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Polar Vantage M. Details and first impressions

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HEADS UP!!

The complete analysis of the Polar Vantage M is now published. This article is only about the presentation of the model.

Click here to see all the details and opinion of the Polar GPS watch.

 

Without a doubt the Polar Vantage V is the main news of the day which makes me feel a little sorry for the Polar Vantage M which was also presented today. To some extent it becomes the ugly duckling, that person who lives in the shadow of his next-door neighbour's success.

But it also has a lot to offer, as it shares many features with the Vantage V and represents a leap in quality compared to the Polar M430, the model it replaces to some extent (although of course they will live together in the market).

HEADS UP!!

The complete test of the Polar Vantage M and Polar Vantage V is now published.

Click here to access and know all the information and updated details of both models.

Not that we have to give up the new advanced pulse sensor from Polar, the Vantage M also includes it. It shares a screen, although in this case it's not touch-sensitive, but it's still a multisport watch that even offers swimming metrics (something the M430 didn't have, for example).

Polar Vantage M

Let's go over the details of the mid-range model of Polar. As I said before, the Polar Precision Pro sensor is also in this version, because its functions are very similar, in fact the Vantage M also offers full triathlon mode.

Let's go over the list of Vantage M's specific features:

  • New Polar Precision Prime pulse sensor
  • Sony GPS chip with better range (same as Suunto 9) and using GPS and GLONASS
  • Color screen
  • Change of design, abandoning the circular sphere
  • Weight: 45 grams
  • Waterproof up to 30 meters (enough for swimming)
  • Up to 30 hours of autonomy (with 1s recording, not with extended autonomy modes)
  • Possibility to quickly replace the belt with a standard system (Vantage V has specific belts)
  • Price: 279

So what is it about Vantage V that isn't in Vantage M?

  • No power measurement on race from the wrist
  • No barometric altimeter. The altitude data will be given by the GPS
  • Advanced Recovery Pro metrics not available

The absence of power measurement has no other reason than the absence of the altimeter. It is a fundamental part of being able to provide accurate data (obviously it is not the same to run uphill as downhill).

Polar Vantage M

But there are some remarkable things about a watch in this price range. To start with the 30 hour range with data recording per second, something that no other model in this price range offers. Then there is the Polar Precision Pro pulse sensor, which looks like a real work of engineering (and which I will simply copy from what I have put in the Polar Vantage V).

Polar Precision Pro Pulse Sensor

This is Polar's new optical pulse sensor, an important detail that not only has been included in the Vantage V as top of the range, but another lower range model like the Vantage M can benefit from.

Polar has always based all its products on offering the most accurate possible record of the heart rate. Always, from the very beginning. So when it has been necessary to make the leap to optical sensors they have taken their time and have always done so with their own solutions. And I am happy about that, because it is what they have always boasted about and on which they have always relied.

Until now, Polar's "top of the range" sensor has had 6 green LED's. This sensor has now advanced to have all this to ensure the most accurate reading possible:

  • 5 green LEDs
  • 4 red LEDs
  • 4 electrodes
  • 3D Accelerometer

Polar Vantage V - Optical Pulse Sensor

Buscador de chollos

The use of different colored LEDs has a very simple explanation, and that is to capture as much information as possible. They are not the first to do so, other manufacturers have turned to similar solutions although with different purposes (Apple Watch, Garmin Fenix 5X Plus).

The electrodes are used to check the contact of the watch with the skin and to verify that everything is correct. But it does not allow an electrocardiogram like the one Apple Watch Series 4 that was introduced yesterdayThis is why it is necessary to keep your finger on the crown of the Apple watch while testing, because the watch is sending electrical current from one end of the body to the other, through the heart.

As for the 3D accelerometer, simply an accelerometer as it was being used until now in any optical sensor to understand the movements and to be able to filter the data of pulses better. The reference to "3D" will be simply because of its greater capacity of registration, nothing else.

Training Load Pro only

Another difference from Vantage V is that only one of the two advanced metrics functions has made the cut. Vantage M offers Training Load Pro, but it does not have the Recovery Pro function.

As I said in the Vantage V article, the Training Load Pro function takes a global view of training by counting all the different metrics that the watch launches and Polar Flow collects.

