unlike new watches of the past where they were essentially just porting code chunks over to new hardware, Polar re-wrote everything here and simply had to make hard choices on what to keep or not. In some ways this reminds me of what Suunto did moving from the Ambit series to the Spartan series.

Early GPS & HR Test Data:

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Now, before we dive into things I do want to stress this is early data. The product is very much still in beta, and isn’t expected to start shipping until later in October. So we’re talking 6-7 weeks away here. That means things will likely get better (though, in rare cases I’ve also seen some products get worse too).  Still, Polar came to the Netherlands to meet with me and hand over watches for me to do my thing with. Thus, good or bad I’m going to share those early results.  Since then I’ve done 1-3 workouts per day with the watch, plus I’ve been wearing it 24×7.

First, let’s start with the good – the new optical HR sensor. Everything I’m seeing is showing some very nice results there across a variety of workouts. I’ve done indoor and outdoor rides, a pile of runs at varying intensities, and also gym circuit/core workouts. So far, so good.

For example, here is a run I did last night. I started off with a simple warm-up, and then went into a series of intervals. I had the Vantage V on my left wrist and the Vantage M on my right wrist. I also recorded a Wahoo TICKR-X chest strap to a Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (not on my wrists), and a Scosche 24 to a Suunto 9 (also not on my wrist). Here’s the data set.

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Now, I’m going to remove the TICKR-X, because it was drunk (sigh…again).  Here’s what’s left:

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As you can see, things are very close to each other.  And if you had looked past the odd noise of the TICKR-X in the earlier screenshot, you’d have noticed that all four basically agreed.  These were 2-minutes of running at 6:30/mile pace, followed by 60 seconds of 7:30/mile pace. Repeated. Solid stuff.  The blocky bits is just cause we’re super zoomed in, so one 1BPM is causing a bit more of a blocky look at 1-second intervals.

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I then threw in a couple sprints at about a 5:30/mile-ish pace for the fun of it, these were 40 seconds long each. You can see the Scosche 24 is tracking the intervals just a slight bit faster (both increase in intensity and recovery). But not bad.

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Here’s another run. For example this hour of alternating mile intervals, easy and hard (And again, TICKR-X, you’re drunk, go home):

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I’m going at a high level on this because this isn’t a review. But you can easily click any of those links to dig into the data live online to your heart’s content. Get it, heart’s content? You know, heart rate? Oh never mind.

Next, off to the bike we go, and here’s a couple-hour ride I did outdoors. Without question, this is the most solid optical HR data I’ve seen while riding. Oh, and that wonkiness around 1hr23min? Was flying a drone while riding, so I won’t hold it against it there. Anyway, the data set.

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As you can see it’s perfectly on-target the vast majority of the time with the TICKR-X and Scosche 24 straps, even when the Fenix 5 Plus on the other wrist takes a turn for…somewhere.

So, with the optical HR sensor looking good – let’s talk about GPS.

Gulp.

Well, it’s beta, right?

In short, it shorts a lot. The watch can’t seem to find a corner it doesn’t like cutting. Which ultimately ends up with me having all my runs being consistently shorter than the Suunto 9 and Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (as well as Suunto Trainer Wrist HR). This doesn’t seem to be an issue while cycling though.  For example, this run might look good at a high level:

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But once you dig into the details you can see that almost every time I come around a corner it flies through it. And this is largely off in the countryside:

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In Vondelpark, which is wide open spaces both units are all over the place:

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If I head into the trickery of the ‘city’ (which is kinda laughable in Amsterdam as the city buildings are really only 3-5 stories in most cases, hardly a GPS issue), you’ll see it gets even worse (shown are both Vantage M and Vantage V tracks, plus the Suunto 9 and Fenix 5 Plus):

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(Note above that the vast majority of those are Polar errors, but the Fenix isn’t without an error or two of its own, which I highlighted with a non-arrow line.)

Now again, as noted, it’s beta. And Polar confirmed they’re working on it (they’ve seen these tracks of mine). So certainly we’ll give them time to sort things out. But I’d also keep this tweet of mine in mind too.  This is all somewhat ironic because during my meetings with them I asked how they were finding the Sony GPS chipset, given Suunto had some teething pains with it (and still does to some degree as you can see above).  They were pretty confident at the time that they were in a good spot, even noting that Suunto probably paved the way for them a bit on early Sony aspects that would ultimately benefit Polar as well.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t yet seem to be the case.

Oh, and finally, running power. As noted above – I’m not about to declare any winner in this battle. I’m just going to plop the data out there and let folks decide what they want to decide.  Here’s one run of mine comparing Polar Running Power (teal) vs Garmin Running Power (purple):

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And here’s another run of mine comparing Polar Running Power (teal) vs Stryd Running Power (purple):

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Maybe in my next run I’ll actually manage to have both the Stryd and Garmin pods not have dead batteries when I start my run. Sigh. Sometimes you just can’t win.  Oh, and if y’all behave I’ll toss in the newest of new RunScribe pods that I got at my hotel last night.  Note that you can see the running power data on both of those sets under the section on the DCR Analyzer links called ‘Developer Fields’.

In any case – it’s all a bit too soon to declare whether or not the Vantage series is accurate in optical HR, GPS, and I suppose running power.  But if beta improves over time then I’d say that optical HR is in a really solid spot, and we just need GPS to join it.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy portions were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Product Comparison:

I’ve added the Polar Vantage V & M into the product comparison tool, which means you can compare it against just about anything you want.  For the purposes of this chart I’ve compared the Polar Vantage V with the Suunto 9 and the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus.  Of course, you could remove the Plus part and go with the base Fenix 5 and that’d reduce the price a fair bit (and remove music/contactless payments/maps).  But you can do all that within the product comparison tool here, comparing it against all other GPS watches I’ve ran with to your heart’s content.

Function/FeaturePolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated September 15th, 2018 @ 12:47 pmNew Window
Price$499$699/699EUR$599 (non-baro is $499)
Product Announcement DateSept 13th, 2018June 17th, 2018June 5th, 2018
Actual Availability/Shipping DateLate October 2018June 17th, 2018June 26th, 2018
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYes (with Galileo too)Yes
Data TransferUSB, BLUETOOTH SMARTUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiUSB & Bluetooth Smart
WaterproofingYes - 30mYes - 100mYes - 100m
Battery Life (GPS)Up to 40 hoursUp to 32hrs in GPS-on, up to 85hrs in UltraTrac GPS (varies by model)Up to 120 Hours
Recording Interval1s1S or SmartVariable
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerYesYesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatGreat
AlertsVibrate/Sound/VisualVibrate/Sound/VisualSound/Visual/Vibrate
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoYEsNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)YesYesYes
MusicPolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Can control phone musicNoYesNo
Has music storage and playbackNoYesNo
Streaming ServicesNoiHeartRadio, Deeezer (soon)No
PaymentsPolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Contactless-NFC PaymentsNoYesNo
ConnectivityPolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)Future update (By Q1 2019)YesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoYesNo
Group trackingNoYesNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNo
CyclingPolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Designed for cyclingYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesYesYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesYesYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IF-YesNo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceFuture update (By Q1 2019)YesNo
Crash detectionNoNoNo
RunningPolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Designed for runningYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYesYes
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoWITH RD POD, HRM-TRI OR HRM-RUN (NOT VIA OPTICAL HR)No
Running Poweryes (built-in)With extra sensorWith extra sensor
VO2Max EstimationYesYEsYes
Race PredictorYesNo
Recovery AdvisorYesYesYes
Run/Walk ModeNoYesNo
SwimmingPolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Designed for swimmingYesYesYes
Openwater swimming modeYesYEsYes
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingYesYesYes
Record HR underwaterYesWITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (Not with optical HR)Yes
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYesYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)YesYEsYes
Indoor Drill ModeNoYesNo
Indoor auto-pause featureYesNo (it'll show rest time afterwards though)No
Change pool sizeYesYEsYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool Lengths20M/Y to 250 m/y17M/18Y TO 150Y/M15m/y to 1,200m/y
Ability to customize data fieldsYesYesyes
Can change yards to metersYesYesYes
Captures per length data - indoorsYesYesYes
Indoor AlertsN/AYesNo
TriathlonPolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Designed for triathlonYesYesYes
Multisport modeYesYesYes
WorkoutsPolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesNo
On-unit interval FeatureYEsYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityYesYes
FunctionsPolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Auto Start/StopYesNo
Virtual Partner FeatureYEsNo
Virtual Racer FeatureYesNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoYesNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoYesNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoYesNo
GeocachingNoVia GPS coordinatesNo
Weather Display (live data)NoYesNo
NavigatePolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoYesYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoYesYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoYesNo
Back to startFuture update (By Q1 2019)YesYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoYesNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoYesYes
SensorsPolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeMagneticMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesYesYes
Pulse Oximetry (aka Pulse Ox)NoFenix 5X Plus onlyNo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableNoYesNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableNoYesNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableNoYesNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoYesNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoYesNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoYesNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNo (can control VIRB though)No
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)NoYesNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoYesNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoYesNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYEs
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableYesYEsYes
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYesYes
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoYesNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsN/AYes-
SoftwarePolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
PC ApplicationPolar Flowsync - Windows/MacGarmin ExpressPC/Mac
Web ApplicationPolar FlowGarmin ConnectSuunto Movescount
Phone AppiOS/AndroidiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS /Android
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNo
PurchasePolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Amazon LinkN/ALinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programN/ALinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programN/ALink
DCRainmakerPolar Vantage VGarmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)Suunto 9
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

Again, don’t forget you can mix and match all the products in the database to make your own comparison charts here.

Wrap-up:

DSC_0431

From a purely aesthetic and hardware standpoint, the Vantage series is a huge improvement in my opinion. While the older V800 did its job, I’m not sure there were a ton of people that called that baby beautiful. However, I really like the design of the Vantage V especially. The nuance in the etching of the band and the underside of the bezel is really well executed. Same goes for the button etching.  And of course, dem optical HR sensors! It’s clear Polar has spent a good chunk of the time between iterations on the industrial design elements, and it shows.

The challenge though I see for Polar at this point is the software side. In most cases you want a new product to generally carry with it all the features of the previous unit and then add new cool stuff. Polar checked off the ‘cool new stuff’ box, but did so at the expense of some existing features not being in the current watch. While smartphone notifications will come in a future update, more outdoor focused features like track/route navigation aren’t expected to.

Polar was clear in my meeting that they aren’t going to try and compete with Garmin on feature-count. Suunto mirrored those exact words when we met prior to the Suunto 9 launch. Neither has the resources to challenge Garmin on features. Instead, both are aiming to narrow their focus on the performance side of the house. With Polar that focuses heavily on heart rate driven training load and recovery metrics, while also expanding to their own running power solution. Whereas with Suunto that expands more towards ultra runners and their crazy long battery life options.  Both companies have shifted to Sony GPS chipsets, which may work out long term – but short term seems to be challenging for both, based on my testing.

Still I’m looking forward to seeing how the Polar matures over the next 6 or so weeks as they near shipping release. The current plan calls for them to start shipping in late October.  I’ll drop my in-depth review on or slightly after they start shipping.

With that – thanks for reading and feel free to drop any questions down below.

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457 Comments

  1. Ian Marchant

    I certainly like the look of the black one. Not sure I could just splash £700 on a running watch these days though!

    Wonder if the GPS chipset change is the cause of the errors or if it is partly antenna etc.

    • Hard to know at this point to be honest as to where the source of the error might be.

      Suunto has mostly done a good job at reigning in some of the early GPS accuracy issues. But in theory Polar would be riding on their back from a Sony firmware standpoint. Obviously, the GPS chipset firmware is only one piece of the puzzle, but it is an important piece nonetheless.

      We’ll simply have to see – there’s no other way around it.

    • NickK

      Definitely a chipset. The first run I had on Suunto 9 (bought just last week, with latest 2.1.64 firmware) was absolutely horrible compared to older Spartan and even more so when compared to V800. Subsequent runs improved things noticeably, but precision of SiRF chipset is sadly gone. The tendency to cut corners is there.

    • Andrew

      Corner cutting is likely to be related to filtering. Filtering smooths but loses detail. A corner is a detail. A moving average of position travelling around a parametrically defined square would have rounded corners. They may need to reduce/tune this. Of course this could be to mask some unpleasant gps behaviour. Data filters are crude. We know about the physical constraints on a runner and this should form the basis of any filter of a gps sequence. I use this idea in my connect iq pace, hr and power fields.

    • link to sony-semicon.co.jp

      Looks more likely that SiRF isn’t targetting the needs of this segment anymore so Sony was a better fit

    • Andrew

      Hi Eli. Thanks for that (I think).

      It prompted me to have a look around. Now I am worried. The Sony GNSS chip reduces power consumption using some analog circuitry and more importantly by integrating compass, gyro and accelerometer data as part of an inertial nav system. I presume this underpins the long battery life of both the Suunto 9 and Polar Vantage series devices (and Xiamoi devices). It must also be the basis for “FusedTrack” (though I don’t see how Suunto can have patented this if this is the case). I am now concerned that the “poor GPS” in all of these devices is actually a function of the chip and not its integration. If that is the case this will be fixed in stone.

      link to sunnic.com

    • Mirko Surf&Run

      @ Andrew : the article in your link mentions just the chip 5600 and not the 5603. Have you information about which exact chip is inside the Polar Vantage?
      The 5603 is newer and you can see in the link of Eli that has different specifications (less power consumption, it supports also Galileo and Beidou).

    • Andrew

      No. I was just interested in this as this explicitly states that the older chip is essentially using an inertial navigation system to reduce power consumption (presumably with a reduced sampling rate). It seems likely that this underpins the 5603 and its even lower power consumption (unless Sony have devised yet another power saving technology). If using the latter chip then presumably they could support Galileo and Beidou in addition to Glonass though this would have a significant hit on battery life (say from 40 to 28 hours). I think the Suunto 9 has half the mAh of the Spartan Ultra but I guess could utilise other satellites if it was prepared to take the hit on battery. That might be against the philosophy of the 9.

  2. Jan Aniolek

    Hi Ray! Thanks for the review. I found: “I think there’s some middle-ground like what Suunto and Polar have implemented.” Shouldn’t it be “…that Suunto and Garmin implemented”?
    Thanks again.

  3. Markus G

    I’m a bit shocked that “Following a downloaded route (navigation of tracks)” is a feature that will not be added.
    For me that’s a key-feature that I use several times a month.

    • Nik Frodermann

      I totally agree and already emailed Polar highlighting the importance of that feature. I hope that will be implemented by a SW-Update later on if many user request that feature.

    • Mr T

      Eh. To each his own. It’s a feature I never use and I travel a bit. No deal breaker for some.

    • Dan G

      Stopped reading after that… No navigation = no go for me.

    • Ian

      Agree its really important especially , to stop me getting lost on the trails 🙂 – I would have pressed the pre-order already if it was even on the roadmap.

    • tom

      Yeah, same here. Only I did pre-order and will await roadmap from Polar for features. If it’s really off the table, I will cancel the pre-order

    • Andrew

      Me too. Not being able to follow a route is pretty daft for a watch with a GPS. I have pre-ordered for other reasons. Accurate wrist HR is very important to me (I had an F3 HR but FirstBeat algo was totally confused by the terrible elevate sensor (bizarre LTHR, max HR etc…)). Rubbish in, rubbish out. I was really hoping to be able to wear a single watch to do it all (at the mo I wear an M430 on right wrist and either my F3, Spartan or A3 on my right for nav depending upon how long I am out). It is disturbing that Polar have indicated this is not on the road map. I think they have really underestimated its importance. I am optimistic they will rethink this (a la Candide). It goes to show just how resource constrained these watches are. The software is already written for the V800. If this was a device with a big memory it would just be tweaked for the hardware and rolled out as a matter of course. Goes to show how every feature competes with every other feature for memory, processor and battery. Of course they could have squeezed more in and fibbed about batter life! (-;

    • Luca Maurizi

      I completely agree. You can’t miss navigation features in a top end watch. It cuts off trail and ultra runners. Which is absurd if you have such good battery life.

  4. James Clarke

    For the V with running power, does that mean it can connect to something like Zwift running to measure run speed?

  5. was very interested especially as I’m on my fourth 935 until I came across the bit with no navigation support, ever. I use the basic routing on my 935 lots especially when running in new areas, on vacation etc.

  6. Alberto

    The sure look nice compared to the V800.

    Are we expecting an update to the Garmin 935 any time soon?

  7. Thijs Rieken

    That screen bezel looks larger than FR220 proportions… Why oh why? Such a huge black ring is not 2018 material.
    Skin-contact sensors? Really? It’ll be winter soon, but a Vantage will be useless to wear over a sleeve at this point.
    Legibility in sunlight does not look well in your pictures.
    No super recovery data with any generic HR band is just plain silly, and only making the bands swappable on the NON-high-end model? What are you thinking?

    No. It doesn’t look super bad, it’ll probably perform well after the first few bugfixing rounds, but it’s not a GOOD unit.
    Still no switch to Polar for me.

    • RE: Skin contact – Well, it’s only used for the optical HR sensor, so if that’s over a coat than that’s no different than before, it doesn’t leverage it. Just like other optical HR sensor watches. In this case it actually saves you battery, because in theory it won’t make that contact and will shut-off. So that’s a good thing.

      RE: Bright sun: No issues, just tough to take photos as always.

      RE: Other HR straps: Yup, I agree here. There’s little justification for not supporting any BLE strap out there for the most part. If folks end up with crappier data because the strap is crappier, that’s no different in my mind than ending up with crappier cycling power because of a crappier cycling power meter.

