Polar Vantage M Review

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.

Polar Vantage V Review, Polar Vantage M Review

In Brief

Product Name: Polar Vantage V

Product Description: GPS Multisport Watch

Price: from about 200

Currency: GBP

Availability: InStock

  • Price - 90%
    90%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 75%
    75%
  • Build Quality & Design - 95%
    95%
  • Feafures, Including App - 85%
    85%
  • Openness & Compatability - 85%
    85%
86%

In brief

Polar Vantage M Review RunScribe PlusThe Polar Vantage M Reviewed here is one of the best mid-level triathlon and running watches that’s suitable for beginners and seasoned competitors alike. At the price, it is good value and with the 10% discount shown above it’s even better value 😉

The Vantage M has a lot going for it compared to the previous pro-level V800 model. It looks better, it’s lighter and it has a longer battery life, good screen and sufficient ‘smart’ connectivity features.

I’m a GB age group triathlete and this is suitable as a ‘proper’ triathlon watch as it supports power meters and other external sensors as well as complex structured workouts. Polar’s FLOW app and online platform are probably the best, although some might argue with that.

So where’s the catch?

Well, both the GPS and oHR could be better and I know Polar are working on improving both those areas. Smartphone connectivity is limited but openness to STRAVA and elsewhere is fine. A small but important feature is missing in AUDIBLE ALERTS yet you can, however, JUST ABOUT hear the vibration alerts instead.

The Polar Vantage is a relatively new product and there are some parts of the overall triathlon solution that need tidying up like adaptive plans and some of the details around running power support.

I plan to use the Vantage M competitively in 2019 and the only thing that’s stopping ME are some precise details linked to how Vantage works with STRYD.

This is a recommended BUY – as long as you are aware of the negative points I’ve just listed and they don’t impact on you.

Pro’s

  • Great battery life
  • Looks good, fits well
  • 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
  • Smart notifications and back-to-start functionality

Cons

  • GPS could be better on early devices, beware buying second hand (*)
  • 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 (*)

An in-depth and super-*detailed* look at the Polar Vantage M & V is here (Polar Vantage M Review).

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 v3.0.10

Based on over 300 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.

Polar Vantage V Review, Polar Vantage M Review

V Model shown – exact same oHR sensor

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 (*), favorites 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:

Polar Vantage 10 % off discount coupon promotion code

Click http://geni.us/PolarVantage to buy in UK/Eu/USA – 10% off only in USA

Best Amazon/REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices could fall below existing level from 2019 onwards £249/$259/Eu279. Buying from my partners supports this site.

(*) 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.

(*) Smart notifications are now enabled

(*) I have tested the workout creation and have executed and followed a few phased workouts. The M vibrates but there is no sound at all anywhere

(*) 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.

▷ The Polar Vantage Bible | Polar Vantage Review M V | Detailed Review

In Brief

Product Name: Polar Vantage V

Product Description: GPS Multisport Watch

Price: from about 200

Currency: GBP

Availability: InStock

  • Price - 90%
    90%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 75%
    75%
  • Build Quality & Design - 95%
    95%
  • Feafures, Including App - 85%
    85%
  • Openness & Compatability - 85%
    85%
86%

In brief

Polar Vantage M Review RunScribe PlusThe Polar Vantage M Reviewed here is one of the best mid-level triathlon and running watches that’s suitable for beginners and seasoned competitors alike. At the price, it is good value and with the 10% discount shown above it’s even better value 😉

The Vantage M has a lot going for it compared to the previous pro-level V800 model. It looks better, it’s lighter and it has a longer battery life, good screen and sufficient ‘smart’ connectivity features.

I’m a GB age group triathlete and this is suitable as a ‘proper’ triathlon watch as it supports power meters and other external sensors as well as complex structured workouts. Polar’s FLOW app and online platform are probably the best, although some might argue with that.

So where’s the catch?

Well, both the GPS and oHR could be better and I know Polar are working on improving both those areas. Smartphone connectivity is limited but openness to STRAVA and elsewhere is fine. A small but important feature is missing in AUDIBLE ALERTS yet you can, however, JUST ABOUT hear the vibration alerts instead.

The Polar Vantage is a relatively new product and there are some parts of the overall triathlon solution that need tidying up like adaptive plans and some of the details around running power support.

