Polar V800 Review Feature

Polar V800 Review

The Polar V800 MultiSports Watch is possibly the year’s most eagerly anticipated GPS device. The full function watch sits firmly at the top of Polar’s product tree and is also their first foray in the multisports arena. This is a serious piece of kit for any athlete which will also double up as an all day activity tracker for full analysis of all the wearer’s activities, workouts and steps.

As the Polar V800 only hit general release in June 2014 it is operating with its beta software with more features promised by way of firmware updates. At the time of writing this review, the full swimming capabilities have not been made available. That said, the watch is packed full of features making it ready to rival some of the more established multisports devices from the likes of Garmin and Tom Tom.

The Polar V800 is cutting edge in terms of data transfer benefiting from Bluetooth Smart to allow wireless transfer to a smartphone together with USB syncing to a home computer. It’s also a very stylish day-to-day wrist watch.

N.B. It’s worth noting at this point that the writing of this Polar V800 review will evolve over time. I say this because the product is also evolving with many more features promised this year. I have focused on all current aspects of the device and have made a particular feature of the V800’s Triathlon and Multisports capabilities. Whilst it’s accepted that the watch is still in evolution the Multisports tracking is already immensely impressive (see ‘Triathlon’ section below).

*November 2014. A major firmware update has just introduced a new Swim Mode.

Polar V800 Review – Opening the Box

Polar V800 Review Boxed

This was my first Polar device so as I opened the delivery package from the courier I had no idea what to expect. What I found inside was a brilliant white box something akin to the packaging you would expect from Apple. It really was a pleasure to flip the lid and see the watch in all its glory with the accessories bundled neatly behind. This is quite an important feature given the price and, no doubt, extensive deliberations that would have formed most people’s decision to order such a premium device.

polar V800 Review

It’s a flip lid with some great graphics on the underside which wouldn’t fit completely on the picture. Check out the brief YouTube clip the for the full unboxing experience.

The version I have here is the watch plus Polar’s H7 Heart Rate sensor. In this picture you can see the heart rate belt, heart transmitter and the clip on charging device with USB link.

Polar V800 review accessories

The H7 Heart Rate Strap and transmitter clip together with the two poppers. Both are waterproof and, unique to this watch, the V800 has the ability to provide you with heart rate data even during swim mode. Data is transmitted from the heart rate sensor to the watch via Bluetooth Smart (or via GymLink in swim mode).

Polar V800 review H7

The watch and the charger are coupled by the clip at the top of the watch face which mates with a round coupling on the underside of the strap.

Polar V800 review

Polar V800 review

Size and Comfort

What sets this watch apart at first sight is that it is simply striking! The black/silver model is the only option at present (which would be my preference) but a blue version is to be released at a later stage.

Polar V800 review profile

The the profile is impressive for a full function watch and the comfort is fantastic. For the duration of the test I have worn it pretty much 24/7.

Although hard to capture completely in these pictures, the strap is 100% safe. The watch unit is curved at each edge to provide a large housing for the strap which is then fastened by 4 separate screws on the underneath of both connections (so 8 in total). This is a vital feature given that a true multisports watch must have the durability to face the rigours of the mass open water swim start. I am confident that this device will not be lost to the depth of the lakes. The strap also benefits from a double clasp.

All things considered, this is a an extremely well thought out device from a comfort and durability perspective.

Initial Setup

As mentioned above, this was my first Polar device. It was, therefore, necessary for me to perform the full setup of the Watch, Polar Sync and Polar Flow (see below) before embarking on my first workout.

You can input some details manually on the watch when first turning it on but the quick guide recommends plugging the charging device and unit into the USB port of your computer and completing the install process whilst the watch is left to charge. Here’s a little walk through the procedure you need if you have a Mac.

First, make your way over to the Polar FlowSync webpage where you should be presented with an opening screen with a link to download ‘Polar FlowSync’ under the heading ‘Set Up’ (see the middle of the screen shot below).

Polar V800 Review FlowSync

Polar V800 Review

Next you will be walked through a few screens starting and finishing here.

Polar V800 Review install Polar V800 Review

Following the initial software installation you will be redirected automatically to Polar Flow to either log in or create your Polar account. This process will also assist you with the automatic registration of your device, which will also enable you to determine your product setting. The details required here will be your personal metrics (i.e. age, weight, height etc.) and also whether you are going to wear the watch on your left or right hand (this is to do with activity tracking).

