Polar’s Ignite GPS Hands-On: Everything you ever needed to understand

I always like it even as Polar gets riled up. It happens every few years (the Finns don’t excite easily), where they turn around and drop a crazy full featured product on the market, employing a big shift in pricing. I trust the just announced Polar Ignite may also do exactly that. This (no-longer) sub-$200 GPS watch is packed full of aspects, on the other hand more importantly, packed complete of education-targeted facets.

Nearly part a dozen absolutely new features to Polar (and a few, even the industry) that aren’t seen on their higher end watches.These aspects start to address the middle facets I’ve talked approximately in keynotes for years, which is the lack of integration among sleep/recovery information and day-to-day education tips.

But with more Polar marketing branded feature names than I can shake a stick at, my first impressions after virtually a week of using it, is that they’re totally doing precisely that. If you have a crappy night sleep, it’ll affect the alternatives for schooling the next day. And even further, after you do your leading exercise for the day, it’ll even imply recovery ‘workouts’ like stretching.But first, an review video of all the newness:Oh, and last having pointed out that no longer least, in the past we cruise on, note that this is completely not a review. That’d require last firmware, which at this aspect it doesn’t have (I believe it’s last hardware even though).

As such, matters can even just get greater…or worse. Usually matters get higher even though from beta to last production. So this is readily a hands-on preview. Review down the avenue.(Update: A few hours after publishing Polar USA requested I modification the pricing from $199 to $229USD. However, this is in direct contradiction to the respectable press release which states $199USD. I became to Polar HQ for clarification, and they’re really asserting that whilst the global USD price is $199, Polar USA has decided that the lesser band will be sold at $229 as a substitute of $199, because they needed to “avoid confusion”.

Frankly, this is crap (as is the finger pointing).

You don’t get to amendment the price a few hours after unlock because that changes the value-prop, and in particular, starts to change my opinion of the device.

I’d have less enthusiasm for a device at $229 than $199 for a diversity of reasons. Not the least of which is that the comprehensive aspect of offering the $229 price point was because of a more expensive/nicer strap. I’m keeping the price for the moment, because I’m no longer performed pushing back. Also, I – like other media retailers – don’t like being jerked around.)What’s New Overview:For the maximum part, businesses tend to introduce new facets on higher end watches and the ones trickle down to reduce finish watches. Again, in average.

But, that’s completely now not what’s going down here. In the case of the Ignite, it’s were given a slew of new features that are now not observed in Polar’s larger finish watches (adding their Vantage collection).

Polar has confirmed that all nevertheless FitSpark will arrive on the Vantage V & Vantage M devices later this fall as component of Update 4.0 (including enablement of Galileo, too).But first, some quick hardware basics:– Color touchscreen display, unmarried aspect button – Display is no longer at all times-on (handiest turns on at the similar time as raising wrist, like Apple Watch or most Fitbit’s), workout mode does have at all times-on option though – Has Sony GPS chipset, like Polar Vantage collection – Polar Precision Prime optical heart rate sensor on back (associated as Vantage collection) – Strap in two models, a tougher rubber ($199 model), and a silicon strap ($229 model) – Bluetooth Smart sensor support (even though not energy meters) – Waterproofed to 30 meters – Swappable wristbands – No music/storage on watch, nor NFC/contactless payments – Daily battery time of 5 days, GPS battery time of 17 hoursMost of what you see above is fairly standard. Actually, all of it is. Nothing earth-shattering there. The most effective ‘downside’ is that it’s not an at all times-on reveal.

So unlike the large majority of Polar watches (apart from the older Android WearOS based M600), this reveal turns off after a few seconds. And unfortunately, it’s fairly slow to turn back on too (about 3 seconds from wrist boost while walking, 2 seconds sitting at a desk).

But more on that down under.The New Stuff:Here’s a brief abstract of the new features on the Ignite that aren’t in statement seen on any other Polar watches– Added ‘Nightly Recharge’ feature that appears at respiring cost/heart expense/heart expense variability (ANS documents) to figure out if you’re improving at night – Added ‘Sleep Plus Stages’ which adds in REM/Light/Deep sleep – Added a nightly sleep rating – Added ‘FitSpark’ feature which gives you daily workout alternatives based mainly on history + Nightly Recharge (this is huge) – Added ‘Serene’, which are guided breathing physical activities (like what Fitbit and others have)Those 4-5 aspects are absolutely new to Polar, and also the ones I’ll be diving into down under in more depth considering you won’t have seen them previously.