      RE: High end unit: I think what Polar is essentially saying is that they can’t compete with a $849 Garmin device, no matter how pretty it is – due to features. So the market for people who are going to buy a $850+ Polar Vantage is incredibly small.

    • Cobo

      I think You are little deceived by Garmin. Polar has the screen to its margin but Garmin watches have additional frame so in fact I’ll bet the surface/screen ratio is better at Polar.

    • Thijs Rieken

      There’s still a big black ring around the screen no matter how you put it. They try to make the screen look much bigger by making the glass surface all the way to the edge (as the FR220 does for example).
      I’d rather see a nicely styled metallic edge there than that weird black ring.

    • Thijs Rieken

      Good to know, thanks 🙂

      What I meant to say: the V doesn’t have have swappable straps at $200+ over the M. I don’t understand why.

    • Agree on the huge screen bezels. The trend in the industry are edge to edge screens yet Polar and Garmin (Fenix 5+, 5x+) have enormous bezels with useless markings. I measured from the screenshots, the Polar Vantage bezels take 50% of the available area!

    • Patrick

      True, but I’m glad the bezel on my F5 has taken the hits it has instead of the screen.

    • Wil

      Kudos to Polar and Suunto for not putting a crap tonne of features on their devices. “Crap” being the key word here.

      Also, kudos for not ripping off consumers with a price tag of $849 and making them pay for said “features”.

      Having more features does NOT necessarily mean better!

  8. Matthew

    The vantage M looks great – and at that price too. There seems a very large price jump from the M to the V for only a few extras though – is there more to come there perhaps?

    How is the screen readability? Better than the Suunto Trainer? (returned one as I couldnt see the screen indoors).

  9. JL

    It seems strange indeed that they omit navigation of downloaded routes from what would otherwise be a perfect watch for trail/ultra running. Kind of makes me think that they neatly divided the market with Suunto so that each won’t tread in the other’s playground: Suunto won’t implement decent 24h activity tracking (or at least saving the information to cloud), Polar won’t implement navigation.

  10. tom

    Oh no! Ray, please reach out to Polar about the route guidance. Are they really not adding this feature later on. That’s absolutely awful.

    • The only part of this entire post they saw ahead of time is a snippet of the new/removed features list. Which I triple-checked with them – both the product lead and their communications lead.

      And that was after having conversations about it during meetings which also had presentations showing those similiar lists.

      As noted, they’re open to feedback – so hopefully they’ll listen to it.

  11. Pete

    Hello and thanks!

    How would you compare the display (dim/bright) and font size (3/4 fields) of the Vantage M and Suunto Trainer?

    (SST 218×218 and M 240×240 it seems. Both measure 46mm, but is the used real estate area the same?)

    TIA

    • Pete

      Apologies missed the earlier answer 🙂

    • Vantage M is way easier to read – no question about it. I took some video snippets yesterday at the park at dusk with those two units side by side, and it was so much clearer. When it’s not 3:44AM I’ll grab some screenshots and put them up.

      Of course, the Suunto Trainer has more features at this point – so that’s something to keep in mind (routing, smartphone notifications, etc…).

    • Pete

      Many thanks Ray!

      (Did you perhaps notice if the estimated end time function for selected distance got ported? )

    • I haven’t loaded structured workouts into it yet. It’s on my to-do list for the next few days.

    • Naveen

      Recently purchased an Ambit3 Peak at a big discount for the route guidance and navigation. Was waiting to see if the Polar would match or top it but I think I’m going to stick to my purchase.

    • Ingo

      Good decision! After the A3P no newly released watch from either Polar, Garmin or Suunto was really worth buying so far imho.

      Core functionalities such as GPS accuracy have deteriorated whereas gimmicks such as touchscreens, notifications or algo derived questionable metrics that use the n-th derivative of some semi-accurate optical sensor derived heart rate and seemingly random generated gyroscope/accelerometer numbers got included. Now it’s Polar to experience their Suunto Spartan moment…too bad because I was really looking forward to this new series.

    • Ben

      Can Training Peak workouts be downloaded to the watch? That will be a must for most triathletes considering this premium product

    • Andrew

      Great choice. My A3 is still my go to for long hikes and navigating new trails. The A3 still has the best battery life of any of my watches. GPS is spot on. Autozoom works. Movescount route creation using heatmaps is excellent. Best open water swim watch. Supports power. You can write apps for it without having to use a complex SDK. Where did it all go wrong?

  12. Damian

    How about screen in V Ray? Is there any Sapphire… Gorilla… Mineral?

  13. FJ

    ” they aren’t going to try and compete with Garmin on feature-count” => very sensible, specially as a lot of those extra Garmin features are often buggy and error prone anyway

    Still, no Ant+ means I loose interest very quickly. As nice as swimming HR would be, without Ant+ I cannot use my power meter.

    Also, I’ve had a Polar before (M400). On the plus side, it worked, never crashed. On the minus side, it was rather stubborn when synching with the desktop software, and the Polar platform just isn’t all that nice to use.

    Someone wake me up when they release a decent bike computer WITH Ant+

    • Dan G

      Not sure why people trot out ‘Garmin is buggy’ so often. They’re not. With the vast majority of the market, there are obviously more faulty Garmin units out there than there from other manufacturers. That’s not the same thing.

      I can’t see how having fewer features can be a feature!

    • Jerome Bergeron

      I worked in retail for over 5 years and I can assure you that Garmin had TONS of return. There software are buggy and the hardware isn’t much better either. Suunto used to be king at reliability (before spartan series) with Polar not far behind. But the main difference is how each company deals with warranty. Polar have often honoured warranty way past the warranty period and fixes the design when it’s faulty (m400 usb connector). Garmin just releases a new product and people have to buy the new one if they want the fix.

    • marklemcd

      @Dan G, Garmin is buggy. For example I only get the recovery adviser pop up maybe 2 times a week. It’s crap anyway so I don’t care, but I run 10 times a week so some bug is causing it to miss 80% of the time.

    • Andrew

      I guess you have to decide whether it is a conspiracy against Garmin with minions “trotting out” a buggy myth or whether… well… er… its true? I have an A3 which from recollection over around 5 yrs needed resetting once. I have never had any Polar device crash. I have had various Garmin devices which seem to crash much more frequently, almost weekly. I suspect this is because the software is more complex and also supports relatively sophisticated apps (which although should be sand boxed do seem to upset reliability). The software engineers also have to cope with a bewildering array of rapidly emerging hardware variants. Reliability is, for some users, an extremely important “feature” from a safety point of view.

    • Christian Untermoser

      After having had about 20 different watches from Garmin since they entered the market I can tell from my own experience that they are NOT buggy. Never had any problems with any Garmin watch. I am absolutely happy with my Fenix 5X plus in conjunction with Stryd. How should power estimation work from the wrist if it does not even work to roughly guess instant pace or distance ???

    • Umut

      Instant pace and distance comes from GPS (or any external foot pod, this is to be confirmed though), not from wrist. I think that the location being on the wrist concerns only cadence (which should be acceptably accurate) and perhaps a rough estimation of vertical displacement for power calculation.

    • Andrew

      You seem to generalise from your personal experience and presume your conclusions apply universally despite what others say. My experience with the Vivoactive 3, Fenix 3, Fenix 3 HR and Fenix 5 plus is that they periodically misbehave or crash. Not every day but enough to be noticeable. My eTrex, FR205 (my first ever GPS watch), FR710 and FR720 were rock solid as are my Suunto Ambit 3, Suunto Spartan, Polar M430, Polar V800. I love my Stryd too but its an expensive bit of kit that I keep on my running shoes at home. I can see the attraction of always having power measurement with you just as there is with the ability to measure HR at the wrist. I think you are right to question the basis of power measurement. None of these devices (Stryd, Feetme, Garmin Pod) “measure” running power (based on however that is chosen to be defined) directly but rather infer it from a correlation of movement parameters, treadmill pressure plate data and modelling of the movement of the centre of mass of the runner. It only needs to be consistent and responsive with a clear threshold value to be useful.

  14. Ray, you should check the typo on the “GLOASS” thingy there :-).

    Did they make any comments on the 3rd party sensor support? If they are going the Suunto way (only one per type) or the Garmin way (sensors pool for everything).

    Is it syncing via Bluetooth with the smartphone I guess, or that is not possible at the moment?

    • Thanks for the glowing ass! 😉

      It’s hard to know on sensors, as of right now 3rd party sensor support isn’t yet in the current beta builds. Likely sometime this week.

      Syncing with Bluetooth Smart for the Polar Flow app is supported today though, and is how I use it. However, it does require manual sync – so it’s not a background sync at this point (at least for me it’s not background syncing).

  15. Peter

    Many thanks for the review, Ray! On point as always.

    Did you hear anything about a Flow redesign? There were some rumors before that they planned to update their app and web service.

    Also, I’m still doubtful if running power really helps to plan and analyze your training. Haven’t met any elite/sub-elite that relies on it (yet).

    • There’s some minor updates I’ll add in later today on Flow, but nothing massive. Many of the focuses are on the coaching side, less so the individual user side.

      You can see some of the training load bits in the screenshot up above.

    • Peter

      One more thing concerning training load pro: I have a couple of Polar watches that I use for different purposes, e.g. M430 for running, V800 for triathlons.
      Does the new training load take workouts from other devices into account, even though I’m not using a new Vantage V/M?

      Otherwise, training load pro would be completely useless if you own more than one Polar device.

      Thanks!

  16. Alex Masidlover

    Such a shame; I was really hoping this might be a contender for my next watch… Currently using an Ambit3 Sport; each of the current watches I lose at least one feature I use regularly:

    Suunto 9 / Spartan Ultra – Swimming drill mode + programmable workouts
    Garmin 5 Plus – HR from my Mio Link while swimming
    Polar Vantage V – Route following + swimming drill mode
    Amazfit Stratos – Cycling Power meters + ? (no in-depth review from DC yet…)
    Coros Pace – Structured workouts + ? (no in-depth review from DC yet…)

    Thankfully the Ambits have a reputation for long life…

    Keep up the good work Ray – maybe a manufacturer will get there one day

  17. Martin

    Ray, what about HR in swimming? OHR, 5kHz from strap or nothing?

    • Martin

      OHR is enabled by Polar in swim profile?
      How accurate does it work?

    • Paul

      Do the Polar Vantage watches have 5Ghz (Gymlink) support?

      Judging from the Polar comparison tool with the V800 that seems to miss, so swimming with strap would not be possible hardware-wise.

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      The Vantage product does not support the 5 kHz (Gymlink) frequency. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Stu

      So does it not have the 5khz analogue reception of V800 or is this a firmware future option?

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      It does not have the 5 kHz reception of the V800. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Alan Mushnick

      I guess if the optical HR is great in the water, the 5khz isn’t a terrible omission.
      But I am still using the old school heart rate straps, and I like to see my heart rate on the gym equipment. And I use an A300 in the pool. But I know I am a dinosaur with this stuff.

      It would be nice to see backward compatibility.

      Are the days of T31 straps numbered, too? Will the Vantage M and V accept heart rate transmission from H10?

    • Alan Mushnick

      Does the Vantage M have the same heart rate sensors as the V?

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      The T31 transmitter continues to remain part of our product selection. It will pick up the Bluetooth signal from the H10 should the user choose to use one. As for the heart rate sensor between the V and the M, they are the same.-Mike@PolarUSA

    • Trimaster

      Why do you like to swim with a strap if we finally do not need it for swiming?
      But if you insist I guess the Polar H10 would connect.

    • Hecto Santaella

      Can I use a H7 transmitter?

    • Chris Holliman

      It won’t connect while swimming, that requires the older 5khz transmission which they’ve dropped, one of several serious omissions. I’ve benn waiting awhile to replace my v800 with this next great, ohr option, color touchscreen model… now I’ll be looking for another closeout v800 instead, they’ve shot themselves in the foot on some of the only benefits that separated them from thier competitors. Now there is literally no reason that Polar beats anyone else. Go to the website and line up the 2 spec sheets, and add in this beta review.
      v800 is king of GPS accuracy, initial review, this is crap in beta. No 5khz (I use heart touch regularly for checking time while riding and recording without needing 2 hands, not possible now). Notfications on watch, nope. I have GoPro enabled setup, use the strava and route functions, etc, all not implemented so far. I think this is the worst letdown of an anticipated product I’ve ever experienced. We easily have 10-12 polar watches from over the years plus various straps, etc.
      Based on v800 history, any features not listed now, won’t be there for a VERY long time, if ever. And the loss of 5khz is permanent hardware limits. Just really sad it took this long to be a letdown. I’ll watch for clearance on another v800, then watch the competition for what this watch should have been.

    • Mushnick Alan

      I have found wrist OHR to be finicky with apple watch. I wonder how the arm movements will affect the accuracy in this product. Plus I own T31coded, H10, already. I never really minded the chest strap. But it could be time to upgrade to this. I also like to see real time HR, and the Gymlink transmission picks up on treadmills and other stuff in the gym. I guess I can just use polar beat on my phone. Wouldn’t it be nice if the OHR could transmit to that so I would not have to keep looking at my wrist?
      I guess it’s all what we get used to. For cross fit and weight training a chest strap is still the most accurate.
      The Polar H10 bluetooth transmission won’t work in the water. So that’s out.

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      Yes, the H7 heart rate sensor will work with the Vantage product. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Andrew

      Does anyone know at this point? Optical HR seems to work pretty well on my M430 while swimming. I suppose I should use my V800 and H10 concurrently with it and compare. I presume the Vantage would be an improvement over the M430.

  18. Chris O'Shannassy

    The lack of breadcrumb routes is a big negative for me as well. I have a V800, but migrated to a 935 because the V800 hardware was lacking all the bells and whistles (nice colour screen, optical HR for all day tracking). For the past few weeks though I’ve been wearing both (frustrations with the 935 were making me wonder if I was remembering the V800 with rose coloured glasses) and it reminds me just how much happier I was with the V800, and the Polar platform (despite their lack of openness). If only they’d update it I thought. Now they have, and I’m concerned. No downloadable routing, and possible GPS accuracy issues are going to be big issues for me. I normally use a Stryd for my pacing, so I shouldn’t be too concerned by the GPS, but it’d gall me to go backwards in accuracy all the same. Looking forward to the full review.

  19. Paul Colgrave

    I would love to know how the Vantage V performs on an ultra run. Neither my M400 or M430 (I’ve had 3 due to endless problems with them) have ever made it past 20km, especially in areas where gps signal is patchy, they just lock up and stop recording, which is frustrating when you’re out for the day.
    Generally Garmin seem to be the only watch that keeps on going regardless of gps signal and is reasonably accurate. I’ve pretty well decided to go for a 935, but I like Polar Flow so would love more info on the Vantage V before I swop.
    Can you test the watches by depriving them of a gps signal somehow, mid run, and seeing what happens?

    • Yup, I’ll be doing more forested/trail running tests this weekend in Tahoo. On the docket for Saturday morning. And maybe even later this morning here in San Francisco (well, near SFO airport), if I can find some nice local options with just a quick drive.

  20. Mike

    I assume both do structured workouts (say a series of pre-programmed intervals of varying time or distance, with pace, heart rate etc. targets), including a countdown to the end of each interval marked by beeping and vibrating? Have you please been able to test how well this has been implemented?

    • I haven’t been able to test the structured workout features. I’m going to attempt to in the next few days and will update post accordingly.

      (I say attempt not in a bad way, just merely in a ‘it’s beta and I have a big list of features still in beta that don’t quite work yet so it may be on that list and my attempt might be thwarted anyway’)

  21. Florian

    Thanks for the preview. Too bad it’s lacking the navigation features of the past, otherwise the V would make for a great trail running watch. Maybe they will reconsider.

    Spotted a typo in the Wrap-Up: “but did so at the expensive of some existing features not being in the current watch” guess it should be “expense”

    Cheers!

  22. Andy

    Thanks, Ray! Great post on the Vantage M and V.
    As an early V800 user I was really looking forward to this announcement as I felt I was somewhat ready for a new gadget. And while there are a ton of interesting features the lack of route navigation feels like a deal breaker to me. I use the breadcrumb route functions of my V800 quite frequently when traveling to new places and over the years this helped me to discover a lot of great running and biking places. I’m pretty sure that I don’t wanna give up on this.
    Without knowing the internals I’d assume there is nothing that prevents them from adding this capability later on. Any insights on the specs (probably mostly CPU performance and available memory) that tell us otherwise?

    So, for now, I’ll hold on to my V800 for a little longer and see how things develop…

    • Correct, they noted in my meeting there’s nothing hardware-wise preventing them from implementing that. It was simply a case of having to re-write everything from scratch and having to pick which features were most important for launch, and then which features were most important for the first 6 months. After that, everything is theoretically on the table but they didn’t want to make any promises until they heard feedback.

    • Dan G

      So basically they didn’t want to invest enough to build a competent product. I shall reward their attitude by not buying their product :-).

    • RTellis

      Wow, and people complain about Garmin using customers as Beta testers.

      Maybe you were just being brief in that comment, but to me it reads like they’ve come to a point where they want to get something out the door and on the market before implementing what a lot of their customers consider to be core features.

      I could, maybe, see that with the midrange model but not their flagship.

    • Frank Kintrup

      According to all the comments they got out of their way to pick the WRONG features. I guess no sane V800 owner will consider this watch to be an “upgrade”…

    • Jens

      I hope, Polar will listen to their customers and implement routing. In my opion, this is one of the most important updates, not after these 6 months, soon. They can take the useless and nasty smart notifications on hold. ^^

    • Rafal

      If polar want feedback here is mine #nonavigationnopurchase

    • Andrew

      The issue is these things are not smartphones. They are extremely resource constrained, memory, processor speed and bottom line battery (unless you opt for an android or apple watch and are happy to recharge each day). Features have to compete with each other to be included or the manufacturer has to be prepared to be less than honest about battery life.

