Polar for CES, 2020 and beyond

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Polar Vantage V ReviewI hope that Polar is going to have a good year with lots of new products in 2020. Clearly they don’t sell anywhere near as many products as Garmin but I think many of you would be surprised at their successes with the Polar IGNITE and Polar VANTAGE models in 2019. These successes have probably bolstered their R&D war chest and I think they will have some surprises in store for us in the first half of this year.

Polar V650 Review

Here is their current range

You could argue that gaps in their range include: a more featured bikenav, ANT+ sport watches/bike computers, pretty much anything to do with more complex routing (V650 has no routable map), a pretty Wear OS with Amoled, an app store, richer platform links to other services, outdoor/hiking proof watches.

ALL of the following comments about new products are speculative.

Polar H10 H7

Polar 2020?

Overall, Polar’s heritage comes from HEART RATE competency and I know that they aim to produce ACCURATE devices for HIGHER LEVEL ATHLETES that seek such accuracy – whether or not you think they achieve that is another matter entirely. Yet that will be part of their values that drive new developments.

So, that list of gaps in Polar’s range in the previous section, whilst not exhaustive, indicates that there are many ways forwards for Polar. Each route forwards requires resources and, in some case, very significant resources so let’s not forget that Polar’s resources DO have modest limits and they will approach any truly new venture with an awareness of the risks attached.

They might also want to leverage their existing customer base with refreshed products & platform features rather than new products per se.

Thus, bearing in mind COST and RISK, we could see ONE or TWO totally new products from Polar but that will be it. Most developments are likely to be extensions of existing functionalities and incremental replacement models. We might see some existing product areas fall by the wayside due to the costs of competing in those areas and the risks attached to a high degree of (cheap) competition

 

Polar M200 ReviewWithout further ado, my view on what Polar might do in 2020 would be

  • Triathlon/Running – Yes, Polar will definitely move forwards here, possibly NOT at the budget end, possibly not even with a new physical product. Stuff will happen.
  • Cycling – I don’t know if Polar will stay in this market at all. My guess would be that they will leave this sector ‘on hold’
  • Swimming – We won’t see anything new here from Polar. The OH1 is used by FORM for their goggles.
  • Hiking/Adventure – This would be new for Polar. If they fancy integrating complex mapping and supporting a new, physical distribution chain to sell the products then, why not? The ‘Fenix’ market is huge and attracts everyone from Coros to Casio to Suunto…it’s a big party with one host. Will Polar accept the open invitation?
  • Accessories – HRMs, footpods and scales. These are going to have long lifecycles of several years. The HRMs won’t be replaced but the STRIDE sensor could be replaced with a POWER POD (like STRYD), although I would not bet on it.
  • Low tech fitness tracking – OH1 fits here as does the A370. I really like the A370 but I’m not sure we will ever see an A380 as there is just too much competing, cheap stuff out there in this space. If Polar have loyal upgraders who would ditch their A370 for an A380 then maybe it will happen. I suspect not.
  • Smart Fitness – M600 and the Ignite both signal that Polar have always wanted to play here. Polar’s expertise with Wear OS was developed with the M600 yet the Ignite signalled a different, yet pretty, way forward. Wear OS is the obvious way to gain ALL of the key smart functionality NFC, maps, app store, music…it’s just that pesky battery life that gets in the way of an otherwise obvious ‘call’.

Polar 2020-2021: Here’s what I would bet on

  1. Incremental updates and continued investment in the FLOW platform
  2. A sensibly priced Wear OS watch that sits at the next price point up from Ignite
  3. Something a bit like Garmin’s Fenix.
  4. No new bike stuff or fitness bands

But I can just hear all the arguments against that screaming out at me even before I’ve pressed the POST button.

Thoughts? Please comment or have a vote in this poll and see what everyone else thinks. You can only vote for two per week; so choose wisely, young padawan.

REMEMBER – the poll is supposed to be what you predict not what you would like…of course you are free to vote on whatever basis you wish. I might add suggestions you make but things like ‘a watch that works properly’ will not be added, although that does have obvious comedic value. These polls normally get well over 100 people voting so it might be worth looking in again in a few weeks

 

 

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gtom

Polar don’t seem to produce upgrades to the current product so often as other vendors do. V800 – 2014. Vantage M/V – 2018. I would most likely expect smart watch model based on Wear OS and definitely they should invest more time into the software part. I doubt Polar will leave running power from wrist behind and turn the wheel towards power pod though.