I plan to use the Vantage M competitively in 2019 and the only thing that’s stopping ME are some precise details linked to how Vantage works with STRYD.

This is a recommended BUY – as long as you are aware of the negative points I’ve just listed and they don’t impact on you.

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24 thoughts on “Polar Vantage M Review

  1. Route guidance? Do you know something that isn’t up on Polar’s own Vantage roadmap yet? The website still doesn’t say anything about bringing navigation to the Vantage M.

    “GPS performance of the Vantage M is broadly on a par with the Garmin 935” — oh dear. If as you say the Vantage V is even poorer than that I think my resolve to wait and see whether route nav shows up during the first quarter is crumbling. Not sure I care to gamble on GPS teething troubles being sorted out in the firmware within an acceptable time frame!

  2. Thank you for this. I am looking forward to reading more about implementation of structured workouts. That is really important to me.

    Apart from the nicer screen and bearing in mind I always wear an HR strap, would you say this is significant improvement over the M430/V800 as a training tool?

    • the structured workout should be the same as with the M430. however (see above notes) that functionality does not currently flow through to the full execution of the phases within a structured workout (it does on the m430 and v800 so it should on the M)

      it’s a significant improvement in some respects like POWER and TRIANING LOAD and PRECISION PRIME and battery life and some other things. It just depends what tickles your running fancy.

  3. Thank you for your brief thoughts so far. I know the sensible thing is to wait for your review. But having too little patience and too much optimism I’ve ordered the Vantage M. Why do I do this to myself!

    I’ve yet to find a oHR wrist based device that can reliably measure my heart rate but I’ll trial out the Vantage M! Crossing fingers it won’t be another of my oHR follies that’ll end up on ebay!

    • 🙂
      i’d say wear it TIGHT. so it leaves a mark when exercising.
      keep your forarm warm and perhaps wear arm warmers.
      if you have skinny wrists, like me, and/or raynauds then this might restrict the avaialbility of blood vaguely near the skin surface. and hence maybe why ohr doesn’t work on some people. eg i find it (ohr in general) works better is summer…and hence makes me think its a bloodflow thing. which at least makes some sense

  4. Hi there!

    I recently purchased the Polar Vantage M and used it for the first time today for a strength training session. I wanted to test the accuracy of the watch vs the Polar H10 chest strap that I have. For my workout, I wore the Vantage M, the H10 chest strap and paired the watch with the chest strap as well as the chest strap with the Polar Beat app on my iPhone both via Bluetooth. (the H10 allows 2 bluetooth connections now).

    I started the session on both the watch and Polar Beat app at the same time. However, when I completed my workout (40 mins session), I noticed that the results were very different even though the heart rate was the same (since it was reading off the same H10 chest strap). The chest strap gave me a higher calorie burn (54 cals more) vs. the watch over a 40 mins strength training session. The percentage of fat burn was also very different with 26% from the strap and 42% from the watch.

    I was wondering if you encountered the same issues during your testing? I have already checked that the stats in Polar Flow and on the Watch is exactly the same as the Beat app (Weight, Height, Training Background, Max HR and VO2 max).

    Thank you for your help.

    • That’s a good question.
      you’d need to check that the zones and your personal characteristics (age, sex) are the same everywhere.
      let’s assume they are, as you state.

      I would have thought that when doing weights based on zones (HRmax, HRrest), the calorie calculation is plain wrong regardless of which company makes the calculation. Your HR wont be high enough for long enough like it is in an endurance/interval run.

      In theory the Vantage should be adding in muscle load/RPE load to the the overall trainign load. Muscle load in weights SHOULD be higher than some other activities. so that MIGHT explain why calories could be higher especially if that point is considered by the sports profile in a different way to previously.
      HOWEVER. I don’t think you will see muscle load flagged against your session (I didn’t) so I assumed that Vantage just wasn’t working in that way at all (yet). maybe it is.

      Answer: I don’t know why. I would be interested to hear any other theories or an answer from Polar.
      Question: Why are you looking at calories? How are you measuring post-workout calories burn that are a result of the workout?

