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Today Polar introduces two new models to extend its product range. They are the Polar Pacer and Polar Pacer Pro. Both are focused on running, so they are different from the Vantage M2 with which they share some features but differ in others.
To give a quick description of the two models, the Polar Pacer would be the model for those who are looking for a basic model with the simplest functions to start running, having some margin to continue growing in running.
On the other hand, the Polar Pacer Pro (that you can now buy) is aimed at more serious runners as it includes features such as running power estimation and route navigation.
The name chosen is not trivial. The Polar Pacer was one of the Finnish brand's former successes, back in the late 1980s (some of you weren't even born yet).
Its star feature was poder to connect to a chest sensor wirelessly, and it had other advances such as a two-line display, upper and lower heart rate display and exercise time. All this for about 100€ at the time (to add the inflation of all these years...).
30 years later, the Polar Pacer rangewith "one or two" more functions. I will start by telling you about the features of the Polar Pacer Pro, the most complete model, and then I will tell you what the differences are with respect to the basic Polar Pacer.
Features Polar Pacer Pro
In some respects the Polar Pacer range is a renewal of the entire Polar family, but in many other respects it is a watch that sits between the various current Polar models. Those of you who are familiar with the Polar range will feel totally familiar with the new model because, in terms of software, there are almost no specific new features.
Yes there are in terms of the internal platform, optical sensor and GPS antenna. Here everything has been redesigned and updated, so we are not talking about another watch similar to what Polar already has, but a product with a practically new base.
Let's go with a list of specs and what's new, which is the quickest way for you to see what all it brings to the table.
- New hardware platform with a processor twice as fast
- New Polar Precision Prime flat, thinner, electrodeless optical pulse sensor
- Redesigned GPS antenna
- New higher-contrast display with Gorilla Glass 3 lens
- 45mm circumference (1mm and 2mm smaller than Vantage M2 and Vantage V2 respectively)
- 11.5mm thick (1mm and 1.5mm thinner than Vantage M2 and Vantage V2 respectively)
- 41 grams of weight (4.5 grams and 11 grams lighter than Vantage M2 and Vantage V2 respectively)
- Aluminum bezel
- Barometric altimeter
- Running power
- Turn-by-turn route navigation with Komoot and return-to-start function
- Includes FuelWise with reminders for hydration and nutrition
- With Energy Sources to indicate energy sources in proteins/carbohydrates/fats
- With Hill Splitter, for automatic separation of ascents and descents during training sessions
- Training Load Pro, Nightly Recharge, FitSpart, Serene... all the load and rest tracking features of Polar.
- Running Test, Cycling Test and a new Walking Test
- Transmission of heart rate to other devices via Bluetooth
- Smart watch functions (notifications, music control, weather forecast)
- 35 hours of autonomy, up to 100 hours with energy savings
- 7 days in clock mode
- New charging cable (since the electrodes of the pulse sensor have disappeared)
- Specific strap design, but SHIFT adapter included for poder use any standard 20mm strap
- Withstands immersion in water up to 50m deep (30m in Vantage M2)
- It costs 299€.
- Available in black, red-white, burgundy, blue, and green
The Polar Pacer Pro has almost all the features of the brand's top-of-the-line models such as Vantage V2 and Grit X Pro (and which are considerably more expensive).
What doesn't it have? Well, a few things that are probably not important to many of you:
- Leg Test not available (the test that measures recovery by height of jumps)
- No Recovery Pro
- No touch screen
- No tone alerts, vibration only
- 50m of immersion resistance, instead of 100m
- Gorilla Glass lens (sapphire on Grit X Pro)
- No ambient light sensor (Vantage V2 does)
- No MIL-STD-810G certification
- 35 hours of GPS autonomy instead of 40 hours for Vantage V2 / Grit X Pro
- Smaller, thinner, and lighter than either of the other two
So, in terms of functions and technical specifications, it is practically identical to the more expensive models (which cost €200 more).
As you can see on the back of the watch, the design of the Polar Precision Prime sensor is different. It is quite a bit thinner and no longer protrudes from the watch case itself. In addition, it has lost the electrodes that had two specific functions: to ensure that the watch is in contact with the skin and to serve as charging pins.
In these images you can see the rear of the Pacer Pro compared to a Vantage V2 and appreciate the difference.
