Polar Vantage V: An Enviable Sport Watch.
If training & fitness dominate your life, get this watch.
by Anura Guruge
The newly released Polar Vantage V, with its bright, multi color, touchscreen, 4-field display, is the perfect training watch. It really enhances my runs. I can see my heart rate, color-coded, at a glance, relative to its expected range – along with my pace, distance and time. Then using the up/down buttons I can quickly get altitude, ‘power’, heart rate data as well as the time-of-day. At the end of an activity (in my case a run), I am treated to a chock-a-block ‘training summary’ which includes: distance, calories, heart rate zones, cardio load, pace/speed, speed zones, altitude change, power zones, cadence, etc. etc. It is like having a training COMPUTER on your wrist. And all of this on the watch – independent of the phone or computer APP.
It is pretty awesome. A level of (sharable) training data unmatched by any other watch I have used – and for the last six-months, prior to the Vantage V, I was wearing a Garmin Fenix 5
(Plus) 24x7. As a sport watch the Polar Vantage V
, in my experience, is in a new, crème de la crème, class of its own. Its GPS and heart rate data is consistent with what I have seen with other high-end GPS watches (from Garmin & Fit) – though its overall ‘step count’ appears to be about 20% too generous (probably because you can’t customize your actual stride length). That said, if you are a serious, dedicated athlete training for competitions, marathons, triathlons, Ironman or the Olympics, this very well might be the perfect watch for you.
I, however, do not think that the Vantage V
is for everyone in the market for a $500 sport watch. The Vantage V is targeted at a very specific and select group – i.e., ‘pro athletes’ per Polar’s own words on their Website. If you do not see yourself as such, you need to some diligent research in to this ‘Premium GPS Multisport’ watch (per Polar) before you elect to buy it.
Two Very Distinct Personalities
The Polar Vantage V
has two very different personalities – a ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ watch! When in training-mode it is superlative. Probably peerless. THE watch to have. The envy of all those that train with you or compete against you. Period. But, when in pre-training mode, i.e., when you are not training, it is a pretty pedestrian watch! In pre-training mode it is a pretty basic, uninspiring watch that does not tell you much. That is the rub. Hence, the need for very careful consideration.
That Polar does not call it a ‘smart watch’ is no accidental, oversight. The Vantage V is not a smart watch even by 2017 standards – let alone those of 2018 or 2019. In pre-training mode it is insipid! There are no customizable, third-party watch faces with ‘bells-and-whistles’, nor widgets or APPs. There is no ‘ABC’ (i.e., altitude, barometer, compass), weather, sunrise/sunset, temperature, calendar or smart notifications from your phone. And I won’t even mention maps, music or credit/debit card payments. Oh, it also does not count/report floors climbed (i.e., altitude changes) when in pre-training mode. That irks I. I live in a 4-story house with three sets of staircases. On any given day I go up and down 30 flights of stairs. That is an important part of my exercise regime. The Polar V V,
at best, counts that as steps. That does not make me too happy. I like to be told, towards the close of the day, that I have climbed 40 floors (factoring in the altitude I also negotiated during my run).
While it does measure sleep time, there is no analysis in terms of whether it was REM or Deep. That is frustrating since I am used to getting that from Garmin
. It is possible that Polar might add this ‘deep analysis’, at a later date, with a firmware update.
How You Should Decide
I thought about this long and hard, and finally came up with this metric. On a scale of 1-to-10 determine the role and importance of training/fitness in your life. If you rate training/fitness at 7.5 or less, the PolarVantage V
might not be the right watch for you. If on the other hand, training/fitness figures as an 8.5 or above, definitely think about getting the V . It would be a marriage made in heaven.
Another way to approach this is to determine your ‘training’ vs. ‘pre-training’ ratio, in terms of waking hours. If the ratio is greater than 50:50, in favor of training, the Polar V V very well could be the watch of your dreams. If on the other hand, training only accounts for 20%, or less, of your waking hours, you might want to consider a different watch (and I won’t even mention the Garmin Fenix 5).
Basically put, the Polar Vantage V is a training COMPUTER worn on your wrist. If that is overkill and you really do not need a training computer on your wrist then consider a 2018/2019 smart/sport watch – rather than this ‘premium GPS multi sport watch for pro athletes’.
Easy Enough To Setup
Polar gives you THREE options for setting up a new Vantage 5 Sports Watch:
On a phone (iPhone or Android) with the ‘Polar Flow‘ App.
On a computer (Windows or Mac) with the ‘Polar FlowSync‘ App.
On the watch itself.
I had both Apps. Loaded: on my Google Pixel 2 as well as on my PC running Windows 7 Professional.
I opted to do the initial setup, USB-connected, on my PC. As Polar points, doing USB-connected allows you to charge your watch while doing the setup. That made sense. In addition, I knew, as it proved to be, that the firmware upload was inevitable. Such updates are always quicker via USB – and that was indeed so.
When I had installed Polar FlowSync, on Windows, it claimed that it had downloaded and pre-installed the necessary USB driver. Nonetheless, when I plugged in the Vantage V Windows went through the process of looking for the requisite USB software online and then installing it. It didn’t, however, take too long, and it installed, without issue, right-off-the-bat. That was good and reassuring. That said, the Vantage V does not show-up on my Windows USB-list when it is plugged in. That means you can’t eject it. You just unplug it, but that does not, luckily, seem to bother Windows.
FlowSync had also installed without issue. I had invoked it before I plugged in the Vantage V. As soon as the USB software was activated it started to sync. It was pretty fast. Then, of course, as I had anticipated, it wanted to do a firmware update. Downloading that was pretty fast too. But, it failed to install the first time around. It suggested that I retry. I did. It installed fine the second time.
The watch was about 76% charged when I got it. To top it up to 100% took about 45 minutes.
But, overall, including that firmware install failure, it was fairly painless and fairly quick.
Its battery life seems pretty good. I appear to be losing about 20% per day – albeit, at most, one-hour of training/GPS per day.
Bottom Line For Now
The Polar Vantage V, no question, is a very fine sport watch. Possibly the ultimate sport watch currently on the market for pro athletes. Therein, however, lies the rub. If you are not a pro athlete this might be overkill for you. So, the choice is straightforward. If training/fitness is a dominant feature of your life check out this watch. You will be impressed and pleased with what you find. I find it a joy to run with it on my wrist.
, on its Website, has made it clear that new features will be added in future releases of firmware. So, the Vantage V, is likely to get even better in 2019. Keep that in mind. The functionality and capability will evolve.
For now, just bear in mind its Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personalities. If its strong suite, i.e., activity mode personality, matches yours then you probably have found the perfect sport watch for your needs.