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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2012
I was a big fan of HR training before GPS enabled watches/hr monitors entered the market. May last HR monitor was a Polar s710 (i believe) and that was a looooooong time ago. For the past 8 years i have just trained for fitness and weight management and am happy with just a plain watch to monitor how long i have been doing an activity and my perceived effort to put me in a safe zone of exercising but not straining.

I recently signed up for a long distance tri race and had to put some direction on my training to ensure that i will be able to finish the event in the prescribed time, hence I decided to once again look for a reliable HR watch. After asking around, I was inclined to get a Garmin (305/310xt) but seeing how bulky it was-- i was turned off.

I searched the net and found a very useful site that reviewed in details the different training watches ([...]).

I went with the Polar RCX5 because of the following reasons:
- size and look (and yes, i have gotten compliments on how good the watch looks when worn casually)
- battery life (both watch and GPS unit)
- ability to train with hr, pace, distance, etc
- using only 1 equipment for all tri activities (swim, bike and run)
- ease of use

i am very pleased i decided on Polar RCX5 instead of the other watches. This is my first GPS training equipment, I am not inclined to over analyze what I do/train-- i just need it simple but guiding my training in the right direction. This watch has given me that and more.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2012
This is my third Polar HR product in 10 years, and I bought it to replace a 265X (okay, only the heart rate transmitter was acting up, but still). I got the foot pod and the gps sensor because I run indoors (treadmill and indoor track) and outdoors, and from the comprehensive review from blogger DC Rainmaker, it sounded like the foot pod wasn't a piece of crap as it was with the 265. I'll review everything separately:
The watch: It's lovely. I'm a woman, but I so love the low profile and easy-to-read face that I often find myself wearing this even when I'm not exercising. For me, that's a Polar first. There are 5 training views you can choose from while you're working out; each has a different combination of pace, distance, heart rate, avg heart rate, avg heart rate, time, elapsed time, lap time, etc. You can't customize these, but come on--there's 5. You can find your favorite. I tend to toggle between two, but the watch buttons are as responsive as you'd expect from a watch this price, so it's not an issue.

Foot pod: I had some difficulty in calibrating this accurately the first time, but it could've been because I was impatient and ran an unmarked mile course. It was way off. Once I recalibrated, I found this to be pretty accurate, though not 100% on with the gps unit--maybe 2-4% difference when I wear them both at the same time. Unlike the GPS-crazed, I'm not sold on GPS accuracy, so I'm not sure this is damning evidence of my calibration or the foot pod, or just the GPS. At any rate, you really can't complain about 2% variation. This foot pod is light and comfortable. While it takes one of the fancy flat batteries rather than standard ones, it's a heck of a lot lighter than the hold S1 foot pod, and I use it regularly (again, unlike the S1).

GPS: I love that this unit is so easy to charge and it's separate from the watch; I know that's not a selling point with everyone, but I'd rather have a not-stupid-looking watch and use the pockets on my gear than to walk around with a CB radio on my wrist. I don't wear the stupid Polar arm band (seriously?), either. Instead, I stick the unit in the back or front pocket of my shorts. It has taken up to 5 minutes to get a signal (usually faster than that), but once it catches, it's usually good to go for the rest of my workout. Like other GPS units, this thing can really suck around buildings--it was way off during the downtown portions of the Chicago marathon, which was my first run with the thing. This is another reason I like footpods, but that's a conversation for another place. This unit doesn't seem to warn you about when it's low on batteries, so just be mindful about keeping it charged (which, as I mentioned, is super easy).

Chest strap: It's the same strap and transmitter they've offered for a few years, and it's great. It stretches on me after about a year, but I usually lose them before they really need replacement. You don't have to soak this thing in water to get it to work as some folks claim; I usually get a few drops of water on my finger from the sink and try to moisten the two chest sensors. I have no problems getting the HR data to pick up right away, and it is very accurate in the water (pool, lake, and ocean).

Datalink/polarpersonaltrainer.com: I've been a Mac user as long as I've been a Polar user, which is unfortunate because Polar has traditionally told its Apple customers to pound sand. Even their old usb connection wasn't Apple compatible, which was ridiculous. I used to have to hook the usb up to a serial connection to upload my data and *then* I had to use a third party application, which cost money. All of this is unnecessary now, thankfully! I plugged the datalink in and everything synced smoothly--even with the watch ~2 feet away, which isn't bad range if you ask me! Maybe my standards are low after the compatibility issues I've experienced in the past, but synchronizing is such a snap, I do it almost every day now rather than letting the watch memory fill up. PPT.com is pretty nice, too. I would change some of the website interface, but it's easy to use and find what you need, which is enough for me.

