review

Polar Vantage M Wrist Heart Rate Tracker GPS Sports Watch

Sunday, December 16, 2018

While ECG chest straps are the go-to fitness device for monitoring heart rate, wrist tracking technology has finally bridged the gap between wrist-based optical heart rate watches and chest strap ECG heart rate monitors!
The Polar Vantage M pushes the envelope of wrist pulse tracking by incorporating a more accurate optical/light sensor that measures the volume of blood in your arteries to determine heart rate.
Vantage M is compatible with Polar BLE heart rate sensors
The Polar Vantage M wristwatch measures heart rate very much the same way as other sport wrist watches by making contact with your skin. 
Most optical HR sensors built-in to wrist watches measure heart rate this way but the distinct difference with the Vantage M watch is how accurately it determines heart rate. 
Technically, the more leds on a wrist watch the better heart rate accuracy you get particularly if you are someone with large or hairy wrists. 
The Polar Vantage M uses a new sensor (called Precision Prime) which integrates a total of nine green and red leds, as well as four circular metal contact sensors that measure motion (3d acceleration) and skin temperature to determine a more accurate heart rate reading.
heart rate zones
Many sport wrist heart rate watches only integrate leds to measure heart rate so the addition of three different input data (multicolored leds, 3d acceleration and skin contact) makes the Polar Vantage M more reliable at monitoring heart rate.
Another design feature that helps the Polar Vantage M heart rate optical sensor being more accurate is having the optical sensor stick out a few millimeters from the back of the watch. The Vantage M sensor is about the size of the Polar OH1 armband sensor.
Having a heart rate optical sensor stick out from the back is always better than a heart rate optical sensor that sits flat on the back of the watch because a protruding heart rate optical sensor creates a better skin contact with your wrist as the optical heart rate sensor is always pressing against your skin even when bending your wrist while playing tennis or doing hand push ups.
wristband available is different lengths
The Vantage M sports watch wristband is changeable and made of TPC-ET thermoplastic so it's durable (yet soft) and water resistant. The Vantage M wristband features removable 22 mm spring bars (the same type of spring bars you find in divers watches) which are thicker than the standard 18mm lug width spring bars in many fitness watches. 
nifty circular metal charging contacts also double as sensors
The Vantage M body is made of ABS plastic material with enhanced glass fiber, while the lcd screen is covered with PMMA acrylic glass which is a solid shatter-resistant alternative to glass. The buttons are made of stainless steel.
you can use any wristband that uses 22 mm spring bars
Speaking of diving, the Polar Vantage M has a WR30 rating on the back which means 30-metre water resistance rating although that doesn't mean you can dive with it as deep as 30 metres. 
Proper diving watches have a 100- meter rating. Sport watches such as the Polar Vantage M which have a WR30 rating can only be used for swimming.
Setting up the Vantage M is straightforward and can be done via the Flow app desktop version or the Polar Flow mobile app. 
There is no manual pairing required with your phone. Operating the Vantage M is done via the buttons since the Vantage M watch screen is not touch screen so buttons are multifunctional.
The top left button is the light/lock button for turning the backlight on the display and for locking the display by holding the light button for several seconds. 
the backlight on the display does turn on automatically when you turn your wrist
The bottom left button is the menu, pairing/syncing and back button for accessing and going back menus and for syncing data stored in the watch to the Polar Flow mobile app/ desktop application. 
To sync the data from the Polar Vantage M to the Flow app, you have to hold down the back button in time view.
The top and bottom right buttons are the up and down buttons for controlling the navigation of menus. The red centre button is the OK/ Start button for accessing menus, okaying settings and starting workouts.
No sport watch is really complete without a way to monitor training load so it's good to see that the Polar Flow app integrates a more comprehensive training monitoring feature for the Polar Vantage M watch, called Training Load Pro, which measures three aspects of training load including cardio load perceived load and muscle load.
On a scale from very low to very high, Training Load Pro tells you how hard you workout each session and then give you an average over a 90 day period based on heart rate data and workout duration.
From the Polar Vantage M watch you can check you current cardio load status which will show as Detraining, Maintaining, Productive and Overreaching. You want to aim for a Maintaining or Productive load status. 
If you get a Detraining and Overeaching load status, it means your load is much lower than usual or much higher than usual. Your strain and tolerance ratio determines your cardio load status so it's not just a matter of working out hard but also how well your body handles the workout.
