Image source: Polar

Polar revives the Pacer as an affordable mid-range running watch

Polar has revived its old Pacer line with two mid-range runners watches, the Polar Pacer and a Pro version of the same. The differences mostly boil down to some design elements and the addition of a barometer on the Pro.

For those not in the know, The “Pacer” moniker was used by Polar in the past for its traditional heart rate monitor watch range. But this was several decades ago, at a time when fully-fledged smartwatches didn’t enter the mass market. The company is now reviving the old name and using it for more sophisticated products.

Pacer and Pacer Pro – Polar’s latest running watches

Sporty looking

Polar Pacer and Pacer Pro remind very much of the Vantage range. In fact both watches in the new Pacer series have have the same general look and dimensions (41 x 41 x 11.5 mm), with a circular display, two physical buttons on the left and three on the right. The watches are lightweight coming in at around 40 grams.

Their memory-in-pixel, 1.2 inch (MIP) display has the benefit of always staying on and not depleting battery power too much. This is protected with a 1.1mm Corning Gorilla Glass 3.0 layer.

Polar says the backlight of the screen is 10x more efficient than on its other watches. And that it should offer a better viewing experience. However, the display is not touch-enabled so you’ll need to rely on the physical buttons to navigate around the menus.

Unlike its recent products, Polar has improved water-resistance. The Pacer range is good down to depths of 50 meters, so an improvement over the 30 meter water-resistance. There’s also a processor on-board that is twice as fast compared to older Polar models, there’s seven times more internal memory and improved battery life.

Between charges, Pacer and Pacer Pro can keep going for up to 35 hours with GPS and a week in smartwatch mode. About 100 hours is what you can expect in power saving training mode.

Polar Pacer
Polar Pacer | Image source: Polar

Capable running watch

You could say the Pacer line sits very close to the Vantage M2 as far as specs. There’s actually little to separate them.

Worthy of note are running power from the wrist, Hill Splitter, route navigation, Strava Live Segments and new Performance Tests that are included on the Pro. This is in addition to everything the Vantage M2 can do. Plus you get a barometric altimeter, improved display and antennae design, upgraded heart rate sensor (it has two extra LEDs).

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Pacer is billed as an entry-level runners watch. It has no barometric altimeter, hill splitter, running power or route navigation. Which makes it very close in terms of ability to the M2. Which is interesting considering it sells for about $100 less.

A new addition is a performance test that allows you to measure VO2Max in 15 minutes – just by walking. Most watches only allow you to do this by running so it represents an easier way of doing the measurement. Polar says the Walking Test is an “uncomplicated test to estimate aerobic fitness by going for a 15-minute brisk walk on a flat path.”

No built-in storage for music but you do get the standard music controls. This is in addition to ability to view weather forecasts and smartphone notifications.

Polar Pacer
Image source: Polar

Availability, price

Both the Polar Pacer and Polar Pacer Pro can be pre-ordered on the company’s website. The first will set you back $200, the second $300. Retail availability and shipping with start in May.

Pacer’s plastic case comes in several different colour options: Night Black, Cloud White, Deep Teal, Purple Dusk. The Pro variant can be picked up in: Carbon Grey, Snow White, Midnight Blue, Autumn Maroon. Unlike the regular version, the Pro has a bezel made of aerospace aluminium.

The custom-made silicone straps match the body colour and they have a quick release mechanism. If you’d rather have something different, you can swap it for another Polar-made strap. Or tap into third-party options on the Pro version – thanks to the included SHIFT adapter. This lets you adopt any standard 20mm wristband.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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