The only cons I have about the watch are: 1) there's no temperature data. I admit I don't need this and I doubt the accuracy of the temperature sensor on my sweaty wrist anyway, but my 265 used to record it. Why take away features? 2) As another reviewer mentioned, the literature with the watch is abysmal (though I think the watch operation and menus are much more intuitive than they used to be), and good luck getting those Polar customer service people to help you. Even the Polar booths at race expos are infuriatingly rude and useless. 3) $400+? Really? For that price, my first two complaints are inexcusable.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2011
I Swim 4 day a week, and the weekend,Saturday is for Jogging, and Sunday is for my bike, I compare this product with the garmin 910, and for me the polar it's much better than the other for one reason, you can check you heart in the water, with the garmin only you can count the strokes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2013
I'm mostly a runner and I'm really into biofeedback. I was torn between the RCX5, the RS800CX and the Garmin Forerunner 610. After careful consideration decided to go for the RCX5 based mostly on the fact that it had a better price and was less conspicuous. I'm very happy I did. The RCX5 does what it says in the tin and more. I never thought I would be planning my trainings beforehand but I now find myself planning a week ahead just for the fun of it. I design my runs myself based on the events (work/stress related) of the week at polarpersonaltrainer.com, sync them to the RCX5 and after reading Phil Maffetone's "The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing" my runs include a warm up, cool down and a very specific HR range according to a totally different formula based on my current fitness/health. The RCX5 has been perfect for this (I didn't intend to use it this way when I bought it since I hadn't read the book I mentioned). The GPS works like a charm. Never lost it's signal even running in really fowl weather and under dense tree cover. The HR strap is super comfortable, never any issues. It syncs really fast with my pc (Windows XP). The armband for the G5 GPS unit is quite comfortable. I'm not quite fond of armbands because they draw attention and are sometimes annoying, specially if you are running sleeveless under heavy sun (there will be a mark). There's a clip to attach the G5 GPS to your shorts that you can order separately. Since it's really little it wouldn't bother anyone, but the armband it's so comfortable you forget it's there. Also the RCX5 has a "reminder" you can set at a given interval of time or distance. I set it to remind me to drink every 15 minutes. The heartouch feature I have set to "backlight" and while I'm running at night I simply move the watch to touch with the HR and the backlight turns on and it's great because I carry a handheld bottle on the right hand. Finally, the watch is really solid, comfortable to run with and has great legibility. Even the sounds are great (cricket like). Also it's highly customizable with 6 screens you can alter anyway you want either on the watch or with your PC while sync to it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2013
The heart rate function of the RCX5 seems to work flawlessly and lives up to the reputation I have been accustomed to from Polar HRMs. I like simplicity of the DataLink transfer unit. The WearLink+ Hybrid transmitter are an upgrade to the previous chest strap design with a new contact material, once again, flawless.

The G5 GPS sensor, however, is the primary reason I chose this model. I wanted to have the distance and pace. What a disappointment! The system consistently reports short distance and therefore high pace times. I have communicated with polar support and uploaded the data to them that have recorded on PolarPersonaltrainer.com. They saw that I stopped (to cross busy traffic areas or to drink) and suggest that me stopping was causing the error. What? I was outraged that they should treat me like a total idiot. Stoping does not change my distance. I recently ran a half marathon race on a certified course that was also a Boston qualifier. BTW, I did not stop. The unit reported 12.88 miles and the associated errant pace as well. Epic fail! Polar says they will replace it under warranty. I will give that a try.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2011
I had decided going for another model, but this model was just out and looked like a step forward.
Everything is better than previous models even though I will no use it for Triathlon any day soon.
Syncronizing is a breeze and the GPS makes exersising so much more fun.
Too bad the GPS does not do Vertical profil
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2012
very easy to use and the interface is better than the other models, the buttons are softer and more user-friendly screens and easy to program. Much better than before models.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2013
I have to admit that I am a bit of a Polar fan and have only used Polar running computers since 2005. In general, I am really happy with Polar's performance and attention to all things running.