Marathon Man

While their heritage has historically been accuracy and the higher level athletes that you refer to above, I think there is probably enough evidence now to suggest that is no longer their primary focus. I suspect the Ignite shows where their future path might be. I mean Google will shut down Fitbit shortly and so there will be a gap to fill for people that don’t want an Apple watch. If they were serious about the higher level athlete, then personally I’d love to see them focus on Vantage type devices and integrate emerging technologies in to that platform e.g. RaceFox data capture / guidance on the watch, Humon integration, better Stryd integration with advanced metrics displayed in Flow. IMHO Polar Flow on the web and the app is their crown jewel. I don’t believe they need to create the sensors themselves, but they do need to allow Vantage to capture the data and then provide the same quality analysis within Flow. They need to be more open in their platform for data from 3rd parties. This is the mess currently for a Polar athlete if you use RaceFox, Humon and Stryd: you have to run with your phone with… Read more »

Jason

Well said! I love Flow and I really hope Polar can thrive. The nightly recharge on my Vantage has me sold on HRV and I think that’s a great feature they should continue to pursue. Have my fingers crossed for a Vantage v2 that can clean up some issues.

Frank

If they ditch the bike units they MUST allow import of data from other vendors into Polar Flow! The Vantage models are no replacement for a decent bike computer. The V650 is very dated, and if no new Polar model is coming then we bikers need to get a device from a competing brand sooner or later…

flokon

Yes, you can. However, with the usual caveats of not having recorded the training with a Polar device (well, it’s the same with Garmin, when you export to GC), such as no Running Index, no time in zones (most unfortunate if you happen to monitor your training with Flow’s season planner), no Activity % for daily goal.
You get TRIMP, sorry Cardio Load, and Muscle Load alright though.

Frank

Don’t get me wrong, I really love my V650!
The only things that suck with this unit are the *constant* syncing problems (doesn’t matter if USB or mobile, both work only intermittently) and the poor implementation of Strava Live Segments. Only 20 segments and routes in total is really a joke. And my units crashes sometimes at the start of a Live Segment, so I can’t use the function anyway.
Polar support was no help there, they said they’d look into it, but nothing happened for 16 month now. So yes, this device seems to be definitely at the very end of it’s support by Polar…

I looked at RunGap, but it found no claims on their website that they could EXPORT anything TO Polar Flow. And RunGap seems to be iOS only, thus I can’t use it anyway…

Tomek

Just FYI, I have your website on a whitelist in my ad blocker, but I could not see the poll. It turned out that the built-in tracking protection in Firefox blocks it.

Tomek

As I wrote, I have your website on a whitelist, which means I have an ad blocker turned off here. Firefox blocked it by default. I thought you might want to know…

Tomek

It’s not the ad blocker (I use uBlock Origin as well). The poll shows up when I disable the tracking protection in Firefox (shield icon on the left side of the address bar). It appears that secure.polldaddy.com is blocked when strict protection is enabled in Firefox – https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/enhanced-tracking-protection-firefox-desktop
Now I’m not sure if that’s the default or not, but anyway, I solved the problem and I DO NOT have an ad block enabled on your site (because I really appreciate your work here :)).

Evgenii

I wish they’d release a v805, that would be exactly the same as v800, but with better battery life and updated software (power zones). It shouldn’t try to be the only watch to be worn at all times, but rather something that you only wear during sport activities. No matter how you turn it, at this point in time sport watches can’t and shouldn’t try to compete with smart watches. Smart watches should be nice and can tolerate limited battery life, but sport watches need long battery life and physical buttons. This theoretical v805 should have no features that “serious athletes (c)” don’t need so: 1) NO color round touch-screen that is quite a bit less useful during a race. V800 is very readable with a black and white rectangular screen. 2) NO optical HR. Whats the point if the readings are imprecise? But would be awesome if they found a way to pull HR/Sleep data from Apple/Google Health – more data for recovery analysis, and users can decide if they find their other HR-data sources reliable enough. 3) No tight phone integration (you can live without notifications/messages during a training/race). This way manufacturer could keep the cost in check… Read more »

Chris

I would buy a V805 with a higher capacity battery and better serviceability.
However, based on the fact that the company took one year to implement the missing features on the Vantage, it looks like the developers of the V800 and the firmware source code are gone.

dick

It took much more than a year to implement many features to v800 back in it`s time so no change here.

Bartdbr

I hope they fix the speed problem on the vantage. Pace is always out of range. The v800 didn’t have this problem at all.

tfk, the5krunner

I find pace is wrong on just about every device.
I too had memories of better older devices (V800 IS good) but when i tested on a garmin 305, for example, it was my memory that was playing tricks
#Footpod

Martin

I would like the house to see polar vantage in 2, more dyslay plus new features trebars weather

Pajas

I tried to google hard and there is my guess:
New watch is “around the corner”. Maybe it should have been released but coronavirus made it delayed.
New cycling computer, maybe next year but I think there is some chance to be this year. My guess is that it will be something very special, which nobody has ever seen (in a good way!).

Bart Broeckx

I bet the new watch will be the successor to the Polar M430 … A long-distance runner watch 🙂