Until now the training load was measured by the estimated oxygen consumption. This leads to an estimation of the fatigue and the recommended recovery time before returning to an intense training session. But only one parameter is used.

As Polar wants to offer a global vision it will use several metrics to do so. Similar to what Garmin offers in its advanced training metrics (which simply makes use of the algorithms licensed through FirstBeat). Different means to reach the same end.

Polar Vantage M, availability and price

Like the Vantage V, the Vantage M will also arrive throughout the month of October (although the Polar website indicates that deliveries will be throughout November), but the price difference is substantial, with the mid-range model at a much more interesting price.

It costs £279 and will also be available in various colours: white, black or red. However, in the case of the Vantage M there is no option to buy it including the Polar H10 chest pulse sensor. In the case of the Vantage V it seems more logical to include it, as it is required for the Recovery Pro function.

Update 18 September

Answers to some questions

After talking to Polar and requesting some additional information regarding some doubts I had that I had pending to resolve, I share it with you because I am sure you will be interested in it too.

  • The Vantage M, as you know, does not offer the power data as the Vantage V. The reason is simply because of lack of additional hardware. But I have been confirmed that it is fully compatible with Stryd. Additionally, I would like to point out that Polar is not going to develop any product similar to Stryd.
  • There will be synchronization of metrics between devices through Polar Flow, so the data for training load, activity, etc. will be taken from the total activity and not only from what the watch indicates. This means that if you cycle with an M460 or V650, those data will be reflected in the Vantage in terms of training load.
  • Polar Flow allows you to customize 5 power zones and train based on them. It will be based on MAP, which is the term Polar uses that resembles FTP in cycling.
  • The Recovery Pro function of Vantage V requires a chest sensor. Polar has confirmed that both H6 and H7 will be compatible with the function, not only the new Polar H10. It has also been confirmed that the function will not be compatible with third party sensors.
  • There is no possibility to send heart rate data to other devices. This means that we will not be able to see this information in gym equipment or applications like Zwift. This is something that was possible to do with the V800 and its chest pulse sensor. The problem with Bluetooth is that one sensor (which is the slave) does not allow to connect to two different devices (two masters). Well, actually in the last revisions of the standard this has changed, but the manufacturers are not implementing it yet.

Update 9 October

Update Calendar

Polar has released the update schedule They have listened to the users and their criticism of Vantage V's lack of navigation, and there's a date on the horizon. But only for Vantage V, Vantage M will have no navigation function. 

Below you will find the approximate dates and news they expect to introduce.

Update 2.0 - December 2018
Polar Vantage V and M

  • Stopwatch, countdown and interval timer
  • Enhancements to existing functions (basically, bug fixes)

Upgrade 3.0 - Beginning 2019
Polar Vantage V 

  • Mobile Phone Notifications
  • Route tracking with return to start and route navigation
  • Enhancements to existing functions (basically, bug fixes)

Upgrade 3.0 - Beginning 2019
Polar Vantage M 

  • Mobile Phone Notifications
  • Route tracking with return to home (but without full route navigation, that's just the Vantage V)
  • Enhancements to existing functions (basically, bug fixes)

Other planned updates

  • Strava Live Segments
  • Fitness Test
  • Correction of errors and other functions to be confirmed later

Update 26 October

You can now book the Polar Vantage M directly at Amazon, they will send it to you as soon as Polar confirms that it is ready to ship (the date of availability is "locked" by them).

Remember that if you place your order through the links I provide you will be collaborating with the page with a small percentage of commission, this is what makes it possible for this page to continue with all of you.

Polar Vantage M -  Pulsómetro, Unisex Adulto -  Negro, M/L
Price: 228,99 €Prime
You save: 50,91 € (18%) (18 %)
12 new from 228,99 €   10 Second hand from 130,93 €
Amazon logo

Opinion of the Polar Vantage M

Absences of benefits are the same as in the case of Vantage V, and as in this case they can be an impediment to purchase. Specifically, they are as follows:

  • No route tracking, no back-to-back function
  • No application support
  • It does not offer the possibility of playing music
  • No smartphone notifications
  • No Strava segments
  • No NFC support for wireless payments

And to clarify, some of these functions are not present simply because they have not arrived on time. Polar has limited resources (like everyone else) and has to decide what it gives more importance to. They have considered that it is better for their interests to turn fully to their new optical pulse sensor than to other functions that they have considered secondary.