Polar V800 Review account

You will also be prompted to update the device with any firmware releases which will be preformed whilst syncing the data you have just entered. As you can see from the screenshot here, the process can take up to ten minutes. A notification will appear once the process is finished. After completing this step it’s best to leave the device connected until it reaches a 100% battery charge.

Polar V800 Review Update

At this point you can either perform some further configuration for each sport (see below) or head out for your first workout!

Polar V800 Review Ready

Running

At the time of writing this review, running could probably be described as the Polar V800’s most complete function. This is down to the watch still being in development for the purposes of swimming and also on the basis that it is a wrist worn device. Having said that, this is one of the clearest displays I’ve seen on a running watch making it a great training aid whilst out on road and/or trail.

The default workouts and data screens are pre-programmed into both the watch and Polar Flow to enable you to head straight out for run after you have competed the initial set up. I’ll return to the customisation of data fields a little later.

Polar V800 Review Start Running

To start a run you’ll wake the watch up by pressing the red ‘start’ button to the centre left of the watch. Pressing this button once will take you to the ‘Running’ workout (or whichever workout type you have customised to your first screen) where the watch will begin searching for a satellite fix. At this point you’ll need to keep an eye on the screen to ensure that the you see an ‘OK’ in the bottom left of display. Whilst it acquires a good fix you will most likely see the percentage of GPS increasing in 10% increments until you eventually see ‘OK’. I’ve found that the V800 can acquire its fix incredibly quickly even after only being outside for a matter of seconds. The longest I’ve ever experienced is probably no more than 40 seconds.

Whilst waiting for the satellite fix, you’ll also notice the Polar V800 connecting to any of the sensors you may have paired. In my case it’s just the H7 heart rate strap but you can also pair a stride sensor (see the section below on pairing). You’ll know that the heart rate strap is detected by seeing your heart rate appear in beats per minute (BPM) just above the GPS indicator (also in the bottom left of the display).

Whilst spending time on the write-up of the Polar V800 review I prepared a short YouTube clip of device acquiring a satellite fix and starting a run. This little video will give you a good idea of the clarity of the display and the data screens available for customisation Polar Flow.

Once you have acquired your satellite fix, you’ll start the run by pressing the red ‘start’ button. You’ll receive a notification that the recording has started and shortly afterwards be brought to your primary display. This picture here shows my first data screen which I have customised to show my ‘current pace’, ‘distance travelled’ and ‘average pace’. To switch between data screens you use the up and down buttons on the right hand side of the watch (above and below the red ‘start’ button).

Polar V800 Test

What I like about the displays, is that each field has either a written description or an icon adjacent to the numeric data to assist you in identifying which metric you are viewing. From the picture below you’ll see the icon and the numeric data appearing clearly.

Polar V800 Review Data Screens

You can also invert the display to show black on white.

Polar V800 Review Inverted

The pace and distance data comes from the GPS signal so it’s entirely dependant on maintaining a good satellite fix whilst you are running outdoors. I have not yet paired the device with a stride sensor (or footpod) but you can use a paired sensor to override the GPS if required. Pairing the stride sensor will also give cadence data.

I’ve been out running with both the Polar V800 and the Garmin FR620 on the wrist at the same time. Both watches have brought back near identical stats for the same run particularly in respect of the heart rate. I have noticed, however, that there is a slight difference between the GPS with the Garmin making the run approximately 100m longer over a 5KM. This is unlikely to be a fault in either watch, just simply different algorithms and use of satellite tracking.

To pause or end the run you will need to press the ‘back’ button on the bottom left of the watch. Pressing the button once will pause the workout whilst holding the button for 3 seconds continuously will end and save the run. If the workout has been short you will be notified of a ‘short workout’ and given the option to either save or discard.

After finishing a workout the watch will display a summary as shown in the following shots.

Polar V800 Review Running

Polar V800 Running Summary

Heart rate and running index are shown together with the recovery status and training load (see the section on recovery status below).

Polar V800 Review Average Heart Rate

Polar V800 Review Running Index

As you can see, the summary available immediately after the workout is concise yet sufficient to provide all the basic details until you are ready to view the stats in Polar Flow. I have also used the above run in the demonstration of the all new Polar Flow Software featuring later in this Polar V800 review.

