A watch for training – not for utilizing smart functions.
One of the areas of technology that I feel has exploded in the past couple of years is the smartwatch market. I can remember when the Pebble was the only smartwatch available. Soon after its emergence, Android and Apple started releasing their wrist-based devices. One of my first experiences with a smartwatch was actually a Fitbit-style fitness tracker. At that time, it really only kept track of my steps and my sleeping habits. It wasn’t until I upgraded to my Apple Watch a few years ago that I really started to enjoy the benefits of a ‘real’ smartwatch. Now there are all kinds of different hybrid watches — some that specialize in productivity while others are more tailored towards fitness tracking. The Polar Vantage M combines the best of both worlds while providing a solid option for fitness training.
DETAILS & FEATURES
The Polar Vantage M is an all-round multisport and running GPS watch. It’s designed for anyone who loves to set new records. It’s slim, lightweight and easy to use. Polar calls it a ‘training companion.’ The Vantage M monitors heart rates using Precision Prime sensor fusion technology. Polar makes it possible for users to customize their look with changeable wristbands provided by Polar. The watch works with Polar Flow, an online tracking system that shows your training, sleep, and activity stats. With it, it’s possible to see all your training data in one place.
The Polar Vantage M has a lot of features for users to take advantage of including:
- Advanced wrist-based heart rate
- Nightly Recharge
- Sleep Plus Stages
- Sport Profiles
- Swimming Metrics
- Phone Notifications
- 24/7 Activity Tracking
- Smart Coaching Features (running index, running program, smart calories, etc.)
- Measurements: 46 x 46 x 12.5 mm
- Weight: 45 g with wristband, 28 g without wristband
- Materials: Glass fiber reinforced polymer case. Stainless steel bezel, buttons, and buckle.
- Display: Always on color display. Hard-coated PMMA laminated lens. Size 1.2”, resolution 240 x 240.
- Battery: 230 mAh Li-pol battery. Battery life up to 30 h in training mode (GPS and wrist-based heart rate) or up to 5 days in watch mode with continuous heart rate tracking.
- GPS: Integrated GPS & GLONASS. Assisted GPS for fast fix times.
- Connectivity: Bluetooth Low Energy. Custom USB cable for charging and data synchronization.
- Watch: Time & date. Alarm with snooze.
- UI languages: English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Polish, Russian, Turkish, Indonesian, Czech, Japanese, Chinese (simplified)
- Sensors: Compatible with all standard BLE heart rate sensors, running cadence and power sensors, as well as cycling speed, cadence, and power sensors.
- Water resistance: Water-Resistant (WR30)
- Wristbands: S: wrist circumference 130-175 mm; M/L: wrist circumference 140-210 mm
The Polar Vantage M comes in a well-branded box that includes the watch’s basic detail on the outside. The box has “It’s a good day to set a record” printed on the back emphasizing the purpose of the watch is to provide a training partner for the wearer. The package includes the watch, its charger, and the quick start guide in multiple languages. Out of the box, the watch had no charge to it. I pulled out the charger, plugged it in, and waited for the watch to charge.
During this process, I discovered both a great feature and my biggest complaint. First, the complaint is that the watch charges with a proprietary charger. It’s unique and specifically designed to work with this watch. I’m not a big fan of this since it means that you can’t ever lose it. I’d much rather have the watch charge using some form of a USB connector. That said, the charger is incredibly efficient. In less than an hour, the watch was charged more than 50%. The battery level is shown as an icon on the watch face. After approximately 7 hours of continuous wear and basic activities, the watch remains at 100% battery power. You can also see the battery status inside the Polar Flow app.
I don’t usually wear things on my wrist because they tend to bother me. My Apple Watch was easy to get used to because of its shape, but the Polar Vantage M has a large round watch body and I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to wear it. As it turns out, the watch is actually incredibly comfortable to wear. The band that comes with it is breathable and flexible. I didn’t have any issues wearing the watch.
As far as performance goes, the watch seems to work as advertised. Throughout my testing period, I monitored my activity chart in the app and noted the differences between the types of activities that are recorded. It seemed to be accurate and tracked with what I had done throughout the day. I did not complete a smart coaching session while I was testing. That said, the Vantage M has a ton of training opportunities for the right user. The watch doesn’t seem to automatically sync to the app very well. When I first set it up and got connected to my phone, the watch synced quickly, but after that, it was a little spotty when it came to being up-to-date with the app.
I was disappointed that the watch face was not a touchscreen. Maybe it’s just because I’m used to it with my Apple Watch, but with a price of nearly $300, I expected a touchscreen on the watch face. Without it, navigating the watch is not very user-friendly. There are two buttons on the left side and three buttons on the right. In order to access the menus, you have to press the bottom left button first and then use the top and bottom buttons on the right sides to move through the options. The center button on the right side is the ‘select item’ button. And the top button on the left side wakes up the display and turns on the backlight.
To me, it’s basically like navigating through a Casio wristwatch you can buy at any department store. If all of the watch options could be updated via the app, I wouldn’t have such a problem with the navigation system, but since there are settings like date/time that you have to set through the watch itself, I’m just not a big fan of it.
Going into this review, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this device. It’s obvious that it’s not a ‘smart’ watch or in the same realm as smartwatches. Instead, it’s a fitness tracker with some smart features built-in. I was impressed with the response time the Vantage M gave me when it came to receiving notifications from the phone, but found disappointment in some other basic areas of functionality. This device is really meant for the semi-serious to the serious athlete who is trying to improve on their training regimen. If you are looking for a pure smartwatch, look elsewhere.