Muscle load is another useful training load insight that is calculated based on running power and duration of the workout. 
With that said, in order to take advantage of Muscle load data you have to use an external power meter sensor which is not included. Also, Muscle load is only currently available on Running sport mode and Cycling sport mode.
Perceived load is the third training load measurement which lets you input your own feedback of the workout by rating the workout from very hard to very easy. It's nice that user feedback is taken into account in Training Load Pro for better accuracy of data. 
Speaking of sport modes, there are hundreds of sport modes available to the Polar Vantage M though you can only have a maximum of 20 sport modes stored in the Polar Vantage M watch. 
Saying this, each sport mode is customizable so you can choose what information you want to see on the watch face while working out.
And, it's not just training activity you can track with the Polar Vantage M. You can also track sleep and general daily activity from the same Polar Flow app which is nice because all the information is gathered in one place. 
The Polar Vantage M is also compatible with third party training apps such as Google Fit and Nike+ Run Club so you can sync Polar Flow's data with those training apps without having to start over.
the watch face time can be changed from digits to analog
The Polar Vantage M is a very good good sports watch although it misses some features like smart notifications and route guidance that you get in the M430 sport GPS watch. Polar regular firmware updates though make up for this as Polar updates usually address initial drawbacks. In fact, the latest 2.0 firmware update has made available stopwatch, countdown timer and interval timer to the Vantage M. 
Looking at Polar's firmware updates page, Polar is also planning a firmware update in February 2019 to make smart notifications and "Back to start guidance" available to the Vantage M watch. Polar Fitness Test and Inactivity alert will also be available to the Vantage M sport watch though there is no set date yet.
The Polar Vantage M is a solid sports watch that stacks up well with the competitors though not as well as the Vantage V model which integrates a power meter sensor, audio alerts, barometer sensor, recovery pro, route import, Strava live segments, orthostatic test, color touch display, tap gestures, route guidance and R-R Recording test (both route guidance and R-R Recording test aren't yet available to the Vantage V but they are planned updates). 
The Strava Live Segments in the Vantage V version is indeed a neat little add-on though it's worth keeping in mind that to benefit from the live segments you have to be Strava Premium member.
While route guidance is a missing feature in the Vantage M sport watch, you do get GLONASS integration which works alongside the built-in GPS to make data like speed and distance more accurate outdoors. Battery life is 30 hours compared to 40 hours battery life you get with the Vantage V. Then again, the Vantage M watch weighs only 45 grams versus the Vantage V which weighs 66 grams. 
 UPDATE 19.02.2019: Polar has recently released firmware 3.0.10 which fixes some bugs and enables the Vantage M wristwatch to receive Phone notifications and switch off all phone notifications (Do not disturb), backlight gesture, sounds, vibration and watch notifications. 
strong magnetic charging
Firmware 3.0.10 also incorporates Back to start guide, as well as two shortcuts "Sleep watch face" and "Quick menu" which gives you easy access to favorites, timers, routes and Back to start. Quick menu is available in pre-training, pause and transition mode with the LIGHT button. The Sleep watch face shortcut takes you to the sleep metric page where you can check how you slept. The Sleep watch face shortcut can be found from time view by swiping left/right or using the UP/DOWN buttons. 
Charging the Vantage M 230 mAh Li-pol battery is done via a proprietary Polar charging cable dock which features a standard USB connector in one end and a dock with four magnetic pins in the other end. 
The Polar Vantage M continuous heart rate can be turned off which is neat since on other Polar watches like the A370 fitness tracker continuous heart rate is always on by default. 
You do save battery life but the disadvantage of having continuous heart rate turned off is that low activity heart rate like walking won't be tracked properly because the Vantage M will calculate calories burnt by counting steps without being able to take heart rate into account. 
The Polar Vantage M wrist HR tracking watch has a multilingual interface so you can set it to different languages (Danish, Czech, Dutch, English, Turkish, Swedish, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Indonesian, German, French, Finnish, Italian, Polish and Norwegian. 

FIRMWARE UPDATE: As of 15th October the Vantage M now features Sleep quality insights with Sleep Plus Stages, Recovery insights with Nightly Recharge, Serene guided breathing exercises and GPS enhancements with added Galileo and QZSS satellite system support. You can read more here.

You Might Also Like

0 comments

About Gadget Explained

Connect With Gadget Explained