  23. tom

    Already loads of comments here and on other forums about the route guidance missing. I think Polar made a huge mistake and will reconsider.
    I’ve preordered but will cancel it unless Polar does what is necessary.

  24. Tomek

    What’s the interval for 24/7 HR tracking?

  25. tom

    I think it would really help if everyone missing route guidance would post about it on the Polar facebook website. They really need to reconsider!
    link to facebook.com

  26. Ian

    Looks great except for the GPS (which is why I got a watch instead of a smartphone in the first place).
    I do have a question. Does it still monitor Recovery Status in Polar flow without the H10 strap like the m430 is doing?

  27. Orienteer

    I can live without route features but i will miss the interval timer… Creating workouts is so much more time consuming than just using 1min interval timer. With timer you can just run as many intervals or minutes as you feel like without need to plan everything beforehand.

    GPS inaccuracies are making me worry. I love polar and have never even really considered anything else. But accurate GPS is number one priority for orienteering when analysing your route after training. It has been great so far with previous polar watches so lets hope they get it working!

  28. Andy

    When looking at the “compare polar models” data on the polar website I see that the Vantage V does not support “Autostop/start”. The DC Rainmaker function/feature table gives this clear thumps up.
    I hope Ray does know better than the Polar marketing folks 😉

  29. Ale

    Hi Ray, what about oHR agenti swimming? Did you already test it? I use OH1 when I swim and it looks vero accurate.
    Thanks

  30. RiphRaph

    What a crying shame about the lack of navigation! I was starting to think this was the watch I’d been waiting for, but downloadable routes are a deal breaker for me. I guess I’ll be investigating Suunto…

  31. MCC

    Great pre-review. Thanks for that. I’ve been waiting for that watch to replace my v800, anyhow now a bit puzzled since I use navi from time to time.

    One more question – have they’ve addressed bike power? Have they finally split recording from display value? Can you record in full resolution (e.g. 1sec) and display some other (e.g. 3 sec avg) or 2 pwr values (e.g. 3sec avg + NP)?

    Any improvement to phased workouts? Are they finally allowing power based phases (not power zones – but W as in Garmin)?
    Are phases treated as a lap or somehow you can display phase stats on the screen (like you can do with lap stats/parameters)?
    Any plans to export phases to TrainingPeaks and Strava?

    Cheers!

    • Rory

      To me looks like they are sticking to their zones.
      I’m not a fan of their zones. When I plan my work outs with my coach, we don’t always stick to the zones and I don’t like redoing my zones for every different running session. ITS STUPID.

      Wish they would change it.

    • MCC

      i am having exactly the same challenge that’s why i am asking. Need free power “ranges” in phased training and proper transfer of phases to TP. If you use interval training from the watch it works ok, anyhow counting these repetitions it’s a nightmare – especially if the training contains a number of blocks in which you have a large number of repetitions.

  32. Kareltje

    I was hoping a lot, but this review let me see that Polar let me(us?) down a bit.
    * No ANT+, which for a triathlete / biker is such a shame.
    * No Gymlink for underwater heart rate monitoring, but OHR makes up for that.
    * No routing capabilities as we had in the V800 (breadcrumbs, importing routes)
    * No energy saving GPS modus
    * No auto start/stop
    * No Interval Timers, stopwatch, countdown timers

    Some they can solve using firmware / program updates. But as for ANT+… I guess they just didn’t want to pay Garmin for a ANT+ License and hardware. Sometimes principles are in the way of succes…

    • Heikki Kultala

      ANT+ is an obsolete protocol which is being replaced by BT Smart.

      Complaining about not supporting ANT+ is like complaining how modern computers don’t have floppy drives.

      Don’t buy power meters or other equipment which only support obsolete ANT+ protocols. Buy power meters and other equipment which also support modern BT Smart protocol.

    • Quick question though: Which modern BT smart protocol sensors on the market today support connecting to more than one device? Such as a trainer app and your watch or bike head unit?

      Just asking for a friend.

    • Kareltje

      Heikki, nice metaphor but not fully correct imho.

      BT+ is just not used to its fullest possibilities. It has the capabilities bur for some reason its just not implemented by the manufacturers.

      ANT+ at this moment delivers more data. I do use only power meters that have both BT+ and ANT+, and I just wished Polar would support both as well. To get all useful data out of my power meters I have to use my smartphone/computer with a ANT+ dongle (on my bike of course).

      To give you an example out of Ray’s review of the Stages LR power meters: (link to dcrainmaker.com)
      ANT+ Power (total)
      ANT+ Power Balance (left/right)
      ANT+ Cadence
      ANT+ Pedal Smoothness
      ANT+ Torque Effectiveness
      Bluetooth Smart Power
      Bluetooth Smart Power Balance
      Bluetooth Smart Cadence

    • runner-33

      Polar H10 after latest update?

    • Homer

      The H10 strap can connect to two devices at the same time using BT

    • Trimaster

      you can define your one zones in FLOW and they stay there.

    • Trimaster

      not really correct. I use since years now quit old Look Polar BT Smart Pedals. They give me all those values above. So it is simple a protocol question what the head unit wants to tell you … or not.

    • Stuart

      ANT+ isn’t obsolete, and won’t be obsolete until I can start a race using my triathlon watch, get into transition, jump on the bike, and monitor what I’m doing on the bike with my bike computer – whilst having the triathlon watch record the data so I have a single source of data to upload to Training Peaks at the end of the race.

      If my BLE-compatible power meter and HR strap can connect to, and transmit their data to, two devices at once, then the last major reason for me to stick to ANT+ rather than consider a BLE head unit is gone. Retransmission from one device to another is not really acceptable, as that adds another thing that can go wrong. Having a unit that sits on my glasses (like the Varia Vision) to receive and display the data from the watch could be an acceptable option, but that’s a lot more expensive (about $AU650!) than a head unit ($AU300 for an Edge 520 Plus).

    • RE: H10 dual-device

      Is that dual non-Polar devices? I thought it had to be one Polar and one non-Polar? Meaning, could I use Zwift and a Garmin over BLE?

      (I would check myself but I managed to leave the H10 on my desk at home)

    • Scott

      ANT+ won’t be obsolete until Bluetooth can allow you to connect to multiple devices. Right now it is too limited.

    • Andrew

      I can connect to power pod, foot pod and hrm concurrently via ble. The theoretical limit is 7. Practical limit 3-4. How many devices you got? Ant was aquired by Garmin so it is not so surprising. I note newer Garmins support ble.

    • Andrew: The issue isn’t that a master device (such as a watch) can’t connect to multiple devices. It’s that a single sensor can only have a single connection. Meaning, two devices (such as an app or head unit or watch), can’t concurrently connect to it.

      Mind you, this technically isn’t a BLE limitation these days (nor has it been for years), but virtually no companies are actually implementing the tech that allows sensors to have multimaster support.

    • Marathon Man

      Can it connect to two devices using BT or is it connecting to one with BT and the Polar device with Gymlink?

    • Devin

      Yes. I can get in on Zwift and TrainerRoad while the 5khz is to the v800.

    • Niclas Granqvist

      Hello Ray,

      Polar H10 has support for two simultaneous links now. Given that I worked on removing topology restrictions 2014 I agree that it has taken too much time. The thing is that the sports industry is slow and no point to do things before the phones support.

      The next is for companies to move all sensors to 2 Mbits and cut RF power consumption roughly in half. Apple supports this already so (8 and X models at least)… Another thing is to enable long packets. Apple already supports large MTUs since years over 1 Mbits. This is very good for many GATT services and e.g. firmware update. The good thing is that Bluetooth is private and secure as we designed it that way from that start (GDPR compatible). (you need to do things right).

      (I am not speaking for Polar but as a private person)

  33. Joslyn

    HI DC, With the Polar Vantage M lacking a Barometer means it doens’t register climbs and decents at all or does it get that information from GPS data? I was waiting for this release as an alternative for the V800 or a budget Garmin 735 (or even 935).

  34. Oskars

    Are these babies compatible with Polar Balance scale?

  35. Holger Teller

    Thanks for posting this early review. It’s much more useful to get the real things to know about the new Polar models.

    One question regarding HR display: Are the new Vantage models still able to display HR as percentage of HRmax like the V800 does?

  36. Ben Pine

    Watches look very nice and power from the wrist is very interesting but lack of navigation is a deal breaker for me.

  37. Harri Pesonen

    How long does the battery last if GPS is not used, but just 24/7 HR and some training? Better or worse than M430?

  38. Piotr

    #nonavigationnopurchase

  39. goc

    Hmm, looking at link to polar.com i think i’ll stick to my M430 for another year, albeit i am an early adopter but …

  40. Contro

    Again, another comment on saying that the lack of navigation is really a deal breaker. I am a happy V800 user, having switched from 4 garmins before. However I think if the feature is not going to make it to the new Polars, then I will have to switch back to garmin (!!!) or Suunto!
    I just hope they review the roadmap and bring this back in quickly. Unless they promise the feature (and deliver it!!) I will stick to the V800 as long as I can!

    Thanks for the review Ray!

  41. Bruce Carter

    Thanks for the intro, will be interesting to see the product evolve like the V800. Seems the V800 received product firmware updates forever. Good to see a company support a product for so long and not try to be the all-in-one tool.

  42. Lukas

    Hi Ray, which one would you pick Vantage M vs Garmin FR645? Mostly interested in running and cycling (50:50). Thanks for your opinion and keep up the good work!

  43. Artem P.

    Thanks, Ray!

    Unfortunately, I can’t find Vantage M within the product comparison page, only Vantage V. Is it only my issue and it’s visible to the rest of the audience?

  44. NickK

    Ray, thanks again for the super prompt write up!

    The Fourth is strong with you looking at that bile ensemble 😉

    Question: any indication if Polar will consider supporting power indoor assuming a calibrated food pod is added?

    For example, Running Index on V800 isn’t available indoor either, but when you add and calibrate a footpod, they start calculating it.

    • NickK

      Meant bike ensemble… From your previous day post! Why iPhone would autocorrect to “bile” is beyond me.

    • The concern they had specificall was not knowing if the footpod was calibrated. I honestly found that somewhat curious because from a stability standpoint (not necessarily accuracy, but stability), I’d probably choose most modern footpods over GPS.

      Even moreso since it’s trivial to calibrate footpods using GPS automatically.

      Nonetheless, it sounds like it’s something they’re thinking about (I pointed out that all of the biggest US marathons go through major tunnels). But nothing confirmed at this point.

    • NickK

      Well, that’s exactly my point!

      They wouldn’t calculate Running Index without having the footpod calibrated on a treadmill manually. I know because this is what happened to my Stryd. I didn’t see Running Index, reached out to Polar who were non-committal despite their help pages saying Running Index is supported with a footpod… Once I performed manual calibration, lo and behold! — here’s your Running Index off the Stryd footpod. Which means they should be able to follow exact same path for Power.

      Except Vantage is a complete rewrite, so… Still hoping for a solution.

    • yes, i was told the same thing (also: stryd doesnt even NEED calibration)

  45. Mikko

    How long does the battery last as a clock, without any training? I can’t seem to find this information and it would be a deal breaker if I would need to recharge it once a week or so, as the V800 lasts a month or so.

    • They’re saying about a week with either 1 or 2hrs of workouts (GPS) per day (can’t remember precisely off the top of my head).

      Right now in beta I’m guessing I’m getting about 4-5 days with roughly 1-2hrs of GPS per day. But most companies don’t do legit battery optimizations to the very end. So I’m not super worried yet.

  46. Erk

    Will any of the watches support HR broadcasting from the optical sensor for example to the polar m450/m460?

    • Unfortunately not. There are plans for multi-user Polar gym support, but not for BLE broadcasting (akin to what Garmin does with ANT+ broadcasting).

    • Caitlin

      Does that mean it wouldn’t be able to broadcast to an app like TrainerRoad? Ex. right now I use my V800 as a head unit and my polar HR strap broadcasts to my V800 and to the TrainerRoad app.

    • Correct, it will not.

      In your case you could use the V800 and it would have used the older analog frequency to connect to the strap and then BLE to TR.

      It’s something I brought up, especially as more and more people are using apps like Zwift and TrainerRoad. People are expecting to be able to rebroadcast these days.

    • Jormaperti

      I guess there’s no need for rebroadcasting. The Polar strap connects to TR using BLE, Vantage has OHR, right? And Vantage’s OHR seems to be accurate too, as Ray told us.

      As another solution, AFAIK the H10 can nowadays handle two concurrent BLE connections, so you could connect it to the watch and TR at the same time. I don’t know this for sure as I don’t have H10. Ray, maybe you could test it and tell us if this works or not?

      Thank you for this site! Happy training, folks!

    • Devin

      I can connect the h10 to my Apple TV for zwift and my iPad for trainerroad. I do this quite a bit and then have the 5kh signal to my v800

    • Glenn Levine

      Devin, does this work well and with any 2 bluetooth devices? I literally just asked this to Polar support because their recent H10 support article indicates this is for Polar Beat, so I assumed it was a rebroadcast from that device (like Zwift Companion).

    • Devin

      Don’t see why it wouldn’t. I haven’t tried it across any other Bluetooth devices but have done it without my v800 in the equation multiple times and it works perfectly.

      I run the h10 to my iPad running trainerroad and also to the Apple TV running zwift concurrently. Both can only receive Bluetooth and both are connected to the H10.

  47. Jan

    Very nice preview. These seem lovely, if Polar manage to fix the GPS accuracy. There is (for me) just one,but huge drawback – following a downloaded route/navigation. That is just stupid not having that option in such a complex watch.They have all the important features, even some relatively useless (running power), but omitting this? Big mistake and a dealbreaker for many I dare to think.

  48. BartW

    Ray,
    two questions:
    a) Does this device show up as an USB mass storage device class device when connected? (can we access our training data without the use of any Polar software).
    b) Can we do all settings on the watch (without a smartphone?)

    • A) No USB mass storage, still requires Polar Flow
      B) You can do a lot of settings, but things like sport mode configuration come via Polar Flow.

    • Xavier Neys

      Would be nice to mention systematically whether the companion PC app is a requirement or just an extra convenience. I use a Garmin Fenix 5 only because it does not require the PC app. I can make full use of my watch including firmware updates, uploads, configuration without ever needing a Windows PC or a Mac. Think not only of us Linux users but also of users who only have a phone/tablet, maybe a chromebook.

      Thanks for yet another great (p)review.

  49. Jerome Bergeron

    Is the tapscreen (to register a new lap) feature still in there? It was one of my favourite feature of the v800.

  50. RTellis

    They’ve definitely brought some great ideas to these watches. I’m digging the OHR sensor with it’s skin contact cells, and the combo touchscreen/5 button interface seems like a great solution. Allowing OHR when swimming, or not, is a huge complaint on the Garmin forums so kudos to them for that if it turns out to be accurate.

    However that huge bezel and losing features which may or may not return later are real turn-offs. Also no swappable bands on the higher end unit, even if they’re proprietary like Garmin, doesn’t make sense in 2018.

    • Chris Holliman

      Thank you, the 2 problems with my (3rd warranty replacement) v800, are the altimeter climbs into the stratosphere on a flat run (literally to over 30,000ft, I live 560ft above sea level, lol), and the band is breaking, and not (officially) replaceable.

      I literally wanted nothing more than a v800, with an ohr, and maybe a color screen. Battery life over 24hrs, and everything else exactly as good or better than v800, deal done. This missed by a huge amount, the V is now a $250-$350 price point product and can’t really measure up to the now ancient v800 except battery, color, and ohr. Oh, and I hate the round factor and design, the v800 was super wetsuit friendly with it’s smooth, no hard edges design. Expect a lot more wear and tear with this elevated bezel.
      I never expected ANT+, they won’t do that, but dropping 5khz means losing the ONLY multi device synch they had going, and losing heart touch, gymlink (although old hr straps will still show up of course on 5khz receivers), still no easily swapped straps… seriously who is wanting this?

    • Kajagogo

      You absolutely hit the point!!! Two thumbs up!!!

  51. Steve

    Off topic but, I did happen to notice VO2max in your settings is 68
    NICE!

  52. Paul

    Any insights into what the new sensors could make possible in the future?

    I was hoping for more information regarding SpO2 measurement (for sleep quality, but also beyond).

    And regarding the new electronical skin-contact sensor, is that a mere “on skin/not on skin” trigger or could that support eventually something like EDA/GSR measurements?

    Or will that be covered in the full review?

    • Purely an on-skin/off-skin type feature at this point.

      The benefit is also twofold in cases where you’re wearing a jacket or such, it’ll basically shut-off the sensor to not waste battery.

      I haven’t heard of any talk from Polar on SpO2 or related.

  53. Rory

    Thanks Ray. As always, great write up.

    I love my v800 but I am becoming frustrated with it a bit and I was really hoping that the new Vantage V was going to blow me away. CLEARLY, polar has not being doing much the last 5 years.
    I may have to start fishing in the Garmin pond because I do not see any reason here to upgrade my v800 to the Vantage V (except for battery life). The only thing now keeping me in the Polar pond is the reliability of their products and unbelievably awesome aftersales support we get here in South Africa from the polar agent.