But more importantly, I think a few of them are doing a ways more of what I’ve been asking for, for years. I’ve long pointed out there’s such a gap among what happens at evening (sleeping, no longer the horizontal shuffle) and schooling assistance.

You can even have a terrible sleep night, and then the tool turns around and says to move do a 2hr long run.Whereas that’s slightly the comprehensive point of ‘FitSpark’ depending on the Nightly Recharge feature. Again, in concept anyway. I’m most effective 5 or so days into it (and it takes 3 days before you visit any Nightly Recharge documents at all), so I’m easily at the start line of understanding all the points in real-life.The Stuff That’s Still There:Next, this is a short little phase of matters that aren’t new to Polar, then again I simply needed to confirm for you that are on this watch.– Has based exercise aid (download workouts from Polar Flow to watch) – Tracks average game metrics (e.g. steps, distance, calories, etc) 24×7 – Tracks middle expense 24×7 – Tracks sleep (see new sleep elements although) – Includes VO2Max rating (aka ‘Running Index’) – Includes ‘Fitness Test’ feature (VO2Max examine even as lying down) – Includes *both* pool swim mode and openwater swim tracking – Does *NOT* have multisport (aka triathlon) mode – Includes ‘Training Load Pro’ feature, even so not ‘Recovery Pro’ found on Vantage V – Includes timers (countdown timers & stopwatch) – Includes ‘Training Benefit’ metric – Includes distance – Maximum of 20 recreation profiles on the watch itself (a ways more than Apple, Garmin, Fitbit, or Suunto allow at this cost point), a few 100 sports on platform to add to watch – Can follow either heart cost zones and speed zones (no power zones/nor energy meter assist) – Accelerometer based ordinarily speed/distance when no GPS is accessible (or interior on treadmill)Phew, were given all that?

Good. We’ve without problems played feature and function buzzword bingo, so it’s time to shift into knowing why all those things are appealing.Digging Into The New Features:My goal here is to get you to the new features as easily as possible. But first, a brief assessment on a few basic functions. Namely, the reveal.

As you can pass to lower than, unless you boost your wrist, it’s blank. Black. Dark. Non-illuminated.While this is common for Apple Watch, Fitbit, and others, it’s a ways less common for patience sports category watches that have exhibits designed to handle days (or weeks) with the reveal at all times-on. So it’s a bit unforeseen for Polar to head this direction without a large deviation on the demonstrate itself.By that I mean that yes, the demonstrate is color, and yes, it’s definitely some distance brighter than a Vantage series unit. But it’s now not streaming video either, or doing anything else akin to what we’d visit on a few of the Apple/Samsung/etc watches. Thus I’m a bit unsure on that trade-off.Note that Polar does enable you although to preserve the reveal always-on all thru a workout, whereas maximum other companies don’t.

So that’s beneficial for sure.For the touch element, it mostly works OK. But one appealing caveat is that the display demands to be ‘grounded’.

Which is never an issue while it’s on your wrist, nonetheless if you were to are attempting and grasp it in your hands and use it, unless you’re touching the outer bezel, it won’t react. This helps keep things like your coat from causing all kinds of wonk. And is in fact the comparable on many touchscreen devices, including a few of Garmin’s devices.I bring this up as the cautionary aspect to think about whilst searching at online videos/reviews that may communicate about the touch monitor and demonstrate non-responsiveness. Stick it on your wrist like a standard use case and you’re in most situations fine. I say ‘typically’ because there’s still areas whilst on my wrist it appears to have complications with (such as confirming Yes/No class questions).

Usually takes a few goes.Also, the band is fully detachable on either editions (the $199 one with the black TPU rubberish band, or the $229 silicon band).Moving along, let’s communicate the new stuff. Cause frankly, that’s the cool stuff. And basically – it is legitimately cool. And in assertion it all boils down to four precise things, which do completely build on each other:– Sleep Plus Stages – Nightly Recharge – FitSpark – Serene breathing guidanceOk, absolutely, Serene doesn’t build on anything else.

But the other three do have ties to each other. Let’s start with Sleep Plus Stages, as that’s the first construction block. This functioning definitely takes Polar’s current sleep tracking and presents it a forged boost. Now it tracks your real sleep levels (Deep/Light/REM), sleep cycles, your interruptions, and then offers you both continuity and basic sleep rankings.For bits like Deep/Light/REM sleep, there’s no effortless way at the moment for me to 100% scientifically validate that with the equipment I have. So instead, I’m going to consciousness on the other bits, matters like interruptions and continuity, which I understand for me for my part are center factors in how smartly I suppose the next day. If the kids are unwell (like last evening with one of them), and up a bunch, my continuity and interruptions are shot. And that’s contemplated below: That then gives you a sleep rating.

