Polar Vantage M Review – short 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 ReviewPro’s

  • 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

Cons

  • 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.

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 (*) 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.

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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 price is linked to. Prices could fall below existing level from 2019 onwards £249/$259/Eu279. Buying from Amazon 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.

(*) 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.

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

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RiphRaph
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RiphRaph

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!

Fyler
Guest
Fyler

What would you recommend Garmin Forerunner 645 or Polar Vantage M in terms of optical HR and GPS ? Thanx.

Mike
Guest
Mike

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?

Paul
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Paul

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!

naiboo
Guest

NRG does provide a 10% off plus the running package with your code THE5KRUNNER10

Colin
Guest
Colin

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… Read more »

Thomas
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Thomas

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 😉

Chris
Guest
Chris

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

Pepa Vlček
Guest
Pepa Vlček

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

flokon
Guest
flokon

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.

flokon
Guest
flokon

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.