I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pre-release Polar V800 GPS watch (aka Smart Training Computer) and play with it for a couple of weeks. This is the new flagship watch from Polar, and I am guessing it will be popular.
There is a lot I liked about this watch in the short time I got to use it. It felt really solid, and I wouldn’t expect any issues with the abuse that gear takes on the trails. The watch uses aluminum and gorilla glass with a rugged rubber band. The buttons were easy to use and solid. The V800 definitely didn’t feel delicate or breakable. The watch also has a barometric pressure sensor for more accurate altitude readings. I much prefer this to depending on the calculated ascent/descent data from a map.
As for the interface, the menus and display were easy to navigate and easy to read. Of course everything is customizable, but I didn’t get into that too much. The V800 has a vibration feature if you want notifications without disturbing the sounds of nature with an electronic beep. Finally I like that the V800 integrates an activity monitor (like the Polar Loop) into the watch so it can be used for 24/7 tracking. As I mentioned when I reviewed the Polar Loop, I like the option of monitoring my regular daily activity and also sleep patterns. The V800 will do that without requiring a separate wrist monitor. This constant activity monitoring also provides more accurate information to guide recovery from hard effort workouts and your overall training load. I wouldn’t simply use data from a watch as gospel, but I see it as one source of feedback to consider, and the more accurate information the watch has, the better that calculated information will be.
I tested the V800 with the Bluetooth Smart heart rate strap and foot pod. The V800 is compatible with Bluetooth Smart based accessories (HR strap, footpod, cycling sensors, and Keo cycling power meter.) If you have a drawer full of older Polar accessories that used the WIND protocol, they won’t work with the V800. It’s also worth noting that, as always, ANT+ accessories don’t play with Polar.
There is a lot I would still like the chance to test on this watch. It claims a battery life that would make it a contender for longer endurance events like ultras. Unfortunately in the time that I had it, I didn’t have an opportunity to run the GPS outside for any extended periods of time. I did find, based on the battery percentage indicator, that a couple of hours of use didn’t put much of a dent into the available life. It is also designed for use in multisport, but I wasn’t able to spend time using these features. One unique thing with this watch is that it will track your heart rate while swimming – not my cup of tea, but definitely something many athletes would like.
Because this was a pre-release unit, I wasn’t able to upload the data from the watch to my computer or mobile device. Once this has been setup, users will be able to upload to the Polar Flow app on a mobile device via Bluetooth (similar to the Polar Loop) and to Flow web service on a computer via USB.
Polar has definitely designed and produced a great feeling and functioning watch that integrates a few different things into one package. It’s a great looking watch – I had more than a few comments and questions about it during my testing period. Its design stands out, in a good way. If you’re looking for a watch that can keep going for your long events, in the pool, and all day long, you should check out the Polar V800. It should be widely available in early May.