Polar Pacer Pro review: a watch of choice for running

Polar Pacer Pro review: a watch of choice for running

Ergonomics and design

With its 45 x 45 x 11.5 mm case, the Pacer Pro is Polar’s most compact watch. It is also the lightest, weighing only 41 g when its cousins, the Vantage M2 and V2, display 45.5 and 52 g on the scale. This format makes it very pleasant on the wrist and it is easily forgotten. Composed of stainless steel, aluminum and fiberglass, the case is announced waterproof up to 100 m deep (10 ATM). It will therefore be possible to practice swimming, surfing or even snorkeling. However, the case will not withstand scuba diving with a tank. The silicone strap is very pleasant on the wrist.

The full length Polar Pacer Pro.

The full length Polar Pacer Pro.

Despite its small size, the Pacer Pro offers the same screen format as the Vantage, based on a 1.2-inch MIP (Memory In Pixel) LCD panel and displaying 240 x 240 pixels. The color screen is not touch sensitive, but has automatic or manual backlighting. It is readable in most situations, despite some slight reflections here and there.

The back of the Polar Pacer Pro case.

The back of the Polar Pacer Pro case.

Editor's Rating: 3 out of 5

Interface

The interface of this Pacer Pro is strictly identical to those of other Polar models. Regulars of the brand will therefore find their bearings very quickly. We remain here on a non-touch navigation with five buttons: one to activate and deactivate the backlight, a second to go back, a third to validate the choices and the last two to navigate up and down. Note that Garmin users will also not be too disoriented by this interface that is ultimately quite close in mechanics.

The Polar Pacer Pro on the wrist.

The Polar Pacer Pro on the wrist.

Before delving into the possibilities offered by this watch, let’s take a look at the new integrated processor. Clocked at 192 MHz and associated with 5 MB of RAM, this chip does indeed make navigation more fluid. It is concerning the reaction time of the slab that the progress is the most spectacular. When even Polar’s high-end models drag their feet before changing screens, the Pacer Pro reacts to the quarter turn. And it feels good, especially on an already austere interface like the one offered by Polar.

One of the Polar Pacer Pro menus.

One of the Polar Pacer Pro menus.

This home interface is nevertheless still so simple and efficient, offering only about ten features. You can start an activity there, practice breathing exercises, set up your supplies or Strava segments, and even start chronos or timers. Among the non-sports features we find only the reception of notifications from the smartphone. These display legibly, but lack information. The source app is not rated, so it is sometimes necessary to guess the context to correctly appreciate the message. We note that it is possible from Polar Flow to deactivate the receipt of notifications during physical activity. The control of the music is done for its part quite easily. However, it is still not possible to store your favorite songs directly on the watch. To take advantage of it, you will need to have a smartphone on you.

Polar Pacer Pro notification display.

Polar Pacer Pro notification display.

Some parameters are available, but minimal. They allow you to configure the screen lighting, Airplane and Do Not Disturb modes or even notifications. Finally, it is possible to synchronize your run with the Komoot wrist navigation app. During such an exit, the track is displayed in green on a black background and vibrates with changes in direction. Although purified to the maximum, the system works quite well.

The Komoot display on the watch.

The Komoot display on the watch.

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Uses and Accuracy

Dedicated to runners, the Pacer Pro does not lack sensors. Its case thus contains a heart rate monitor, a GPS, a barometer, a compass and an accelerometer. Combined with the many software features offered by the manufacturer, this paraphernalia looks promising.

The very readable display during a sports session.

The very readable display during a sports session.

Fortunately for a watch with such running ambitions, the Polar Pacer Pro is equipped with a very precise heart rate monitor. Whether during a quiet or split session, heart monitoring is always realistic and sticks with the results offered by a chest strap. Below, an interval session divided into blocks: in green, the data recorded by the chest strap; in pink, those by the watch. All rhythm variations are tracked with precision.

In pink the Polar Pacer Pro, in green the Polar H10 chest strap.

In pink, the Polar Pacer Pro; in green, the Polar H10 chest strap. On the abscissa, time; on the ordinate, the heart rate.

A little advice for the thinnest wrists: do not hesitate to tighten the watch very tightly. If it has a little slack, the imposing case could move during the session and the results would then be distorted, which happened to us during our first tests.

On the GPS side, the results are not particularly famous, the traces recorded not being better than those obtained with a smartphone, with also a tendency to overestimate the distances. If you are taking part in an official race, rely instead on the terminals indicating the actual distance scattered on the course.

Finally, the Pacer Pro is able to measure the power deployed during the session. Not yet having tools allowing us to evaluate this function, we cannot judge its precision and its relevance. Still, this power is calculated using speed and altitude. External factors, such as wind, rain or even slippery ground, are not taken into account. Logically, the power curves are often superimposed on those of the speed (see capture below).

Heart rate, speed, power and cadence readings taken during a session with the Polar Pacer Pro.

Heart rate, speed, power and cadence readings taken during a session with the Polar Pacer Pro.

Finally, this watch is able to track the sleep of its user. Its results seem consistent and close to reality, although we cannot verify their accuracy at this time.

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