Polar V800 Race Pace

You can also set a race pace from the watch menu for when you are aiming to run a course or workout to a particular time/pace. By allowing this setting, the device will give real-time updates akin to a virtual partner to inform you whether you are ahead or behind your target pace. This is an extremely important feature for a running watch ensuring that the V800 is competitive with other devices on the market.

Polar V800 Review Race Pace

The real-time display is smooth allowing for accurate increases and decreases in pace.  I have not noticed any loss in data or inconsistencies even when running in covered areas or tree-lined parks. Note, I have not been running with the stride sensor so all of my track runs have been purely GPS.

Cycling

Cycling operates in much the same way as running mode. I have amended the data screens so that cadence is prominent on my first screen. You will also see that I have managed to place a pretty nifty mount on my tri-bars. I have done this by combining the use of the Profile Designs Computer Mount with Polar’s own Universal Watch Mount.

Polar V800 Review Cycling

Starting the workout is the same as running as is pausing and/or finishing. Cycling mode also brings the ability to pair other sensors such as speed and cadence. Polar have released their own Bluetooth sensors, but, fortunately, they have also allowed the V800 to pair with third party sensors. In my case I have paired the Wahoo Blue SC Speed & Cadence.

Polar V800 Review Cycling

It’s important to note that if you do cycle with a speed and cadence sensor, the data gathered from the wheel will (unlike other devices) override the GPS. It, therefore, becomes essential that the correct calibration values are used for the wheel and tyre combination on your bike.

If you are using a speed sensor you will also be able to benefit from indoor training. An indoor training mode can be configured as a sports profile in Polar Flow.

Polar V800 Review Cadence

Although not supported at the moment, Polar have confirmed that V800 will obtain the ability to link to a Bluetooth power meter. This will arrive later by way of a firmware update.

Polar V800 Review Favourites

As a final thought on cycling, I should mention that you can create favourite routes for both cycling and running activities. At the present these cannot be created within Polar Flow but are instead created from previous workouts. Here, I have saved my local bike club’s 10 mile TT which is now available as route guide and comparison against my last effort.

Polar V800 Review TT

The favourite workout will operate a comparison of where I am in terms of heart rate and other metrics compared with the previous attempt. When I slip outside of the parameters, the watch will provide a beep and vibrate alert until the zone or metric in comparison is matched with the workout settings.

Swimming

Polar V800 Review Swimming

I’ve been using the V800 for all of my recent swimming workouts as I did not previously have the ability to record my heart rate data in the pool. Having said that, it’s important to note that the V800 cannot do anything more than the count heart rate in swim mode at this moment in time. A firmware update is promised for the future, but we will have to wait to see how far the device matches other multisport watches and also the Garmin Swim. Until then I’ll be swimming with two watches!

UpdateNovember 2014: The latest firmware update has just arrived. I’m testing now and will update this section very soon. In the meantime, see the results of the first swim here.

Polar V800 Review Swim HR

I have been impressed with the accuracy of the heart rate data. Below is a screenshot from Polar Flow. You will see that there are a few dropouts but it is largely consistent. The H7 remains comfortable in the water but I found it works better (if you are male) to wear a tri-suit to avoid the strap slipping when pushing from the wall.

Polar V800 review

Although it is technically possible to activate GPS within swimming mode it seems unfair to do so at this time when GPS is not yet supported by a swimming algorithm. I will, however, update this review with an open water swim as soon as new firmware is released. In the meantime, check out the Triathlon mode (below) where swimming already produces a really useful function during a multisports workout, compared with other devices.

Data Transfer

Once everything is set up and you’ve been for a workout, you have two options for syncing your data. If you want to do it wirelessly and have a Bluetooth Smart enabled smartphone, you simply press and hold the bottom left ‘back’ button whilst the Polar Flow App is open on your handset.

Polar V800 Review iPhone Sync

You will see a notification on both the watch and within the app that data is being transferred. It generally takes about a minute, but can be longer if you have not synced for a couple of days or if you have multiple workouts to transfer.

Polar V800 review Sync

To transfer direct to your PC or Mac you must use the charger and USB cable. The data will be transferred via the Polar Sync software and then be uploaded to Polar Flow. You will also use this method for installing any firmware updates.