I have owned my RCX5 GPS version for 2 months now, and have run with it more than 30 times, under various conditions. Here are my few observations as far as its performance and ease of use (both positives and negatives):

- This product is really geared toward running and generates relevant and reliable data related to your running. I can't be happier with the amount of information that I receive from it during and after a run.
- I love to be able to see 4 different pieces of information on one screen. The screens are completely customizable as well, so if you know what you want from your running computer, then you'll have all the options to create a set of screens to view all the data you need during your run.
- In addition to all the information I get during the run, the training session information can then easily be uploaded to my profile on Polar's website. There, I not only get a wealth of data related to my individual training sessions, but can also track my progress over multiple runs.
- I really like the fitness level monitoring and the running index function. As far as I can tell, the running index can only be viewed online on Polar's website. I observe quite a bit of run-to-run variance in the running index, so I really only look at my average over a few runs and don't give much thought to what I get from individual runs. The fitness level is much more consistent when I measure it on a weekly basis.
- I also really like the training load function which is also only available online on Polar's website. It gives me a good idea about how hard I trained and when it is a good time to have a down day.
- Both the GPS and heart rate monitor seem to work reliably and I almost never experience data drops with them.
- Although I cannot attest to the accuracy of the GPS unit (because I have no means of independently confirming its distance measurements), run-to-run consistency is really good which lets me to trust the measurements I receive from it.
- The GPS unit usually takes less than 30 seconds to obtain satellite signal. I usually turn it on and leave it by the door and by the time I've tied my shoes, it would already have picked up the satellite signal. Only 2 or 3 times out of 30+ runs have I experienced longer than a minute initial satellite reception. When that happened, I turned the GPS off and back on again and it has then found a signal within the next 30 seconds.
- The GPS unit is USB-charged and I've had to charge it only twice for my 30+ hours of running. When it's time to charge it, it charges fairly quickly (within 1-2 hours).
- I've had to replace the battery of the heart rate monitor once already, but this may have been due to a weak battery that came with the unit.
- The one big con of this unit is its poor performance in low light situations. While this has not bothered me much because I don't run in the dark much, the backlight of the screen is really of average quality at best. With 4 lines of data, it becomes difficult to follow the screen in the dark. I definitely would advise to think twice before purchasing this product if you usually run in the dark or in low light environments.
- The other thing that bugs me with this product is that I can't view my heart rate without going into the training mode. I personally don't prefer to record my heart rate or my calories during cool-downs and it's just not possible to simply monitor my heart rate without starting a training session. Now, it is possible to bypass this by creating a training mode just to monitor the heart rate, but it would be a bit of an inconvenience to then go and delete that training session manually so it's not accumulated along with the data from the actual training sessions.

Finally, I should stress how important it is to train properly. This product really empowers you to be a knowledgeable and responsible runner if you follow the data correctly. During my runs, I see so many people zipping by probably thinking that it's best to run as fast as you can for as long as you can. This is so wrong and they are simply overexerting themselves and increasing the chances of some kind of injury. If you are serious about what you do, even if you are a casual runner, it is so important to do it properly so that you get the most benefit out of it while minimizing the risk of injury. When you use the data from this Polar RCX5 properly, you stop worrying about speed and start caring about your heart rate, which is really the true indicator of your fitness level.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2013
I had a Garmin 910xt and it is a very good all in one device. However, I started getting frustrated with it because it is not the best device for swimming, cycling or running. It is a compromise device and to boot you can't wear it as a watch.

If you are willing to have multiple devices, then I think the Polar RCX5 is just an absolute marvel. It is a better running watch, a better swimming watch and a better watch watch. The size is awesome and you only need to replace the battery every 10 months (way better than every 17 hours of use).

I was not sure I wanted to have an external GPS unit but it is quite small (a stick of gum or so) and comes with a nice armband. Because I don't always need the GPS, such as on a TM or when doing track work it is simply better.

The Good
Swim - Provides Heart Rate data! Even through a wetsuit. It is small enough to pull off a wetsuit without having to take it off. Try doing that with a 910XT or some other monster.

Bike - I don't use it for cycling but I noticed the flat display would work well if I did

Run - Awesomeness. Seriously a pleasure to run with it. The heart touch feature is fantastic (changes the four fields by just swinging your arm close to the HR monitor. No need to reach over with other arm. Light, easy to read display with all the info you could want.

The Bad

Swim - It does not provide GPS data on the swim. I rigged my by placing the GPS 5 unit into an old bike inner tube and attached it to my goggle straps but most people would not go through that much trouble. The GPS 5 unit is small and you can forget you are wearing it. Also, keep in mind that people that have GPS watches never seem to get a good read on OW distances so it is not a big liability in my view.