      • Thanks for the reply. I have reached out to Polar and will let you know when I hear back. Your explanation regarding the way the Vantage calculates the calories consumed using muscle load / RPE etc makes sense and that’s what I thought too. However, the Vantage is giving me a lower reading than the H10 paired to the Beat and I would have thought the reverse would have been true in order for that theory to hold up. I have a feeling that the algorithms used for the calculation in the Beat app is probably different to the one in the Vantage which is what’s causing the difference but I am not sure. There aren’t that many ways to customise the sports profile within the Beat app as you would in the Vantage via Flow.

        I am looking at the calories burned as I’m tracking them on MyFitnessPal along with everything that I’ve been eating etc. You’re right, I am not able to measure the post-workout calories buned and am probably underrecording this within the MyFitnessPal app but I guess I’ll rather underestimate than overestimate this!

  5. I have the V800 and I’m interreseret in bying the Vantage M
    Do you know if its possible to get Recovery Pro resultat on the flow app if I use the V800 to do orthostatic tests?
    That way I could save some money and som grams on my arm 😉

  6. For those who had the opportunity to use the Vantage in conjunction with a Stryd sensor:
    Can the Vantage M display pace, cadence, distance etc from the Stryd?
    Can power be boxed in with an upper and lower alarm (is it true that only the V model has acoustic alarms?)
    And are a little more complex drills (e.g. intervals with increasing intensity, negative splits during race etc) possible?

    What remains is that only the V model can import GPX files which is actually important to me because I often run in unknown (to me) places but twice the price? Hmm

    Sincere thanks!
    Chris

  7. Thank you for your quick review! I already ordered Vantage V, because Polar is my way to go (I need it for running and I don’t need fancy features of smart/outdoor watches).
    Vantage uses new Sony chipset for GPS. It is already used by other watches. Is it possible to do GPS comparison of these? For example Suunto 9. I too think GPS will be better soon, but it would be embarrassing, if polar won’t have at least same results like other brands with same chip.

    Thank you

  8. Got my M on Monday and used it for 3 runs already. One being on a treadmill.
    The outdoor runs were kinda embarrassing from a GPS pov. Very shaky track with large portions were the whole track got shifted a couple meters.
    Other nitpicks I have:
    – No way to disable backlight.
    – Font is too thin to be quickly readable during (hard) running
    – quick menu gone from V800/M430 so no way to end a phase or lock buttons, and the like.
    – no favourite workouts saved on watch, just the sun he’d ones via Flow for a given day.
    – plastic wrist band is very stiff, even stiffer than the M430’s
    – no countdown before next phase, at least not when distance based phases are used.
    – watch seems a little under powered which is something I usually know from Garmin but not Polar. Navigation feels kinda laggy and sluggish, especially accessing additional info from different views (HR, training load, activity).

    Note that I didn’t criticise the lack of features, because those were known before and exactly the reason I stopped using my 935 for a Polar, expecting a no-frills, back to basics running watch that offers accuracy and usability in favour of consumer-level smartwatch features like Garmin.

    • I didn’t use the phrase in favour of correctly in the last sentence. Obviously, what I meant was that I prefer accuracy and usability over too many features.

    • you def need to get a good gps fix first. mine take a bit too long.
      you can only expect +/- 5m accuracy really from GPS.
      shifts can be due to incorrect timing. most devices do it, some worse than others (tomtom best i ever saw…another story)
      it does countdown??? via vibrate. there is no audio on the M.
      my strap is similar to m430 but my strap is def not as stiff
      i agree with some of the other points (detailed review to come) and i’m hoping most will be sorted.
      (PS you should be able to change comments here for 15 minutes or so after posting)

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply.
        Well, it’s not only shifting but also quite shaky. But yeah, you said so yourself, on par with 935, which while a letdown is what I’m used to anyway.
        Regarding bands and countdown. Have you used a phased workout with distance intervals or time based? I do NOT get a countdown with distance intervals like 200m repeats- very unfortunate.
        What colour is your M? My experience with Polar and Garmin is that their black bands are always much stiffer than the coloured options which are of a very soft silicone. My black M is way stiffer than my black M430.
        Another thing I noticed is that the watch syncs to TP silently, not so with Strava.

        • I tested time-based intervals and am 100% sure there were 3-2-1 countdown vibrations.
          200m repeats are not possible. a minimum distance of 1km (strnage)..so what did you EXACTLY do that didn’t give the countdown?
          M is white.

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