Polar Flow

With the all-new V800 comes the all-new Polar Flow experience. Currently only the V800 and the Polar Loop make full use of the software. You will see from the top left corner of the screen shots that the software is also still running in BETA.

Polar V800 Review Diary

 As with other prominent workout analysis applications, Polar Flow utilises a diary format to both display and plan workouts.  This is a particularly useful feature in Polar Flow as the software has the ability not just to show workouts but also display all daily activity (i.e steps etc.). That ability also allows some very detailed drill-down of data with a huge range of different views and graphs at you disposal.

You will see from the bottom of the screen (as you would expect given Polar’s heart rate heritage) that a full analysis of the time spent in each heart rate zone is available.

Polar flow app Review

You can click on any uploaded activity to view a full stats of the route, pace and heart rate etc. all in a very user friendly format. Polar have done a great job in designing a modern and appealing interface which works seamlessly on both your desktop and mobile app.

Polar V800 Review

Most of the charts and graphs give you the ability to click and expand. You can also use the slider at the bottom axis of the graph to focus on a particular section or split.  Holding your cursor in the graph itself will give you details on your given metric at that exact point during the run.

V800 Review

You can also view your splits and laps in basic chart format.

Polar V800 Test

As a surprising feature, there is also the opportunity to relive your workout in what I can only assume is a clever utilisation ‘Street View’ mapping. The ‘Relive’ feature provides an all-new visual experience of the highs, lows and landmarks of your run.

Relive my (steady!) cycle here…         (N.B This link may only work if you are viewing from a desktop)

I’ll return to recovery status in more detail below, but you’ll see from this graphic that the diary will even help with the planning of future workouts. Here the software considers my last multi-sports workout to be ‘strained’ showing a tapered chart of the recovery time predicted over the coming days. This view shows the beginning of a week which will be populated by further workouts as I move forward. You can set this view as either month, week or day (per screen).

Polar V800 Review

As of the end of September 2014 users have obtained the ability to export workouts from Polar Flow to other third party applications such as Strava. This is a significant upgrade to the software and one that will be welcomed by many users and potential purchasers.

Looking at the screen shot of my most recent workout (below) you will notice the new ‘Export’ button at the very bottom left hand corner. Clicking on the button will allow you to download the file as either a ‘GPX’ or ‘TCX’ format.

Polar V800 review

And here’s how the the same workout looks when uploaded to Strava. Great! (click on either image to expand).

Polar V800 review

Note the upload button in the top left hand corner. You can use this function to upload the file downloaded from Polar Flow. Just remember where you saved it and hit select. The process should only take a minute or so form start to finish.

Polar Flow Mobile App

The same data is available in the mobile app (I’m using the iPhone 5s). N.B. as at June/July 2014 V800 is only compatible with Apple IOS devices, with Android to obtain support later in the year.

It’s not quite as detailed but then again you wouldn’t expect it to be, given the smaller screen size. What it does provide, is very useful summaries in the same modern format that is available on the desktop version.  Where you see a red triangle at the bottom left-hand corner of a metric you can press the touchscreen to either expand that field or see an alternative display for the maximum rather than the average. Again the heart rate data is detailed by time spent in each zone.

Polar V800 Review Polar V800 Review App

Data Screens

To choose your sport profiles and to adjust data screens you will head to the  desktop version of Polar Flow.  The device will be updated when you next sync by either USB connection or Bluetooth.

Below are the default sport profiles you will see during the initial setup. You can adjust any profile you wish to be number 1,2 or 3 etc and even create more than one profile for a particular sport (i.e road running and trial running).

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 19.31.23

By clicking edit under the chosen sport profile you have the option of customising the data fields you wish to see on the watch display during your activity. I have kept mine pretty straightforward for the purposes of running. You can have up to four data fields in any one screen, however, I prefer to have no more that three in order to keep all available data visible whilst running at speed (or maybe I just need big numbers!).

Polar V800 Review Data Screens

Being a Polar device, there are a large number of fields you can choose for heart rate data. You can also override the generic heart rate zones by adding your own ‘free’ heart rate data (in BPM) to tailer each zone.

Polar V800 Review Heart rate

The following screen demonstrates how you can add a training targets to your diary view.  By doing so, you will schedule the workout in Polar Flow allowing you to then use the ‘race pace’ feature to achieve your goal.

