The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Polar Vantage update

It’s been almost one year since I got my Polar Vantage M. Items like these always get a review after a couple of weeks of us; maybe a couple months at most. But it’s nice to hear how these devices hold up over time and shape our habits.

So here’s how I feel about the Vantage after 11 months of full time, every day use.

Discolouration

My wife purchased the white watch with the white band. Overall, the band has been very comfortable and I assume it’s comparable to the Apple Watch silicon band. The only thing that I’m noticing is the discolouration.

The white band is fairly yellowed

Daily use is going to have an effect on a product. Especially one that is against your skin and worn during exercise. So I’m not surprised at all to see a bit of a yellow tinge. However, it’s interesting to note that most of the coloring is happening to the body of the device, less so with the band. I had planned to pick up a replacement band, but it will look odd to be so pristine next to a yellowed watch.

Sleep tracking

Hardware aside, it’s the software I always care about the most. And what I’ve been most impressed with lately is the sleep tracking. Polar released an update this fall and it changed what the Vantage is tracking when you sleep and how it’s displayed.

Now you get two ratings for each night: an ANS charge and a Sleep charge. The first charge measures how well your ANS (automatic nervous system) calms down each night by tracking your breathing rate, heart rate, and heart rate variability.

The Vantage measures your ANS charge

The second charge measures your sleep structure by tracking how long you spend in the three sleep stages (light, REM, and deep).

And your sleep recharge

Now, if you hear a skeptical voice in your head asking how a watch can possibly measure all of those things, I hear you. However, I would value its ratings better than a phone (so many popular sleep tracking iOS apps use the microphone to track your sleep — movement and heart rate have to be better). But still, I would love to hear from a sleep expert about how useful these kinds of devices are for this kind of analysis.

Subjectively, I can say that the days after a night where I score well, I feel more energetic and awake. The following night is one where I do things like get some writing done, rather than just fall asleep after putting down the kids.

A great device

Overall, I would still recommend the Vantage M to anyone looking for a casual–to–serious athletic activity tracker. If you’re training for an Ironman, maybe you need something higher end. But for everyone else, this is a more than solid option.

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