New Polar smartwatches aim to help runners pace themselves

The epidemic sparked a boom underway, with one study It found that nearly 28 percent of current runners had their start while in quarantine. To meet the needs of this new audience, Polar announced today that it will be launching two new GPS watches designed to help runners improve in the sport. The $199.90 Pacer is aimed at beginners, while the $299.90 Pacer Pro is aimed at helping runners who are serious about their game.

Polar says that both smartwatches will feature faster processors than their predecessors, with 5MB of RAM. It is an upgrade that aims to improve performance and provide a better user experience. This is much needed in Polar watches, which sometimes lag during sync and sometimes experience menu transitions. Both watches also feature Polar’s Precision Prime heart rate monitoring technology.

As far as design and features go, the watches have a lot of overlap. The Pacer and Pacer Pro share the same minimalist design, physical buttons, and color pixel memory displays for better outdoor visibility. Battery life is the same, too, with an estimated seven days on a single charge and up to 35 hours of GPS training with heart rate monitoring. Finally, both watches support push notifications, weather, music controls, and third-party integration with running apps.

Polar smooth. It looks like Pacer Pro, but it isn’t.
photo: polar

The main design differences between the two are due to the weight, straps, and colors. The Pacer is slightly lighter at 40 grams, while the Pro weighs 41 grams. Both watches accommodate 20mm straps, but the Pacer watch requires those with quick-release spring bars. The Pro is the only device that has an adapter that allows Which Standard belt 20 mm. As for colours, the Pacer comes in white, black, teal and purple. The Pro comes in grey, white, blue, maroon and green.

Despite the watches’ similarities, Polar says they target runners of different skill levels. Pacer was designed with beginners in mind. For example, it offers a new walking test that can estimate aerobic fitness after walking for 15 minutes on a flat surface. While you can also take a walk test on the Pro, the company says the test is designed for beginners who may not have the ability to complete the more intense Polar running performance test.

Pro Tools are designed more for experienced runners.
photo: polar

On the other hand, Pro is, well, for professionals. On top of step-by-step navigation, it adds a pressure gauge to measure the runner’s “energy values” in watts from the wrist. In simpler terms, the idea is to monitor how much effort a runner puts in while running so that they can run at the right intensity level. We’ll have to see how it works in practice, but it looks similar to Garmin’s endurance meter.

Other than that, both watches use Polar’s running and recovery tools, such as guided running heart rate training, training load, sleep tracking, and a running index score (a Polar scale for measuring progress over time).

The Polar Pacer Pro is available today for $299.90 at the Polar website and in retail stores. The $199.90 Pacer is available for pre-order on Polar’s website and is expected to ship in May.

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