Now you can visit that ranking shift over time. The first few days I changed into home with the kiddos (including the unwell one).

But the last few days I become on holiday with my wife, sans-kiddos. And holy cow, sleep nirvana! At left, a score of 54, whereas at right a score of 78. And here’s a short pile of screenshots showing all the Sleep Plus Stages data that’s reachable on the app (which is also on the unit).  All this sleep phase/ranking stuff by itself isn’t completely exquisite creative in the grand scheme of the sports tech industry. It’s with no trouble a building block. But what comes next is. And that’s the ‘Nightly Recharge’ feature. That feature appears at three middle things:– Heart fee – Heart rate variability – Breathing rateAnd it’s that 3rd one where we take the hard left turn off of normalcy avenue and get into unchartered territory for mainstream wearables. Take Garmin and Suunto for example. Both use center price and heart rate variability as part of their ‘Body Battery’ and ‘Resources’ facets, which give you a always transferring ranking throughout your day. As you kick back or sleep, your frame battery ranking recovers. Both of these businesses leverage FirstBeat for those metrics.But neither agency leverages respiring price as component of that, so Polar’s adding another measurement to the documents they collect.  All of this is termed ANS (autonomic worried system), which is designed to measure how quickly your frame calms down in the first few hours of sleep. Once you’ve slept three nights, it’ll start giving you nightly recharge rankings, adding the underlying ANS rating as smartly.  You can see those on the watch itself or on the Polar Flow app. Now it’s now not fair to say that this strategy is ‘totally larger’ than Garmin/Suunto/FirstBeat’s approach, as there are some nuances to be conscious of. For example, in the Garmin/Suunto implementation you can recharge during the day. So if I take a seat down and just relax for 45 mins, or even take a nap – that’ll recharge my frame battery. Just as you’d expect it to feel.

Whereas Polar is simplest browsing at nightly sleeps. So if it didn’t happen in bed, it didn’t count. Also probably the tagline for many other things.But in which we get into the next level of differentiation is what Polar does with the 3rd new feature, FitSpark. While I think the name is a little wonky, it’s at least memorable. FitSpark is truly a virtual educate that has no overarching fitness/seasonal purpose in mind, apart from to deliver you a exercise of the day. But the biggest and maximum important take away is that it looks at your nightly recharge rankings and underlying sleep information to verify whether or no longer you desire to be doing anything else at all.That’s a splendid integral gap that’s been missing. Mostly automated schooling assistance coaches/platforms don’t do that. And by ‘maximum’, I mean, ‘none do’.

You can also just have a child at home and be days deep of horrific sleep, and they’ll tell you to move out and run a 2hr long run. Whereas Polar will appearance at that sleep information and supply you a go/no-move class advice, and then depending on what your better education records appears like, will also deliver you real workouts to do.Remember, this isn’t tied to a plan. Meaning, you’re now not tied to some 5KM walking plan. This is in reality saying ‘Hi there, I understand a frightening quantity approximately you, here’s four alternatives for workouts today. Pick one.’Oh, right, yes, it gives you options.

Numerous options.

Pick your poison: And then for each of those options it’ll give you the precise steps and guidance in the watch itself. There’s aerobic focused going for walks exercises with various intensities. And then there’s center type exercises too, and for the ones, it’ll provide you the genuine movements to do, along with animations and text for each one:But let’s say you choose the cardio exercise, go run an hour or so, and then finish up. At that element the watch presents you new suggestions. Specifically ones around active recovery such as stretching and related center exercises that’ll aid and assist that initial exercise.Seriously.It’s like for once the training aspects of the unit are certainly smart. It’s not without difficulty following a few blind plan telling you to do anything just because it became on the time table.

It’s making up the agenda on the fly based on what it knows about your accurate day thus a ways.Last having observed that no longer least, there’s Serene. Best I can tell, it’s were given no integration with the rest else. And for the maximum part it’s not a entire lot alternative than what Apple or Fitbit or others do. It effortlessly courses you thru respiring physical games.

The default is to do 3 minutes of breathing, inhaling and exhaling both in 5 2nd tiers.

Rinse, repeat (I show this in the video as well).After it’s done, it divides things up into various specified zone buckets with very jewellery shop sounding names: Unlike a few of their competitors, I haven’t observed any proactive alternatives from the watch telling me to do the breathing sporting events.