    • SC

      Pros: I am saving few hundred dollar and staying with v800.
      Cons: No race pace, No interval timer, No back to start, No heart touch (when connect to HR monitor), No smart notification, No training load, No stop watch/count down timer (basic watch feature), No auto stop

      To be honest and I am disappointed with the reduced features with Vantage series. The benefit (for me) when comparing Vantage M and V800 is on wrist heart rate monitor. With the price tag and I would go for Garmin 735. I am sorry Polar… not very impressed.

    • Nick K

      They have Training Load, which is actually far more expanded. Most of the rest will be implemented as software updates in the 4-5 months after lunch. Navigation is the only stand out, and I’m sure after seeing all these unhappy comments, this would get prioritized accordingly.

      Though they might be ceding this niche to Suunto on purpose. I think navigation was always half-baked and an afterthought in Polar’s case. You can import the route, but you can design a new one or edit an existing one in Polar Flow… Let alone Polar Flow mobile app.

    • tom

      Well, you can edit and create a route anywhere outside poöar flow and then import it. Sure, adding waypoints is missing.
      I think it will be added, given that the back end of the development is already done and all unhappy comments. But what will the time frame be…

    • NickK

      Precisely. The key word is you can edit “elsewhere”.

      Waypoints are missing too. Off route notifications are nowhere as useful as on Suunto’s units and no support for many other navigation related things available in both Garmin and Suunto.

      I think they figured that rather than trying to catch up to clear and increasingly distant feature leaders, better to focus somewhere else like workout recovery or heart rate accuracy.

      Also notice 130 sports profiles they are touting. Perhaps, they figured people who do things other than running or biking need a watch too?

  54. Frank Kintrup

    Ray, why did you misplace your V800? 😉
    I would have loved to see some pictures comparing the real size of the watches and the brightness/clarity of of their displays.

    I’m really looking forward to your in-depth review of the final Vantage V

    • I’m determined to find it by the end of October. 🙂

      Mostly because I’ll be able to start unpacking all my DCR Cave stuff in early-mid October as construction should be finished then. I have no doubt it’s there (ok, maybe some doubt). My guess is that it just fell into the wrong box somehow.

      I had placed it aside last December, expecting Polar to release the Vantage back in the spring. So I had put it aside to take to Australia so I could do testing down there when I was there all winter. I know it didn’t go to Australia with me, because I was frustrated I couldn’t find it then the night before I left. I even sent out The Girl to dig through boxes when I was in CES.

  55. RaksiA

    Is there any chance to gather the Stryd’s advanced metrics to the new Polar watches?

    Or just simpy the Watt through BTLE?

  56. Mateo A. Ortega

    “The orange will be appropriate for Strava employees.”

    Confirmed, it is on brand and the color I (we) will be wearing!

  57. But it's me!

    I like the look and potential features of this offering, but after the issues with the V650 (little to no updates, features not added, etc), I have sworn off Polar for good. Shame as it certainly looks like a nice upgrade to my current Garmin watch.

  58. Fredrik

    So many seem to focus on what is missing…there are other GPS-watches to choose that has those. I am not interested in navigation and routes at all. Very much interested in the accuracy of the PPG and to read Rays forthcoming review and take on Polars new Training load and Recovery PRO.

    From polar.com/vantage/v:

    TRAINING LOAD PRO
    When you train, the different systems of your body get strained. With Polar Vantage V, you get a holistic view on how your training sessions strain these different systems and how it affects your performance.

    Training Load Pro gives you a training load level for both your cardiovascular and your musculoskeletal system (Cardio Load and Muscle Load), and also takes into account how strained you feel (Perceived Load).

    When you know how strained each body system is, you can optimize your training by working the right system at the right time. You get a numerical value, verbal feedback and a visual bullet scale for each training load.

    CARDIO LOAD
    Your Cardio Load value tells you how much strain your training session put on your cardiovascular system. It is calculated after every workout from your heart rate data.

    Your Cardio Load is calculated as training impulse (TRIMP), a commonly accepted method to quantify training load.

    MUSCLE LOAD
    Muscle Load tells you how much your muscles were strained during your training session. Muscle Load helps you quantify your training load in high-intensity training sessions, such as short intervals, sprints and hill sessions, when your heart rate doesn’t have enough time to react to the changes in the intensity.

    Muscle load shows the amount of mechanical energy (kJ) that you produced during a running or cycling session. This reflects your energy output (instead of the energy input it took you to produce that effort).

    In general, the fitter you are, the better the efficiency between your energy input and output. Muscle Load is calculated from your power data, so you only get a Muscle Load value for your running workouts (and cycling sessions if you’re using a cycling power meter).

    PERCEIVED LOAD
    Perceived Load is a value that takes into account your own subjective experience of how demanding your training session was.

    The key to finding the balance between training and rest is learning to listen to your body and to combine your subjective feeling with the data you get from your Polar Vantage V.

    This is something athletes learn by doing, and your training data will help you learn to know your body better.

    Your Perceived Load is quantified with Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), a scientifically accepted method to quantify training load.

    Your Perceived load levels indicate how hard a training session was compared to your session average from the past 90 days.

    STRAIN & TOLERANCE
    In addition to the training load from individual training sessions, you can follow how Cardio Load builds up over time – the relation between strain and tolerance.

    STRAIN shows how much you have strained yourself with training lately. It shows your average daily load from the past 7 days.

    TOLERANCE describes how prepared you are to endure cardio training. It shows your average daily load from the past 28 days. To improve your tolerance for cardio training, slowly increase your training over a longer period of time.

    Your Cardio Load Status looks at how your Strain compares to your Tolerance and estimates how your training is impacting your body.

    RECOVERY PRO (POLAR H10 REQUIRED)
    Polar Vantage V helps you prevent overtraining and injuries with a unique recovery tracking solution. It actually measures how recovered your body is and offers you recovery feedback and guidance.

    DAILY RECOVERY
    You can measure your daily recovery level with the Orthostatic Test (Polar H10 required). It is based on your heart rate and your heart rate variability, and it takes into account all stress factors of your life, including stress from training and stress caused by other aspects of life, such as poor sleep or work pressure.

    TRAINING AND RECOVERY BALANCE
    Recovery Pro combines your long-term recovery data with your long-term training load to monitor the balance between training and recovery. This will help you recognize your personal limits by showing whether you’ve been training too much, too little or just right.

    RECOVERY FEEDBACK
    With Recovery Pro you get feedback for both your current cardio recovery level and your longer- term training and recovery balance. Polar Vantage V combines these two into a daily personalized training recommendation.

  59. Thomas

    Power stats are interesting… did you run with or without incline and was it a fairly constant pace?

    Having both Garmin and Stryd power I’ve seen how they work and I have to say (while differnt numbers) they seem to follow the same trend when running uphill or downhill…

  60. david n

    Is the Vantage V capable to determine recovery pro metrics from its own optical hr sensor? Or is the H10 mandatory? If you have to use the H10, and you want to use the recovery pro metrics then I guess the built-in HR sensor is pointless for workouts, no? 🙂

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      The H10 is required to utilize the Recovery Pro functionality. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Joe A

      Why won’t the H7 work?

    • Mikko

      I understand that H10 is required for Orthostatic test, but is the same true for workouts? If I have understood correctly OHR is the only way to get swimming HR so swimming would count for recovery pro if this is true.

      Also will Polar allow importing trainings from elsewhere and include them in recovery pro calculation? For example Zwift ride using iPad?

    • Umut

      I think that Recovery Pro relies on HRV (Heart Rate Variability) which is measured as a part of the Orthostatic Test performed using a non-optical HR sensor such as H7 or H10. Optical sensors are not ,yet, capable of delivering accurate enough data for HRV measurement. Measuring HRV during a workout does not make much sense so the built-in HR sensor is not pointless. During a workout, optical HR data is used to calculate “Training Load” based on your HR@FTP for a specific sport (hence HR zones). Built-in (training load) and external (recovery) HR sensors serve different purposes.

  61. Thomas

    Funny how the edges crop the text and graphics….

    I hope polar adds the things called out here. I got a Garmin Fenix plus as I couldn’t wait any longer (a few months ago), but I’d rather get a polar.

  62. Stu

    What’s the activity sync speed to phone like – V800 takes an age compared to garmin hiking gps or ELEMNT…

  63. Andrew Knox

    Ugh, gutted about the GPS. Love my V800 and I believe it to be the most accurate watch of them out there. Played a big part in me buying it.

    • Nick K

      Yes, I feared this GPS switch was in the cards when I heard rumors of 30-40 hr battery life. It comes to pass. And if Suunto 9 is any indication, they will get to decent GPS quality, but never great. Not unless Sony pulls some magic GPS rabbit out of their hat.

  64. Jorge Olaechea

    Many Thanks Ray, Always so professional !!

    This is a shame waiting 5 years for a new Polar, and NO NAVIGATION, NO ROUTES.

    Polar, Is this a BAD JOKE ??, Do you keep in mine your costumers.

    Very , very disappointing.

  65. Peter Schweinsteiger

    How long does the battery work without training, just counting steps and heart rate etc -roughly?

  66. Greg

    No navigation = no joy 🙁
    Even if they promise to do it it will probably take over a year. By that time there will be new watches on the market. So it will be like with v800.

    • tom

      It’s really bad. I have pre-ordered and will give them a week or so to come up with an answer. They are under fire about this and the fact that they already have support for uploading routes to polar flow and add them as favorite routes, means the job is halfway done!

  67. Yonah

    Ray – thanks, another great review. Three quick Q’s for you:

    – If you were buying right now, would you recommend the Vantage M over the M430?
    – Did you get any indication from Polar that the Vantage M replaces their M line? (M200/430/600)?
    – Are they abandoning Wear.Os and sticking to their knittings?

    • Nick K

      Can I try to be Ray for a sec? 😉

      1) It depends on your needs. If navigation is one of them, you definitely want to grab M430. If on the other hand you want an improved heart rate sensor capable of handling hills and intervals, go for M. Don’t care about low-res black-and-white screen? M430! Want a higher resolution, color screens, with lots of fancy
      user interface finishes? M. Only line-by-line feature comparison would work here me thinks.

      2) I think I heard one of their promos where they explicitly state M builds on success of their M line. I’d imagine they will let these run side by side as long as there’s demand for older units. But complete rewrite means the future is in Vantage, and not Mxxx and V800. Kind of exactly same situation as Suunto’s Ambit vs Spartan.

      3) I’m not sure we gonna see an update soon for M600. Polar went with MediaTek if I remember correctly. Unless they switch to Qualcomm and its new wearable chipset, which came out yesterday, I don’t think there’s any point in releasing an update. And any refresh based on Qualcomm will be months if not years away.

    • tom

      1. No navigation with M430, only V800

    • Thanks for the best guesses. I hope they do start working on a Qualcomm version of the M600. I’d love to hear their reasons why they’re dropping Android Wear if they’re not. Smartphone integration is a critical feature for me. Otherwise, I’d just go with a “dumb” Polar watch.

    • Yonah

      Nick – thanks for the insight. I am leaning towards the Vantage M, just need to convince my purchasing department – aka the wife 🙂

  68. TimK

    Am I correct assuming that 1) custom running power zones are not supported; 2) power-based training targets are not supported; 3) running power zone lock is not supported?

    • 1) It does appear to allow me to set a running-specific power zone, but I haven’t gotten to doing so yet (or validating it works)
      2) I have to do a bit more digging there.
      3) It says it is according to the UI, but again, I haven’t validated it yet.

    • Thomas

      Just trying so see if I can do the same setting for my V800 profile. I can’t – so I think it seems Vantage can do so. Trying the same for a bike profile (with V800), the screendump is the same view as you show here Ray. So it may finally be possible to use power-zone-lock with power. This would be a most awaited feature…!

    • Marathon Man

      Ray
      Can you explore whether when you create a custom power zone for running, you can also have a different one for cycling? Currently on V800 if you set custom power zones they apply to both running and cycling.

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      Yes, you’ll be able to customize your power zones both for your running and cycling profiles. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Marathon Man

      Thanks Mike for the prompt response. Just to be clear, they will be independent of each other?

    • Chris O'Shannassy

      Have you found a way to set power zones for the V800 through the website? I can do it (no zonelock though) via the mobile app only.

    • Andreas L

      I hope there will be lots of new features on the upcoming updates from Polar. Garmin is up front with the Live Tracking (safetey things) on their devices.

      – Live Tracking
      – Group tracking
      – Emergency/SOS Message Notification

    • TimK

      Thanks much for your reply.
      I think it’s safe to assume that 1) and 3) are at least going to be implemented. As for 2), if you have time to spare, go to Diary – Add – Training target, then choose “Interval” and click on the edit (pen) button for Work phase — you’ll see “Phase settings” pane – does it have “Power zones” option?

    • TimK

      The running power zones that can be set on the mobile are not transferred to the watch or to the Flow web. In fact, they cause a synch error.

    • TimK

      Mike@PolarUSA could you shed some light on whether custom power running zones, power zone lock and power-based training targets are going to be implemented on V800 or not?

    • Marathon Man

      There is a workaround to this error. Let me check back through my Twitter and I’ll figure out what you have to do to get them to transfer across. I had this exact same problem when they launched Stryd connectivity.

    • Andrew

      Hi Mike. What about route navigation? I have a V800 and the nav is quite good for gpx routes imported to favourites (though have no idea why you at polar have not implemented route creation and heat maps or why they are bodged into favourites). I pre-ordered a Vantage V expecting route navigation to be rolled over from the V800. I and many other customers are pretty hacked off that this is not the case. Although I am prepared to wait for its implementation if it is not on the road map at all I need to cancel my pre-order. Please advise.

  69. Tom B

    Hej Ray,
    One of my favourite features of the V800 is that I can take a lap by just smacking it! Sounds simple but in Sweden in the winter in thick gloves is so nice to not have to fumble with buttons.
    Did polar keep this feature?

  70. Michael Coyne

    The skin contact sensors seem like a great idea, and a nice way to charge too! I’m always worried with my Forerunner 935 that I’ll mess up my port forever – have definitely had some close calls where something heavy nearly fell on it – with the angle that cable comes out and the strength of the connection it seems like it could cause some serious damage in that case.

    Out of curiosity, do you think any sports/smart watches will move to wireless charging standards eventually? Would make waterproofing easier and make it less annoying to remember a specific cradle/cable.

    I had to evacuate from Hurricane Florence and couldn’t find the stupid cable in a reasonable amount of time, so now I’m stuck for half a week to a week in BEAUTIFUL areas to run but a dead watch. Would be much easier to find a standard wireless charger at a store/in a car/restaurant/wherever, but would still avoid the problems of waterproofing USB (C/micro/mini/whatever).
    Just a random thought.

    Thanks for the article! Looks interesting! I wonder if with 4 separate skin contact sensors they’ll be able to use them to FINALLY almost totally filter out the noise from running cadence and such. Or to improve OHR on bike cobbles or in water…

    • Frank Kintrup

      Wireless charging would be sooooo great! Just throw the watch on some random QI panel and be done with it 🙂

      The pen of my Samsung Tablet S3 is powered by wireless charging from the tablet, so it can be done on a very small scale.

    • Michael Coyne

      For sure.

      I’ve also always wondered if anybody would ever do something like a connection through the watch band. Then you could essentially use the watch band like an external battery.

      Even something like an Apple watch which can’t make it through 2 days becomes much more appealing then, as you can just swap bands every once per day, like before you go to bed or something. Would let you get good 24×7 coverage even without much battery lifetime. Also would allow you to easily bring as much or as little juice as you need, and allow you to refresh the battery of an old device that isn’t holding charge well anymore without getting a whole new device.

      Would also be a neat way to add accessories/sensors. Like maybe you don’ care about Sp02 now, but might want it later. Or maybe you only care about it at night and/or when climbing mountains.

      I’m guessing the main difficulty would be keeping a “live” connection sufficiently waterproof. Maybe it’s not feasible. But it’d be awesome if they pulled it off!

  71. Phellan

    Another half baked Watch??? Thank you Polar may be in two yeqts it will be awesome but for now there arr much better options. I am speaking of the high end V version.
    Just like you IMHO the sweet spot is the M version and I am sure is going to be their best seller.

  72. Joana Miranda

    Does it pair with Garmin vector 3S? Thx!

  73. we can’t seem to get any two companies two agree == companies to agree.

  74. Jeff Dawson

    Ray,

    Thanks for the article. Having previously had my fingers burned after buying a V650, with promised features which were delivered extremely late (or maybe not at all, I can’t remember!) I think I’ll pass on this watch. I can’t understand why Polar don’t employ a few more software developers to ensure the software is up to scratch when it goes on sale. I’m always impressed by Polar’s hardware, but given my experience I wouldn’t buy anything from Polar assuming that promised features will be along soon.

    I bought a Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR last year, and it’s been a positive experience; I didn’t expect the navigation feature (which the Polar lacks) to be so useful. I just wish Suunto would release a cycling computer……

    • I agree on employing more software developers. I tell them this every time I see them (as I do to Suunto as well). Meanwhile, I tell Garmin to use the software developers they have to do better QA. Sigh.

    • Alex Masidlover

      In my experience developers are very bad at QA – exciting new features are way more fun than tediously checking every single existing feature to make sure they work…

      But for me you’ve pretty much summed up the sports watch industry – Suunto and Polar seem very solid but lack features, Garmin have more features than its possible to list but half of them don’t work all the time…

    • mahead

      Many of my co-workers (software developers) have switched to Polar within couple of years, and I know there has been more than those. So I would say they are hiring. But I guess it takes time before it shows.

    • Andrew

      Although not relevant from a customer experience PoV I think it worth pointing out that It is not usually the software engineers that are to blame but rather their rather vacuous managers and marketeers.