Polar V800 Review

The Polar Flow software is impressive in both a desktop and mobile format. The only downside from my point of view is that Polar Flow will not currently sync with any third party software or applications. That means the data is stuck in Polar Flow and cannot be exported to other sites, such as TrainingPeaks and/or Strava.  I am led to believe, however, that this will change in the future.

Triathlon & Free Multisport

I have deliberately placed this section of the review here as I wanted to give an overview of the individual sports and of Polar Flow before linking it all together in what I consider to be the V800’s standout  features

For me, and, I should imagine for fair few of you reading this, the ability to track a full triathlon was a major incentive in choosing the V800. It was a bonus, therefore, when I discovered that the device is equipped with two separate modes for both Triathlon and ‘Free Multisport’. I’ll focus on each in turn.

When you select triathlon mode, the V800 will assume that you are going to swim, bike and then run. The great thing about both the multisports modes is the simplicity by which this can be achieved. I’ve always been concerned that I would lose vital data during a triathlon by fumbling the buttons and not transitioning to the next sport properly for data capture. I think it will be near impossible to fall into that trap with the Polar V800.

You can start the activity in the same way you would with any other sport. In Triathlon mode this will start the swim following which the heart rate data and length of time will be captured (GPS will be supported in the future).

Polar V800 Review Tri Swim

On exiting the water you will press the bottom left ‘back’ button to indicate the end of the swim at which point your first transition (T1) will start and (helpfully) the V800 will also display what your next activity is going to be.

Polar V800 Review Transition Time

Once you are ready to start the cycle, you will press the red ‘start’ button again where you will briefly see your transition time and confirmation that the cycle has started. Your first data screen will be as you have configured in Polar Flow. You’ll now be able to use the device to track your speed, cadence etc.

Again, at the end of the cycle press the bottom left ‘back’ button where the device will recognise that you are now in your second transition (T2) and you will see a brief summary of your cycle time together with the full elapsed time.

Polar V800 Review

Pressing the start button for a third time will commence the run where again you will be briefly informed of your transition time. From this point you will then be racing to the finish line and have at your fingertips all of the data you need to pace your run for your next PB. It really is that simple!

V800 Review Triathlon Summary

What I like about Triathlon mode is the simplicity of transitioning between data types and the summaries you receive to keep you informed of your progress, even in transition. You’ll get an end of workout summary for each stint too.

In Polar Flow you’ll get to see the entire workout on a single page including the transition times. Again, this is a seriously impressive feature which will become even more useful once the V800 is able to fully incorporate swimming metrics. The main screen shots from Polar Flow appear in ‘Free Multisports’ (below).

Polar V800 Review

Although the watch is missing its full swim mode, the V800 does still offer something many other devices can’t during a triathlon.  That being, the ability to track your heart rate data through your full event and all three disciplines.  As a full swim mode is promised, this will be a major advantage particularly if the GPS data and stroke analysis is as accurate as the existing running and cycling features.

Free Multisports

V800 Review free Multi-sports

The transitioning between various sport functions utilises the same buttons as in Triathlon mode (i.e. a combination of the start and back button). The major difference here, however, is that you can string together any number of workout types you wish and just keep skipping between sports without being restricted to which one comes next. This is a great feature for ‘brick’ sessions and also for those amongst us who may throw duathlon into the mix. Again, as with Triathlon mode, Polar Flow shows the entire workout on a single page. You can also drill down into each workout type for the full data.

I love the simplicity of this function. It’s near impossible to mess up the transition between sports as you simply use the up and down buttons to choose your next activity. As you have to press and hold the ‘back’ button for three seconds to complete a workout, there’s no danger of losing your data or ending the workout accidentally.

I am massively impressed with the multisports capabilities even in the first version of the V800. This is made even better when it comes to Polar Flow and particularly the timeline of the full workout to include transitions.

The workout below is a bike/run activity where you will see a breakdown of the totals together with mapping and graphs for each stint.  In the graph you can see cadence for the bike but as I was not using the stride sensor there is no cadence for the run (N.B. you can click on the picture to see the full size image)

Polar V800 Review

Within Polar Flow you can expand the graphs and also view each multisport activity separately by clicking on either the cycling or running icon just above the map.

