In this Polar Vantage V 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
- Light-weight, quality construction
- Inbuilt running power meter leveraging barometric altimetery
- Native, and fairly extensive, running power support & cycling power support
- Gives a more complete view of HR-based training load, including actionable recovery/readiness feedback
- Generally good optical HR, including for swimming (*) – no better or worse performance than the competition
- Proper button interface for runners, great tactile buttons
- Proper triathlon watch
- Polar FLOW is more athlete-focussed than other platforms with good workout support
- Nice audio alerts, tap gesture and vibrate alerts.
- Route guidance/Navigation planned on roadmap for Vantage V (link to: polar.com)
- GPS is generally not good.
- Lack of watch faces
- Limited smarts
- Whilst good, the pre-built, running 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 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 triathlon/running watch, then the Polar Vantage V is worth considering. At this price point it struggles to stand above the Garmin 935 unless some of the features unique to the Vantage are what you want such as inbuilt running power, advanced readiness feedback and a more pro platform in FLOW. The Vantage is prettier than most, Polar devotees might still want to consider the jump from the V800 at some point but there are several features missing on the Vantage that are on the V800.
Opinions on the Polar Vantage V
Based on retail hardware/firmware v1.1.7
Based on over 100 hours of use V+M
With 40 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 tech on your wrist (66g). It is the ‘normal’ 46mm dia size and that can look relatively big on thin wrists.
The Polar Vantage V 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 – some minor readability criticisms could be thrown at the Vantage in certain light conditions but I generally like it. 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). Those of you who are curious about running with power could consider using the inbuilt power calculations in the Vantage V, rather than spending extra on an external pod. 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. Couple that with Polar’s Recovery Pro feature and you have a powerful athletic tool to support your decisions to fine-tune your workout schedules.
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 sometimes good but usually not good. (*) This negatively impacts the accuracy of running pace.
There will be a vocal minority of you that will want the route guidance & STRAVA segments that you had before on the V800. These features are planned for the Vantage V. Links for your sports data OUT of FLOW are already supported, as before.
Alternatives – Links to Competing Products’ Detailed Reviews
The Polar Vantage V retails at $499
All those alternatives are at least equally competent products.
The competitive pricing for the Polar Vantage V could probably be justified against the Suunto but for too many people it will be a hard sell against the 935.
Price, Availability & Discount
The Polar Vantage V retails at $499
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 Power Meter City. Help support this blog with the great deals below, thank you:
- Power Meter City (USA) 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 good (running). My ‘formal test’ was indicative of wider running experience; further info and source data file here.
(*) I have tested most of the workout creation functions and have executed and followed phased workouts. The V vibrates with sound for countdowns and for when performance goes outside target HR zone
(*) 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.