  75. Paolo

    Hi Ray, thanks for the preview, just one question.
    The accelerometer is not developed just for now … or is it not really included in the hardware?
    With the update on the V800 was then enabled for indoor use very, very, very useful (treadmill on top, and then in case of covered areas such as tunnel or covered tennis courts, football…ok not a footpod…but very practice and useful!).
    Even this lack is incredible! (in addition to many others), if I were Polar I would clarify immediately (to not lose mountanis of customers) what never 100% never birthday and what they will put 100% in addition to Q1 perhaps without specifying exactly if Q2,3,4.
    Thanks for your answer.
    Paolo (V800)

    • It’s in the hardware and is used, just not for everything. For example, they’re using it for daily activity tracking, sleep tracking, and expanded error correction on the optical HR sensor.

      Regular treadmill running is fine (I haven’t tested that yet though myself, I still have to re-assemble my treadmill).

      It’s specifically the running power bit that isn’t enabled using it (they actually call it out with a big cross-through on some technical slides they presented).

    • Fredrik

      Would you be allowed to post all the technical slides, like you did with Firstbeats in the Garmin review? I saw you posted some of Polars here

      Please tell them to allow running power from a pod on a treadmill to feed into the muscle load equation. Thanks.

    • I might be able to get the OK to post the running power slides. I know the more general presentation I had to get specific permission for specific slides that you see (since some of the UI elements weren’t/aren’t final yet).

    • Paolo

      Thanks for the answer Ray, I really hope it works the calculation of distance on the treadmil leven because if it is not so correct data recovery, loa, km summary etc … they would not all be incredibly distorted ???I hope they have invested on many IT resources for a fast development and not a slow suffering of years as for V800.
      sSe what they will do, I wait for the next firmware update to evolve before moving from V800 to Vantage V … hoping it does not turn into a “SVantage V” or “” V80 “.
      However now they have opened a History on Instagram Polarglobal where you can ask open questions, we see their answers there too.
      Thanks bye.
      Paul

    • Fredrik

      Cool, thanks.

  76. For the Orthostatic test, isn’t that the same test Polar has had for a long time now, just with a new UI? OwnOptimizer

  77. Bailey

    “In talking with Suunto – they were eyeing that watch as their main competitor in this space for the Vantage M.”

    I think you meant to say, “In talking with Polar.”

  78. Justin

    Can we get a list of data fields? Has TSS and Normalized Power finally made it? Finally added to the v650, have been hoping for the v800!

  79. Celso Revert

    Very useful and interessing review.

  80. Jose

    Hi Ray, do you know if they’re planning to add vertical oscillation &contact time down the road?

  81. Alma

    Question- Do the recovery metrics take into account workouts recorded on other Polar devices/polar beat? For example, could you swim with an H10 connected to Polar Beat, cycle with a Polar cycling computer and run with the Vantage M and see recovery metrics that factor in all of that training? Thanks!

  82. Celso Revert

    Thanks for the review, I look forward to receiving your updates before taking a decission to replace my HR.

  83. For those that want another run’s worth of data to poke at, this morning’s relatively short 40 minute run but on a course with a long descent and a long climb. You can look at the concurrent Stryd Running Power and Garmin Running Power. You’ll see this under the ‘Developer Fields’ section a bit lower down.

    Linkage here: link to analyze.dcrainmaker.com

    My next run will include the latest gen RunScribe pods too. I thought those were going to last night’s hotel, but turned out they were going to tonight’s hotel. Got them at the desk tonight.

    Note: Both the Garmin and Suunto 9 were connected to the same TICKR-X. I had planned to include the Scosche 24 in there like the last few workouts, but apparently the button got pressed or something on the plane and the battery was dead and I didn’t realize it.

    • Thomas E. R.

      Hmmm – slightly concerning that power drift so much around compared to Stryd. I’m not saying Stryd is the most accurate one, but it’s certainly easy to use in your training since it’s so stable. Cannot say the same with Garmin Running Power – and it looks like the same is to be said with Polar…

    • Andrew

      I suppose its early days. It looks usable. As DC said tbere is no gold standard. For a lot of people not having to buy a 200 bucks pod in addition to an expensive watch is great and makes power accessible to joe mode. It should also integrate well and open up phased power based trg just as for hr and pace. Garmin dont do that for power. In fact their other phased trg implementations are sucky.

  84. magnus

    Just looking at how they supported v800 through the years is amazing, unheard of.
    This baby will probably have glitches the first 6 month, just glad that they bring in customer data and optimize from that.
    If “needed” features are missing, wait until they arrive or hook up with another brand that has it (but if you are a “all features needed person” then you will always be in hunt for something else)

    I will buy it as I expect it to just work like every other Polar watch I have had.

    • Andrew

      I agree. Polar trade on goodwill with solid products of real use to athletes that are supported over long periods of time. It will only get better.

    • MCC

      V800 became “real” watch after 1 or 2yrs of development. Now it’s pretty decent – an i am only missing one or 2 things which are to be implemented on watch itself (and IMO could be fairly quickly – like navi display customization). I believe that with vantage will be more or less the same – and it will become full-featured watch in 1-2 years. I was hoping they’d keep all v800 features though – and (based on rumors) counting on some better navi options. From what we see the hardware has some spare “capacity” which they can utilize in the future and most probably we can expect major changes in future SW releases – which is giving far better investment protection than e.g. Garmin releasing new watch every year with minor changes. For me it’s a bit too early for adoption since i am using some features which are not even on the roadmap (e.g. navi while doing a training in new places while travelling) anyhow keeping fingers crossed.

  85. Tim Weyland

    Will the watch broadcast HR (so for example, it can be picked up on the bike on a wahoo head unit)?

    • No. Neither Bluetooth Smart or ANT+ broadcasting of HR.

      The unit will work with Polar’s gym fitness class solution however, but it’s unlikely you have or need that.

    • Glenn Levine

      DCR (or Mike@Polar), will Vantage V (and/or M)-based HR send 5khz transmission or to 2 another bluetooth HR receiver (like a treadmill) in either 5khz or bluetooth? Or is this a reason to keep my H10? I’ve seen mixed messages about this.

  86. Martin

    Nice review, thanks! Just a question, have they also removed temperature sensor?

  87. MegaCookie

    NO RACE PACE, like…really?

    Hi Ray,

    thanks for your great review. In your table you mention race pace is supported, however, currently it is showing as not available when comparing it to v800. I hope it is just a typo.

    Can you confirm you were able to use this feature?

    link to polar.com

    • MegaCookie

      No INTERVAL TIMER as well…

      that is truly disappointing for a flagship device….bye bye guided Fartlek training… errr I mean… half of my trainning is interval training.

    • I’ve set both of those to null while I get clarification. It’s a bit tricky as on Polar Flow the unit to beta users shows up as a V800, so you can get in spots where it might in theory work but in practice not so much.

  88. Anders

    Thanks for the review! Was hoping for a bit more, like structured workouts (that I use often), personalized zones (multiple sports) and downloadable routes. Was also hoping for better watch mode battery. 40 hours is impressive, but as it seems I get as much real life life time out of my current Fenix 5, that gets me about a week with some 1-2 hours of GPS per day.

    Would be nice to return to the Polar ecosystem, that I left as the support for the windows app (Polar RS800) ran out. Will give it some time, to see what updates bring. The M has potential to be quite competitive in its price range.

  89. Scott

    No ANT+. Too bad. Won’t work for me.

  90. Andrew

    A strange “first cut” omission but should be an easy thing to implement. Polar’s interval timer produces phases of data in flow and is not just a simple timer. The simple workaround is to set up some phased interval training favourites. This is better as you can apply custom constraints to each phase as opposed to running free. With power on the wrist you can then “pace” short fast phases so hopefully maintain the same pace throughout the interval workout. Of course you may not need this. I struggle to know if im in zones 4, 5 or greater.

  91. Matt

    Hello,
    Thank you for the beta review.

    I am wondering if I need to go V instead of M due to the barometric data. Can it be utilised for more precise altitude accent and decent for hiking and riding my bike in mountains?

    I do not really need the other advantages of the V compared to the M

    • Chris O'Shannassy

      That’s exactly what the barometer is for, and would be the main reason (other than series differentiation) that running power is only on the “V” model.

  92. Suleileika

    Seeing how BT Smart can only ever transmit to one recipient at the same time the no ant+ thing makes this watch one of the worst options for triathlon.

    Imagine you plan to use a bike computer as display during the bike leg which I’d argue many or most triathletes do. You would have to unpair your BT Smart sensors from the watch in T1, so they can be displayed on the bike computer, then repair them in T2 so the watch can give you data again during the run. And all your watch data would be missing the entire bike split.

    You could only get around this buying a bike computer that does ant+ and sensors that do bt smart and ant+ simultaneously. But then I don’t see why I would want to do that, essentially limiting my sensor choices, requiring new sensor purchases, and me having to make up for the fact that polar cheaps out on ant+.

    Just putting this out there because I feel that for the less tech standard savvy reader of Ray’s site the implications of not having the ant+ option aren’t really made clear in his review.

  93. Andrew

    I can connect to three ble devices simultaneously (I only have three!). The theoretical number of slaves is 7. I must be less tech savvy than you. Please explain.

    • The problem is on the inverse. Virtually all BLE sensors in the market today can only have a single ‘master’ device connect to them. So if you have a typical BLE power meter, only the watch can connect to it but not other sensors.

      In theory companies can utilize multimaster modes on BLE to allow multiple master devices to connect to it, but in practice this has been possible since BLE 4.1 and virtually nobody is using it.

      Of course, this is no different than the V800 – but it’s also likely a key thing that limited Polar growth (more so historically than today however I’d say).

    • Suleileika

      Seeing how Ray has already given you an excellent explanation of the problem I just want to add that also the H10 strap that can be bought bundled with the watch is BT-Smart exclusively. So basically you can’t have this connected to your bike computer and watch at the same time even if your bike computer supported all the standards. If you wanted to use this in a sensible way for triathlon (assuming you agree with me that looking at your wristwatch regularly during the bike split of a triathlon race is not sensible) you would go ahead and directly toss the bundled heart rate strap. If you were on a P2M TypeS Powermeter, or a favero beepro PM, or if you relied on the garmin tempe sensor for anything you’d be completely out of luck too (just to give some examples).

      This would be okay for a middle segment product, aimed at more recreational athletes. I mean the Apple Watch does well (economically) without ant+ too. But when you make a watch thats premium priced and thats supposed to cut some of the more recreational smartwatch features to delivery a pure athlete centered product I don’t see how this flies.

    • Andrew

      Ah yes, its not peer to peer. I would have thought the watch should always be the master as it is the head unit and the power meter a slave (like my stryd). I dont own a bike power meter (my bike is worth considerably less) so I am probably missing something obvious. Does seem perverse to make a sensor master though?

    • Suleileika

      With regards to bt smart: the recipient of the measured data, as in the watch or headunit, bike computer etc is the master. There can only be one master. Or in other words one recipient of the sensor data. The sensor will transmit data to only one receiving/displaying device. So if you had a bt-smart chest strap only one display could at any given time display whatever the chest strap is measuring.

      So if you wanted to only ever use your polar watch there is no problem whatsoever. The problem starts when you want to log the whole event using your watch but then during certain moments need to display the data on an additional screen like a phone or a bike computer due to the inconvenience of having to look at a wrist watch with small fonts during certain situations (like triathlon bike legs). You would have to disable the connection to the current master (watch) and establish a new one to the new master (bike headunit). And after the bike you’d reverse the process.

      If you had to do all this you couldn’t have one complete set of data on the watch then (for the entire race consisting of different sports). And you’d have a lot of hassle.
      But thats essentially what multi sport watches are about, being able to hassle-freely track the whole event within one file/device/watch app. So this is where polar made a product thats far away from the reality of what you will need in actual use unless you jumped through many hoops, purchasing only ever dual ant+/ble sensors which is possible, but seems like something I shouldn’t have to put up with if I bought someones most premium multisport watch.

    • Andrew

      I never had an issue looking at my wrist right there in front of me on an aerobar. These things are very specific to the individual. I agree that if you want more than one head unit ble is not the right network architecture for you. Love it or hate it, ble is becoming the defacto standard. Betamax was better but who cares any more?

    • Suleileika

      The most widespread standard in sensors is ant+. Ble is another standard that has gained some popularity in recent years but when its implemented its usually together with ant+. Ble is definitively not a “defacto standard” and if you meant that its becoming the predominating standard, then that is not correct either.

    • Marathon Man

      This is why I’m surprised that Polar removed the GymLink (5kHz) capability. I only ever connected the H7 or H10 to my V800 with Gymlink, leaving the BT signal to connect to a Head Unit or an iPhone app etc.

    • Stu

      H10 can now present two BT channels after firmware upgrade offered and controlled in Beat app. So you can connect to e.g. Zwift and watch simultaneously.

    • BigHammer

      Triathlon use:

      1. S/B/R: heart rate, power and speeed on Polat Vantage via wrist unit OHR. Wearing Wahoo Tickr or Garmin Tri heart rate belt as well.

      2. Bike segment: Wahoo Tickr/Garmin heart rate belt sends ANT+ to Garmin Head unit. Or to Wahoo Elemnt Bolt head unit. Most power meters have both Bluetooth LE and ANT+, so the Vantage takes the Bluetooth signal and he Garmin Head unit takes the ANT+ signal.

      Run segment: (Optional): Wahoo Tickr sense Bluetooth HR to Vantage. (But Ray seems to have a severely inebriated Tickr, so he might want to acquire a more sober version).

    • Andrew

      ant+ does seem to be a very suitable technology for sport tech. I certainly have no problems with other people being able to see my heart rate or power output. That which eventually dominates will not necessarily be the best for sport as this is just one particular use case. Both technologies have pros and cons. That which dominates for any time period will ultimately be determined by market forces. I am not aware of any mobile phone manufacturer that currently supports the ant+ protocol. Fitbit, Apple, Polar and Suunto only support btle. Of course third party manufacturers will support both protocols to maximise market share. Bald statements that something of this nature is either correct or incorrect seems a little opinionated and I have rather lost interest in continuing this discussion.

    • Scott

      Says the most opinionated contributor to Ray’s reviews! Lol!

    • Andrew

      Ah mate. Flattering but but I don’t think I quite win that particular accolade yet. Thanks for your support. (-;

  94. Thomas

    Ray, can you tell what power numbers are being used if Stryd is connected? Stryd or Polars?

  95. alibi

    no charging on the go -> trash bin..
    after half-year with fenix 5 lack of this feature is most annoying to me..

    • Martin

      V800 also don’t have charging on the go in spec, but in reality it works..;)

    • Oscar van de Leur

      Problem with the Vantage is that the oHR switches of when you connect the charging thingy as the charging pads do not contact the skin anymore.

      So technically you can probably charge on the go but you will have to wear an HR strap and loose the possibility to connect to another sensor like the Stride…

      Another reason why not having the 5kHz GymLink anymore or Ant+ makes this watch very inflexible.

  96. AndyG

    How is it for open-water swim GPS tracking? (Or wasn’t there time to test / or is that unfair to test until the production units with less jankiness ship)

    Gotta say, I’m tempted by the M once those first-update features roll out.

  97. Thomas D

    I like the retro-active corrections!

    Would love to see that on my Garmin Fenix, to correct the occasional glitch both in HR and GPS.

    I hate it when my run statistics are ruined by one GPS reading that suddenly places me 100 meters outside my track, and uses that reading to give med a top speed of ~60km/h and a pace of under 1:00min/km.

    Obvious bloopers like that should be retro-activly corrected before finalising the run on my iphone, wether the correction happens on the watch, on my smartphone or in the cloud.

  98. mikec

    Hi Ray,

    Just curious as to why Suunto 9 price is listed at $699. Suunto just announced the non-barometer version for $499. The initial release Suunto 9 (with barometer) is $599 and the titanium version (announced this week) is $699.

    Thanks.

  99. Berthold Kusserow

    Hi Ray,
    thank you for your very comprehensive report. Extremely helpful in coming to a decision whether or not to replace the V800 at that point! Just one question: I’ve used the V800 for the last four years. From time to time it was interesting to record the R-R data, to download and analyse them with a third party tool (e.g. Kubios HRV Standard) in order to get a better understanding of the heart rate variability data. It seems that the Vantage V as such will not support that (at least the comparison table Vantage V vs. V800 doesn’t show it). Is that a shortcoming of the optical sensors? … or in other words, will this type of analysis work when the Vantage V is used together with the H10 sensor?
    Best regards,
    Berthold

  100. Mike

    Dear Ray,

    Excellent analysis as always. I’d like to point out some issues not discussed before regarding the new vantage V / M and the previous V800. First of all, I’d like to remark that there are some software issues intended to be solved in the near future, so no main worries at this point besides those that won’t be included as per Polar confirmation (maps, reducing GPS recording rate, GoPro control, import routes…). Some others will be included for sure in the same way V800 was improved with new things.

    Under the hardware point of view I guess new Vantage series is pretty solid but it’ll be interesting to resolve the following questions if possible:

    R-R: Hardware wise it should be possible to include RR capabilities (with H7/H10), moreover taking into account the new ECG / EKG functionalities AW4 is going to release soon (FDA approved and supported by the AHA, although only for US users I guess). According to (link to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) previous V800 with H7 was able to perform a pretty good accurate RR recording / variation in comparison with ECGs. So, Is there any confirmation about the new Vantage V able to include RR functionalities?