Polar V800 Review Multisports Graph

Just as importantly, you can also view the multisports data within the mobile app.  Again, the totals are shown for the combined workouts but you can use the icons along the top  (under the word ‘Analysis’) to view each of the activities in turn.

Polar V800 Review Multisports summary Polar V800 Review Multisports HR

 You can also expand each of the graphs/charts where you see a metric or red triangle.

Polar V800 Review Multisports Running Polar V800 Review Multisports Cycling

As with the desktop version, the graphs remain interactive allowing use of the touchscreen slider at the bottom of the data.

Polar V800 Review Free Multisports

All in all, the Triathlon and ‘Free Multisport’ modes are extremely comprehensive. Provided you are equipped with a Bluetooth Smartphone at the end of your triathlon you will not need to wait until you get home before analysing your efforts in detail.  At the time of writing, I am not aware of any other multisport applications or devices that have the ability to display a full multisports event in this way

Recovery Status

Polar V800 Review Status

Recovery status is exactly that. Based upon the intensity of your most recent workout(s) the V800 will advise whether your body will be undertrained, balanced, strained or very strained.  Although not shown in this picture, the display will also give the estimated time when you are likely to return to the next phase.  This is a useful feature and is also supported in Polar Flow to assist you with planning ahead for future workouts.

Polar V800 Review Recovery Status

The picture above shows the watch immediately after my bike/run ‘Free Multisport’ session, which you can also see in the screenshot below from Polar Flow.  You can access the recovery status at any time by simply working through the menus from the main display (using the up and down keys) until you see the status symbol.

Polar V800 Review

Activity Tracking

Whilst you’d be forgiven for thinking that the V800 already has enough features there is actually a whole lot more!

Polar had already entered the activity tracking market with the Polar Loop and have integrated some of the same technology into the V800. Behind the scenes and also connected with all of the above activities, the V800 will be tracking your sleep, steps and calories 24 hours a day (provided the watch remains on your wrist). The best way to describe this is simply to show the screenshots taken from the Polar Flow app on the iPhone 5S.

Keep the watch on your wrist and you’ll be presented with a spherical chart to depict your day.  The segments of the chart are colour-coded to represent sleeping, sitting, standing, walking and workout activities.  It’s pretty clever how these have all been slotted together nicely with the use of icons in the touchscreen. The heart icon shows a workout that was undertaken at 8pm that evening (which can be viewed by selecting that icon). The warning triangle indicates a period of inactivity of an hour or more.  As you can see, once synced with the app you are also presented with a summary of calories consumed, steps, active time and also the number of hours sleep you managed to achieve.

Polar V800 Review activity tracking Polar V800 Review activity tracking

Clicking on the inactivity alert will explain the icon in greater detail.  You can also drill down into the sleep parameter to discover the quality of sleep in terms of ‘restful’ versus ‘restless sleep’.

Polar V800 Review Polar V800 Review sleep tracking

I am using the activity tracking function regularly, however I have noticed that the total steps is not displayed anywhere within the watch and you must wait until you sync for an total (within the app).  This is a feature that I am hoping Polar will update as it would be far more useful to see a running total on the watch itself.  Other than that minor issue, the V800 doubles up as one of the most advanced activity trackers currently available.

Fitness Tests

Polar V800 Tests

I’ve gained both enjoyment and intrigue from the fitness tests available with the V800. The following tests are supported:

1) Fitness Test (VO2Max)

2) Orthostatic Test (Fatigue)

3) RR Recording (intervals between successive heart beats)

4) Jump test

The first three tests can be done easily as they are performed at home in a resting state.  With both the ‘Fitness Test’ and the ‘Orthostatic Test’ you are requested to relax whilst the watch assesses your resting heart rate.

Polar V800 Review

The main difference with the Orthostatic Test  is the command part way through  to stand up from your your resting position.

Polar V800 Review

I have never been hooked up to a full treadmill VO2 Max test so do not have a comparison from an activity point of view. I have, however, done the VO2 Max score with the Garmin FR620 which did not provide such a high result as the test below. See the result of that test here.

Both results are on the high side particularly as this is a year in which I am coming back from a knee injury meaning that I am not cycling or running to my previous potential (see the race reports section for details of my comeback). If any other users of the V800 have performed any of these tests I would welcome your experiences in the comments section below.

