Polar Pacer Pro is the best new smartwatch for performance runners – Mashable | Hot Mobile Press

Having run through at least seven of my own tests and tested another five on behalf of Mashable over the course of my running career, it takes a lot for a smartwatch to excite me these days.

The Polar Pacer Pro(opens in a new tab)recently launched alongside the slightly slimmed down Pacer(opens in a new tab)She did it. A new generation GPS watch with integrated barometer, powerful core processor and brilliant display, surprisingly light and compact. Priced at $299.95, it’s also more affordable than many of its less-impressive competitors. And just two weeks after wearing it, the Pacer Pro is officially in the running for my favorite watch of all time. Here’s why.

It’s a beautiful watch

Let’s start with the superficial: the Pacer Pro is an attractive watch. Neither discreet nor flashy, it’s light (41 grams) and thin (11.5 millimeters) and has a screen that absolutely stands out (more on that soon). It goes just as well with jeans and a t-shirt as it does with spandex shorts and a crop top – and is one of the few GPS watches I’ve wanted to wear all day instead of wearing and taking off for a run. The Pacer Pro is available in black, navy blue, maroon and white, and the band is easily interchangeable with any of Polar’s other 20mm bands(opens in a new tab).

It accommodates a variety of wrist sizes

The watch fits comfortably and is not too bulky.
Credit: Becky Wade Firth/Mashable

One of my biggest complaints about smartwatches is how beefy so many of them are. Clearly designed for the male population, they slide around when I run and look completely out of place on my small wrists. I’m happy to report that the Pacer Pro works great for both me and my foot sized husband. The strap is also comfortable and fits snugly around my wrist without constricting, itching, or otherwise distracting from my run.

The display is incredibly bright and clear

In my opinion, the most beautiful feature of the Pacer Pro is its display. It’s a notable step up from older Polar watches – which weren’t shabby at all – due to a number of improvements including: a thinner (1.1mm) glass screen that’s as durable as before; a reflective color display with memory-in-pixel that makes it highly readable in all conditions, even bright ones; and improved backlight management that lets you adjust the screen brightness to high, medium, low, or just with the light button. That description won’t say much until you get your hands on a watch and see how vibrant and crisp it is.

The CPU got a big upgrade

I would never have considered the Vantage M2(opens in a new tab), my favorite training watch before receiving the Pacer Pro, slow. Well, it would be hard not to. The Pacer Pro has a new CPU (Central Processing Unit) that makes it twice as fast and increases its internal RAM (Random Access Memory) by a factor of seven. Basically, this means the watch “thinks” faster and stores more information, reducing your overall wait time and making the whole experience smoother.

The integrated barometer is an exciting addition

While wattage has long been an important metric for cyclists, runners are slower to recognize the value when measuring their power output. (Polar has a definition of running power that has a lot of technical-sounding words in it, but basically put simply, if heart rate measures your inner effort, power measures your outer effort.)

For the first time in a Polar running watch, the Pacer Pro includes an integrated barometer that shows your real-time mechanical energy output in watts. I’m still learning to interpret my mileage, but enjoy watching it fluctuate with changes in intensity, whether it’s an incline or an increase in pace.

The GPS is more accurate

The Pacer Pro has an improvement in GPS accuracy compared to older Polar watches, which is music to any runner’s ears. In addition to a new antenna design that increases the accuracy of the internal GPS, the watch supports the GLONASS and Galileo global navigation satellite systems, as well as the QZSS regional navigation satellite systems for East Asia and Oceania. Basically, you can be almost anywhere in the world and rely on your watch not only knowing where you are but also being able to track your speed, distance and route with a high degree of accuracy.

Heart rate tracking is better than before

Although wrist-based heart rate trackers are inherently less accurate than chest or finger trackers, Polar is constantly improving the way it measures heart rate (and offering much-appreciated Transparency about its methods). The Pacer Pro’s optimized heart rate tracking can be attributed to an improved algorithm, a smaller sensor and the inclusion of 10 LED lights covering a range of wavelengths, as well as four light detectors. The result is a better (though still imperfect) reading of what your heart is up to as you pound the pavement.

