Polar has been sending out teasers for days now but this morning the company finally made its two new sports-watches official. Featuring an improved heart rate monitor, advanced performance metrics and smart coaching, the more high-spec Vantage V is geared towards the serious fitness enthusiast. The Vantage M is a slightly stripped back version that also comes with a much lower price-tag.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
These are not just iterative upgrades on Polar’s previous sports-watches. Vantage V and M and round, they are more lightweight, and they come with features you won’t find on the devices they replace, the V800 and M430 respectively. The company says the watches are the most advanced in its history.
Polar Precision Prime
Vantage V and Vantage M come with improved heart rate accuracy thanks to Polar Precision Prime. While wrist based fitness trackers deliver good stats for resting heart rate and low intensity activity, they struggle to match the accuracy of chest straps at high intensity activity. With this new technology Polar hopes to narrow the gap.
Precision Prime fuses three different methods to improve heart rate tracking. This includes nine optical channels which use several colors and wavelengths of light, 3D acceleration and an electrical sensor that measures the quality of sensor-skin contact. Polar says this combination results in a faster response time, more sensitivity for readings, and much higher accuracy and reliability for wrist-based heart rate.
The more high spec Vantage V benefits from a new metric called Running Power. Vantage M doesn’t have this because it lacks a barometric altimeter.
A first for watches, Running Power is a single digit for runners that accounts for terrain, form, and fatigue and tells them how hard to move. Simply set a power target and run to see results. The promise is that Running Power will help you tweak your pace allowing you to go strong without hitting the wall.
There are third party sensors that can do this. Stryd, for example, is a footpad whose claim to fame is that it measures Running Power. Some Garmin devices can also measure this but require an external heart rate sensor or running pod. Vantage V does all the calculations from the wrist, no need to connect it to any sensors.
Training Load and Recovery Pro
Polar is introducing a number of other Smart Coaching features to take your training to the next level. One of these is called Training Load. This combines muscular load, perceived load and cardiovascular load into a single number that lets you know how hard you are working out.
The metric also measures balance between strain and tolerance in the long-term to help you recognize your personal limits, reach the ideal amount of training and avoid injury. In essence this is similar to the Training Status that can be found on some of Garmin’s sports-watches.
While Training Load is available on both devices, Vantage V also comes with something Polar calls Recovery Pro. This provides a holistic understanding of the balance between training and recovery by measuring daily and long-term recovery, thus letting you know when its time to rest when to push hard.
Its worth noting, you’ll only get Recovery Pro if you connect Vantage V to a chest strap such as the Polar H10. The test consists of two minutes of lying down followed by two minutes of standing.
Polar Flow Coach
Those who purchase the watches will have free access to the Polar Flow for Coach online service. As its name implies, this is geared towards coaches to help them analyze their clients’ performance. The service has been around for a while now, but its been upgraded with seasonal training calendars and more.
Athletes can upload daily training sessions, follow along via the watch, and sync with Flow. All reports and stats are kept in sync so that both coaches and their clients can easily keep tabs on progress.
Other training features
Running Index: A straightforward number that scores running performance – essentially your VO2Max.
Running Program: Polar’s training program which offers tailored workouts and coaching for all distance, from 5k to marathon.
Polar Sleep Plus: Provides detailed sleep metrics including the timing, amount, and quality of sleep. It also provides insights to help you improve your nightly rest.
Daily activity and continuous heart rate: Utilises the new heart rate sensor to provide you with accurate stats. Also dishes out more precise calorie count.
Swim Metrics: Thanks to a water-resistant design, the new products track indoor and outdoor swimming sessions with metrics such as stroke rate and distance.
Polar V and Polar M come with over 130 sports profiles to choose from, they are lightweight and water-proof and have an always-on color display. Despite the impressive specs, and even with GPS tracking and an always-on heart rate monitoring feature switched on, Polar Vantage V offers 40 hours of continuous training on a single charge and Vantage M 30 hours.
“Given our long track record and continuous innovation, we consider it justified to say that we are the pioneers of sports wearable technology and heart rate measurement,” says Marco Suvilaakso, Chief Strategy Officer at Polar.
The new sports-watches are available now on Amazon (Vantage V link; Vantage M link). But don’t forget, the latter lacks the barometric altimeter, Running Power, Recovery Pro and touch-screen of its big brother. You can compare the full specs on the link below.
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