Polar V800 Review Fitness Test

The Orthostatic Test is linked to recouperation where the V800 is essentially measuring the balance between training and recovery (i.e fatigue). It does give you a very interesting insight into your heart rate variability and can become very useful if measured over successive periods to access change.

Polar V800 Test

The ‘RR Test’ records intervals between successive heartbeats. I have only focused on the first two tests for the purpose of this review (N.B. the Jump Test requires the stride sensor).

Navigation & Baromic altimeter

Although I’ve been training with the V800 for  nearly a month, I have not yet performed a trail run that would justify a proper review of the navigation and baromic altimeter capabilities. I’ll update this section of the review shortly.

Pairing

Pairing can be performed from the device by navigating into settings > general settings > pair and sync.

Polar V800 Review

Obviously, you will want to pair H7 heart rate strap together with your smartphone. You may also have cadence and/or stride sensors too.

Polar V800 Review Pairing

Once paired you will not need to take any further action and the sensor will be picked up automatically as you start the relevant activity. Drilling a little further into the above menu will enable you to check  all of the devices you have paired. Note, you will need to have the Polar Flow app open when pairing the V800 with your smartphone.

Summary

It has to be accepted that at the point of writing (and I don’t think Polar will deny) the V800 is still in evolution. Whilst some may see negatives it is, in fact, perhaps an indicator of the potential still to be unlocked.  What it does do already, it does extremely well. This applies not least to the triathlon and multisport capabilities which is, of course, the market sector that the V800 is aimed at. The accuracy of the GPS data for running and cycling is on par with all of the other high-end devices and Polar maintains its pedigree with the fine detail of its heart rate analysis. In fact, it takes it one stage further with the ability to track heart rate underwater during a multisport activity. Add the excellent interface of the new Polar Flow application into the mix and we have an extremely advanced fitness device and combined activity tracker.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Wireless transfer to smartphone
  • Bluetooth Smart
  • Customisation of data screens
  • Waterproof
  • Heart rate in swim mode
  • Triathlon/Free Multi-Sports Mode
  • Activity tracking
  • Polar Flow

Cons

  • Some features still awaited
  • No data export to third party apps (i.e. Strava)
  • Android phones not yet supported
  • Steps not displayed on device
  • Cost 

Conclusion

At £400 (in the UK) there is no question that this is a serious outlay for a training aid. That said, if you are a triathlete or other multisports enthusiast, the features packed into the V800 are hard to beat, particularly in respect of the multisports capabilities. I find competing with the device I train with to be a massive advantage on race day.  Even though the device is still evolving, I am able to use it for every single training session and obtain essential data analysis.  I will drop an email to Polar to request a timeline of future firmware releases to provide an update to this review.  As I mentioned above, however, the full potential of the V800 is definitely something to look forward to. Training with this device whilst it evolves is a pleasure and I’m certain that it will continue to remain at the cutting edge of wearable technology.

Update – Polar has now launched a dedicated webpage to keep you informed of all new product and firmware releases. See the link here. 

Buying Options

I want my reviews to be as independent as possible. On that basis, I thought a link to Amazon would provide the most impartial method of you looking at other user comments should you be considering a purchase.


30 Comments

  1. Thanks for good review. I enjoyed reading it. While DC Rainmaker was mostly negative, your review is positive one and I like that. I got V800 at approx. same time as you and I am very satisfied with it.
    Keep up good work.
    Best regards.

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  3. Hi there. I would like to make 2 question:
    Without the stride sensor or the speed bike sensor, when you’re performing an exercise, does the V800 auto pauses/resumes.
    Also without sensors, in the bike, can you get inclination ?

      • Hello, are you really sure that the V800 gives incline data whitout speed sensor? The instructions manual says no, but I would really like to be yes… I would use the watch on several bikes and this is a critical information for me to take a decision

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  5. Hi there, thanks for the good review. I’m thinking about buying a V800. I have an another question though: Is it possible to use the V800 and any iphone app (such as runkeeper or strava) at the same time and have the heart rate transmitted to both devices in parallel? Best regards

    • Thanks Francis. Yes, that is definitely possible. I often wear a heart rate strap that will be communicating with multiple devices at the same time, including the iPhone.