    5kHz: This is sadly missing, but main purpose was for recording swim sessions, if OHR sensor is able to perform well underwater, then this matter (no 5kHz Vs. OHR) should be an improvement on the new Vantage. Are you agree? I use to swim outdoor on Summer wearing HR band and then I use to have the mark of the band for the rest of the year besides is uncomfortable.

    Heart Touch: this functionality are not included, which for me was very useful at nights or wearing gloves. I guess this is a hardware issue, so no further Heart Touch availability on Vantage series. Correct?

    Temperature: According Polar, Vantage is not able to show this parameter and your analysis says otherwise. Is Vantage V able to read temperature? Not a very useful issue but interesting to know.

    Thanks!

    • Thanks.

      Working backwards…

      RE: Temperature: I’m not sure why Polar’s site is saying it’s not there. It definitely is. You can see it on my run from yesterday morning on the latest firmware. Screenshot attached.

      Heart Touch: I forgot my Polar HR strap back at home, so I can’t re-validate this one till I get back.

      Underwater HR: Assuming the water is acceptable, I’m hoping to test some of this over the next few days in Tahoe/Reno.

      RR Recording: It wasn’t brought up in any meetings I’ve had with them. I can certainly circle back though.

    • Chris Holliman

      My understanding of the heart touch function (glad I’m not the only one using it) is it is tied to the 5khz transmitter/receiver. That’s why newer BT only Polar devices don’t have it. I may be wrong on that, but pretty sure it’s accurate (it also doesn’t work with btle-only straps even if the watch supports it, as a 2nd data point). I only recently found out the Concept 2 rowers (common for crossfit) have a gymlink option available, and was excited to use that for monitoring hr easily while rowing, but looks like that will be out eventually also. I’m sure some or all this CAN be replicated with btle, on future things, but it works, now, and I can’t imagine the ancient 5khz transmitter would cost more than pennies to add in hardware, and plenty of airspace under the new useless round form factor for antennae based on the exploded pics I’ve seen thus far. This new “v” is reallt to me more like an m530 iteration, updated tech from the m family with multisport, a few other minor software tweaks, and barometer added. It seems nothing like the v800 class device it seems slotted to replace.

  101. Darren

    Great report as always. You are always the oracle for fitness wearables.
    I wish Polar would swap out those additional aircraft LEDs to navigate me around my created trail routes. Looks like I’ll have to continue to wear my v800 if Polar don’t add navigation back in.

  102. idrive

    I also think that the navigational features should have been right on this watch. It may be a strategic move to differentiate the Vantage from the V800 and keep the V800 alive for a while. I hope they are going to enable route navigation in the Vantage soon. I think that in a year or so it will be a super watch if they are going to update and refine the firmware as they did for the V800. Meanwhile I stay with my old good V800.

  103. Jay Holbrook

    Thanks Ray, always enjoy reading you take on new gear.

    Can’t help feeling a little let down by the Polar announcement. Was holding out hope for something revolutionary given their long absence. Maybe the new Vantages will be (OHR accuracy, Training Loads, Recovery Info, Running Power) but all I see thus far is marketing.

    Expected Polar would have sponsored some studies to provide objective validation/comparisons. Instead, the fact that they still require a HR strap for the Recovery feature pretty much tells me all I need to know about how accurate they think the OHR is. The other items sound interesting on paper too, but, like running power, lack strong scientific backing of improved training/performance.

    As such, the Vantage series misses on many “standard” features seen in comparably priced watches, and it’s cloudy at best as to whether or not they’ll deliver on what I’d all the “pseudo-science” elements.

  104. cyril

    I was about to buy a watch for swimming, biking and hiking. So, the question is now spartan trainer or polar vantage M ?

  105. James

    Does the Vantage V have the race predictor functionality?

    • Nick K

      If by Race Predictor you mean expected race finish times, I’d imagine the answer is yes. Polar race prediction is built off their Running Index, and I believe it will continue to be supported on V. The only twist here is V800 can get Running index calculated even for treadmill runs if a calibrated footpod is attached. I don’t think we are going to see this in Vantage series at launch.

    • James

      The “race predictor” cell in the comparison table in the article is empty, neither no or yes….

    • Pete

      No.
      (If you are ref to this:)
      From link to polar.com
      “End Time Estimator
      Estimates your end time based on your current speed and a pre-set target distance.”

  106. Andreas

    Does anyone know if there will be any of these features? Its pretty sad that Polar doesnt have these things, Garmin is up front on that!

    -Live Tracking (streaming location to website)
    -Group tracking
    -Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)

  107. JTH

    As a fellow country man I would’ve hoped Polar to make their home work a bit better on running power. Seems they go somewhere between Stryd and Garmin to no mans land. Garmin and Stryd seem mostly to agree, especially when using Stryd as speed source, but Garmin still underestimates a lot more on downhills.

    I’ve used both and while the total power mostly evens out as a pretty consistent and repeatable result, the real time power is not that good with Garmins RP as it is with Stryd.

    Seems the guys that invented these running power formulas forgot that while most of the work when running is done pushing off the ground, going downhill your effort is reversed and you do most of the work pushing back when landing (I believe the correct scientific term is eccentric loading). So it’s not all that easy to go downhill while it may first seem so. The HR tends to agree with this. The harder you thrash the downhill the higher your HR goes even when running power seems to be all time low.

    Stryd at least put some effort with their “reverse engineered” attempt. Which is why they are still the best running power solution to date. Only on steeper downhills the power is still underestimated, probably as they couldn’t toss their metabolic rig down a steep enough a hill but had to rely on a treadmill lab setting. 😉

    The HR tech seems promising though. This is Polar we’re talking about after all. Hopefully this will result in a revised version of OH1, which I now use as my main HR sensor btw.

  108. Andreas

    Any rumors on new features lite these:
    Hope Polar will step up on things like this!!

    Live Tracking (streaming location to website)
    Group tracking
    Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)

  109. Y

    Does this mean that Vantage M , won’t give you any recovery tips or hints, like how many hours for total recovery after your workouts same like v800 used to have,

    I don’t get it , is that feature would be part of that exclusive recovery pro to the V only !!

  110. Toni

    Great review!
    Just a question about it. I´ve heard somwhere that Polar will redesign Polar Flow app and dashboard web at the same time fo the launch of Vantage.
    Do you know something about that?
    I saw some new graphics in your review,butonly for the new features,not for the whole app or web.
    Thanks

    • Yeah, but it’s not as big of a redesign as people are making it out to be. Seriously, it’s like a few new data pages and that’s it. My bet is that 98% of people would never notice.

      Now, there are some cool new coaching bits – but that requires you either be a coach, or being coached.

    • Toni

      I have to say, Polar Flow is not a bad app, visually, but it seems that Polar is not normally interested in making big changes…

      Anyway, these new data pages could be interesting for me, because I really like “technical data” to analyse. For the rest fo the costumers that they are not so interested in this kind of data, probably not.

      Thanks for your reply!

  111. Ogg

    Not sure if you are up for feedback, but you talk way too fast in the video at times. I talk fast too and people always tell me to slow down.

  112. Damian

    Hi Ray,
    good preview.
    I am in South Lake Tahoe also, now 🙂

  113. Tobi

    Is the drill mode while swimming really missing? Will this be added later? Most of my swim workouts do have some length of drills.

  114. Robert

    Worries about open water heart rate recording on the Vantages!
    Open water swim is my favourite – and here Polar used to be a good pick.
    Heart rate recording is possible with 5ghz. A shame it’s not on the Vantages. I use the H10 strap with the Polar rcx5 and it really works fine. I swam 1 hour and 20 minutes in open water, and it made a very stable heart rate recording.
    If you swim open water a lot, I have tried to swim with two watches on the same time – the rcx5 records the heart rate from the H10, while my V800 shows my average speed and distance. These are useful data. The pulse data is useful afterwards for several reasons – calories, restitution and just to get an idea of how tough the swim session was.
    Ray and others – what do you think of this way of measuring heart rate with two watches in open water – or are there better solutions? I do the open water training and triathlon so I don’t want to mess around with recording directly on the H10 by using the Polar Beat app – it’s just not optimal in a triathlon competition. I need to do my recordings on a watch.

    Do you think the Vantage watches could make a good recording in water when it measures from the wrist – I have seen other wrist-recording-watches who had problems because of the weather. I saw a video on youtube – I think it was a Garmin, Suonto and a Apple watch and a H10 with a Polar 800. Here the H10 and Polar V800 was the most accurate. The other watches were almost a joke when it came to heart rate recording. I remember the video was made in cold weather and the person was running. He also made a test inside a fitness center – the breast strap H10 was really the best choice. So….I am worried. I don’t think it will work very well with the Vantage V while swimming.
    As a person commented to this post – Polar have maybe shot themselves in the foot.
    Polar was pioneers and better at heart rate recording compared with Garmin. This is probably history.
    Looking forward to see a test with open water and the Vantage V and Vantage M. Hope D C Rainmaker will test it very soon. Because – I consider to buy a new watch. Maybe I will have to wait.
    Open water heart rate recording is something I would really prioritize. I could easily live with out gps routing – I have some good routes I prefer. And when I’m on holiday, I just remember which direction I ran, and which buildings I’ve passed. It seems like gps routing is so important today. Not for me. I have never used it in my Polar V800. What did the triathletes do in the 80’ties. Many didn’t even use a watch. So – come on. Gps, music, smartphone notifications, go pro pairing – it’s not the most important when it comes to training.
    Make a good training plan instead is more relevant – go out and train. Heart rate measuring is useful – but actually I would also be able to live without it – but it’s better than the other things I’ve mentioned. Speed and distance is key.
    Sorry I maybe got of topic a bit 🙂
    Kind regards,
    Robert

    • Kareltje

      Hi Robert,

      I currently use the M430 with OHR for my swimming and it does a good job recording my HR. Also tried it with the OH1. The OHR sensors of the Vantage series seem to be even better, somI think that would be ok.

      Question: do you combine your HR data with your v800 data? If so, how do you do that?
      And why do you not couple your H10 to your v800? The V800 also supports 5GHz gymlink.

      Karel

    • Robert

      Hi Karel
      Interesting that you have good experience with Oh1.
      Let’s cross fingers for the Vantage.

      1. Do you combine your HR data with your v800 data? If so, how do you do that?
      I transfer rcx5 recordings from Polartrainer to Polar Flow. That’s an option in Polartrainer.

      2. And why do you not couple your H10 to your v800? The V800 also supports 5GHz .
      gymlink.
      It just doesn’t work. It stop working when my breast strap is under water and I start to swim.
      And…one more thing. My V800 has begun to get a bit foggy and the screen has started to have a little crack in the left corner inside of the glass. I don’t think I will use for swimming anymore – but it’s ok for running/biking.

      Did the answers make sense to you?

      Kind regards,
      Robert

    • Glenn Levine

      Robert,

      …and someone may correct me here, but I believe the missing routes feature is also keeping Strava Live Segments from working on Vantage.

      So now I’m a bit confused about Polar’s reported lack of intention to add route import. If DCR has confirmed that Strava Live Segments and Back to Start Navigation are in the pipeline for the first major upgrade in Q1, then doesn’t this imply route import?

      g

    • tom

      Hey…I didn’t think of that. At least it’s related. So Polar has a backend solution, uploads of routes to Flow can already be done. Vantage will support Live Strava segments which in effect is a kind of route on your watch. So to me it seems like very little remains for route navigation

    • “So now I’m a bit confused about Polar’s reported lack of intention to add route import. If DCR has confirmed that Strava Live Segments and Back to Start Navigation are in the pipeline for the first major upgrade in Q1, then doesn’t this imply route import?”

      No, those are seen as very different by Polar. At present there are no published plans for route import to the Vantage. Whereas there are plans for Back to Start, which is simply the device itself getting you back to the starting point of that activity.

  115. tom

    Ray, it says that Polar Vantage V has a magnetic compass. I beleive V800 did not, only from GPS.
    Am I correct to assume this means that you don’t have to walk around, waving your arm like a maniac to get the bearing?

    • Chris O'Shannassy

      I think the V800 does, it gives direction to a waypoint when stationary. If you moving though it uses the GPS based heading instead.

  116. Brian

    My first and current watch is Polar M400 that I’ve had since 2014. Aside from a repair to the mini USB port, which was quickly and easily done, and a couple of sync issues, it has and is still performing well.

    I wear it as my daily timepiece, so really appreciate getting two to three weeks battery life, even with two runs a week.

    I’ve been looking for a new watch and after, perhaps too much research, the Suunto 9 (Baro) seems to fit my demands for GPS accuracy, Barometer, sapphire glass, and easy app syncing, while coming in at under £500.

    And then the Polar Vantage V comes along and is very attractive. Although for some reason not being able to change the straps upsets me. I’ve no idea why, as I’ve never needed or wanted to before.

    Not sure which way to go from pictures the Vantage V is more aesthetically pleasing, plus the app and customer service is good to. I’ve no doubt the battery is good too.

    Can anyone here help to sway me one way or another towards either manufacturer?

    • Roger

      I have had the 9, but sent it back. For me it was way too bulky to wear as an everyday watch (although it is a beautiful design). Because of the weight WHR was very inaccurate as well. Was waiting for the Vantage, but the lack of navigation annoys me. I’m assuming it will come somewhere in 2019…thus I’m pre-ordering the Vantage.
      I’ve been using Polar Beat for a while to get to know the Flow platform and I like it more than Movescount. But all goes to Strava anyway.

  117. Anees

    Great preview as always!

    I’m mainly a treadmill runner and would love to ditch my v800, HRM strap and foot pod for a single on wrist device.

    Does the vantage M or V support distance, cadence and stride length from the wrist?

    • Jarkko

      Um, v800 does report both distance and cadence on treadmill without a footpod.. Are you sure you are using treadmill profile? In any case, I see no reason why Vantage would not do the same. Here is my run on treadmill with v800: link to flow.polar.com

  118. Hike/Bike gal

    Finally, a changeable wristband that accepts standard marketplace bands (on the Vantage M anyway, seems really odd that it isn’t on the Vantage V).

    So glad to see “Back to Start” on the planned upgrades list.

    SO SAD, to not see route import/route guidance on the planned upgrades list.

    Would have already pre-ordered if route import/guidance was included or planned in the near future. Now in a wait and see mode.

  119. Jean-Pierre

    Polar lost the plot years ago, why some people still buy their products (especially at those prices) and they are still in business is mystery.

    • Robert

      What is better than Polar for triathlon?

    • Steven Shaw

      Given that I like to use a bike computer for the bike, and concurrently record data from sensors on my watch, I would suggest any watch that can use an ant + sensor. There are many such watches available, such as a any Garmin Fenix, Forerunner 735xt or 935. Basically not a polar product. I bought a v800, and use it often for running, but alway use a Garmin Fenix 3 for triathlon (along with edge 520 on bike).

    • Robert

      Oh. I noticed that a great deal og triathletes have a bike computer.

      I used to have everything on my watch.

      Now I have the Polar rcx5 mounted on the bike and the V800 on my wrist. It works fine. I have all the data I need.

    • Andrew

      Jean-Pierre. Its because we are fools. I would say you are opinionated but Scott might lol… me. (-:

  120. Joe A

    Hi Ray,

    It would be interesting to plot Vantage V (built in) running power together with Vantage V + Stryd running power. I guess you would need two Vantage V’s. This assumes the Vantage V can access the Stryd derived running power ,… can it?

  121. Ritsma

    Hi Ray,

    Tnx, very informative.

    Does Training Load Pro & Recovery Pro work also when you cycle (or other sports like muscle work)? I notice that recovery when working out in the gym with a V800 doesn’t reflect my feeling.

    Bye

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      The muscular load found with the Training Load Pro feature is seen when the Vantage product is recording power data. That includes the power readings from the Vantage V, as well as 3rd party power sensors such as Stryd and Bluetooth enabled bike power meters. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • tom

      Hi Mike,
      I wonder how it will work if I alternate between the built in power and Stryd? As I understand it, power is just a made up value so for example 300 watt on Stryd may very well be 200 on Polar?
      Oh and don’t forget we need route navigation really bad! 🙂

  122. Rob

    Hello Ray – great review as always – thanks.

    I notice that the photos of your test units don’t include the Polar logo at the bottom of the watch face, yet all the rendered images on the Polar website do?

    Do you think that Live Strava segments will come to the M and if using for triathlon how do you tell it that you are going from swim to transition to bike etc. Is it a simple button press?

    I think the Polar Flow eco-system and associated sport profiles are superb so the Vantage is very tempting.

    One last question…do you ever sleep?! You must be the hardest working reviewer of all time – your work ethic is inspirational!

  123. Brent

    5 years to develop another watch that will be released in BETA. Functions to be added in the years to come.

    Problem with Polar is they ALWAYS miss the deadline and take forever to release simple updates – remember Strava sync?

    Couple that with the fact it lacks smartphone notifications out of the box and uses an inferior GPS chip which was basically the main thing that set the V800 above the Garmin Fenix. I am sad to hear this news.

  124. Thomas

    Ray, can you elaborate a bit about the different screens available? How many metrics can be shown in one page? Is maximum 4 metrics? Is there a specific interval screen?

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      The maximum number of metrics that could be visible with the Vantage are four. If exercising within a interval, a screen will appear showing the time remaining. – Mike@PolarUSA

  125. Roger

    Interesting that Polar and Suunto both have the Sony chipset, but Polar has GPS + Glonass and Suunto only has GPS. Also would be good to know if Galileo is possible with the Sony chipset and if Polar will be adding it. It might help accuracy….

