For the last two months, I used with great enthusiasm a Polar Vantage V, building on the very good impression it gave me during March this year. It was a very nice experience, I liked it a lot and I wanted to last, but during the recent days I had my 945 back in my hands and at that moment I realised that the hardware contest between Polar and Garmin is easily win by Garmin.
If it’s about looks, I would choose Vantage V every time, I know it’s all personal when you choose something like that, but I really like the look of Vantage. The Vantage screen is great, when there is enough light – it’s quite the opposite, when it’s dark and the light it’s not that strong or uniform distributed (when compared with Garmin). I found a small but annoying bug with Polar Vantage when using the light … if you activate the light yourself, by pushing the light button, it stays on only for a predetermined amount of time (you can’t change the duration or the intensity of the light), then it dims, then it turns off regardless of your use of the other buttons or menus of the watch – that’s a miss of the context from Polar, they should have known that as long as I’m still navigating through the menus, I still need that light … it’s just a matter of adding another condition in the lights turn off procedure, nothing more.
In terms of wearing the watch, it’s comfortable to wear, but not more comfortable than the 945 for example because of the oHR sensor’s size- anyway, it’s something a lot of people can live with. The Vantage V weight is ok, a bit higher than the 945, but you get a metallic case instead of plastic and it’s still comfortable to wear – nothing compared with the Garmin Fenix weight.
For sports activities, since the 4.0 firmware, Polar Vantage V ticks all the boxes like the others (similar to Garmin, I’d say a little better that Suunto). With 4.0, when footpod calibration was added in the watch, I’d say you can do whatever you’d like as a sport, it works fine and it’s really easy to customize with the Polar Flow (mobile or web). There are things that could be improved, like laps summary screens or pause screen, but overall is just fine – what I really like is the ability to track planned training laps and automatic laps separately -> so you can analyze things properly without the need to dig into screens.
The smartphone notification implementation is weak, for iOS it’s really poor – I kept it disabled, because I can’t really use all the notifications the mobile generates, but I’d like to have calls/texts sent to the watch – nothing more. You can do that with Garmin, you can’t do it with Vantage so I had to disable it and loose somethings useful. I rediscovered this limitation during this weekend, when I tried to use the watch connected to the smartphone .. it was a pain to get all notifications on the watch. If I’m not mistaking, for the Android users there is a way of filtering the notifications sent to the watch, but that’s not available for iOS.
I really like the Nightly Recharge implementation, seems to reflect correctly what I feel after the night sleep and also replaced the orthostatic test. I’m looking forward to see the implementation of FitSpark in December firmware, that is a great tool for the periods of the year when you’re not using the training program – the rumors say that for Vantage it will be a combination between what’s available on Ignite and what the training programs offer – we shall see.
As a conclusion, I really appreciate Polar Vantage V, it’s a great tool, but that’s not always enough – is miss some things that I thought I can live without, but that’s just a compromise – it’s more like an emotional investment for supporting the underdog.
There are low hanging fruits there, that would improve the quality of life for the users (definitely mine):
- multiple alarms (c’mon, it’s not that hard, but useful)
- tracking equipment (shoes, bikes, etc) – nothing fancy, but useful
- power based training plans – it’s clear that native power creates this expectations
- better smartphone notifications – I mean actually, less notifications – filtering for calls/texts will do just fine for me
- searching and filtering workouts in Flow web
- Records for various distances (the information is there, you just have to use it) – adding a bit of gamification won’t hurt, even though Polar will say they don’t have this target in the market
An integration of Flow (services) with other platforms to import data would be highly appreciated -> at this moment, when you go to Polar, you can only use the Polar device and activities, no external input.
Flow web stays top in the analysis tools, being my favorite tool (way better than Garmin Connect) for looking at you sessions and tracking your activity.
Till December, with the new Polar firmware, I’ll go back to the Garmin FR 945, which is a reliable tool with all the features you may need (or not need).