But most doubtless that’ll come in time. For now you have to be aware to dig into the menus and do them yourself.First Run & Bike Tests:With the entirety roughly figured out, it become time to head out for a first run, which I’d then apply up with recording a few around town motorbike commute fashion rides, primarily for GPS accuracy. First up, the run. For this I did a simple loop around the Amsterdam Bos, which includes a diversity of fields, forests, and walking paths. Trees and all. Here’s the top level review (full data set here if you want to dig around), as in comparison to a Garmin MARQ Athlete (left wrist), and Forerunner 935 GPS watch (hand-held) – with the Polar Ignite on my correct wrist:As you can see, definitely not top of the line.

I had ensured full sync with the app numerous times beforehand the run (to be certain it has GPS-A documents downloaded), as smartly as giving it a forged 10-15 seconds after it obtained GPS quite simply for the amusing of it. It cut many corners, and also wandered off into the fields here and there too.In speaking to Polar, they noted this level of version wasn’t expected. And to be fair, I haven’t noticed this precise level considering – in either rides or a few other shorter activities (I’m on excursion at the moment, every so generally timing sucks).For example, I’ve been employing the watch in GPS mode for a slew of rides around metropolis.

Bike commuting and such. And honestly, it’s no longer been superior there either. There’s many locations where it significantly cuts across homes.

For maximum of those I don’t have comparative files, even though frankly, I don’t desire it. I understand I didn’t go thru four big condo homes (actual direction in dotted white lines).In discussing these real workouts with Polar, they were a bit targeted on the results. Essentially saying that there are cases wherein the Ignite won’t carry out as smartly as the Vantage series.

Still, I’m hoping they’re ready to make some progress here. Things aren’t off to a excellent begin on the GPS front. I’m going to supply Polar their proper chance to form this out over the next couple of weeks earlier publishing a last review (they begin shipping today, then again I wouldn’t have had adequate time for a review anyway).So what approximately heart cost?

Well, that’s considerably larger.

Going back to that run, I’ve were given it as compared against the optical HR sensor of the Garmin MARQ on the other wrist, a Polar OH1+ sensor on my upper arm, and then a Garmin HRM-DUAL chest strap. More or less things are near exact among all of them, including the hard sprints at the end, designed specifically to trick HR sensors.There is a bit of a delay on the three optical HR sensors as compared to the chest strap, more than I’ve certainly observed previously from any of them. At first I conception it may be a time offset of varieties, having said that in looking at other files features in that file, I don’t agree with that to be the case. Realistically though, most people don’t care too plenty if the HR is behind schedule a few extra seconds – as long as it’s correct. Which, all those devices were (even the start wasn’t too shabby).Again, these are effectively some initial tests, nevertheless usually they help figure out the usual flavor of the device.

My full in-intensity review down the avenue someday in July will have a long way more files in it.Summary:Overall, I’m fairly impressed with the Ignite in maximum ways. While I’ve been skeptical of Polar’s ability to innovate lately, they appear to nail it in this watch in terms of the new physio-targeted aspects around sleep and training advice.

And in all probability maximum astoundingly do it all in a sub-$200 GPS watch. That’s the most astonishing part.While I consider the sleep degrees and associated nightly recharge features are essential and key to the foundations of what they’re doing, I think it’s the FitSpark piece that actually lighting up the entire scenario. By giving you genuine exercise thoughts that don’t have to be tied to a greater education program, they’re putting forth a watch for active americans that aren’t necessarily tied to going out and walking component marathon at the finish of the season. They doubtless just need to preserve fit, and most doubtless even first-rate fit. I’ve got no doubt if you followed those strategies daily, you’d end up pretty darn fit.Unlike a few recommendation exercises from the likes of Fitbit, the Polar alternatives mean business. I’ve generally felt like the guided courses from many businesses are too wimpy. Too think-good and ‘Go jog for 15 mins you’ll be great!’.

Realistically, that won’t get you extremely good fit. But businesses seem to be afraid to say that. Based on the exercise techniques I’m getting from the Polar Ignite thus a ways, that’s essentially now not the case here.The singular arena things are less surprising is GPS accuracy. It’s now not good. But, it’s also not performed yet. As famous, this wasn’t a review because it’s not a comprehensive product. So if they can type out that piece, it’ll probably get a forged recommendation (and, assuming they don’t holiday anything else among now and loose up).With that, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for a complete review once they start shipping down the avenue.  And of course, believe unfastened to drop any questions less than.–Note: You can pre-order the Polar Ignite (which want to begin shipping close to-immediately) by the use of Clever Training, which enables help the web site here. You’ll get free US shipping, plus if you use DCR Reader code DCR10BTF, you’ll shop yourself 10%.

Woot!