KIT ZONE

£249 Is the new Po­lar mul­ti­sport watch worth the wait?

220 Triathlon Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Nearly five years af­ter Po­lar’s last mul­ti­sport watch, the V800, comes the Fin­nish com­pany’s next-gen­er­a­tion ver­sion: the Van­tage M. Vis­ually, it’s evolved from an an­ti­quated square face to a slick round num­ber, but what truly sep­a­rates it in an ever-con­gested mar­ket?

The key sell is what Po­lar call ‘next-level wrist-based heart-rate mon­i­tor­ing’. We’ve long been dis­ap­pointed with op­ti­calsen­sor num­bers be­fore but this is good, partly be­cause Po­lar’s loaded the op­ti­cal sen­sor with nine LEDs, but there’s also a neat ret­ro­spec­tive tool that re­cal­cu­lates in­ac­cu­rate read­ings in 60sec blocks. So you might be sprint­ing along at 160bpm and then, for no rea­son, it’ll climb to 202bpm. The Van­tage M recog­nises this and smooths out the data for ac­cu­rate anal­y­sis later on. Ar­guably it’s a con­ces­sion that op­ti­cal sen­sors are flawed, but we were im­pressed. Apart from the swim that is, but that’s cur­rently a leap too far.

With that more ac­cu­rate data, the Van­tage M as­sesses sev­eral met­rics that mon­i­tor progress over time. These in­clude Car­dio Load, which is cal­cu­lated as train­ing im­pulse (TRIMP), a com­monly ac­cepted method to quan­tify train­ing load. You’re also given a load based on the rate of per­ceived ex­er­tion (ef­fort from one to 10). It’s an ap­pre­ci­ated ad­di­tion as it recog­nises the psy­cho­log­i­cal, emo­tional as­pect of work­ing out and not just the phys­i­cal. There’s also Mus­cle Load, but you’ll need a power me­ter for that. If you’re re­ally in­ter­ested in delv­ing deep into your phys­i­ol­ogy, it could be use­ful as you’ll be able to mea­sure the strain on your mus­cles dur­ing high-in­ten­sity ses­sions like in­ter­vals or hill sets. Yet that’s pre­sum­ing both the power me­ter and Po­lar’s al­go­rithms are ac­cu­rate, which we can’t vouch for with­out hit­ting the labs. GPS cov­ered 130 sports in­clud­ing swim, bike and run, though proved er­ratic dur­ing our test pe­riod. Po­lar, like Su­unto, have switched to a Sony chipset, and it didn’t hold up too well in built-up ar­eas. Hope­fully, these er­ratic is­sues will be ironed out come the next up­grade. Talk­ing up­grades, our Beta ver­sion didn’t in­clude usu­als like smart­phone no­ti­fi­ca­tions, fit­ness-test func­tion­al­ity and backto-start nav­i­ga­tion. Po­lar has pen­cilled these to ap­pear dur­ing 2019 but, in our ex­pe­ri­ence, you can live with­out them. All the info syncs to Po­lar Flow, which is es­sen­tial to tap into the Car­dio Load Re­port. You can also wire­lessly send info to Strava.

Fi­nally, the mul­ti­ple fea­tures are nav­i­gated via five but­tons and, like all these tools, ac­cu­racy im­proves over time as data’s gath­ered. You can tap into power met­rics with the topend Van­tage V (£439). po­lar.com

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