Tough choices – new sport watches after FR 945

Now that we are getting closer to October, I was thinking that my path is clear – when I’ll finish the marathon training synced with my Garmin Forerunner 945, I’ll switch to a Polar Vantage V (maybe Titan) and go for the half marathon training with Polar Flow. I was excited to see the developments from Polar available on Polar Ignite (the device itself isn’t exactly my type) and since most of them will be available in October for the Vantage series, I said … this is it.

But … now we have Garmin Fenix 6 series with a lot of variations … a nice upgrade from the 945. They don’t bring that many changes (for 945 owners), but some of the worthy to be mentioned and very attractive for me:

  • larger screens and higher resolution for 6 and 6x – that means some more fields available on one screen (6 fields and 8 fields for 6s/6 and respectively 6x)
  • PacePro – nice way of handling your race pace, no matter the terrain
  • battery life … ok, that’s more about 6x than 6s and 6 compared with 945, but when you’re looking at 6x, that’s a lot
  • solar power – to some extent, even though the long lasting battery of the 6x doesn’t need that much of the extension (at least for me) – I see how things will change over the next years with this technology
  • power manager – nice and customisable, an updated approach promoted initially by Suunto with Suunto 9.
Some of the choices – Fenix 6 series

Garmin Connect on the other hand didn’t evolve too much, it only added some details of the data collected or generated by the new watches – 945, Marq and now Fenix 6.

For example, they added some charts for respiration rate (you need to wear a HR strap, it doesn’t matter if it’s Garmin or not – Polar H10 works just as fine) and the fields on training load (without explaining that too much though).

Respiration rate – a chart – no interpretation (yet)
A more intuitive chart for heart rate – less than Polar, but better than before
Load focus chart – nice, but without any insights why and how this is optimal for you

The body battery chart is a nice addition on 945, continued in Fenix 6 – looks interesting and reflects pretty accurate how you feel.

Body battery – a bit too aggressive for me, since I don’t feel that low

With all that and what’s to come (rumours say that most of the firmware capabilities in Fenix 6 will come to 945 as well – including respiration rate 24/7, power management, PacePro) would say that I should stay with Garmin, changing or not the gear – from 945 to presumably Fenix 6X. Add to that the fact that my wife has a Garmin 245 she’s very happy with, that adds a charging cable as well – now we are clear.

With all the above said, I still look forward to seeing Polar releasing the firmware update on October, to address some of the big pain points – Stryd calibration is one of them, zone lock and some additional statistics on the watch.

To that, they add the already available features from Ignite, the Sleep Plus Stages and Nightly Recharge, which combined with Recovery Pro, could be of great help for managing your load.

Detailed sleep analysis in Polar Flow

Nightly recharge could give you the hints to know if this is the day to try hard or just rest more.

It’s similar to some extent to Body Battery (powered by FirstBeat) as an information – but it’s a more actionable info, like most of the interactions with Polar watches.

Sleep Plus Stages goes more into the details of your sleep and helps a bit more (if you’re interested) to understand how your sleep habits could be improved, to address your sleep issues (if any).

There would be some things I would be missing if I would switch to Polar, like:

  • the outdoor capabilities of Garmin – maps, sunrise/sunset, POIs
  • multiple alarms
  • training plans (more and flexible – for example, if your event is closer than 14 weeks from now, you can’t properly use a training plan in Polar Flow…you could do that with Garmin Connect)
  • platform openness – you can’t import the workouts into the platform – for example, if you use the Vantage V for several days, you can still import the workouts into Garmin Connect; that’s not possible with Polar Flow importing workouts from other platforms, after a GPS/TCX export.

For the other parts, I think I could live with Polar Vantage V … the biggest incentive being the platform and less the watch – since Garmin added OWS oHR support to 945 and Fenix 5+/6, I see that the devices from Garmin are very good all-rounders and reliable.

I shall wait for several days, give it a thought or two … and make a move, either Fenix 6X, either Vantage V.

Author: Liviu Nastasa

Passionate about software development, sociology, running...definitely a geek.

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