Polar V800 GPS Sports Watch With Heart Rate ($365) Review

Polar V800 GPS Sports Watch
The Polar V800 GPS sports watch includes unique and useful coaching features. Polar

Most GPS fitness watches are specialized for running, with cycling and other sports as afterthoughts. However, the Polar V800 is a very competent watch for running, cycling, and swimming, as well as other optional sports you can make part of your favorites. The V800 also has coaching features built in, based on Polar's long history and understanding of the needs of advanced athletes. For example, after completing a rigorous cycling workout and then switching to the coaching feature, I was advised that I had experienced a "very demanding" training load, and that my rest and recovery period should be one day plus four hours.

That's valuable guidance that can help build a solid training program.

The full range of "smart coaching" features includes a fitness test, training load graphing, running performance index, activity guide (similar to step-counter type applications on other watches), recovery status, and more. All of the watch's data features, including smart coaching are complemented by Polar's free online Flow web service and app, which I will cover in another article.

The Polar V800 is very sturdily built, with a metal case and metal buttons, as well as a thick glass face. The watch feels heavy and chunky, but in a confidence inspiring, built-to-take-a-beating way. The watch is waterproof to 30 meters, and is useful for measuring swim workouts and triathlon swims.

The watch comes with a "clothespin" type charger head that plugs into a computer USB port for charging and for uploading data.

The watch band is thick and substantial like the watch.

I've used more comfortable bands, but this one is certainly tough, and it includes a double-prong buckle.

The watch easily pairs up with the included soft (and washable) belt Polar wireless heart rate strap. Speaking of heart rate - like the Polar V650 GPS cyclecomputer I tested recently, the V800 has best-in-class heart rate training zone display and alarms, and online data analysis.

Regarding usability, despite the watch's many options, I was able to go through the entire setup process and use all of its features with minimal reference to the printed user guide or online manual. Use of the advanced features and training parameters setup will take a little homework, but that's true of most any GPS fitness device.

Daily Life Tracking
Like so many fitness watches on the market today, the V800 promises to track and measure your daily activity, if you wish, including progress to activity goal, steps and distance, active time, sleep duration and quality, inactivity alert, and more.

Training Feature List
Training features include custom intervals setup, customizable vibration and audio alerts, manual and auto lap, customizable sport profiles, and transition times for triathletes.

Battery Life
Battery life claims matched up well with my experience with the watch, including 13 hours in full GPS active training or racing mode, 50 hours in GPS low power mode, and up to 30 days as a watch with simple activity monitoring.

The most popular accessories for the watch include the stride sensor for measuring indoor treadmill workouts, as well as the wireless heart rate monitor.

You may also pair up a bike cadence sensor and pricey power-measuring, Look-compatible pedals.

Overall, like other Polar products, I found the V800's feature set to be very deep, and the watch well-suited to more advanced athletes who are willing to invest the time in customized setup, and to go deep when analyzing their fitness and recovery data. Its chunky and super-sturdy build could make it a good choice for someone who is tough on equipment as well.