Recently I've switched from Polar to Garmin and it was not because I found Polar bad. On my TT bike I have integrated ANT+ sensor and that basically was the main reason. To be honest, I was not sure if I should get new device or not, but now, after few weeks of using Forerunner, I can share experience with both devices.>
First of all, my whole adventure with Heart rate monitors started with very basic Polar RS300 watch. I had this statement in my head saying “HRM is Polar”. Period. That RS300 was really simple, but at the time being I wasn't even able to use that one in 100%. Then, when I started to exercise more seriously, I got RCX 5. Now that is a beautiful device. Slim, good looking and with great functionality, ability to track all of triathlon sports and also free online service to analyze all activities.
Then I've learned about power meters, cycling computers, ANT+ and other things that I had no idea even existed. It turned out, that it is Garmin, who leads the industry, not Polar. And while I still think that Polar devices are at worth getting, I am sure that I will stay with Garmin for nearest future.
Anyway, let me get to the comparison itself.
|Look||Ok, nothing fancy, not ugly either||Really good looking, comes in red / black and limited edition Yellow|
|Size||Big, many people say it's too big||Smaller, thinner, not that obvious.|
|Quality||Simply great||Simply great|
|Screen||Up to 4 metrics at the time, 4 different screens for each sport, easily configurable||4 rows on each screen, but settings are auto adjusted every time you change sensor configuration. Annoying, but other than that - useful.|
|Battery||Needs to be charged daily||Battery lasts for around 10 months, GPS module needs to be charged once every 20 hours of usage.|
|Heart rate||Strap, despite the name, doesn't feel premium. Doesn't work under water||Great strap, works under water while swimming.|
|Swimming||Record laps and strokes||Records Heart rate|
|GPS||Build in, can be enabled / disabled for each sport||External module, you have to add it to every sport separately.|
|GPS accuracy||Very good, but gives crazy data while swimming laps in open water. Gets signal quickly||Very good, but takes time to get signal in the city (takes up to 10 minutes to fix). Module can be put in swimcap for more accurate readings in open water|
|Expandability||ANT+, lots of gear (including power meters and weight scale support)||Closed standard, speed and cadence sensors have non replaceable battery, GPS sensor is nice. No support for power meters|
|Training alarms||Sound + vibration, ability to set up alarms for low and high HR (custom or by zone), calories, distance and time||Sound, only for hr and only one zone at the time (no way to set up custom alert easily)|
|Auto laps and workout phases||Easily configurable, one button to mark lap or go to next stage (depending if you do custom or prepared workout). Auto laps and manual laps are saved together||can switch between phases, but it requires few buttons pressed, auto laps are saved separately from manual laps.|
|Custom workouts||Easily done through website||Easily done through website|
|Training plan||Supported, but I had some problems with syncing||Just works.|
|Auto sync with website||As soon as you are in range||Messy, I've used manual|
|Website||Great, API is being developed||Gives all needed data, but looks like from previous century.|
So which one is better? I must say that I like Forerunner 910xt much more than Polar, yet both computers are great.
You can read all in depth reviews of both computers on DC RAINMAKER website: Polar RCX 5 and Garmin Forerunner 910xt