AS with conventional watches, there’s a smartwatch for every style and function – the range is truly vast and there’s pretty much something for every wrist out there now.
One thing that’s become increasingly apparent is that after months of lockdowns, “what’s-the-point-of-going-out-nothing-is-open-anyway” and just generally being Le Tired, many of us are embarrassingly out of shape because lifting a console controller doesn’t count as exercise, no matter how many times you do it.
If you’re thinking it’s time to get moving again between game releases, a fitness watch is a must-have – and the Polar Vantage V2 is very high on the list of smartwatches deserving your consideration.
Where the Fitbit Versa 3 is an excellent all-round fitness tracker/smartwatch, the wearable that’s been gracing my wrist for the past couple of weeks takes the fitness side of things to the next level.
The Polar Vantage V2 is designed with people who take their fitness extremely seriously in mind, and it absolutely packed with features designed to help athletes in their training and fitness regimen.
In addition to the usual heart-rate monitors and step counters and the like, the Vantage V2 also includes GPS tracking, training session monitoring, an altimeter, barometer, and even a compass.
The actual quality of the watch is excellent too. It’s well made, sturdy, and clearly designed for active use, right down the finger-print resistant touchscreen.
The touchscreen can display a wealth of information and you can select what sort of watch face you like – being a traditonialist, I went for an analogue display and was pleasantly surprised to see it included a ticking second hand too.
The band is a textured synthetic rubber o silicone which I really like too. Normally I prefer a leather watch strap, but the Vantage V2’s strap is very comfortable and doesn’t have the issue of making the skin underneath all sweaty in the heat.
It’s quite a large watch at 47mm – again, I like this – but it’s also very comfortable to wear, and doesn’t feel heavy or bulky on the wrist; I could easily wear it all day and all night without bother.
To be honest, a lot of the features in the Polar Vantage V2 are far more advanced or specialised than I am likely to need – it’s highly unlikely I’ll be running a marathon this side of ever – but it’s good they are there for the truly dedicated athlete. Some of these features include turn-by-turn guidance on routes, performance and recovery monitoring and assistance, training schedule management, and night time recharge rates.
There’s a bit of a learning curve to the watch, but after taking a few minutes with the manual I had it all sorted and it all made sense.
There’s a large red button on the right hand side of the case where the crown would be that functions as a handy stop/start button, and a useful button on the left-hand side for synching and pausing/stopping training sessions.
Given its status as a sports watch (and the presence of a ‘swimming’ sport tracker profile) the Polar Vantage V2 is waterproof, at least for the sort of things you’d expect it to be (like using in a swimming pool) – supposedly it is rated to 100m depth. I wore it in the bath and shower as well with no issues at all, but it should be stressed this isn’t a diving watch so if you’re breaking out the Scuba gear you should get a watch designed to handle being properly underwater for extended periods (personally, I use a Vostok Amphibia).
One of the aspects of the Polar Vantage V2 that really impressed me was how none of the features felt gimmicky – the training programme was clearly designed to be an effective tool, the cardio, recovery, night-time recharge and GPS tracking information was useful – you get the idea.
The Vantage V2 also has all the usual features you’d expect on a smartwatch such as notifications and music controls, too. One extra bonus I found surprisingly useful was its connection to the weather data from my smartphone; it can even display this on the watch dial so I can see at a glance what the weather is allegedly doing for the rest of the day and can plan my exercise/taking the Nintendo Switch to the park activities accordingly.
Battery life is advertised at around 100 hours in general use, 40 hours for active training and a week in basically wristwatch mode. While I don’t train enough to test the battery life under extended training load, the general use and basic wristwatch battery life was backed up by my experience – the watch also charged extremely quickly, although as with other smart watches it uses a proprietary connector instead of USB-C or something that would make me worry less about accidentally losing the cable or having the kids or the cat wander off with it.
The watch’s “The wearer is looking at me, better brighten the display or show that notification” feature was very good too – when the watch buzzed to tell me I had a notification, I’d turn my wrist to see the screen, it would brighten and then bring up the notification.
The only real criticisms I have of the Polar Vantage V2 are that the touchscreen isn’t as responsive as I’d like, and navigation takes a bit of getting used to because it has so many features. It’s also not cheap, with an RRP of AUD$699.
Whether you’re wanting to shed some lockdown lethargy, keep training up for sports, or monitor general fitness for competitive video gaming, the Polar Vantage V2 handles it all beautifully and is one of the most feature-packed smartwatches I’ve had on my wrist, too.