Price: $550 (Vantage V), $280 (M)
Weight: 68g (claimed)
Battery Life: 40 hours (claimed) of continuous training time
Today Polar, best known for bringing heart rate measurement to the masses, announced two new multisport smart watches, the Vantage V (shown here) and the more budget-conscious Vantage M ($280). This GPS-enabled smart watch has many of the features we expect in a high-end sports watch, such as multiple sport profiles—130 to be exact—optical heart rate, and activity tracking. But Polar ups the ante with the Vantage V by introducing wrist-based power measurement for runners without the need for additional sensors and claiming to be the only product available with this feature. While we don’t expect many cyclists to run out and buy this watch based on this feature, it may be an exciting feature for multisport athletes. And with power being a somewhat underutilized metric in running, it will be interesting to see how running with power develops as this technology, presumably, becomes more refined and the running community begins to embrace its use.
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Measures and Quantifies Training Load and Recovery
In line with the trend in higher-end fitness trackers, the Vantage V offers what Polar calls Smart Coaching metrics in the form of its Training Load Pro software and, exclusive to the Vantage V, Recovery Pro. Training Load Pro measures muscular load, perceived load, and cardiovascular load in an attempt to paint a complete picture to help identify overtraining, undertraining, and whether or not the athlete is right on track. We’ve seen similar functions in other activity trackers, namely from Whoop, which is making a big splash in this area and has already been adopted by some high-profile athletes.
Budget-Friendly Vantage M
For the more budget-conscious buyers who don’t need all of the bells and whistles offered by the Vantage V, the Vantage M ($280) represents an extremely good alternative. Loaded with most of the same features as the Vantage V, the M drops the Recovery Pro tool and wrist-based running power, and the battery runs for only a claimed 30 hours of continual training time versus the claimed 40 hours of the Vantage V. The M still features the same sport profiles, GPS, optical heart rate, and daily activity and sleep tracking as the Vantage V. While the Vantage V comes in black, white, and orange, the Vantage M is available in black, white, and red.
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Redesigned Optical Heart Rate Sensor
The Vantage V smart watch does read heart rate via an optical sensor, but Polar claims this heart rate sensor is dramatically improved from normal optical heart rate sensors currently available and is the most accurate and precise on the market. Polar Precision Prime, the name given to the new heart rate sensor, employs nine optical sensors as well as electrode sensors to measure sensor-skin contact to get a faster response time, enhanced sensitivity, and higher accuracy than other optical heart rate sensors. We know that optical heart rate is inherently less accurate than chest straps, so it will be interesting to see how this compares.
Polar Flow for Coach Online Tool
In addition to Training Load Pro and Recovery Pro, Polar also includes its Polar Flow for Coach online tool to aid in planning and analyzing workouts and training. On the surface it appears to bear a strong resemblance to the TrainingPeaks software, expect it is integrated into the Vantage V watch so an athlete can follow along with the workouts right from the wrist.
Polar says the watches won’t be available until mid- to late October, but is taking pre-orders on its website. We look forward to putting this one through its paces and determining if it lives up to the hype. If it does, we expect it to be a good tool for elite-level multisport athletes.