What to Make of the Polar Vantage V2

With the Vantage V2, Polar has released a new top-of-line watch. There are reviews and discussions giving heated opinions and decisive verdicts galore. Let’s look at this premium sports watch, as it actually is, instead.

Following on the Grit X, the Polar Vantage V2 is a more typical Polar watch.

Less Outdoor, Back to Sports – and Competition

Where the Grit X is aimed at the outdoors sports market of people going on mountain ultramarathons or the like and training for these kinds of activities, the Vantage line is oriented towards the fitness and sports enthusiasts.

The Vantage V2 is marketed for those who want to train seriously for marathons, triathlons, and similar competitive events, looking to shave some more time off their bests.

The features offered by the Vantage V2 are a mix of such performance-focused functionalities, everything that Polar has already had in other devices (especially newly introduced on the Grit X), and a few improvements and additions that were called for.

The Vantage V2’s Small Improvements

When it comes to these small improvements and additions, the most noticeable is the playback control for audio running on a linked smartphone.

Music (Control)

This is still not the music on the watch that I feel more people (who asked for anything like this) have wanted, but it seems a nod in their direction.

The implementation of this feature, as part of the notifications shown on the watch, is a peculiar one; the feature is easily the least necessary, in my opinion, but okay.

At least, there is something there to show that Polar has been listening.

Menu/Display Changes

A few aspects of the menus and displays have also been fine-tuned a bit.

The Vantage V2 uses a slightly different layout than the earlier watches in some places, offers more customization in others.

All the Vantage V2 Features

The inclusion of all the Grit X features, alongside all the Vantage V features from before, is rather more interesting.

First, Vantage V Features

Thus, from the Vantage V, the Vantage V2 has

  • Training Load Pro, showing the Cardio Load Status on the watch itself
  • Running power from the wrist
  • Running Programs (synced from Polar Flow)
  • FitSpark
  • Running Index
  • And a long list of other features that the Vantage V already had.

Then, Grit X Features

The Vantage V2 also offers the features that were otherwise introduced only to the Grit X:

  • HillSplitter for counting uphill/flat/downhilll parts of a run or for outright hill training
  • Turn-by-turn directions on routes synced through Komoot (with all the advantages and problems of that),
  • Fuelwise hydration and nutrition reminders, and
  • Display of the different energy sources (carbs vs. fat) used
  • Compass view in training (if set up for the sports mode)
  • Weather view in (smart) watch screens
  • GPS power saving options to extent training time with GPS from up to 40 hours to 100 hours

New on the V2

In smart watch features, the Vantage V2 also adds:

  • “Watch face color themes”
    (according to Polar, except I haven’t seen anything like this… unless they only mean that the watch faces are in color, e.g. with the weekly training time display also showing the relative time spent in the different heart rate zones that way)
  • Music controls

Music control only adds itself as part of the notifications views in (smart)watch use (but is then always the first notification); it can also be added to training modes/views (but is then always visible there as one of the screens).

Continuing on to the Vantage V2 (from the Vantage V in its latest state) is the orthostatic test, which I want to mention explicitly because it is the one earlier feature that the Grit X did *not* get.

New Tests

Finally, for the focus on better training, there are new tests on the Vantage V2:

  • Leg Recovery Test
  • Running Performance Test
  • Cycling Performance Test (requiring power meters on the bike)

So, What?

It is here that we should really put our focus.

The Vantage V2 is not necessarily made as an upgrade to entice current Polar users, and Polar Vantage V users in particular.

It does, however, add a few more possibilities for guiding training – and actually, letting training be guided – dynamically, based on insight into one’s training as well as recovery.

Training Guidance Galore

Polar still offers static training plans that are rather old-school online in Polar Flow.

Particularly with the Vantage V2, however, one also has the possibility of letting FitSpark guide one’s training. And this doesn’t just guide training for running, by running, but looks towards well-rounded fitness training and at sleep and recovery.

Polar has actually, in their presentations of the Vantage V2 to the press, at least, focused on how the V2 is basically a sports lab and coach on one’s wrist.

You might not go to a sports lab or coach often enough to really take into account your training progress – let alone your recovery and stress – they argue.

With the V2, however, you can more easily get what you would get from a great coach: Training advice that isn’t a static plan, nevermind your state at the time, but adapts to your recovery state, be that from sleep or where your leg muscles are concerned or going by HRV, as captured by the orthostatic test (Recovery Pro).

Planned Updates

Polar has publicly announced that the Vantage V2 will also support power as a training target.

In the future, after update 2.0 in Q4 2020, it will thus also be possible to plan phased training sessions using power as the training target. And of course, the Vantage V2 will guide through those workout phases.

This update will also bring a ZonePointer for power- or speed-based training in a desired range.

All in all, the Vantage V2 already offers a lot of help with training (above and beyond what the earlier Polar models offered) and will soon offer a few more that had been missing.

We should have a closer look at them all…

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