  126. AusRun

    Ray:
    Great review as always just a question regarding music support for the new Vantage watches.
    No music support currently listed, but is this only a software update away?
    Dos the unit have the required internal memory that music could be loaded on to the unit?
    The watch is BL equipped so it would have the ability to broadcast to wireless earphones would it not?
    As a recreational runner and a multi-sport watch user the Vantage M would be very competitive against the Garmin Vivo 3 music if it had music capabilities.

    Thanks

    • Jay Holbrook

      I agree. Music/podcast support is important. Trying to cut down on all the gear I need to carry and at this price point music is fairly standard these days. I own a TomTom Spark, which I need to replace since the SW never really caught up with the HW specs. Vantage M looks like a strong contender, but probably won’t make the short list if they are unable to add it later.

    • Glenn Levine

      Music/podcasts is a feature I want as much as anything, but I suspect battery life will be the obstacle considering Bluetooth/wireless is necessary to execute. Polar has it in M600, which I thought was a nice model to experiment with Android, music, color, fancy notifications, and other consumer-techs fun stuff. But it seems not a serious performance watch. Some competitors seem also to have the same approach, often in a model that’s not the flagship performance model.

      This is a really interesting one, though, because serious performers also like music.

      Mike@Polar, DCR, or anyone else know the plans for the M600 or generally how Polar is going to approach this?

      g

  127. Umut

    I will keep my v800 until
    Navigation is supported and GPS accuracy improves. I wonder if separate power zones for Running and Cycling will be supported.

  128. jcps

    stunned that based on the specs from Polar’s website, neither the M or the V have a stopwatch function! add a lack of route navigation and I assume an alarm, and that somehow Polar have made the v look like the cheaper version, both these are a “no” for me and probably my wife too.

    very disappointed as I’ve held on for almost 2 years.

  129. Stefan

    Has the vantage a backlight option for night or is the screen bright enough to take a look at it if it’s dark?

  130. Zach Rumlow

    Why do you think Suunto and Polar are avoiding putting contactless payment in their high-end watches? I can’t understand it.

    • Scott

      Personally, I think it is due to demand or lack thereof. It is not something I would want or even use, especially in my outdoor sports watch.

    • Simon B

      They make sport watches for athletes, not smartphones for shopping people.

    • Zach Rumlow

      I would agree with you but Suunto put it it one of their “activity tracking” watches. I can honestly say that I’m never not wearing my watch. It’s not like putting in NFC would require adding any weight or removing features. The 5 plus did it without removing any features and only added 2oz to their normally sized watch. Everyone also has some form of text response, email reading…and other “smartphone” features.

    • Andrew

      Zach. I think this is of only marginal interest to the target market of these watches. If I am training I am not stopping to buy stuff. If I am not training I have my phone with NFC. Most athletes have the physical capability to reach into their pocket to grab their smartphone through years of hard training. Rather than wish to change the product why not change which product you wish to buy. Maybe an apple watch 4?

    • Zach Rumlow

      My point is though, why even buy a new Suunto or Polar product. I can go buy an old 935 or 735 and get similar enough (if not better) hardware and far superior software and ecosystems for a lower price. I’m just stating, brand new, high end watches deserve all the bells and whistles. It’d be like putting only a power driver’s seat in a brand new Lexus. Did they cheap out and put a cheap engine in? No, but they didn’t put in some of the nice features that the Acura did. I am just curious why even cheap out. I certainly understand that some to most people aren’t interested in it, but it will continually become more popular as time goes on and it just seems like Garmin’s truest competitors took a shortcut on this one.

      P.S. I have always and will always own Garmin products. I currently use my 5 plus for most activities but have a 235 laying around in case I need it. I have my horse and I’m sticking to it, so don’t bring that garbage Apple Watch into this.

      P.S.S the only thing I wish that Garmin invested in was an underwater compatibility for optical HR.

    • Andrew

      Zach. You open with a rhetorical question supported by an assertion that many people would disagree with. My experience with the Polar M430 wrist hr is that it is way better than Garmin’s elevate offering or Suunto’s Valencell sensor (though this works really well on the Scosche). I had real GPS issues on my F5+. I much prefer Polar Flow as from my PoV it provides much better support to structured training and the feedback is more informative. It depends on what you are trying to achieve. Polar products are nicely targeted towards athletes trying to improve using structured training programs. Your statement that you will always buy Garmin is fine. I think it wiser to choose the product best suited to your needs taking into account price and a manufacturers short and medium term performance. I am happy with the performance of my V800, M430, ecosystems and long term support. At the moment Polar get my custom and I have pre-ordered the Vantage V.

    • “Why do you think Suunto and Polar are avoiding putting contactless payment in their high-end watches? I can’t understand it.”

      Because the bar is too difficult for a company of Polar/Suunto’s size.

      The challenge with the way contactless payment systems are implemented today is a device maker has to go individually to each bank and get approval to implement. Not each card (i.e. Visa/Amex/etc), but every single bank in the world. Seriously, every bank. It’s mind-bogglingly inefficient.

      So the Apple’s, Fitbit’s, Samsung’s, and Garmin’s of the world all have to do this individually, and it takes a heck of along time. And more than time, it takes raw numbers. Garmin can talk to a bank and say “We’re gonna ship 1-million Fenix 5+ units this year alone with NFC, plus another million Vivoactive 3/whatever units.” Fitbit can say roughly the same. Apple can say a crapton more, plus phones (same tech).

      Polar and Suunto would have to triage that same massive list of banks globally, but when they walk into those meetings the numbers would be so low comparatively they wouldn’t likely get traction.

      Now there are some options for 3rd party processors. For example, technically Garmin uses Fitpay…but to my knowledge, Garmin is the only wearables client of theirs. So in essence, Garmin is driving the vast majority of that conversation.

      Finally, the demand is there – but it varies quite a bit by country.

  131. Umut

    It might make a difference if we send email to customercare@polar.com with our wish list of features to be added to the new Vantage series.

    • Thomas

      I’m pretty sure they’re either reading along in here or have a dialog with Ray about future features.

      It was said in the release that they will be paying a lot of attention to customer feedback. It would be wise of them getting the input already from here or FB.

      Also after final release they will create a website where to discuss ideas.

  132. Cestos

    Polar, oh my dear..
    What have you done?
    You changed your most significant characteristic!
    Sweet sweet square to ordinary round shape…
    With an blink of an eye, everyone could tell, this was a POLAR watch.
    Now, you only can guess what passed you by?
    Garmin, Suunto, Polar, …?
    A square shape with TSS, IF, VO2Max estimation and real time W’ and everyone would know, this is the latest hottest sh.. on the marked.
    Possible through implemented running power and 3rd party bike power meters.
    Polar, you don’t have to hide!
    Be square!

    • Andrew

      I prefer square too. It is easier from a programming PoV too as you can fit more into the screen real estate. Living in a circular rooms would be a nightmare. You can also hide a little GPS antenna and get better reception. It is essentially a fashionable nod to mechanical watches which have to be round. These are expensive status symbols. Having looked at numerous watch reviews it is clear that many people really care about their watch appearance in the office. Polar can’t ignore market forces, however irrationally based. Polar just have to go with the flow! (-;

  133. Alan Brown

    Disappointed when I got a Spartan Trainer and found it couldn’t do bricks or duathlons (no mention of this in your review, although later found mention if this in 5k runner review). Have since bought a 735 which is excellent. Can the Vantage do bricks/duathlons

    • tom

      Not sure about Vantage. But on the V800 you can choose free multisport which which enables you to choose freely different activities after each other. Any sport and as many as you like.

  134. tom

    Not sure about Vantage. But on the V800 you can choose free multisport which which enables you to choose freely different activities after each other. Any sport and as many as you like.

  135. Hi DC!!
    There will be a new redesign of polar flow???
    Thankss!!

  136. Glenn Levine

    I’d like to add 2 cents to the general reaction to the new Vantage products. I’m no psychologist, but I suspect this may ease the pain some of you are experiencing around the launch.

    1) I don’t work for Polar, but I have owned them since s625x 15 years ago and typically buy the latest higher end products. Polar is good at precision, support, minimizing bugs, and choosing useful features for the more-than-casual athlete. They don’t make watches that do everything for everybody, although have some nice mainstream products. I’ve never owned a Garmin. Nothing against them. They seem fine, I love the details and comparison matrices, but the product line gives me a headache, people tell me they’re buggy, and the high end just has too much stuff that’s more of a distraction than helps me focus on what’s important.

    2) There are no perfect products. If your reaction is “it doesn’t have this feature that I want, they suck, I’m out”, and you are applying this “methodology” to all competing products, then I suspect you are watchless. No watch in this class has everything and executes it flawlessly. Fitbit One does that. It tracks steps. Nothing else.

    3) Their fitness science and ecosystem are well-thought out and once again, features carefully chosen for athletes and hopefuls. They do some, but not much, “throw spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks”.

    4) The product has arrived with a feature set, a whole bunch of new and innovative stuff, and simplicity in their line. They made some hard choices, know some features that need to get in there quick, and need some feedback to choose others. If they need 5-6 months, you have a v800 like me, and you need routes and Strava live segments, then you have options other than jumping off a cliff (or using another product without running power on the arm (way to go Polar!). You could, gulp, keep using your v800 for a few months, and buy it when it has the updates done right (like Polar has done nicely).

    5) Polar is allowed to drop features. Car manufacturers are dropping gasoline engines and clutches, Polar is leading the dropping of footpods and heart and arm straps at 66 grams and with 40 hrs of 1-min battery life. Let’s give’em some credit where it’s due and useful feedback so they can get on with fixing the GPS issues getting interval timers back in there.

    We love you guys and all your passion…really we do. We just don’t want to see you without a watch!

    • tom

      Nicely said. I love Polar for all the reasons you mention. I do need navigation and even though Polar has made no such promise, I have already pre-ordered the Vantage V. The reason is that I just know it will come eventually and and until it does, whenever I need navigation I will make do with my V800.

    • Andrew

      I think that was the full dime. Well said.

    • Peter

      I started with the Polar S210 way back, then progressed to the M400 + H7 and when I had to replace it I went for the Suunto Spartan Trainer.
      So ‘to drop things’ is not going to lure me back to Polar as the 1y old SST offers A LOT MORE than the V-M, which is a pity as I really have pinned my hopes on the V-M to lure me back to Polar as it is indeed my first love 🙁

      In fact, they ‘dropped’ so many things that for me who uses only the HR strap for HR recording, it is in fact quite a step backwards. That is the danger if you hinge your whole ‘competitive edge’ (oHR) solution and strategy on one single item – it is lost on those who does not use it. What is left then?

    • Umut

      Peter, you need to use an HR strap only if you are interested in using the Recovery Pro feature which relies on HRV measurements. oHR sensors cannot currently handle HRV.

    • Andrew

      Hi Peter.

      If you wish to improve performance most sports scientists believe phased constrained training (aka complex workouts) is key. This requires an ecosystem that fully supports this. It also requires accurate sensor data. The VM supports this for HR and pace, the VV for HR, pace(*1) and power. I do not believe any other manufacturer natively supports complex workouts with power(*2). In a nutshell they provide that which is essential to training and the VV does it in three different ways.

      As far as recovery pro goes, this requires measurement of the ECG R-R interval. The R wave has a clear start time. Optical is more like counting fluffy cushions. You know how many you have got, but not exactly where one begins and ends. I am no statistician but expect the heart rate variability is buried in the variability of the sample mean.

      I have a SSU. It is OK but does not support complex intervals so is a non-starter for most of my training. I tend to use it for a long weekend run in a single target zone with nav on a new route. I had a SST but for me the optical HR was unusable and I couldn’t see the screen! (old age). I gave it to my son.

      (*1) it will be interesting to see how good instantaneous pace is. If the Sony chip has an inertial system on board then it might be really good. Pure GPS based estimates fail. Currently pods such as Stryd with no GPS are best. (It does make you think about the role of GPS other than for nav or seeing your routes after training).

      (*2) the Suunto Ambit 3 mobile app clunkilly supported phased trg with power but only for whole 100 W increments!

  137. Umut

    The reply I got from Polar regarding the email I sent complaining about lack of navigation and GPS accuracy. Nothing new but at least they acknowledge that adding the navigation feature is technically possible. What I get out of their answer for GPS accuracy is that they still have a way to go to learn how to program the new chipset from Sony.
    ———
    Hi Umut,

    Regarding your first point, we’re not able to provide further detail at this point. We can confirm however that Route Guidance for Polar Vantage V remains technically possible. It’s something we’ll continue to investigate, alongside a whole host of other enhancements, in the weeks and months to come.

    As for the accuracy of the GPS, Polar Vantage uses different tech when it comes to the GPS measurements. The GPS tech in Polar Vantage allows for an ultra long battery life and caters for the new design, whilst still, of course, maintaining a high level of accuracy.
    Polar Vantage V and M are already being used by some of the world’s top athletes such as Gwen Jorgensen, Annie Thorisdottir, and Sebastian Kienle to name but a few as well as by some media/reviewers. The multisport watches are still being optimised however and we’ll be rolling out a whole bunch of enhancements in the weeks and months to come.

    We’ll be providing a dedicated space on Polar.com, which will provide detailed info of what’s to come and when. We’ll share more info once the page is live, in the weeks to follow.

    Have a nice week,
    Team Polar

    • tom

      They’re really not promising anything. At the same time, navigation is a show stopper to many so the roadmap coming up will be vital. About navigation, they have the possibility to make it even better since it appears the Vantage (like most Suuntos) has a magnteic compass. V800 did not so the compass got confused sometimes since it was based on gps and required you to move to find your heading.

    • Andrew

      The V800 has a magnetic compass which sometimes needs calibration with wrist movement. You can see this yourself when you are following a route. Stop, rotate and the route rotates and stays related to the ground. Your waving wrists remain well within the error of gps position estimation and are therefore static from a GPS PoV.

    • tom

      Thanks, that made a lot of sense.
      Based on your explanation I think that where I read V800 does not have a magnetic compass must be wrong.

  138. Rob

    So my M400 is showing it’s age now and I was looking forward to seeing what came along.
    The M looks fine for me. Although a V minus touch screen would be great but doubt we will see that.

    Anyway. I’m wondering if these Vantages will allow us to lock pace zones.
    No matter what I do on the M400 it refuses to lock a pace zone and instead always locks whichever HR zone I happen to be in when I reach the desired pace zone which then starts throwing alarms at me constantly as I tire and HR goes up but I want to stay in zone. The only way around it is to train minus HR strap.
    Maybe I’m doing something wrong.

    Does anyone have any insight into whether we will be able to lock pace zones instead of just HR?

    As for some of the missing bits. Fitness test maybe should have been in from the off as arguments aside regarding worth, I find it good on a personal level to gauge where I’m at.

    Smart notifications I can take or leave. I don’t have them on with my M400. When initially announced way back when I thought it sounded good. I could leave phone in bag or whatever whilst riding/running and if anything came through I could see how important and decide to acknowledge or not. That obviously wasn’t the case as they stop working once recording so unless that’s changed they are still of no use personally.

    I have had a look at the competition at this sort of price and think I’ll stick with Polar for now so will be ordering the M at some point just hope I will be able to lock pace this time!

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      It is possible to lock onto a pace zone with the M400. The feature has to be enabled first within the Flow website. Simply log in, navigate into your sport profile settings, select the profile you wish to edit (running for example) and then click on speed/pace settings. Where it says ‘zone lock available’, select ‘on’. Save the settings and then sync your product with the Flow web service.

      To enable the feature during an exercise session simply press and hold the center right button. The watch will ‘ask’ whether or not you wish to lock onto that zone. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Rob

      Hi Mike.

      I have zone lock turned on already yet it still locks to Hr and not pace.

      Maybe it’s time for a reset. I’ve had it since they were first realeased from ore order.

      Something to figure out either way.

      Cheers Rob

  139. Mario

    Very positiv:
    – GPS-battery life to 40-hours 1-second recording with optical HR too
    – Running power from the wrist (no sensors required) – Is it really so good???
    – Optical HR sensor with 9 LEDs and electronic skin-contact sensor
    Very negativ:
    – No intervall training
    – No maps and not even navigation modus
    – No R-R-recording
    – No Galileo-support
    – No more than 4 data fields per screen
    – No Race Pace or Virtual Racer/Partner
    Thus, it is a real disaster for 499 euros and a huge step backwards to the V800.
    The long wait was not worth it, i am very disappointed with Polar and so I will switch to Garmin.

  140. Diego

    Hi, I do not have this completely clear, is the polar Vantage M also a triathlon watch?
    Also what kind of recovery advisor does the M Offer stand alone?

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      The Vantage M is indeed a multisport device. One will be able to move from one sport to another under one exercise file. As for the post-exercise recovery information, the cardio load/muscle load status (with compatible power sensor) will indicate whether or not the training one has been doing is productive for example or perhaps one is over reaching where you’ll need to pull back on total volume/intensity. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Marathon Man

      Mike
      One question is whether if you switch between Stryd and the wrist based power during a week of training, whether that will invalidate the cardio / muscle load calculations. Do you have any insight on this?

    • Fredrik

      Mike@PolarUSA, thank you for clarifying things on this thread. Really excited by the Vantage V.

      1. If I use a non-power sensor like a regular BLE foot pod (like Stryd Live for example or Polar Stride) will that be used for pace in the native power calculation instead of the GPS?

      2. If I use a running power sensor like STRYD, will Polar Vantage then use STRYDs watt as calculated by their algorithm or will you just use the pace from STRYD and feed it to the Polar native power algorithm?

      3. How will you handle power taken from different sensors (Runscribe, Stryd) and wrist based power estimates? Will you separate them and make the user look at one muscle load per power profile for consistency and accuracy instead of just mixing them together?

