May 21, 2022

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Polar Pacer Pro review: Same watch in a slightly different package

Polar Pacer Pro review: Same watch in a slightly different package

There is no shortage of GPS operating hours. seriously. When I ran the New York City Half Marathon last month, I quickly lost track of the number of different makes and models of watches I saw on my fellow runners’ wrists. Runners are among the most enthusiastic about measuring exercise data with technology – whether it’s with watches, smart shoesAnd smart slippersor applications or even a file connected treadmill. So I wasn’t entirely surprised when Polar priced its $299.95 Pacer Pro as a GPS watch built specifically to help runners take their racing to the next level.

The thing is, I don’t really see how its features differ from other Polar multisport watches. I also don’t see how this is a watch that meets the needs of runners.

In practice, we’ve basically seen this watch before. In terms of price, feature set and design, it reminds me a lot of the $299.95 Polar Vantage M2 from 2021. In fact, I’d say the two watches are very similar, and I’m amazed why this Vantage M3 isn’t true.

This does not mean that there are no differences. Polar Pacer Pro has faster hardware and 5MB of internal RAM. This might sound low compared to something like the Apple Watch, but it’s a lot more than every other Polar Watch has. One of my biggest issues with Polar watches over the years has been how much the screens and sync lags. Pacer Pro fixes that. Pro also adds a scale, which Polar says can help you measure Operating power, aka your output, in watts. And although the Pro and M2 screens are the same size, the Pro screen is easier to read. The case also looks smaller, thinner and lighter in weight. The way the straps are attached also varies. The Pacer Pro uses Polar’s Shift adapter while the M2 uses standard spring release pins.

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(A quick wrap with respect to the Shift adapter. I appreciate that it enables you to use standard straps you may already have. However, it is annoying. You have to use a ballpoint pen to take out the proprietary pin and then swap it out on a different set of lugs just so you can use the standard straps It’s not easy to find out by just searching, I had to use Google educational video. I also now have black pen ink all over my white review unit.)

Regardless of the Pro’s similarity to the M2, 99 percent of the features you get on the Pacer Pro aren’t new. Hill Splitter, FuelWise, Nightly Recharge, Fitspark, Training Load Pro, running performance tests, step-by-step track navigation – we’ve seen all of these before on other Polar devices. Certainly, premium polar watches like Grit X Pro They come with more (eg, more dashboards, types of fitness tests, etc.) but that’s a lot like rearranging features without really adding new value.

Buttons and tires.

When Polar says this watch will help “pro” running runners get an edge, the average person will likely expect running tools and insights — perhaps mid-run alerts to increase your cadence or decrease your intensity to maintain endurance. The closest thing to a Pro is the playback feature. It’s supposed to help you gauge how well you’re running, but out of all the similar features I’ve tested on other running watches, this isn’t the most intuitive app. I’ve often been at a loss as to what that means while running and how to adequately interpret this graph afterwards.

The truth is that the vast majority of the features on this watch aren’t just for runners. The step-by-step navigation is useful for hikers, cyclists, pedestrians, and anyone facing a direct outdoor challenge. Recovery insights like nightly recharges and workout suggestions like Fitspark are great anyone You are trying to formulate a training schedule. Hill Splitter – a feature that defines the context of hills and slopes – also works with cyclists. The same goes for Fuelwise, a feature that helps you figure out your nutrition strategy for endurance sports. This is great for long distance runners but also for cyclists and hikers. This is not necessarily bad! Having multiple functionality across several categories is usually a good thing. It’s a little misleading to market this as a watch runners When triathletes, cyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts on a budget get plenty, too.

Walking test is the really new feature that was introduced in Pacer Pro, and it wasn’t accurate in testing.

The all-new feature that Pacer Pro introduces is the Walk Test. Polar is marketing this feature as an easy fitness test for people who are just starting out on their fitness journey and who may not be physically able to take a Polar running performance test. In total, the test takes about 25 minutes – 5 minutes to warm up, 15 minutes to walk briskly on flat ground, and 5 minutes to cool down. In the end, you should get an estimate of your VO2 Max score. (This result is often used as a way to measure cardiovascular capacity and progression over time.)

