In this Polar Vantage M Review we take a quick look at Polar’s new running and triathlon watch. Let’s start with some highlights.
- Great battery life
- Looks good
- Super light-weight
- Native running power support & cycling power support
- Gives a more complete view of HR-based training load
- Generally good optical HR, including for swimming (*) – no better or worse than the competition
- Proper button interface for runners
- Proper triathlon watch
- Polar FLOW is more athlete-focussed than other platforms
- GPS could be better (*)
- Lack of watch faces
- Limited smarts
- No audio alerts or tap gestures, unlike the V
- Whilst good, the pre-built, adaptive plans are only for running and do not include running power. (*)
- Whilst good, the running power support needs tidying up at the peripheries to make it market-leading (*)
- Route guidance/Navigation not planned on roadmap for Vantage M (link to: polar.com)
An in-depth and super-detailed review of the Polar Vantage M & Polar Vantage V will follow in November 2018. I have already produced a LOT more detailed, supporting content for the Vantage series here (link to: the5krunner.com) and much of this forms the basis of the detailed Polar Vantage Review that will follow later.
Take Out: If you want a running watch to, err, run with then the Polar Vantage M is a great choice. If you want it to look elegant & refined with your Tuxedo/Dinner Jacket or pay for a coffee then it’s not for you. But wait a minute. If you want to do triathlons with the Vantage M then it is a PROPER triathlon watch as well. And I don’t mean they’ve put the word ‘multi-sport’ on the box, which they have, I mean I would personally use it for a triathlon.
Opinions on the Polar Vantage M
Based on retail hardware/firmware v1.1.7
Based on over 100 hours of use V+M
With 30 hours of proper training time, the battery is up to almost any job an athlete will throw at it. When you are training you will know you have a good-looking, sporty piece of feather-weight tech on your wrist (45g) and whilst it might be the ‘normal’ 46mm dia size, that looks relatively big on thin wrists, you can take some comfort in being able to easily change the straps to suit your personal tastes.
The Polar Vantage M Review ed here has a similar look-and-feel in the menus as with previous Polar watches like the M430 and V800. But this time the colour display adds a certain ‘wow’ factor that wasn’t there before. You can rest assured that Polar have designed the buttons and screen with the practicalities of running/triathlon in mind.
The advanced triathletes amongst you will relish the inbuilt, native and fairly extensive support for both running power (STRYD, RunScribe) and cycling power (ASSIOMA, Stages, etc). You will get great insights into your HR-based training load that will be further refined by calculations that take into account power and perceived efforts, where available.
The Precision PRIME optical HR tech is probably at least on a par with any other wrist-based optical tech at the moment. Be warned that oHR tech responds differently to each individual, regardless of the manufacturer. Instead you can use the Polar H10 chest strap as an alternative and Polar also, unusually, support oHR whilst swimming. Swimming oHR results are not perfect but they can be fairly decent and certainly should not be dismissed out of hand, especially when other brands like Garmin do not support oHR whilst swimming at all (*).
Polar’s app and online platform, FLOW, are athlete-centric and, in my opinion, offer a marginally better athletes’ platform than on Garmin Connect. The more serious sport data analysts amongst you will always take your data elsewhere in either case. Although having said that; the same ‘more serious amongst you’ athletes will probably be impressed with Polar’s extensive season planning and complex, workout creation (*) and scheduling tools.
The GPS is broadly on a par with something like the Garmin 935 but certainly could be improved. (*)
There will be a vocal minority of you that will want the route guidance & STRAVA segments that you had before on the V800. They are only planned for the Vantage V. Although links for your sports data OUT of FLOW are supported as before.
Alternatives – Links to Competing Products’ Detailed Reviews
The Polar Vantage M retails at $279.95
From current models and comparing non-sale prices your alternatives for a tri watch are: COROS PACE ($300), Suunto Spartan Trainer ($280) and Garmin Forerunner 735XT ($350). Running watch alternatives include the Garmin Forerunner 235 ($250) and Polar M430 ($230).
All those alternatives are generally competent products.
The competitive pricing for the Polar Vantage M is about right. Prices will be lower in sale periods!
Price, Availability & Discount
The Polar Vantage M retails at $279.95
The Polar Vantage now has general availability. There do not seem to be widespread discount yet in the EU. I’ve included the Amazon international link below but you should find a notably better deal at New Running Gear and Power Meter City. New Running Gear (NRG), below, were also bundling in GBP50 of running freebies. Help support this blog with the great deals below:
- Power Meter City (USA) with the code ‘the5krunner10’ – click the image below
- New Running Gear in the EU/UK with the code ‘the5krunner10’ – click the image below
(*) I wanted to clarify a few points without interrupting the flow of what I wrote. The optical HR seems generally as good to me as any competing brands’ offerings. I can’t see Suunto or Garmin improving their existing tech but I can see Polar further improving Precision PRIME with some of the algorithm refining tweaks they have presented to the media. Fully correct HR data is personally important to me and I wouldn’t use Polar’s oHR or the oHR of ANY other brand, I would use a chest strap like the H10. You should also know that oHR performance is dependent on lots of factors and any two people can have notably different results.
(*) The GPS is not as good as the V800 or earlier Suuntos (Ambit 3, Spartan Sport non-WHR) but it is acceptable to good and I am hoping that Polar will further improve it. GPS performance of the Vantage M is broadly on a par with the Garmin 935 IMO. Although that does not reflect itself in instant pace which seems more variable than it should be even in clear skies.
(*) I have tested the workout creation and have executed and followed a few phased workouts. The M vibrates but there is no sound…
(*) Some running power functionality, specifically Zone Lock, is an option on FLOW but does not work on the Vantage. My assumption would be that it will work soon.