      Thank you!

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      In the scenario you describe the muscle load calculations would be affected by using the 2 different technolgies. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      In the scenario you describe the muscle load calculations would be affected by using the 2 different technolgies. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      -If you pair a stride sensor (whether it be Polar or a 3rd party like Stryd), that sensor would ‘take over’ as the primary source of speed/distance calculation.

      – If you’re using the Stryd sensor to capture power, the wattage provided by the Stryd sensor would be seen on the display. There would be no ‘conversion’ of data.

      – It is my understanding that there will be no separating of power data from different sources. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Marathon Man

      Mike
      So in order to have consistency in the muscle load calculation you need to have consistency in the sensor that you use? I think that is what you are saying.

  141. TimK

    Re: running power comparison, did you make sure you had the same body weight setting for both Stryd and Polar?

    • Andrew

      TimK

      You can’t really compare running power “measured” (inferred) using different definitions, models and technologies. I would expect different results for Garmin, Polar and Stryd even if body weight and height was entered correctly on all devices. We would hope they correlate reasonably well. If linear the gradient is certainly not 1. May not even be linear. This is because running power is not a true power output in a mechanical sense. Cycling power is.

      Hi Ray. I bet you are too busy to plot power vs power for different combinations of pairs of running power tech and see the correlation?

    • tom

      This is what I’m thinking too. Alternating between Stryd and the built in Power can really screw up metrics.

    • Marathon Man

      I would think that a scenario where sometimes you use Stryd as the source of power for running and other times where you use the built in Vantage V capability, would likely cause an issue with the muscle load metrics.

      My sense is this:
      – People that already have Stryd will probably keep using it with the Polar Vantage series. I don’t see any reason why Polar V800 with Stryd and Polar Vantage V/M with Stryd would be any different and therefore metrics should be consistent. I don’t see a reason not to keep using Stryd with Vantage V given how simple it is to move from shoe to shoe. And you’ll be able to look back at historic efforts to compare etc. Unless of course you just want 1 less device to remember to charge etc.

      – People that don’t have Stryd will likely use the native power of the Vantage V.

      There may be some advantages for people of having Stryd and native power on the V. For example, Stryd could connect to Zwift for treadmill workouts and you could have the native Vantage power in Polar Flow.

      I assume the new muscle load metric isn’t going to be added retrospectively to activities in Polar Flow, so really the issue is whether, once you have the Vantage V, whether you want to continue using Stryd or simply move to Polar’s calculation. If you move, you’ll lose the ability to compare historic efforts.

    • TimK

      Andrew,
      if you pardon my French, I realy don’t care what you expect or believe, I’m just curious if Ray made sure he had the same body weight setting for both Stryd and Polar.
      Thank you.

    • TimK

      Marathon Man,
      one obvious (for Stryd users) advantage of using Stryd is it’s superior pace and distance accuracy, which comes especially handy in situations when GPS reception is less than adequate.

    • Marathon Man

      TimK
      I agree. Stryd is also the only device that gives me accurate distance / pace on a 400m running track. GPS reception may be excellent on a track but it can’t deliver the accuracy required.

    • Andrew

      Moi aussi (to the former). The latter is irrelevant.

    • My body weight is within one pound on each device.

      Not that it really matters too much, as Polar noted even before we started running on the first meeting day that they expected to be higher than Stryd.

  142. Adam H

    Thanks for the thorough review!
    I’m curious about the Vantage V and M’s capabilities with regards to indoor and outdoor rowing. I imagine those are two of the 130 sport profiles, but does it provide metrics like stroke rate or splits, similar to the Garmin Fenix?
    Thanks again, I always enjoy reading your reviews.

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      Rowing and Indoor Rowing are indeed part of the sport profile selection that one can add to their product. While it does not have the ability to capture stroke rate it can capture splits by simply pressing the lap split button. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Adam H

      Thanks for the info Mike!

  143. Glenn Levine

    There’s a lot of talk about GPS accuracy here. Apparently the Vantage’s new Sony GPS chip is going through some growing pains. Polar’s made a hard decision (seems like for battery life and maybe to chase Galileo) to leave the v800 chip behind despite it’s phenomenal accuracy–no really, it’s phenomenal and perhaps the clearest example that Polar’s into high quality where it counts–not quantity.

    This article link to fellrnr.com is worth reading to inform this conversation, and to show how the rest stack up (including foot pods). I really have nothing against Garmin, but it’s odd that a GPS/navigation company doesn’t do very well–just sayin’.

    g

  144. Risa Roland

    My apologies if I missed this within the feed….did you swim with it? In a pool? In open water? Is the heart rate accurate?

  145. alex

    It looks really nice! I just got a Fenix so will wait longer till more features come out onto it early next year. Im still in show it doesn’t have the stopwatch/timer on it which is very basic for a watch. The fenix i have found also slightly annoying as you have to dig through to find the stopwatch.

  146. Lennard

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you for the review. I didnt see any mention of running index? Will that continue?

  147. Glenn Levine

    As with GPS accuracy, there’s a lot of talk about running power. Both big topics.

    This article link to the5krunner.com link to the5krunner.com is worth reading to inform this conversation, and shows feature-by-feature how Vantage stacks up again Garmin, Runscribe, and Stryd, who also integrate running dynamics/form.

  148. Lukas

    Hey Polar!
    Please add GPS routing + longer battery modes and I promise we will buy your watch.
    Yours truly
    Outdoor people

  149. Maikkeli

    Hey Mike or DCR, I been following discussions and have a few questions related to Vantage V. I hope you have time to check them out and give your thoughs

    -is there any updates on how planned intervals are working during workout? While working out in trails, it would be nice to have easy access to manually start next interval – for example while running hill repeats etc. where it’s difficult to know precise time/distance for recovery. Would love to have an option to have for example selection for red button behavior during inteval training (normal behavior or start next inteval). Still manual laps could be taken via tap gesture if needed.

    -I know that future updates are not announced yet, but I hope support for footpod pace to get wrist power will be added. Would make control trainings on treadmill much more interesting!

    Flow is great. I hope the workout planning portion will move even more towards TP (better summaries on planned workouts). Also maximum one year back-period limit is annoying. It would be better to strech the option till the start of previous year or season to graph trends even better.

    Overall very nice updates from V800 (24/7 HR, great look and excellent battery life). Pre-ordered Vantage V H10. For the navigation hype, there clearly is strong market demand but I can’t help but wonder who the heck want to read any maps at such a small watch screens anyway 😮

    • tom

      You’ve obvioisly never used route navigation on V800. There are no maps, just a breadcrumb path to follow. As easy to read as reading ones pace.
      And really useful if you need to follow a poorly marked path, takes the wrong turn and get a notification beep/vibration telling you you’re going the wrong way.
      Providing a route is very common when arranging an ultra these days.

    • Maikkeli

      Hey Tom,

      Breadcrumb I get, and given how many updates V800 has gotten since 2014 I have zero doubt it would not be implemented. Actually I think last time I used the feature was exactly at ultra trail race

      My comment was more on comments on navigation/maps around in the discussions around the webs. Personally I find even Wahoo Element Bolt screen a bit small for mapping (actual map). But we’ll see what Polar will come up with.

    • tom

      Ah, I’m with you. For actual maps, I don’t think that will ever happen

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      – It is possible now to manually select when the next phase of an interval begins. To do so, simply create a internal/phased interval like one normally would on Flow. When on the screen defining the duration/distance intensity targets there is an option that allows you to select how the next phase will start (automatic/manual). Selecting automatic prompts the timers within the watch to move to the next phase. Choosing manual leaves it to you (by pressing the red button).

      – Regarding the ability to pull reports past a year, unless I misunderstand you question, it is possible to do so. Clicking on ‘Progress’ on Flow and then selecting ‘Training Report’ opens up the ability to pull reports on sports over whatever time period you choose Simply click on the drop down menu underneath where your name is and select ‘Custom Period’. It will be here where you can customize that time period. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Chris O'Shannassy

      Great to see you being active here Mike:

      I really like Polar’s implementation of treating phases & laps as separate things, it allows a lot more flexibility than I’ve seen on any other platform. The problem I have with it is that _because_ nobody else does it, exported files can be hard to work with on other platforms. I’d love to see Flow’s export options updated so that you could choose to export “Phases” as “Laps” – that would work a lot better with other analysis sites/software.

      In regard to Power, I use a Stryd and really like having running power, which I guess I _mostly_ treat as a live grade adjusted pace value. Would there be an option to including a power scaling factor for external sensors, the same as exists for footpod distances? This would at least allow a rough matching between internal/external power measurements.

    • Andrew

      I guess you just have to measure your rFTPw using both technologies, perhaps using Stryd’s 3/9 method. You can then workout zones for each. I have a configurable Connect IQ power field that will do the calculations for you if you just set the rFTPw. The default percentages of rFTPw for each zone are by default based on Jim Vance’s zones but again these are configurable.

      link to apps.garmin.com

    • Andrew

      P.S. It would be better if power was recorded as a percentage or ratio of rFTPw rather than “Watts” so as to allow sensible comparisons to be made between different power measuring technologies.

    • Marathon Man

      How would that work? Wouldn’t the fact that one has a higher calculation simply mean that the %age / ratio to rFTPw is higher for that device?

    • Andrew

      Hi MM.

      Not sure what you are saying.

      If we assume a simple straight line relationship between power measured on two devices then there would be an (unknown) scale factor which would allow comparison of power readings from two devices (which is the question Chris posed).

      If we knew the scale factor we could calculate p1 = a * p2 (p1 is power measured on device 1, p2 on device 2 and a is the scale factor)

      There is a single physiological threshold (not the number of Watts at threshold which differs with each device) so p1t = a * p2t at threshold (p1t is the threshold power on device 1, p2t on device 2).

      So p1/p1t = (a * p2 / a * p2t)

      So 100 * p1/p1t = 100 * p2/p2t and at threshold both devices read 100% of their individual (different) threshold power readings.

    • Mike@PolarUSA

      Thanks for the input. Polar is always looking to enhance the functionality of the Flow web site and mobile app, including not only how it works with other platforms but also the analysis it provides.

      The introduction of the Training Load Pro will provide input as to how the body responds both from the input (heart rate) perspective and the output (with its power/muscle load calculation). While it may not be to the scaling you refer to,it will provide enough for the users to make informed decisions on how to best proceed in terms of volume/intensity. – Mike@PolarUSA

    • Andrew

      I guess the simplest analogy would be a thermometer. If you had one and it had no scale you might calibrate it using some real physical data such as water’s freezing and boiling points at 1 atm, then calibrate the scale based on that, say into 100 gradations (Celsius scale). All power meters churn out zero when you are stationary. Simply make power output at threshold for any device 100 MMs (or 1.0 or 100%).

    • Andrew

      Hi Mike. I agree with Peter. The algorithm will fail with any external power sensor if it does not generate the same number of Watts at the same level of activity. We are not talking about a difference of a few Watts. These things seem to produce very different numbers.

      The training load should be calculated using a two stage normalisation. The first should be to re-express readings as fraction or percentage of rFTPw (for whichever sensor we decide to habitually use). The second should be a heavier weighting of this normalised value for higher levels of intensity.

      I think this is what Stryd does in calculating is RSS score. This approach is described in Jim Vance’s book running with power.

      You algorithm must at least use a predicted rFTPw otherwise its going to be useless/BS. All you need to do is allow this value to be updated with a measured one using the sensor of choice.

      If you don’t most serious athletes/coaches will see through this and your reputation will be damaged rather than enhanced by this new feature.

  150. Idrive

    Hi Ray, we still do not know how good the polar vantage is at swimming and I cannot find any comments elsewhere in the web. Is wrist hr really reliable in water? Can you say something? Did you swim with it? I now use v800 + h10 in water and it works fine. It would be great to get rid of the chest strap. Thanks!

    • Andrew

      Hi IDrive.

      The M430 seems to work well for me (I don’t like wearing a chest strap either). I want real time HR so the M430 or V800 with H10 are the only options. One would hope Precision Prime is better. I am interested to hear how it did too if this aspect was tested.

  151. Peter

    Great review and a beautiful watch!
    i’ve been waiting for them long, but now I’m quite disappointed – gps, timers…

    anyway what I wanted to add:
    even as the recovery pro and the training pro sound like great features, they are useless for most of users (triathletes). as we can’t import any external training workout for example from the Zwift or if we use Garmin computer for bike etc., it will be miscalculated so these values are far from to be real and so useless.

  152. Rob

    I’m interested to know if the Vantage V has non-replacable straps as the GPS receiver / watch body itself extends into the ‘strap’ section as was the case with the V800. This could result in better GPS accuracy on the Vantage V due to not compromising the hardware design to allow for changable straps.

  153. Francis C

    Hi Ray😁 Think you’ll do an Apple watch 4 review as a tri watch?

  154. Zach

    Will Polar Vantage M be added to the comparison tool?

    Trying to decide between Suunto Spartan Trainer ($230) vs. Polar Vantage M ($280)

    I like Polar Flow better than Movescount, and Polar customer service seems to be better. But I feel Spartan Trainer is as capable (if not more) than Vantage M.

    • Andrew

      Depends on what you need it for.

      If you are serious about training and trying to improve then Polar is a better choice as it has a superior optical HR and supports phased interval training (which needs accurate hr measurement to work properly).

      If nav is important then the trainer may be better for you.

      If your eyesight is not great then the screen on the trainer is really hard to see. For what its worth I found the trainer ohr did not work for me (neither did the S9 ohr). I eventually gave it to my son because of this and because I could’t see the display.

    • Hi Zach, the Vantage is already in the comparison too. Within this post you’ll also see a comparison tool snippet as well.

  155. JAK

    I’m a competitive endurance athlete and am very excited for the release of this watch.

    As for feedback to Polar on features, I’m more interested in core functionality for measuring and monitoring my performance. Simple breadcrumb navigation is also of interest for ultra runs, or long backcountry ski tours (ie: load a track to get to a hut or a track to follow an ultra running course). Some might recommend I go with Suunto for my interests, but having used all three major watch brands, Polar does the best job measuring performance and helping me keep track of it (resting hr, fatigue, recovery, etc). That’s what helps me get on the podium.

    Fast syncing/upload is important. My Suunto took forever to sync and upload an activity. That was awful.

    Notifications from a cell phone on the watch would be nice to have as I would likely wear this daily.

    Would have loved ANT+ in this watch as I own cycling power meters that are not Bluetooth.

    Music on the watch is completely unimportant to me.

    Thank you for your hard work and innovation on this product. I’m looking forward to getting one once it is available.

  156. Rog

    Am I the only one to want to see 300-500 songs and blue tooth to less accessories for when I train …. Garmin has this and is super useful for leaving the phone at home. I would love it if it was at least on the feature list for the future… It’s one reason I’m leading garmin

    • Andrew

      There is at least one other guy in Dayton, Ohio who wants to see 302 to 503 songs. (-;

      BT (cf BTLE) consumes a lot of power and I would suggest this is contrary to the underlying philosophy of this watch.

      Audio quality is pretty poor because of the low bandwidth of BT and the requirement for audio compression. There are higher quality BT audio standards but I think these are even more power hungry. The audio quality on my F5+ was awful (worse than on my M600).

      As your ears don’t pick up bluetooth you need ear buds/headphones. You can get these with music storage on board. More storage. Better sound. Some work for swimming. No energy wasting broadcasting of a signal. I don’t know how well they integrate with music services and this may be an area where they need to catch up.

      I guess the main issue is if you want to see album covers and control music from your watch. In reality this is only useful when you are not doing sport.

      Its a technology that on the face of it seems like a good idea (I thought so too) but when you think about it is an arse about face way of doing things.

  157. Jen

    The V800 watch could only set one alarm time, which struck me as crazy for a watch sophisticated enough to TALK TO SPACE.

    Can users set more than one alarm per day on either of the Vantage models?

  158. Frederik Bonde

    Hi, as always, TOP job 🙂

    Is the POWER METER TSS/NP/IF a definitive no?

  159. Robert

    Hi Ray,
    Did you swim with it outside?

    Currious about wrist heart rate recording in water and gps accuaracy in openwater.

    Hope the water is not to cold 🤞🤞

    And…have you done the same with the new apple watch and will it be useful as a triathlon watch. Would the Polar H10 work with the new Apple Watch? Maybe the looks are better on the new Apple watch, but maybe it’s not a good training watch.
    Kind regards,
    Robert

    Kind regards,
    Robert

    • It was a wee bit colder than I expected at the high altitude lake I was staying at last week outside of Tahoe. There’s some slightly warmer days expected this week in Amsterdam I should be able to get out for.

      Failing that in two weeks I’ll be in Mexico (since in one week I’ll be in Banff, and it turns out 5 days of snow is expected).

  160. Ivan

    Great design/ good looking watch
    But…I’m waiting for standalone sensor (something like Polar OH2) with good memory and pairing ability.

  161. Robert

    Did you make an openwater swim yet?
    Kind regards,
    Robert

    • Robert

      I couldn’t find my comment from Yesterday. I got an e-mail notification that mentioned there was an answer. However, I couldn’t find my own comment.
      I had another window open on this webpage on my Iphone, and strangely showed a lot of new comments for several days.
      Maybe there is something wrong when you use the e-mail link?
      Sorry you had the openwater question again.

  162. Florian

    Is it just me or does the V not seem to be worth the extra cash? A lot of the features that are in the V and not the M seem to be on the gadget-y side (touchscreen, running power,…).
    Spoke to a rep today at a running event and asked him that Qestionn.
    He hinted that the M might be able to connect to power meters?! That would be messed up. Can you comment?