Some of them Polar has already confirmed that they will come later through firmware updates (e.g. notifications), but there are important absences such as route navigation.

In a way it seems that Polar is in a similar situation to Suunto, the marketing department is going at a different pace to the development department, and it wouldn't hurt if they had more capacity at the programming level. I am clear that neither manufacturer is going to follow the trail behind Garmin and compete in terms of the number of features, simply because at the resource level it is totally impossible.

Polar Vantage M

But just like Suunto, Polar is focusing on what they know how to do and what they believe is their competitive edge, which I think is absolutely right. In this case Polar has always given a lot of importance to pulse measurement and what it gets from that data, and that's what it has focused on in the new models. Of course we'll have to see if they've done a good job of that when I test the watch (probably a joint test with the Vantage V).

The Polar race starts now, and it will be a medium distance race. We have to see what they are able to offer at the finish line of the watch market (October-November) and what they can add and improve in the coming months (mid 2019).

So... thanks for reading and if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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36 Comments

    1. Thinking about the need TODAY and what the M430 offers at its price (there are offers up to 14: https://www.correrunamaraton.com/ofertas-vuelta-al-cole/), of course it is a very interesting option.

      Thinking ahead, it's logical to assume that the Vantage M offers a plus that the M430 doesn't. Display, performance, optical sensor (although the M430's is very good). But you also have to consider that its price is double.

    1. It is a very good question, because in principle both models would be oriented to the same type of user. Undoubtedly the Garmin has greater performance, highlighting the navigation that is something that the Polar does not have and seems to be not going to have, at least in the near future. It is already a question of how important this detail is for you.

      Polar's bet is its optical pulse sensor, but until I have test units I can't tell you if it's as good as it looks or if it's not a major change from the M430's sensor. And don't forget the range, the Polar promises a lot more than the 735XT.

      In these cases there is also a final factor in deciding, and that is which platform you are most comfortable on. It is something that can define which side you choose.

      1. If it's for triathlon I think the Polar a priori is better shaped.

        the 735 has only 14 hours of gps which makes it an iron man that can leave you stranded on the road.

        Additionally, the fact that the heart rate monitor works underwater would avoid the use of an additional strap when swimming which in principle appeals to me more.

        I think Polar may have a very interesting device for the mid-range with this Polar.

  1. Thank you very much Eduardo for the news, as always at the bottom of the barrel with the latest news.

  2. Hi, Eduardo.
    El material de la carcasa es el mismo en los dos? Lo digo por la diferencia de peso, que me parece mucha o quizá se deba al tamaño de la batería y al altímetro.
    Greetings, partner, and good luck with the trials.

  3. Hello a query, how does the new gps chip that they bring? as one of the strengths that had the v800 and m430 was that, and its ability to carry instantaneous pace, distance and changes of pace much better than Garmin.

    Thank you

    1. The GPS chip is only one (small) part of the equation. It is not a chip that is precisely released on the Polar, other manufacturers have already mounted it before. But more important than the chip in question is the design and positioning of the antenna inside the clock. You can have the best chip that if the antenna does not have a design to the height the result will not be satisfactory. The same with the software that controls it.

      I've seen some examples of the tracks it makes but, honestly, it's still early to draw any conclusions, especially since Polar has not yet completed the final firmware that will include the clocks and it's something that is still being worked on.

  4. Hi, Eduardo,
    Thank you for this article. My question is this: Is the Polar Vantage M suitable for mountain racing and mountain ultras?
    Thank you

    1. By proxy... it would be possible. Now, is that the best option? Not at all. There are better options on the market for that type of use (with barometric altimeter and navigation, for example)

  5. It looks like an unfinished product with far fewer features than the competition. It's a shame that manufacturers like Polar are starting to show such obvious signs of weakness. In my view, a device that claims to be the best in its range, which has fewer features than its predecessor, and far fewer than those of its competitors, is bound to fail.

