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This week, Polar announced two new watches, the Polar Pacer Pro and the standard Pacer. These are aimed at runners, but should work well as multisport watches.
The two watches shake up the Polar range, which effectively makes the M2 obsolete and reduces the attraction of their premium price watches. In theory, it’s good for the consumer, but if you look at Garmin products with the same price, they may not be quite as good as I had hoped.
Price and alternative options
I will start with pricing as this provides some context for the comparison.
The Polar Pacer is very attractively priced at £ 169.
The Polar Pacer Pro is priced the same as the Vantage M2, but adds a significant amount of features, effectively making the Vantage M2 redundant. The Vantage M2 can be purchased for less than the suggested retail price through some sites, but the Pacer Pro has so many extra features that I would still go with the Pro.
The Polar Vantage V2 is priced at £ 429 RRP and £ 390 on Amazon. Because this costs a lot more, I have omitted the comparison.
Garmin is by far the biggest name in the game, but in these price ranges you do not have many choices.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 is the closest in price to the Pacer Pro. You have no music variant for £ 210 or the music model for £ 299. These have been out for a while so you can get them for a part below the suggested retail price. On Amazon, the Forerunner 245 costs £ 180, and the Forerunner 245 Music costs £ 270.
If you sit under it, you have the Forerunner 55 for £ 150.
Although I do not usually associate Garmin with affordable devices, if you want a cheap GPS running watch, the Garmin Forerunner 45S may be your best bet. It is £ 100 at the moment but has been as low as £ 85 recently.
Alternatively, if you can stretch your budget, it’s hard to ignore the Garmin Phoenix 6 Pro, which currently only costs £ 360 on Amazon. It’s significantly better than the Pace Pro, but even with the excellent price, it’s still £ 100 more, so I’ve not made this comparison.
Garmin Forerunner 255
It is worth noting that the Garmin Forerunner 255 was to be launched soon. If you do not desperately need a watch, I would suggest that you endure this. At the very least, once launched, it should help push the price of the Garmin Forerunner 245 down.
Polar Pacer Pro vs Vantage M2 vs V2 vs Garmin Forerunner 245 specification
|Pacer||Pacer Pro||Vantage M2||Forerunner 245|
|Material||Plastic case.||Plastic case. Aerospace aluminum frame.||Fiberglass-reinforced polymer box. STAINLESS STEEL frame, buttons and buckle.||Fiber-reinforced polymer|
|Dimensions||45 x 45 x 11.5 mm||45 x 45 x 11.5 mm||46 x 46 x 12.5 mm||42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 mm|
|Weight||40 grams||41 grams||45 grams||38.5 g|
|Screen size||1.2 inches (240 x 240 pixels)||1.2 inches (240 x 240 pixels)||1.2 inches (240 x 240 pixels)||1.2 “240 x 240 pixels|
|Display type||Always on color display (MIP). Corning Gorilla Glass 3.0 layer||Always on color display (MIP). Corning Gorilla Glass 3.0 layer||Always on color display (MIP). Hard-coated PMMA laminated lens.||Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)|
|Battery||265 mAh||265 mAh||230 mAh||Not Specified|
|Battery life||up to 35 hours in training mode (GPS and wrist based heart rate). Training time with power saving options 100 hours. Clock state with pulse: up to 7 days.||up to 35 hours in training mode (GPS and wrist based heart rate). Training time with power saving options 100 hours. Clock state with pulse: up to 7 days.||up to 30 hours in training mode (GPS and wrist-based heart rate). Training time with power saving options 100 hours. Clock state with pulse: up to 5 days.||Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days; GPS mode: Up to 24 hours|
|Water repellent||50 meters||50 meters||30 meters||5 ATM (50 meters)|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, pulse||Accelerometer, pulse, barometer, compass||Accelerometer, pulse||Accelerometer, pulse & SPO2, compass, thermometer|
|Guide. price||169||259||£ 259
£ 251 via Wiggle
|£ 210 for no music
£ 299 for music
Polar Pacer Pro vs Vantage M2 features
DC Rainmaker has a list of points that highlight why the Vantage M2 is now redundant. Compared to the M2, the Pacer Pro has:
- Added barometric altimeter
- Added faster processor, more memory
- Added new clearer screen / display
- Added wrist-based running power (no accessories required)
- Added Hill Splitter (hill repeat counter)
- Added route navigation
- Added Strava Live segments
- Added performance tests (walking, running, cycling)
- Added Polar SHIFT belt accessory compatibility
- Added compass during activity / training
- Added smartphone notifications during workouts
- Increased GPS battery life to 35 hours from 30 hours
- Increased waterproofing specification to 50m from 30m on Vantage M2
- Smart Notifications during training
- The Pacer uses a different HR sensor that is the same as the Polar Ignite
Then the Polar Pacer is almost identical to the Vantage M2 in features, but at a much lower price.
Polar Pacer Pro vs Garmin Forerunner 245 features
Garmin is hard to beat for its wide range of features. In particular, they have done a great job of integrating daily smartwatch and health features into their sports watches.
Of course, the music features are an important selling point for the Forerunner 245 Music. All clocks can control music playback from your phone.
For me, the main selling point for the Polar Pacer Pro would at least be the built-in wrist-based running power. This would save quite a bit of money by buying a Stryd or Garmin strap with running dynamics.
Then the Polar Pacer Pro has a barometer built-in, whereas the FR245 relies on GPS for its altimeter data.
Polar also has Strava live segments, but the FR245 does not, I do not think.
Polar also has a multisport mode, and DC Rainmaker and others have suggested that this could be a good affordable triathlete watch. Polar is also listed as being compatible with power meters on your bike, but making this work seems to be affected.
In return, the Garmin has the PacePro feature, which many people are happy to run. Polar has Race Pacing, but it’s not that good. Then various other fitness and recovery features such as Recovery Advisor.
After watching my partner run the Manchester Marathon, I’m a big fan of the Garmin Live Tracking feature that Polar lacks. Garmin also has emergency switches and SOS. I’ve used it for my marathons before, but this is the first time I’ve followed anyone with it and I loved it.
Garmin also supports ANT +, whereas Polar is Bluetooth only.
Overall, it seems like a tough sale for the Polar Pacer Pro, it certainly has a lot of benefits, but it also feels like many of the benefits will only appeal to a limited number of people.
The two Polar Pacer watches are a pretty interesting launch from Polar. They have largely cannibalized sales of several other watches. There is literally no point with the Vantage M2 now.
There’s not much difference between the Polar Pacer Pro and the Vantage V2 or Grit X either, probably not enough to justify the £ 160 difference in the suggested retail price.
This is great for the consumer. The features have been streamed down to a more affordable watch. The downside is that Polar has not really introduced anything new. They have just taken existing technology and made it more affordable. I think the lack of innovation is forgivable in this case.
Alternatively you have the Garmin Forerunner 245/245 Music. This seems to have more common consumer appeal and has plenty of features that the Polar Pacer Pro lacks, making it appealing to runners.
Last update 2022-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API