Polar Vantage – Clarifications, Tidbits, Updates

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.

Thescreen shots are from what I believe to be a ‘normal’ version of Flow online. You should see the same thing. If not, functionality may have been enabled for me either via the use of FlowSync 3 (beta) or simply by having an active Vantage on Flow

Accuracy

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I have no updates on tests on accuracy – my time is limited and there is little point in testing firmware that will be superseded.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)

Sensors

  • 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.

 

Buy an H10 and try it for yourself

 

  • 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.

Multi-Sport

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.

There is also a different icon for a footpod

And just to show the data works. Here is a brief test ride with ASSIOMA.

And just to be super-clear. This is the LOWER MODEL The Vantage M.

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.

Physiology Metrics

  • 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

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.

Other

  • 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.

General Experience

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…

Polar Vantage V Power vs RunScribe Plus vs STRYD vs Garmin Running Power

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Matthew Longbottom
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Matthew Longbottom

Thanks for the updates…. 🙂 Looking forward to the delivery of mine.
I’m curious about the scaling factor that is applied based on your sporting history if you choose to use STRYD as the source of running power. I imagine I will carry on using Stryd.
Any indication that they will allow advanced metrics from Stryd to be displayed in Flow e.g. GCT etc.

Umut E
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Umut E

If there exists a linear relationship between Stryd power and Vantage power (I doubt) then one can always modify body weight in Stryd settings to match the scale used by Vantage. Note that Stryd calculates power in the unit of W/kg natively and multiplies it by body weight to get power in W. So this trick would work as long as the relationship is linear. You would not need to depend on Polar to support a scaling factor.

ScudB
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ScudB

You can’t calculate power based on GPS only, without taking body weight into account. So Polar must be using body weight too.
Also, since Polar’s GPS-based power can’t take into account vertical and lateral motion, which Stryd does, it must be different from Stryd’s power.

Umut E
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Umut E

I am referring to the body weight setting stored on Stryd, not the value Polar keeps. Polar will take only the power value in Watts from Stryd; body weight setting is not broadcasted by Stryd so there is no way Polar will know body weights are different on two devices.

Fredrik
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Fredrik

@ScudB But don´t you think Polar will use the barometer and gyrometer from the wrist and crunch the numbers to try and account for vertical and lateral motion?

Naiboo
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Naiboo

Thanks for answering my questions on h7 and the size comparisons!

Will
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Will

“Switching between different power sources for Muscle Load eg between STRYD and Polar will not work. However Polar indicate that there is a scaling factor that is applied based on your sporting history if you choose to use STRYD/RunScribe as your source of running power.”

Not sure I understand any of this but what I would like to know is what happens if I forget to take my Stryd for a run or the battery is dead. Will the power field just be empty or will it get the power from the wrist? But that would mess up all the metrics? Hmm I’m to stupid to understand any of that 😉

Also now that it’s dark during my runs I really appreciate the touching the H7 with the V800 to turn on the backlight (hearttouch?). Does the Vantage V have this or possibly permanent backlight or something?

André Pletschette
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André Pletschette

Hey Will, I ask myself the same question since the announcment.

I am afraid “muscle load” will not be really useful. First: it only works when using the power sources and only works in bike / run. Bike runs without power sensors won’t add muscle load?

Second, imagine you have days you won’t do any sport, but you are walking all day (eg: City visits, street workers), your muscles will become tired, even so it would not indicate any muscle load.

Also I believe strength training, football or tennis make muscles tired, even more than running / biking, but as far as I am informed Polar will not take in account for muscle load, this seems quite stupid for me…

Finally I have no idea about the information we get from muscle load.

Peter
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Peter

Many thanks for the info and updates, appreciated!
Can the top data field ‘HR Zone Pointer’ be replaced by eg Pace / Elevation etc? (Also, would it be possible to only indicate say HR with the ‘Circle / Ring’ display, in essence using it as a fifth field?)
Thanks

Umut E
Guest
Umut E

Thanks for the updated info. Greatly appreciated. I have been using Stryd. At some point, I recall that I was able to define power zones for sport profile “Running” but it was actually linked to those for cycling. It seems that Polar has completely removed “Power Settings” for “Running” profile (which is a good idea as it messes up training load calculations for running as the zones are shared with cycling). Now that running and cycling will soon get their own independent power zones, can we expect the same feature (independent power settings for cycling and running profiles) to be available for V800 as well?

Dimitris Dimitriadis
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Dimitris Dimitriadis

Many thanks for this and all other articles on the V/M.

Apart form the running/cycling focused features, do you know how strength, weights and Cross fit will be taken into account when calculating Muscle load, Training and Recovery? This is important to know, especially as the marketing videos show such exercises.

Thanks in advance

z-nut
Guest
z-nut

On their site it specifically states “Muscle Load is calculated from your power data, so you only get a Muscle Load value for your running workouts (and cycling sessions if you’re using a cycling power meter).” under the Training load feature description. I guess any expansion of Muscle Load to CrossFit, weight training, etc, won’t be there at launch, if ever. Kind of a bummer.

MCC
Guest
MCC

Any idea if phased training will be supported from the beginning? Have you seen/heard from Polar anything about Interval timers on the unit?

Eduardo
Guest

Regarding this

“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”

I have asked specifically about HR rebroadcast and the answer I got from Polar Product Manager is it won’t work with 3rd party.

“Yes, it’s possible to use it with our apps for team sports like Polar Team or Polar Club, but it’s not open to other apps/devices.”

Umut E
Guest
Umut E

Is training load synchronized between different Polar devices? I own one device (V800) so can not check. If one owns a Vantage V and a V650 (bike computer) for example, is it possible to see the contribution to training load from a bike session recorded using only the V650 on Vantage V?

RiphRaph
Member
RiphRaph

Good to hear navigation hasn’t been definitely dropped. For whatever it’s worth, I’m in the market for a new watch and either Vantage model sounds like it would be exactly what I’d like IF AND ONLY IF it supported route navigation.

At the moment I’m testing a Suunto Spartan Trainer which may be heading back to the seller in a day or two because the display is so wretchedly dim and hard to read (I like it in most other respects). Currently I’m on the fence about where to look next if I do send it back. Choices seem to be either another Suunto (Sport WHR Baro, probably, *IF* it has a more easily readable display) or sitting tight and waiting for developments in Vantage-world. To that end I’d dearly love to have a rough timeline on when route navigation might appear. I’d really like to ditch my current watch by the end of the year at the latest.

Nick K
Guest
Nick K

Thanks a ton for the write up! Do you have any information about Recovery Pro?

Is it already available on beta devices? Is it just a souped up orthostatic test of shorter duration to make it more palatable daily? Do they take other inputs into accounts like night time heart rate recovery, restful sleep, anything? Are there any plans to perform HRV analysis using Polar’s new sensors, or they concede these aren’t accurate enough?

Matthew
Guest
Matthew

Can the display be inverted to give a light background with black numbers? Although the display does look clear.

Jack
Guest
Jack

In case you already own an H7, there’s no point in buying an H10 with the watch, right?