Today we have a significant firmware update for the Polar Vantage Series as the Vantage M receives smartphone notifications, Back-to-start functionality as well as a ‘sleep’ watch face. The Vantage V receives those same updates as well as route guidance. Favourites have also made a welcome appearance too.
The major areas of functionality are now in place on Vantage. Although you and I might well argue for the further urgent inclusion of STRAVA Live segments and a little more work on footpods, accuracy and running power. Ignoring you and me for a minute, most people will now be happy with the functionality.
V3.0.10 firmware, Feb 2019.
I’m going to show some of the new screenshots and then talk in a bit more detail about ‘routing’ and how I will incorporate routes into my general training usage and the nuances for when I am using a Vantage.
You should see the same notifications on your Polar Vantage that you see on your locked phone screen for both iOS and Android. This includes alerts from calls, messages and apps.
I’ve not tested every option but I could answer/ignore a voice call on the Vantage – obviously, I still had to use the microphone on the smartphone.
As you can see from the image below, Polar has sensibly included the option to effectively disable notifications whilst training.
Polar Tip: “Turn your wrist 10 seconds after you get an alert and the notification opens automatically”
Specifically this means being able to choose to execute a favorite on the Vantage.
This is a fairly important area of Polar functionality. Users of non-Polar systems might have a ‘so what?’ moment but Favorites are one way that you can easily execute that ‘special’ complex, structured workout that you like and often use. You could already schedule workouts through Polar’s calendarization functions and then be prompted to start such workouts when the scheduled time arrived. However I find that sort of functionality is best-suited to when I am following a longer-term plan. When I’m doing ‘my own thing’, which is most of the time, then I may well just decide to do those 5 minutes intervals or that 2×20 minute session and I would do those relatively frequently. These are the ones that I would store as a Favorite and which I would like to be able to choose from the watch whenever I want without needing to schedule them…now I can. #HappyBunny
When you press the gear icon in the image above you pull up the list of new timers and some other new functions. Favorites are there too and they are there for both Vantage models.
as an example, here is my generic 1km rep.. Obviously, there are 5 of them because I am the5krunner. What more can I say 😉
I like the favorites!
As I said in the previous section the gear icon also pulls up the timer options.
- Interval timer – You can use multiple timers based on either TIME or DISTANCE. So you can set a 1-minute timer and a 20-minute timer for the same session
- Countdown timer – Provides a countdown to the start of the workout.
I’m not so sure how useful these would be to me. I guess we are all different. This will be a ‘must-have’ feature for someone, somewhere.
This is a navigation function that also works on the Vantage M.
Kinda handy when you’re running somewhere new and get lost. I still remember my 2 hour run around Zurich many years ago when I was completely lost at night. This functionality would have been handy then. Definitely.
The Vantage will give you an arrow which points you toward the direction of your starting place, which is further shown as a ‘home’ logo on both the Vantage V & M. Yet here is the interesting thing, neither Vantage model has a compass. The downside of this is that if you are standing still, the Vantage has no idea which way you are pointing and it will tell you to ‘keep moving’ as shown in the image, below. Once you are moving, it can infer your orientation as well as your position from the difference in GPS points. So, if you are lost, don’t stand still.
It is posisble to incorporate an accelerometer here to improve compass-like functionality but Polar do not appear to have done that.
This, and other, functionality CAN be enabled mid-run. If you pause your workout you are directed back to the gear icon and workout start screen
Vantage V – Route Functionality
The following functionality is just for the Vantage V.
Like audible alerts, longer battery, better case and inbuilt running power, this is one of those functions that is reserved just for the top-end model. If you want those functions and abilities you have to pay more for them. That’s the way of the world (Apple Watch?)
Here are some insights into what I do with my routes. I tend to operate routes infrequently but when I do I almost invariably have to adapt to one or several new platforms on which to get them all to work. So this is what I do, warts and all…and, yes, there probably is a better way.
I am moving towards using the free Karoo Dashboard to create, store and share the master version of my routes. It’s simple to create new routes even from a Google Maps URL for example or even using a Chrome extension to ‘grab’ the route that’s on the screen. That’s important for me because Google Maps seems to get it right, most of the time, across multiple devices and even, sometimes, based on voice instructions to create a route.
I regularly encounter errant route files from a variety of sources. Once the Karoo dashboard has them stored they are good-to-go when I pass them to other platforms. However, sometimes an error occurs before I can get them into the Karoo dashboard. If I need to fix a route file that contains an error OR if I need to convert first to a more commonly used route format (GPX, TCX) then for those tasks I use Fit File Repair Tool. That’s a paid-for tool but one which performs a vast array of sports file manipulations and well-worth the small fee.
This is the point where I normally berate Garmin for their poor routing in Garmin Connect, however, I used Connect’s route creation a couple of weeks ago (Jan 2019) and there seems to be some nice improvements to usability ie it worked.
Coming back to Polar, we need to create the route in FLOW. I think it’s only possible with a browser interface rather than via the app.
The route file should be a gpx or tcx file and size less than 25MB and, as far as I know, you cannot tag one of your completed workouts in FLOW so that it becomes a route to use in the future. You must import the route.
Your uploaded routes are stored as favourites in FLOW. You can also see, below, the links to STRAVA Live segments for premium STRAVA users, but that functionality is not yet working on the Vantage series – although it is planned for later this year.
Naturally, the route is sync’d back to your Vantage V…like this with FlowSync, although I’d imagine that the Flow app will also do the same.
Route Creation from Existing Workout
Alternatively you can create a route from completed workouts in FLOW by selecting the STAR in the bottom right hand corner of the map.
Loading your route
The gear menu on the Vantage lets you load up a route you’ve sync’d from FLOW. When loading the route you have several options including starting the route at some midpoint as well as reversing the route.
If you are starting the route midway through, the Vantage seems to calculate the nearest point on the route compared to your current location. It seems to then fix that point and navigate you towards it ‘as the crow flies’. Note that the “start from mid-point option running in the opposite direction is missing” and it would be nice if the direction of travel were simply auto-detected.
Once you have loaded up your chosen route in your chosen manner, you will see a new, little square cluttering up the screen as shown to the right. This tells you that there is a route that is active.
There are various in-navigation prompts like ‘On Course’ and ‘Off Course’, you know what to do. As there is no inbuilt ‘map’ the Vantage can only direct you ‘as the crow flies’. (It’s also possible it could retrace your steps or retrace your route but that functionality is not included).
Once you have completed your workout by following a route there is nothing in FLOW which says you have followed a route, which I guess is fine.
To be clarified from Polar:
- Are direction cues that are stored in the TCX/GPX file displayed? I think not
- Is there a compass? I assume no magnetic comapss but some form of GPS compass + gyroscope maybe
- Are there elevation plots? I assume no
- I have requested details for future firmware plans
- Changes to screen orientation eg North UP or Heading UP
- Plans to introduce more data fields (there are more for the V800)
- Zone lock for running power
- Manual footpod (https://the5krunner.com/2019/01/16/stryd-review-2019/stryd) calibration factors
- oHR/GPS performance improvements