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.
Product Name: Polar Vantage V
Product Description: GPS Multisport Watch
Offer price: from about 200
Price - 90%
Apparent Accuracy - 75%
Build Quality & Design - 95%
Feafures, Including App - 85%
Openness & Compatability - 85%
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.
- Great battery life
- Looks good, fits well
- Super light-weight
- Native running power support & cycling power support
- Gives a more complete view of the 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-focused than other platforms
- Smart notifications and back-to-start functionality
- GPS could be better on early devices, beware of 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 Reviewed 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 (*), 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 best deals 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.
- Power Meter City (USA) with the code ‘the5krunner10’
- New Running Gear in the EU/UK with the code ‘the5krunner10’
(*) 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.
(*) 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.