If accuracy is really important to you, you can always buy the H10 heart rate sensor(opens in a new tab)Polar’s chest strap, which costs $89.95 and comes in two sizes and four colors.

SEE ALSO:

The best fitness trackers to keep up with your goals

Navigation features encourage exploration

The Pacer Pro is a great watch for a road runner and marathon runner like me, but it also works well for the off-road and adventure seekers. It has a handful of features to encourage you to get out and explore, including:

  • Route and elevation profiles that you can find in the after each run Polar Flow app

  • Turn-by-turn guidance, accessible when you plan routes ahead and sync to your watch

  • A back-to-start feature so you can get back to where you started as quickly as possible

  • Automatic hill detection that recognizes when you’re riding uphill or downhill and incorporates those elevation changes into your performance insights

It helps you keep track of your recovery

As every athlete knows, recovery is an integral part of the performance puzzle. Leaving your watch on at night unlocks two of the Pacer Pro’s sleep-related features: sleep plus phases automatically tracks the quantity and quality of your sleep; reports how long you spent in light, dark and REM sleep; and scores your night as a whole. and Nightly charging takes into account your total sleep and the behavior of your autonomic nervous system to determine how recovered you are from the previous day.

In my opinion, sleep insights are far more valuable than recovery insights. That’s because the science of sleep is relatively advanced, while recovery at this point is more of an arbitrary metric that can vary greatly from person to person. Because of this, I tend to keep track of my sleep score, but take the recovery piece with a grain of salt.

Last in the charging department Bright, a guided breathing exercise to reduce stress. Based on your chosen duration and inhalation/exhalation rate, your watch measures the session and guides your breathing with subtle vibrations and on-screen images. While it’s a nice feature, I don’t expect Serene to replace my meditation apps any time soon.

It has a whole range of training tools

Data lovers and self-trained runners will appreciate all the training tools your Pacer Pro puts at your disposal. Admittedly, I don’t use features like this very often, as I’m pretty much dialed into my training program with my longtime trainer, and I’m also very skeptical of any device that assigns a number to my fitness. But that doesn’t mean that many other runners don’t love them. In the Pacer Pro Training Toolbox you will find:

  • Ongoing performance testwhich allows you to identify your personal training zones and compare fitness at different times

  • Running programstailored for 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon training and ranging in duration from nine weeks to 20 months

  • season plannerwhere you can plan and adjust seasons (e.g. basic training or a specific race setup)

  • Training load perwhich evaluates how much you strain your cardiovascular and muscular system

  • VO2 maxa rough measure of your fitness and an even rougher estimate of your aerobic endurance potential

  • Running indexa calculation performed after each run that tries to estimate your maximum aerobic power (in other words, how fit you are and how fast you are able to cover different distances)

The battery life is great

The battery situation is another highlight of the Pacer Pro. In addition to a small and well-designed magnetic charger (which is much easier to attach to the watch than the older charger), the watch packs an impressive battery life. Used only as a watch, it lasts up to 1,032 hours (43 days!) and during training up to 100 hours in sleep mode and up to 35 hours in training mode (with GPS and heart rate). tracking on). However you use it, a single charge is said to last about a full week. For me, who usually trains twice a day, it’s more like five or six days.

A few final features worth mentioning

In addition to everything mentioned above, the Pacer Pro offers everything you would expect from a running smartwatch and then some:

  • Basic running functions for pace, time, distance, stopwatch, lap timer and interval timer

  • Activity tracking for more than 130 different sports and workouts

  • Push notifications for incoming calls and messages (if you wish)

  • Music control when connected to apps on your phone

  • Compatibility with a wide range of running apps

Pass or shoot?

The only reason I’m not calling the Polar Pacer Pro(opens in a new tab) My favorite watch of all time is that the few weeks I wear it feels too short for such a bold statement. It’s everything I want from a running smartwatch: light, comfortable, attractive, and most importantly, powerful. Compared to previous Polar models, it has a faster CPU, more accurate GPS and heart rate tracking, and an exceptionally easy-to-read display. It also has an integrated barometer and offers a variety of training tools and insights into recovery. Wherever you find yourself on your running journey, the Polar Pacer Pro is worth its price of $299.95 in every way.

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