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I have been using the Vantage a lot for cycling over the last week and a bit. Mostly because of riding a lot (over 30 hours) but also because of not being able to run too much at all. This post is more of an update of some of the info I have got from Polar than from specific insights I have gleaned myself, although I have added some imagery to support what is being said.
Please take this information as being ‘indicative’ rather than the gospel truth for a product that is not yet released.
The screenshots are from what I believe to be a ‘normal’ version of Flow online. You should see the same thing. If not, the functionality may have been enabled for me either via the use of FlowSync 3 (beta) or simply by having an active Vantage on Flow
Polar is making a big marketing play on the accuracy of their ‘pro-level’ device. This is a key differentiator from Garmin that they will have to get right.
- The GPS Performance of the Vantage is being worked on with Sony/Polar. There have been no updates on GPS performance (beta) that I have received to date and, as such, I have no updates on tests on accuracy – my time is limited and there is little point in testing firmware that will be superseded. There ARE GPS accuracy updates that will be applied on or around 15-21 October. My original findings on beta accuracy still stand (link to: the5krunner.com)
- Galileo is supported by the Chipset from Sony. However, it is Sony who would initially enable Galileo support, not Polar.
- There are also oHR accuracy updates that will be released before launch (October)
- Note well: The H10 absolutely CAN support two simultaneous BLE HR device connections but only if the “2 BLE connections” is set to ON via the Polar Beat app for the H10. So a triathlete absolutely CAN have HR via the H10 on the Vantage AND the same source of HR simultaneously showing on a bike’s head unit during a race. I’ve not tried Zwift but it’s probably similar. I guess I could have faked this picture in oh so many ways…but I didn’t.
- Polar’s H7 is supported for the waking HRV test (Orthostatic)
- As we’ve said before the old ‘Gymlink’ 5KHz signal for HR is not supported at all.
- The Precision Prime optical HR array is identical across both models
- Heart rate data is sampled every second for exercise. My take on 247 HR recording is that sometimes Polar sample every second but they stated that they store non-exercise data samples every 5 seconds.
- HR data appears to be broadcast for the Vantage (image below). I’m not 100% sure if this is only from the Precision Prime as the source or if the Vantage rebroadcasts H10 data. I would imagine it is rebroadcasting oHR data although, in any case, I haven’t got it to work (see comment below from Eduardo)
- The previous diagram also shows that Zone Lock is not currently available for HR with the Vantage – same also for speed/pace and power
- Cycling uses FTP for power zones (see below)
- Polar does NOT use FTP for RUNNING power zones. Running uses MAP for its automatic power zones (see image below and this link to polar.com).
- Note that these power settings are for the sport of running and have NOTHING to do with the watch used for that sport. ie these setting SHOULD work on the V800.
- Polar allow custom power zones in Flow for each of the running and cycling profiles where ‘freeform’ values of your own can easily be entered either as simple values or as custom percentages of MAP/FTP.
- The footpod is searched for in several of the non-running sports like Hiking and walking. I’m not sure if power is supported in hiking from STRYD (a recent feature of STRYD was to amend its algorithm to support walking/hiking power)
- STRYD is supported by both the V and M models and have the same functionality in that respect. By default speed and distance come from a paired footpod. Only the V model calculates power using Polar’s proprietary algorithm.
- The omission of metrics like NP/IF/TSS and L/R power balance is recognised. We will have to wait for communications about that.
I have some strong personal preferences here on what should be included here.
However I will try to put them aside and point out that age group/elite triathletes appear to be a target market for Polar. So clearly the devices’ functionalities need to match the use-cases of their target market.
- Multisport is supported in either of the pre-configured triathlon & duathlon sports profiles or in the ‘Free Multisport’ profile. (Link to Polar.com for how this works on V800). The Free Multisport Mode allows you to manually choose the next sport of a multisport session and this works fine for bricks IMO (although not ideal). The Free Multisport Mode is just about OK in a race if you make sure that your constituent sports are in the right order and at the top of the list (you do that via Flow online).
