Polar 2018 Strategy Looks Good? – A370, M460, M430, H10…V660? V810?

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Today’s announcement of the A370 sports & fitness band does not come as a surprise.

Polar M430 Detailed Review

Indeed, two events mark a coincidence but 3 mark a trend. The A370 is the 3rd such event, being preceded by the M430 running watch and the M460 cycling watch/head unit (review here).

You could even add the Polar H10 heart rate monitor (review here)Β into the mix to further confirm the trend.

Q: So what is the trend?

It looks like Polar’s trend (aka Polar’s strategy) is to invigorate existing devices with a few, fresh features.

It looks like Polar have cleverly tracked changed in the NEEDS/WANTS of the market. Then selected the key changes to incorporate into their products to keep them relevant to the market.

Polar H10 H7So we’ve seen these highlights and lots of detailed improvements in each:

  • H10 – more accurate and caching
  • M200 – entry-level running with entry-level optical sensor
  • M430 – top-end optical HR sensor
  • M460 – STRAVA segments and power improvements
  • A370 – connected-GPS, 247 HR and sleep improvements.

Polar M460 Cycling Detailed ReviewRegular readers of this blog will now groan and say ‘Ok…here we go again‘. I’m not going to disappoint πŸ˜‰

These releases then give us a bit more confidence in predicting what Polar have in store for us next.

polar-m600-post-workout-summaryHere we go πŸ™‚

  • Polar V660 – This is the larger, navigational cycling device. It would be reasonable to assume that this is freshened up with the exact same STRAVA segments as were received in to the M460 (plus extra ‘bits’)
  • Polar V810 – The top-end tri-watch will get a colour screen such asΒ  to the right…NICE…and optical HR (plus extra ‘bits’…don’t get too excited πŸ™ )

Judging by the prodigious rate of release of new products from Polar so far this year it is not UNreasonable to assume that we shall see these devices in the next 4/5 months although word on the street is that the V800 replacement is for spring 2018.

Polar M200 ReviewThe disappointment might come from those looking for major improvements to the higher-end devices (V650, V810). It looks like only relatively modest hardware and software improvements could be introduced. Remember that companies like Suunto and Polar are small compared to Garmin. The resources that Garmin can throw at their R&D are large. Indeed if Polar can come up with 7 new products in a 12 month period then, actually, that’s pretty amazing. The new ones that I’ve been using are pretty-much working and largely bug-free…ahem GARMIN, take note.

Polar M430 Detailed Review h10I had this secret hope that in the lead up to Christmas 2017 we will have a ‘TA DA’ moment where Polar pull the ANT+ rabbit of compatibility out of the magician’s hat of Christmas presents (could be a mixed metaphor there but you know what I mean – and that must be the best sentence in sports tech this month…c’mon people!!).

But that isn’t going to happen. If you look at the back of the M460 there is not an ANT+ logo…just a Bluetooth one. Sure there are ANT+-capable bits inside but Mr FCC and other legal bods have not been asked to approve that. That’s a show-stopper when it comes to tech conspiracy theories.

THE CONTRARIAN

Then again, don’t get taken in by what I’m saying, above.

Just look at Suunto in January 2018. The relatively obvious TRAINER OUTDOORS was another variant on the existing theme. But then, bam!, in comes the Suunto 3 announcement. Although that product looks similar to others, in fact it marks a quite distinct strategic turn for the company.

Maybe Polar have a surprise OR TWO in store for us in 2018? Maybe. (Hint: they do πŸ˜‰ )

 

Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. $72 or Β£60 and UNlikely to fall in 2018/9.

 

Amazfit Stratos Amazon
Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices are $199/Β£35/Eur165 and will stay around that level in 2018 unless there are new Polar products.

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Bill Reeves

I’m a big Polar fan, and desperately holding out for the V810(?). The A370 might make a nice wearable for general activity, and I may even get it for that purpose, but I’m still holding out for the new flagship! Would honestly buy the V800, but then I would regret it the minute the new one is announced…

Bill Reeves

I agree there are no guarantees, but given the age of the V800 I would be stunned if we didn’t see an announcement this year. My M400 can get me till then. And I also agree the V800 is very well featured, I just know if I buy it now and see an announcement from Polar in Sept. I will kick myself!

Honestly I don’t even know what else I would want it to do…except maybe the optical HR. Color screen might be nice. I think my biggest issue is just wanting the newest! I have a coupon for the Polar store that I’m holding onto for the V810/H10.

“ahem GARMIN, take note.”….darn right…as nice as Garmin hardware looks, the software makes me want to pull out my thinning hair!! πŸ™‚ Polar is so much better at actually presenting your data in ways that make sense.

Justin

I had the m600 for a hot minute. If the battery life wasn’t god awful (compared to dedicated sport watches) it would have been my watch. I loved EVERYTHING about the watch (other than the battery). The display, ease of use, the massive amount of of sport options and simple customization for those things. I even love the Polar flow app, clock-like interface and all. It reminds me of my fitbit surge experience… Just much better

If the v8xx/v900 refreshes the prior watch, on board music storage, 24/7 activity tracking with RHR, and potential stryd support… I will drop Garmin like a sack of moldy potatoes.

