Polar Vantage V: Premium Multisport GPS Watch with Heart Rate Monitor

First impression
As sports enthusiast and Wearables lover, having participated on the whole journey from wearable fitness solutions so far, it is simply a blessing to see the progress and on point developments that happen in the latest products. With the Polar Vantage V, a premium multisport GPS watch for fitness lovers and those training for multiple sports is a formidable asset and finally demonstrates the power of intelligent sensors, sensor fusion, lean functionality and usability. With its attractive design and high-quality materials, the watch is reduced to the most important functionalities and feedbacks an athlete needs in real-time or later summary for optimal training and recovery.

Set Up
Both set up procedures via Polar FlowSync or Polar Flow App are quickly done, and users can easily choose between different display designs and assign them to their favorite sports profiles. VO2max or heart rate levels, even down to very details of parameters e.g. bpm or percentage of HRmax, can be individualized for more ambitious athletes and are quite adequately estimated with basic personal data. Additional information that is provided in the dashboard e.g. for the training zones, Maximum Aerobic Performance or loads are a very interesting and, especially for rookies, a great explanatory way to make best use of all functionalities. We also find it a successful approach having both the Flow App or Flow Sync as major platform to change the watch settings.

What immediately stood out is the impressive battery life and charging time. Even when using constant HF measurements and GPS tracking, the battery life sustained approximately two days. Full charging was also done within 60 to 90 minutes. Due to its low weight it is hardly perceivable and with two different band lengths adjustable to everyone’s wrist. Every manufacturer has its own logic in menu navigation and in our view, it is simply a question of habituation to get used to it. We perceived the touch interface as very responsive and slightly ahead of competitive products.

With their dashboard and platform solution it is great to see that Polar is increasingly working on an integrative approach for multiple sensorics (power meter, food pods, balances, RPE, drinking regimes), data and open other interfaces to Strava, MyFitnessPal etc. to provide a holistic solution for health. However, we perceived partial problems establishing multiple BLE connections in our test nonetheless we love the 360° health idea. In times of increasing importance of data security, we 100% support Polars claim that the data is the user´s property. The usage of some of Polars intelligent analysis requires the user´s consent and the user is always in charge of revoking it. In combination we believe with increasingly complex systems also the end user has a certain responsibility regarding generated data.

It´s arguable whether step count or activity tracking is necessary as an ambitious sports person nonetheless the different parameters in relation to sleep tracking and quality of sleep provides an useful opportunity getting feedback on long-term training control. Also, the concrete feedback on positive health effects in relation to a baseline value gives everyone a systematic way of increasing health and fitness, wherever they start from. The sensory leaps that have happened with optical sensors for heart frequency, started the way of freeing athletes from rather uncomfortable chest belts. Considering the most important factor of reliable measurements, i.e. clean sensor, tight fit, less movement etc. the Polar Vantage provides accurate results. It can also be expected to further improvement over time since Polar itself confirms a higher potential of the optical sensors.

Although, Running Power seems to provide a rather new Index within wearable systems it is still unclear whether it will take a comparable road as power meters in cycling. But the costly merging of multiple sensors (e.g. foot pods) is now history with a single user-friendly wrist worn solution. The indirect calculation of running power via GPS, i.e. speed and barometer seems a bit reduced in respect the biophysiological complexity of human performance and if GPS is not present (e.g. bad connection, indoors), a calculation isn´t possible. Nonetheless, it is a great index and time will show whether this measure will sustain its eligibility.

In our opinion the holy grail lies in the benefits that consumers have of their data. Surely this differs and there are detail lovers that want to dig into every detail but on average a user wants a simple way with interpreted data and recommendations that guide them in their daily activities and alert whether drastic or negative long-term changes occur. This is definitely the case with the manifold integrations of the Polar Vantage. For instance, three factors for individual strain: Cardio Load, Muscle Load and subjective Rate of perceived Exertion (RPE) are integrated and compared with average means regarding past DATA (up to 90 days) and categorized whether your trainings status is depleting, building up or overstrained. A nice to have feature would be a perspective if your training schedule fits your current status or whether coming training bouts are likely to lead to overtraining. But with the orthostatic test a well working alternative for current recovery status exists. With regards to the Running Index, the related estimated VO2max and predictions of 10k to marathon times, we´d rather carefully certify reliability and assume better predictions for the average polar user, simply because more data is available. GPS and Navigation worked smoothly and since this is frequently part of intense user discussions, we believe science grade accuracy is unnecessary in most of the situations.

Everyday use
Sleep, activity tracking and stress indication are besides the sports performance indicators rather standard but also a very nice addition to sensitize users regarding performance and recovery continuum, disregarding its final validity. In our view the use of some parameters requires a long-term perspective such as sleeping, weight, activity and stress level to determine whether a certain habit is unhealthy. In this respect the Vantage has everything it needs and even more.

Professional, inconspicuous every day and training assistant for better health. Great to see that Polar integrated a new Running Power Index to the numerous values of heart rate measurement. The Polar Vantage is a way to better sensitizes people on health, motivating them, and provide increasingly objective measures in real environments. Lean, clean and pro. We are excited what is more to come.

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