- To be seen as an ‘elite’ or ‘age group’ appropriate watch I would imagine that Polar will need to work on improving the multisport profiles and/or at least include more varied pre-canned multisport profiles. eg Pool tri and Otillo. That can’t be hard and would gain credibility in the target market. Although in my conversations with Polar about introducing this it seems that it might not be quite so easy as, for example, Polar cited that the training load data would need to be integrated for the constituent sports of a multisport profile (presumably that is not so easy).
- These sensors are supported by both Vantage models: Bike Speed, Cadence and Power sensors. Despite appearing to pair, ASSIOMA did not seem to work on an earlier firmware versions with the Vantages. But the current firmware I have seems to let it work fine. Whether or not I had incorrectly paired it before I don’t know. (I sometimes get strange results with other products when pairing one BLE PM pedal rather than both at the same time…latter should be the correct way to do it). Similar to Suunto, when a sensor is available a special red or green icon appears for it on the sports profile’s main page on the watch to indicate the connection status.
And just to show the data works. Here is a brief test ride with ASSIOMA.
Bike power meters do work with both Vantage models. Indeed this is a relatively unusual thing for the lower, M, model to support power. Many previous models from other brands have specifically excluded power support from lower models in order to differentiate their offerings – you could argue that Polar did that with the M430 not supporting STRYD when really it was crying out for STRYD support.
- Targets are supported in a basic way for distance, duration and calories. From what I have read from Polar and through emails, my take is that phased and free targets will be included before sales start but are not supported in the current firmware.
- The Physiological data is transferred between Polar models via Flow. Probably broadly similar to Garmin’s Physio TrueUp.
- Polar’s power calculation for running only works on the Vantage V
- Training Load data will come from non-Vantage products eg V650.
- Switching between different power sources for Muscle Load eg between STRYD and Polar Vantage V is not a good idea.
- The power levels and totals will be different
- Muscle load calcualtions are based on power and hence will be different
- However Polar indicate that there is a scaling factor for MuscleLoad that is applied based on your sporting history. So if you choose to use either STRYD/RunScribe as your source of running power. Thus it doesn’t matter which power source you have you have as long as you stick with it.
Navigation has absolutely NOT been dropped from the Vantage roadmap. Having said that I’ll answer your next question “No, I haven’t seen the roadmap”. Before we all get worked up about this aspect of the Vantage I think we should wait and see the pre-sale communications that Polar make about this. There has been a notable level of concern raised about this and I would at least expect Polar to indicate timescales for the inclusion of some elements of navigational functional.
Having said that it can’t hurt to moan a bit about navigation and I’m sure Polar will take note.
- Polar Flow on Android does not currently support Vantage. This support is expected before release. Possibly sooner
- Gestures/Feedback: Tapping the Vantage can trigger a lap on Vantage V only; autopause can be triggered by low speed on Vantage V or M; vibration can be disabled/enabled on Vantage V or M; Heart Touch (from the V800) is not available on either Vantage.
My experience over the last couple of weeks has been generally good. The device is stable and seems to work. There are bugs and Polar obviously have a bug list that they are working on (I’ve seen at least part of it). I am on my second Vantage V unit as there seemed to be something wrong with the hardware on the one I initially had but that was a few weeks ago.
Finally, in case you haven’t seen one yet, this is a photo on my Polar babies. I’ll take some better images later as this one was just responding to a request for info in one of the comments
This should put the cat amongst the pigeons…
Price, Availability & Discount
The Polar Vantage M retails at $260/GBP250/Eur280,
The Polar Vantage V retails at $499/GBP439/Eur499
The Polar Vantage now has general availability. There do not seem to be widespread discount yet in the EU. I’ve included the best deals below but you will find a better deal at New Running Gear and Power Meter City. New Running Gear (NRG), below, were also bundling in GBP50 of running freebies.
- Power Meter City (USA) with the coupon code ‘the5krunner10’
- New Running Gear in the EU/UK with the code ‘the5krunner10’
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