That change entails a change in the charging cable. The pins are located below the optical sensor, but Polar still uses an easy-to-attach magnetic contact charger.
This cable is not unique to the Pacer Pro, the Polar Pacer obviously receives one just like it.
If you noticed in the pictures or in the detailed features, the strap of the Polar Pacer Pro is specific, very similar to the Vantage V2. Polar released an adapter for the V2 that allowed for standard size straps (in their case 22mm), and in the case of the Pacer Pro that adapter is also present. The difference with respect to the V2 is that it is included in the box and allows 20mm straps.
Among the functions, the only new feature is the inclusion of the "Walking Test". It is a specific test to estimate the maximum oxygen consumption (VO2Max) and poder track the improvement in the user's fitness level. It is similar to the Running Test but focused on those who are not able to run. It is something that will surely come to the rest of the models, but it is perhaps better suited to the Polar Pacer, which is the model we will see next.
Features Polar Pacer
If the Polar Pacer Pro is an advanced racing watch, the Polar Pacer is a virtually identical watch but focused on a more basic use for those who are starting out or who do not need as many features.
It still has all the platform-specific functions of Polar, so just because it's a simpler watch doesn't mean it's a watch that lacks features.
It still uses the faster processor, the new antenna, the thinner Polar Precision Prime sensor and the higher contrast display. Materials change, there is no barometric altimeter and no navigation functions; but the base is the same for both models.
So I'll prepare another list for you, I know you like the poder take a quick look at things. What are the features of the Polar Pacer Pro that are not available in the Polar Pacer? The following are the features that are not available in the Polar Pacer Pro
- Reinforced polymer instead of aluminum bezel
- 40 grams of weight (instead of 41 grams for the Polar Pacer Pro)
- No barometric altimeter
- As it does not have a barometer, it lacks power estimation during the race or Hill Splitter.
- No route navigation
- No Strava live segments
- No Cycling Test (but keeps Running Test and Walking Test).
- Uses standard 20mm straps without the need for adapters
- Costs 199€ (100€ less than the Pacer Pro)
- Available in black, white, green and lilac.
I think it is a good option for those who are looking for a basic watch. If you are within that profile none of the above features will affect you, and it's 100€ you save. It is certainly a good replacement for the Polar M430, especially now that it is out of stock until September 2022.
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Opinion Polar Pacer and Polar Pacer Pro
We can look at this launch in two different ways:
At first you may think that it is just another Polar with the same functions as any of the other models already on the market, with the only addition of the Walking Test that is focused on those users who are not able to complete the Running Test. There are no drastic changes or major new features. And yes, all this is true.
But there is also the other way of looking at it. Polar launches an advanced running model (which is not running because it also supports triathlon) with a more powerful processor, a redesigned antenna, in a smaller and lighter package and for 200€ less than the top of the range models that have almost the same functions. And it is equally true.
One of the most recent successes of Polar was the M400. And it was because in the same price range it was a watch that offered in some respects more features than direct rivals. I think with the Polar Pacer Pro they are trying to repeat the same formula.
In front of the Garmin Forerunner 745 the Polar Pacer Pro offers more autonomy and power estimation on the run, although it obviously lacks the wireless music/payments package of the Garmin. But its price is lower.
With regard to the Suunto 5 Peak has a barometric altimeter, a larger display and a better optical pulse sensor. Although now Suunto has reduced the price of the model by 50€.
COROS does not have a direct rival, because the PACE 2 would rival the Polar Pacer (and not the Pro) and the Apex range is already on the way out.
And we must not forget about the Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL which is also in the same price range, although it is perhaps a very niche watch and more focused on triathlon, with specific functions for these users but without all the training load tracking platform that both the Polar Pacer and the previous models have.
In the absence of testing it in detail and see the improvements of GPS, optical sensor and overall speed of the watch (I will start the test in the official presentation that will make Polar in a week in Barcelona) I think it is a very good bet. It's priced right and has a good level of features, even if there are no specific new features. But I'm looking forward to see what possible new features will come with the release of this new more powerful platform.
In any case, I invite you to the publication of the complete analysis, which will be published in the next few weeks. And stay tuned to my Instagram because I will tell you more when I am at the official presentation in Barcelona.
And... thanks for reading!