Friday, October 12, 2007

My Run With The RS800 G3

We received the new Polar RS800G3 (Polar's new GPS unit) in the store yesterday. I decided to take mine out for a test run and review it here.
What comes in the box
Once you open the box you'll find everything you need to be up and running in less than 5 minutes. The wristwatch unit is of normal size with a large clear display. The GPS receiver unit weighs a mere 80 grams and requires only one AA battery. The Heart rate strap is Polar's most comfortable, flexible cloth strap. For the 1st time in Polar history, there is a infrared reader included in the box (normally sold separately for $40). If that's not enough, the protrainer 5 software package is much better than any other software package Polar has put out.
Setting the equipment up
Setting up the unit for the 1st run only requires about 5 minutes of your time. Once you turn on the watch and follow the setup wizard, which asks the typical questions of height, weight, birthday, etc., you are ready to go. The next thing I did was install the battery (included) into the GPS receiver, strapped on the heart rate monitor and out the door I went.
Using the unit during a run

Once outside I turned on the GPS receiver and immediately acquired a satellite signal (Much faster than my Garmin). I hit the start button and off I ran. I immediately checked the pace and distance screen to see if it was collecting my data. I was moving at my normal warm up pace and it was collecting all the data accurately and timely. The next thing I decided to do was test the Polar's ability to keep up with pace changes. I took my warm up pace of 9min/mile and accelerated to 6:45/mile. It successfully registered the change immediately as well as alerting me to increased heart rate. I tested this feature many times throughout the run with multiple surges and hill climbs. Polar did a great job of keeping up with these changes.
Checking the data on the Protrainer 5 software
Before I left for the run I had already installed software and the drivers (included) for the infrared reader. Moving the data over from the watch into the software was easy. Click open the software and prompt it to receive the data from the watch and BAM, your data file has been transferred. Once I was in the software and looking around, I was able to see distance, pace per mile, average pace per mile, elevation gain and loss, heart rate throughout the run, and average heart rate for the run, calories burned, time in different heart rate zones, as well as many other pieces of interesting data. I was also able to use the software's log function and add in information about my route, how I felt, the weather and any other info you'd like to log about the specific workout. I was able to code this as a run workout, not that this matters if all you do is run, but it is important if you do other crosstraining modalities such as cycle, spin, lift. You may code these with specific colors so that when you review your weekly data you can get total for each. (Example: 60 miles of running, 4 hours of cycling)
I'm putting my Garmin away
The obvious question to me when I was testing this is how can I use this info in the store to inform people about the G3 and to be able to answer the question "how does it compare to the Garmin?".
1. It acquired a satellite signal faster than my Garmin ever has.
2. Polar's heat rate technology is superior to Garmin's.
3. Having a small wrist unit was very nice.
4. Garmin's large wrist unit can be somewhat cumbersome, bulky and hot in the summertime.
5. You may add Polar's foot pod for data collection indoors, in and around large buildings and other areas where GPS units don't pick up.
6. The Polar software is superior to Garmin's and having the log function is a nice addition to this software.

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