    1. Polar is initially focusing on training data and offering what it has always offered, while other features are considered secondary and as such will be studied for future inclusion.

  6. Hello, thank you very much for all the articles. I have a question: when used mainly for the gym, and occasionally for hiking, would it be better to wait for this model or is the vivoactive 3 much better than this one? Thank you very much

    1. The Vivoactive 3 is a clear candidate for that kind of use. I can't tell you much more about the Polar Vantage M until I receive a test unit.

  7. Hello. Good afternoon,
    I've had an m400 polar fleece for about 3 years now and I'm thinking of changing it because it's getting a little short... but I have a lot of doubts about whether to switch to Garmin (I had thought of the Garmin VivoActive3 because I think it fits my activity level perfectly), or to continue with Polar. My activity level is basically gymnastics: days of weights, crossfit, some kind of BodyPump, etc. And in isolation (preparation for some popular 5.10k race) I can use it for running or walking. What would you recommend? Thank you very much in advance.

    1. PS: Oh by the way, I forgot to mention that the subject of daily activity is also important to me because I'm trying to move around more since I lead a fairly sedentary life due to studying for the civil service examinations and so on.

      A salute.

    2. PS: Oh by the way, I forgot to mention that the subject of daily physical activity is also important to me, since I lead a rather sedentary life because I am studying for the civil service examinations and I would like to control that as well.

      Thank you again.

    3. I recommend that you wait a little longer, because not all the details of Vantage M are known yet.

  8. Eduardo I have the suunto spartan sport wrist hr but this new one catches my eye would you make the change? Thank you very much

    1. Well, I'd say wait for the test... I have them here tomorrow and I can see what they're both capable of 🙂

      1. Here in Chile I just arrived, and it's at the same price as the Suunto Spartan Trainer. I couldn't find out how long the battery lasts with the gps off. The Suunto Spartan Trainer runs on 14 days and 10 hr with gps, increasing to 30 hr with gps marking every 60 sec (I think I remember), but from the Vantage M if you could give that duration data it would be very useful to see if I go to Polar or Suunto. Thanks a lot for all the info!

  9. Thank you very much because we'll wait for that test, although I'm sure I'll fall as I did with the review of the suunto I'm carrying now hahaha

  10. I have bought the Polar Vantage V and it has serious problems with the pulse measurement, it is not stable the measurement mainly in high frequencies, I don't know if it is a hardware or software error, I have been able to solve it by placing a band on the chest but this problem is not right.

    I'm going to talk to the polar people to see how they respond, they will have some reference to this detail or it just happens to me I have the verison 1.2.3 installed in the watch

  11. I have bought the Polar Vantage V and it has serious problems with the pulse measurement, it is not stable the measurement mainly in high frequencies, I don't know if it is a hardware or software error, I have been able to solve it by placing a band on the chest but this problem is not right.

    I will talk to the polar people to see what response they give, they will have some reference of this detail or it just happens to me I have the verison 1.2.3 installed in the watch.

    1. Personally, I'm not having any problems with the optical sensor on the Vantage M or V.

      Make sure you wear it well above the wrist bone, and that the strap is firm.

  12. Hey, Eduardo, first of all, thank you for your great work.
    The doubt I have when looking at this watch, is that it brings for example in front of the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR.

    I'm considering buying one of them but I can't decide yet. I know and like the Polar platform, I don't know how the Suunto platform is doing in terms of information.
    But at first glance, the Polar Vantage M seems to be a bit behind, even with the promised updates it looks "lame" in front of the other watch.
    Still, I'm waiting for your analysis of this model.
    Thank you very much for everything.

    1. The strength of the new Polar is in its metrics as Training Load Pro, it is what they have focused their efforts on along with the optical pulse sensor. Certainly compared to other models you can miss things, but you have to appreciate what it does have.

      As for the test, I hope to have it by next week.

  13. Hi, I'm deciding between buying the polar m or the garmin vivoactive 3 music, I really enter crossfit and walk, I'd like to know which one you consider the best option.

    1. Obviously the biggest differentiator is the music playback of Vivoactive 3 which is what you should value. You have the proof of both on the web.

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