Polar Vantage V © Polar

Update Polar Vantage: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Polar finally revealed the Polar Vantage V and Polar Vantage M.

Both watches define the new generation of sport watches, with the Vantage V being the high end watch, succeeding the V800 and the Vantage M being a mid-class watch following the M430.

Polar Vantage V © Polar
Polar Vantage V © Polar

Polar Vantage M &copy, Polar
Polar Vantage M © Polar

Both watches follow Polar’s history of delivering watches for athletes with focus on precise metrics helping you to get a better overview of your training and to become a better athlete.

The Good

A trend in sport watches in the last years is the optical heart rate measurement. And polar took this one step further. The new functions are named Polar Precision Prime. The well known green LEDs known from the M series or from other vendors like Fitbit or Garmin have been extended to include red and orage LEDs plus electrodes to measure more precise data. Also this setup should increase the response time of the measurement. This was a huge disadvantage in the past especially for interval training.
Also the new watches are reported to measure optically while swimming.

Another very interesting feature is the running power. This allows you to measure the power your muscle have to bring while running.
And Polar put this directly into the watch. This means that you do not need a external sensor or foot pod for that metric. As sensor like Stryd are very expensive this is a huge step forward for us users.
This metric will be available on the Vantage V only. The Vantage V still requires additional sensors.

Another field of improvements is the Smart Coaching from Polar. This is the marketing name for all the training and resting metric and the entire system around them, helping you to better understand the impact of your training and your resting.
The new system is called Training Load Pro and extends the training load from previous watches into 3 metrics called muscular load, cardiovascular load and perceived load (a subjective value how demanding the training was).
Instead of the training effect and time to recover it will give you a more detailed feedback and even helps you to understand if your training helped you fitness or if you trained too much or too little.
While Training Load Pro is available on both watches, the next system called Recovery Pro is for the Vantage V only. This system tracks your sleep, your stress level and overall health to better understand your current body status and to compare this with your training to give you a better feedback on your recovery from training.
The presentation within the watch resembles of the Garmin system. Let’s see how much they differ.

While this is all new, both watches of course have many of the well known programs Running Index, Running Program, Sleep Plus, activity tracking, 24/7 heart rate measurement and full swimming metrics include detection of your swim style.

If you are training with a personal trainer or a coach, it was not easy to share your data to him/her without giving access to your account. Polar Flow for Coach closes this gap as it allows you to upload your training to your coaches software and receive training plans from your coach.

As already written, the watches will come with a round watch face. The Vantage V includes GPS and a barometric sensor, while the Vantage M comes with GPS only.
The blog DCRainmaker already had access to a beta version. There the GPS was worse than the Sunnto 9 or Fenix 5. But that might change until the watch is officially shipped.
Next to GPS both watches support GLONASS.

The battery life with full GPS will be 40 hours (Vantage V) or 30 hours (Vantage M).
Both watches have a colored display with the Vantage V having a touch screen (Which is reported to be disabled while training).
The Vantage M (No mistake) will have swappable straps. I really cannot understand why the V does not support it.
Both models share the same size, being 46x46mm big with a thickness of 13mm/12,5mm (Vantage V/Vantage M). Comparison with Garmin Fenix 5s plus/5 plus/5X Plus and Suunto 9: 42x42x15,4mm / 47x47x15,8mm / 51x51x17,5mm / 50x50x16.8mm.
The weight is 45g/66g (Vantage M/Vantage V). For comparison: The Polar V800/M430/Garmin Fenix 5s plus/5 plus/5X Plus and Suunto 9: 79g / 51g / 65g / 86g / 96g / 81g.

The Bad

On the other hand, some feature you might use, have been postponed, such as HR Zone Lock, Race pace or interval timer. Also there are a number of features coming later (End of Q1 2019): Smartphone notifications or even Strava segments.

Also there are some decisions I cannot understand. It has GPS and GLONASS. Why did they not enable Galileo? Also I you are checking some of the pictures from people already testing the Vantage, you will see that some screens are too large for the watch. For example the power zones. This is a diagram you might now from the HR zones or speed zones. That diagram is cut of on the edges. Why did they not make it fit?

The Ugly

What I am missing is a smaller version like the Fenix 5s. Especially women might have a problem with a watch as large as the Vantage V.

Also having HRM while swimming is not possible anymore. You can use the optical measurement, but the support for the chest strap frequency has been dropped.

Both watches will not have any maps. There are rumors that navigation or back-to-start might come in a future update, but currently there is not such a functionality.
Nor will the Vantages be able to play music. In absence of a NFC chip any form of payment is also not possible.

The Vantage M (*) will cost 279,99€ and the Vantage V (*) 499,90€. Shipping starts in November.

Conclusion: The Vantages are sure a leap ahead for Polar. The new metrics are a great thing and running metrics without foot pod are unique selling point.
On the negative side we have the missing features like navigation or maps. A lot of feature are coming later, leaving the impression that the watch has been released unfinished (What did you do the last 4 years, Polar?). Also there are features from older watches, which are no longer supported on the Vantages. I am not sure why the dropped the chest strap support while swimming or the Gymlink support. Or why -on a pro watch- do they not offer interval training?

All in all the Vantage can become a great watch, but not the first version. There a too many promised functions. We have to wait if they are really coming (Polar did a good job with the V800 extending it over the time). But from what we say in the presentation, this watch is a huge disappointment in its current state.

Also my impression is that the Vantage V is a watch for professional athletes. The interaction with a coach is most likely nothing many of us can use. The battery life should more then enough to cover a month training for us normal users. And the precision of the metrics is normally very good and necessary of pros.
The Vantage M seems to be the choice for us average Joes. It has a lot of features, a nice design and a fair price.
If you a Polar fan and like metrics more than you might need, the Vantage V is definitely an option for you.
I like gadgets and want functions like music or mobile payment. If this is your choice too, then Garmin might be a better choice for us.

What do you think? Are you going to buy a Vantage? Or are you a Polar user and thinking about switching to another manufacturer? Let me know in the comments.

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