Just please Polar, looks matter, go with something more in line with a form people can wear all day, even if it has a square face.

Bill Reeves

What he said…

Justin

See the res on the fenix 5 with the backlight up to max works wells for my tastes. Could’ve it been better? Oh god yes, And i’m all for the square face for the watch too, I just want the watch to look more like a watch and not a “sport watch.”

It’s the same issue running shoe companies have. Great and comfortable shoe….Slime Green/Yellow/Lightning Blue makes not a fashionable shoe (I’m looking at you DynaFlyte!) For some reason, decent aesthetic looks have to be sacrificed in favor of the sport tech it comes with.

This is what I’m talking about…Polar puts up actual pages which outlines who both the continuous heart rate and sleep plus works

https://www.polar.com/blog/continuous-wrist-based-heart-rate/

https://www.polar.com/blog/sleep-tracking-with-polar-sleep-plus/

I think there are a dozen threads on the Garmin forums with people trying to figure out how their devices calculate “resting heart rate”…. Polar flat out explains what they are doing when you see the data in Flow.

Josh

The combo of the improved sleep tracking and 24/7 HR would make it possible for Polar to implement a smart alarm on the device that a few sleeping apps on smart phones use;

“an alarm that wakes you within a 30 minute window (15 minutes each side of your set wake up time) when you are said to be in a particular cycle of sleep to ensure you feel refreshed rather than groggy.”

Though I doubt they will…it will probably be on the A380 :/ When the A360 came out, I asked Polar on several occasions if they had plans to allow the a360 to attach to a smart phone GPS, which I would get the response of “we are looking into it”.

I totally agree with other comments on the software side; Polar flow, especially the desktop view, is great and simple to use.

Ricky

No need to to upgrade from A360 to 370?
Will the 370 bracelets fit the 360 unit?

Piotr Lipski

After 2 months with M600 I’m not so optimistic about Polar’s ‘quality’. My M600 GPS work is faaaaaar away from what I can call as stable and accurate. Through last two months, FLOW gets three (!!!) major breaks/errors in action. A Huge, growing problem with the setup of the new account with android wear is ignored by Polar (as well as by Google to be clear). I can count even smaller, but irritating things like the impossibility to charge watch to 100%, like daily goal counter problems, like serious screen dysfunction, like huge gap between original FLOW’s data and same session, imported on Strava, like differ between time/distance on exported GPX/TCX files for same session.
And, after sending my M600 to Polar – I got information that watch is okay, and if there is something it’s all about software. πŸ™‚ Yeah, because smart/sport watch is all about hardware and software is NOT a case. πŸ™‚

There is no official future features roadmap for M600 as well so… yes, I could be nostalgic on Polar brand but for how long?

Piotr Lipski

The whole experience is broken for now. Ignorance and lack of support also.

Take a look here:
https://flow.polar.com/training/analysis/1321095560#
https://flow.polar.com/training/analysis/1330054178
https://flow.polar.com/training/analysis/1315302734
https://flow.polar.com/training/analysis/1334924095

When GPS performance is chopped like this, we got wrong pace and distance, so there is no sense to use/analyze data.

FLOW – don’t know what to say. It’s probably POLAR’s lack of luck. 2 months and 3 breakdowns, a few days each?

Funniest one – STRAVA. Polar put lil amount of promo on theirs PolarCLUB there.
Yeap, we all know Strava recalculate data. But how it’s possible that data from manual export via TCX file is different than GPX one on distance and time fields? I imported them to Endomodo, Strava and TrainigPeaks as well. With the same effect.

What is the most disappointing, it’s Polar’s lack of the will. Strava case is well know and when od 7km run difference to FLOW is more than 1km… It’s like Polar and Strava never started to work on.

And there is also no will to work with users. What is just… you know, it’s 2017. πŸ˜‰

Tim

I used my V800 for 2.5 years before replacing it with a Fenix 3 HR. Primary motivation for the “upgrade” was to gain all day heart rate and accurate RHR without having to strap up and choose some sort of activity to show it.

The F3HR is great on features, but the display clarity sucks, data is inaccurate (rubbish GPS, hopeless elevation, bizarre calories) and some data presentation is obtuse. Calorie presentation makes no sense. I look forward to Polar’s new watch. I pretty much hate the Garmin. I only continue to use it for the all day heart rate and continuous display of heart rate through a custom watch face.

FWIW I now use a Wahoo Elemnt on my bike instead of my Garmin Edge.

Just

The method to calculate calories in Polar an Garmin differs, see the firstBeat white papers. From the point of view of the accuracy firstBeat (that is the company that gives the science to Garmin, Suunto and Samsung among others…) is doing a better job that Garmin.
BTW in my Polar V800 the elevation never works, did you compare both with a real altimeter?.

Just

Polar is missing the top devices race. As suggested by someone the change in the direction of the company is making Polar a subsidiary of the past.