Polar RCX5 Review
The Polar RCX5 is an advanced multi-sport watch that can be paired up to a variety of sensors such as heart rate monitor, GPS pod and cycle speed sensor to track, display and record a huge array of training data.
This Polar RCX5 Review is going to take you through some of the highlights of the RCX5 as well as offering some practical tips on how to get the most out of your watch.
Sport Profiles and Setup
Setting up the Rcx5 is simple and easy. The unit is button controlled and not touch screen which means that you can quickly and intuitively select your settings for language, age, sex, weight, height, DOB, date and time, without having to spend ages messing around.
Sticking with the quick and easy theme, the RCX5 allows you to setup separate profiles for each sport profile (swimming, running and cycling) so that you can quickly pair the correct sensors depending on which sport you are training for. This is the point in the setup where you will need to calibrate the s3+ stride sensor if you have chosen to record your distance and cadence using the sensor instead of GPS and you can do this by running with the watch over a pre measured distance. One of the powerful features of the RCX5 is that there is also a manual calibration process where you can manually override the stride settings by applying a overlying calibration factor. This means that you can fine tune your distance stats retrospectively as you get to know your stride distance specifics.
Actually using the Polar RCX5 couldn’t be more straightforward. After you have set up all the sensors with their relevant sport profiles then all that is left to do is to select the correct profile and hit the start button.
When in training mode, you can switch between screens of training data by just using the up and down buttons. You can switch between regular training data such as page, speed distance and time as well as heart rate training data and pacing data.
If is possible for you to customise each training page with one of 14 training metrics from the following list:
- Lap time
- Average heart rate
- Calories per hour
- Heart rate
- Zone pointer
- Average Cadence
- Lap Distance
- Average Speed
- Max Speed
The race pace functionality is a feature which allows you to race against a pre determined pace in order to gain practice at training at race pace. The race pace training screen will tell you how far in front or behind your target race pace you are so that you can adjust accordingly.
Heart Touch is something that is completely unique to the Polar RCX5 and something that I havent seen on any other GPS watch. Every time you bring the watch close to the heart rate monitor it can be pre-set to do one of the following:
- Take a lap
- Activate the training light
- Show limits
- Show the time of day
- Change the training view
PolarPersonalTrainer is Polar’s equivalent to Garmin Connect or Suunto’s MovesCount. It is a place where you can store all of your training data from the RCX5 and other Polar products, tracking your long term fitness and analysing each of your training sessions in more detail.
In order to transfer training date from the RCX5 you need to buy the optional FlowLink USB adapter. Once installed, you then place the RCX5 onto the FlowLink pad and the training data is wirelessly transferred over to the PolarPersonalTrainer web site.
The whole transfer process is almost instantaneous, even when you are uploading multiple sessions and I have yet to encounter any kind of error when making the transfer.
In order to transfer training data to the Polar training poral you need to download and install a small piece of software (about 20mb) from the Polar website. The software takes a few minutes to install and is available for windows or Mac OSX.
When you place the RCX onto the FlowLink pad for the first time you are taken to the PolatPersonalTrainer website and prompted to register your details. The whole sign up process is quick and painless and unlike the Garmin Connect portal there are no extra bits of software that require pairing with the watch.
Once your training data is uploaded to the PolarPersonalTrainer portal, you can analyse each individual training session in more detail. You can view all of your recorded metrics such as calories and heart rate, as well as adding notes and missing data such as distance to your training sessions.
You can also view weekly and monthly summaries for your training data in chart and grid format. You can chose which metrics you wish to overlay against each other on a a simple chart so you can easily keep track of your long term fitness.
The PolarPersonalTrainer portal wouldn’t live up to its name if it didn’t provide some sort of training advice. You can create a variety of bespoke training programs for running, cycling and weight training by filling out a few options on a simple online questionnaire. For the running program you can specify your exercise intensity as well as the amount of times you exercise a week in order to create a training plan for 5k, 10k, half marathon or a full marathon over as many weeks or months as you feel you need. Once your program has been created a diary is populated so that you can easily keep track of what training session you need to plan into your week as well as the different type of training session. The program specifies wether you need to do an easy run, a hill run or an interval session and also specifies the distance and heart rate level that you need to be training towards.
The best way to get to know the PolarPersonalTrainer training portal is to sign up for a free account and explore yourself. There is w whole wealth of information that I haven’t explored on the site such as training articles and a community or polar users that post in the forums on the site.
The Polar RCX5 is an advanced multi sport watch that you can customise to an incredible depth depending on the amount of sensors that you have connected up, the type of training that you do and the accuracy of the training data that you wish to collect for future analysis. The watch is waterproof and because the GPS sensor is a separate sensor, the watch itself has a high battery life, ensuring that it is always ready when you are.
Polar have released a new watch in their RCX series, the RCX3, which makes heart rate training easy and accessible to all kinds of endurance athletes. Read the full Polar RCX3 Review here.