Polar's Pacer Pro Running Watch Wants to Make Your Runs Suck Less

Polar's new watches have guided fitness programs and detailed insights to help get the most from your runs.

Lexy Savvides Principal Video Producer
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
Expertise Wearables, smartwatches, mobile phones, photography, health tech, assistive robotics Credentials
  • Webby Award honoree, 2x Gold Telly Award winner
Lexy Savvides
2 min read

Running is an activity you either love or hate, but whichever camp you're in, Polar's new Pacer and Pacer Pro watches want to improve your performance -- even if you're a total beginner.

These lightweight watches have built-in GPS and depending on the model, a running or walking performance test that helps determine your overall fitness level using VO2 max. On paper, this sounds like it could be a more useful way of interpreting VO2 max levels rather than just presenting a number on screen like other smartwatches. Then, you can plan workouts based on heart rate, speed or time goals. There are also specific profiles for trail running, track and field or indoor runs. 

After each run you'll see a score that's calculated by looking at your heart rate and speed, to help measure your performance over time. Recovery also plays a part in performance, so sleep tracking and 24/7 heart-rate monitoring is on both watches. Like other Polar devices, you'll be able to see a nightly recharge measurement that shows how well your body has recovered from the day.

The Pacer Pro is the more advanced of the two, with an aluminum bezel and barometer that lets you monitor power levels in watts from your wrist. This could help you avoid burning out too early, or push the intensity a little more to finish your workout strong. Both have a memory-in-pixel color screen with Gorilla Glass 3, textured buttons and music controls, and they can get notifications from your iOS or Android phone.

These are the main features of each watch.

Polar Pacer Pro

  • Built-in GPS, barometer, magnetometer
  • Turn-by-turn navigation and routes
  • Running test
  • 10 LEDs for optical heart-rate readings that cover a range of wavelengths
  • Weighs 1.44 ounces (41g)
  • Up to 7 days battery life in power save mode, 35 hours with full GPS and heart rate, up to 100 hours training time
  • Available in gray, white, blue, maroon and green
  • $299 (or 299 euros, which is about £250 or AU$435), available now

Polar Pacer

  • Built-in GPS
  • Guided fitness programs
  • Walking test
  • Weighs 1.41 ounces (40g)
  • Up to 7 days battery life in power save mode, 35 hours with full GPS and heart-rate
  • Available in black, white, teal, dusk
  • $199 (or 199 euros, which is about £165 or AU$290), shipping in May