Pro triathlete Courtney Atkinson has been putting the Polar V800 to the test, exclusively for TriRadar.com.
We posted our first impressions of the Polar V800 a few weeks ago, and since then Olympian and ITU pro Courtney Atkinson has been using it during training on the road, trails and in the water as he trains at home on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. With features including integrated GPS, Smart Coaching Polar Flow app and software, and 24/7 activity measurement, we were keen to find out how Courtney would get on with this high-tech piece of kit.
Open the box and the V800’s gorilla glass is the first thing you notice. It’s a quality build and somehow has a feeling of class for a sports watch. The fit on my thin wrist is surprisingly comfortable for the size a watch with GPS technology needs to be, and it has a noticeably thinner profile than the majority of competitors.
I was happy to keep the V800 on my wrist to and from training, around coffee shops or to drop the kids off at school. Good thing considering the watch is marketed heavily as a 24/7 activity tracker as well as a training watch.
The most important test for me is its accuracy in recording heart rate, distance, speed and altitude, all tested on my forest trails. It comes within metres of establised competitors. I can trust the V800’s data.
Finish training, jump in the car. The simplicity of wireless Bluetooth syncing to the mobile app, which then automatically transfers data to full featured PowerFlow web analysis. Done. No mucking around with dongles or cables here except for charging.
Polar markets the V800 as ‘your smartest training companion’. The PolarFlow web-based analysis, in my opinion, offers beneficial information for beginners to any athlete who is monitoring their own training. The mobile app is the perfect partner for checking training data on the go. The main feature I use is the estimated load from each session which is a great guide to your required recovery time. Polar’s first upgrade priority should be to enable data file export to other analysis platforms. Did someone say ‘hello Strava’?
The V800’s onscreen graphic prompts coupled with optional vibration make it simple to navigate around a structured layout of functions. I would like to see the ability to change variables in each sport profile (distance, time etc) on the go from within the watch. Currently, this can only be done using the web-based software.
The big bonus of a Bluetooth heart-rate strap is that it works under water. No strap ever stays on the bare chest well, especially when turning in the pool, but it’s perfect for racing with under a tri-suit or wetsuit. Polar will be updating the swim metrics and usability in water in future upgrades.
I personally use a cycle specific computer for my bikes but also understand there are those out there who use a single GPS watch over a triathlon. The V800 is crying out for power meter capability. A Polar-specific Look Keo pedal-based power meter option is due this month. However, I was hoping to be able to use my Bluetooth enabled Stages power meter for testing. I emailed through the official channels of the Polar web support re: future power meter compatibility. While a fast response came from the Australian Polar distributor who directed my email to global support, to date I haven’t received a response back.
The Race Pace function is something that I got good use out of while training. Ideal for tempo runs and pacing. It’s the perfect tool to help with running off the bike in triathlon.
The V800 has a multisport mode which is perfect for a long day at Ironman. In smart GPS mode the watch will have ample battery life. But note that operating it in optimal GPS mode which I always use for maximum recorded data, I found the battery drains on par with my current GPS watch and after a few normal day’s training, it needs recharging.
The Orthostatic and Fitness Tests were two main features I was looking forward to using as I already incorporate resting heart rate evaluation into my recovery monitoring. Over three failed attempt messages as each test – I gave up after that.
I would choose to wear this as my running watch of choice once the ability to upload data to third party software becomes available.
I would recommend reading this full instruction download to get the most out of the watch.
My running tech set-up for the last four to five years including my Olympic preparations has been an Australian Institute of Sport supplied Garmin XT300, coupled with a self-sourced Polar soft strap, which reduced the heart-rate spikes I was getting in the sweaty Australian climate. My software analysis has been mainly on Training Peaks but I’ll admit to more recently being a closet Strava user.
More questions on the V800? Find and ask Courtney on facebook.com/followcourtney