      • Hi Tim, thanks for your quick reply. Are you using the heart rate strap that is shipped with the V800 (Polar H7) or any other model?

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  7. Does anyone know when GPX export or any other kind of export function will be added to the Polar Flow website? There is a python script on github that scrapes the html-source and produces a GPX file, but that seems quite complicated and doesn’t include e.g. split times or heart-rate data etc.

    Also what is the difference between a phone with Bluetooth and one with Bluetooth Smart? For example the galaxy S4 mini is not listed as compatible with the Polar Beat app – will it ever work with the V800?

    I also miss naming my own Sport Profile – there are lots of sports listed by default but I bet people use these devices for all kinds of weird and wonderful things so Polar should really allow custom names/icons for the sport profiles!

    • From what I’ve heard from Polar the GPX file export from Polar Flow is meant to be added as an update during September 2014. December should see the introduction of the Android Polar Flow App to pair with the V800.
      Bluetooth Smart is a updated protocol of the original Bluetooth but designed to work with low power devices using a coin type battery – i.e. a heart strap or cadence sensor. If the device is Bluetooth Smart it has the ability to connect with a wider range of accessories. Please don’t shoot me down for that answer, it’s the shortened version of a much broader subject on the evolution of Bluetooth!

      • Thanks for your quick and informative reply!

        Looking forward to all the future software upgrades on this device!
        It’s a shame if my current phone (S4 mini) doesn’t have the hardware/software to sync with the V800 – I guess I’ll get an S5 mini when Polar releases the Android app 😉

  8. Great review! Got two questions mainly related to the daily activity tracker:
    1. Does it require you to wear the strap?
    2. Will it still be able to track your heart rate without it?

    • Thanks for reading!
      1) The activity tracker stays working in the background without the need for the HR strap. So long as the device is on your wrist it continues tracking steps etc.
      2) No,HR is only detected when wearing the strap. This is generally when performing a workout.

    • It’s not a touch screen in the same sense as the FR620. However, there is a tap function on the screen to record a lap. 99% of the features are accessed via the buttons.

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  11. I’m still confused how to take the RR test and it’s overall benefits. you don’t explain at all the overall purpose or how it’s specifically done.

  12. Hi there, thanks for the review! I am still confused re the following: Does the Polar Flow platform show me a breakdown of MANUAL laps that I have entered on the go, i.e. whilst working out? As far as I could see, Garmin Connect offers this feature & the breakdown into laps (incl. HR data etc.) is also included in the export file. Couldn’t find any info for Polar Flow though…

    • Hi Richard – thanks. Yes, Polar Flow will default to show the manual laps entered during the workout. These will be shown in a table below the map and HR graph. You can then choose to view those laps or switch to set laps (0.5, 1, 2 or 5km).

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  15. Hi Richard, Nice review, I have two questions: You mention that when paired with the stride sensor the GPS is overruled. I understand for indoor activity there won’t be any GPS available anyway, thus the stride sensor could be used, but for outdoor activity the V800 should be able to use both metrics GPS + stride at the same time. Are they not both recorded and visible during and/or after the activity? The second question is about the availability of Finish time estimation, like on the M400, in addition to the race pace before/behind feature. If it is not available, is Polar planning on adding this any time soon in an update?

    • The GPS is still on but with the stride sensor paired distance is calculated independently of GPS. You still get your map etc. The main reason for the stride sensor is for cadence data but Polar are working on an update to capture this direct from the accelerometer. I haven’t seen an update to include the finish time estimator in the V800, although I agree it would be good.

      • Hi Tim. I assume that measuring distance with the stride sensor is not as accurate as GPS, at least when running. Perhaps when cycling it could be accurate, if it is linked to the wheel spinning. I consider the stride sensor in addition to the GPS for running, to get info on number of steps and length of steps, time of foot on the ground, stuff like that in relation to heartrate. For example, are my steps getting smaller/slower towards the end of a run. Or do I get better results with larger but less steps for the same activity over time. Does the V800 measure any of this, perhaps only viewable afterwards in Polar Flow?

        • I personally don’t use the stride sensor with the Polar V800 so I can’t really comment here. I know some people (with a properly calibrated stride sensor/foot pod) prefer to capture distance independently of GPS. The new update though should address all of your points as Polar are looking to capture cadence direct from the watch, similar to the latest Garmin offerings.

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