This is a good idea for beginners. Brands like Polar tend to be intimidating, let’s face it, they cater to athletes who already have good habits and know what they’re doing. Polar’s running test is no joke either. It takes 30-40 minutes of running at an increasingly fast pace for your lungs to hurt, your legs to burn, and you fall into a sweaty pile on a nearby bench. It will be difficult and not useful for true beginners.

But in my testing, the walking test was elusive. For starters, walk at a pace where your heart rate is at least 120 beats per minute. According to my Apple Watch, my comfortable walking speed is about 17 minutes per mile (or 3.5 miles per hour). My heart rate at this pace was only about 100 beats per minute. To get to 120 bpm, I had to dig at a speed of 14 minutes per mile. Several times the watch warned me with a message saying, “Don’t run!” But I wasn’t. And for my problems, the watch told me I had a score of 28 VO2 Max — which, by Polar’s definition, is poor for my age and gender. Prior to this test, both Polar and Garmin put my VO2 Max points at around 39-40.

You get precise heart rate monitoring from Polar’s Precision Prime.

Granted, the walking test is intended for beginners who are just getting started. It’s probably not designed for people like me who already run a few times a week, so that could have skewed my results dramatically. However, I can’t say that instilled in me confidence.

I realize that I control a lot of a very practical GPS watch whose biggest crimes are inconspicuous marketing and being a bit boring. In all other respects, the Pro is the perfect Polar fitness watch. Battery life was excellent, matching the Polar estimate for seven days without any issues. The screen, while not pretty and full of huge bezels, is incredibly readable in direct sunlight. In my running tests, the GPS tracking was spot on with the Apple Watch Series 7 and Garmin Fenix ​​7S. The heart rate monitor was mostly reliable and is exactly what you’d expect from a multisport fitness watch. I may have had a hard time visualizing my heart rate accurately during the walking test – at some points, it was about 15 beats per minute before correcting itself. But, as I mentioned earlier, this particular test wasn’t Polar’s best job, and it wasn’t intended for someone like me.

Fitspark is a great feature that helps you figure out what kind of training you should do based on your history. It’s also not the first time we’ve seen it.

The worst I can say is that the Polar Flow app is complicated and its smart features are limited – but those aren’t new complaints either. Polar Flow can still be difficult to navigate even though it gives you good insights without bombarding you with a wall of data like Garmin does at times. You can get instant notifications, set timers, and control your music, but you won’t get fancier features like security alerts or NFC payments. Just like how features are things we’ve seen a billion times before, we’ve also seen Pro vulnerabilities before as well.

In fact, I will return it. The Pro’s biggest crime is that he’s making Polar’s current lineup confusing as hell. At $299.90, the Pacer Pro is priced competitively for the range of advanced features it offers. Multisport GPS watches are a pricey category, but you get the majority of the same features as the $499.95 Grit X Pro watch. And as I mentioned earlier, there’s really no reason to buy the M2 anymore because the Pro is basically the same thing with more updated hardware.

Running power isn’t new, but it’s the most specific feature available on the Pacer Pro.

I would say calculus may change if you find M2 at a big discount. But, in another development, Polar will soon release a cheaper entry-level Pesser watch as well. That watch is $199.95 and Almost identical to Pacer Pro. It only lacks the scale that enables the running power meter, Hill Splitter, and step-by-step navigation. If these features do not capture your imagination, you are better off saving an additional $100.

I’m glad Polar offers more of its advanced features at a lower price. I really. The Pro is a good GPS smartwatch and I am happy to recommend it to runners, runners and multi-sport athletes who don’t want to spend a lot and don’t care about a lot of bells and whistles. But I can also say that about Polar’s Vantage M2, Pacer, and $229.95 Ignite 2. I wish Polar would spend a little more time clearly distinguishing every watch within its lineup. Although Garmin watches also share a lot of overlap, you can just look at the Venu, Fenix, and Forerunner and have a pretty good idea of ​​who each watch caters to. It’s very hard to do with Polar watches on every level – it hurts consumers and all the things Polar does well.

Photography by Victoria Song/The Verge