Bike - It does not provide power and it has the same limitation as the G910XT. Only four fields as max. I like seven fields so I got a garmin 800 on sale and love it. It comes with turn by turn navigation, which is great to go ride a course before race day and know it is the course you will ride.

Run - The watch is lighter and smaller but when you add the GPS 5 it is about an ounce heavier than the 910XT. However, the weight on your him or arm seems to be better managed than the wrist so I don't really see this as a negative but some might.

The bottom line is that if I had to get only one device for triathlon, I would get something else. However, it is the best device I've used for improving my swim and my run and if you don't have a power meter it would work well for cycling as well. But, there is no speed wrist band that allows you to pop it from your wrist to your bike so you would lose a couple of seconds in transition.

My current set-up is:
Swim. low tech-lap ring lap counter and Polar RCX5 with HR monitor.
Bike. Garmin 800.
Run. Polar RCX5 (sometimes with GPS5 and sometimes not).

If I raced myself with this set-up, I would beat the self with the other, heavier device. Sure, it would not be by much but a win is a win.
BTW, the price is pretty good too and the wrist band is awesome. I sleep with this watch on and use it as my daily watch too. Just a sensible and smart training device you can wear all the time. I love it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2011
As a former college runner and road racer, I've been using HR monitors since the early '90s to facilitate workouts and keep track of my progress. My earlier watches-almost all have been Polar-were simple devices from which I manually inputed data into my computer. Up until about 18 months ago, I had been nursing along my s610i, which was my first monitor with a computer interface. This monitor was a huge step-up from previous tools in that it provided data on a per-interval basis (average, Peak, and last HR), and recorded my HR on a selectable 5 or 15-sec basis. It also had a generous-for the time-99 memories. However, its biggest fault was that Polar never produced software for the Mac, so recording data was always a kludge. I still have an ancient IBM laptop simply because I haven't figured out how to, or gotten around to transferring the data.

When my last s610i finally died (changing batteries was not a user-friendly function), I reluctantly purchased the rs300x. I didn't realize that this watch was such a downgrade. The lower price should have told me, but I stupidly assumed that HB monitors like other electronic devices had declined in price. It's one advantage was that computer support was web-based, so that I could keep track of my workouts on the Mac. Everything else-including fewer memories, a horrible UI and a much smaller set of recorded data-was inferior to the ancient s610i.

So, when I started biking and taking my Elliptigo on the road, I knew that I needed to upgrade. I wanted a monitor that had all the features of the s610i, user-changeable batteries, and would work with my Mac. Unfortunately, there really weren't good options under $300. I finally settled on Polar's upper-end monitors. Despite my bad experience with the rs300x, I decided to give Polar another shot. What attracted me to the RCX5 multi was its flexibility to easily use on and in multiple bikes and activities. I spent the extra money for this flexibility and the GPS. Frankly, I'm glad I did.

The monitor itself is quite large, but surprisingly comfortable. I have small wrists, and it hasn't been a problem. The screen is large with 4-5 lines of readouts, it can be hard to read on the go. It is still better than the rs300x. However, if your vision is so-so, or you are exercising in twilight (I don't like turning on the light), getting a quick look may be a problem. Nevertheless, it has worked for me. My biggest complaint is that unlike all previous monitors, it doesn't show my HR unless it is recording data. Even the rs300x shows the HR in pause mode.

The RCX5 monitor is modular in that you can add or subtract WIND (Polar's proprietary connection protocol) devices as need. I currently have the HR strap and GPS. I plan to add the cadence device to my bike. If Polar produces a power output monitor (maybe they already do), that could be added as well.

The GPS works like a charm. It is relatively small. It fits in an armband that is secured by velcro to your upper arm. For cycling, it's no problem. However, it might bother someone on a run. So far, it doesn't appear to have dropped a signal. However, it can take 15-20 secs to acquire a signal. Once it's locked in, it is very accurate. The UI on the watch is okay. Since I rely primarily on the online software, I rarely view results on the monitor. The monitor allows a user to select multiple bikes and exercises (a total of at least 3). You can tailor the monitor for each bike and exercise. Alternatively, you can make adjustments after uploading a workout to the Internet in the online software. In cycling/GPS mode, there are 4 screens by default (I think that this is adjustable). S1 has HR information and total elapsed time, S2 has current speed and total distance traveled (I don't recall the other two lines), S3-which I mostly use-has for both speed and HR, current & workout average data. S4 has lap and cumulative data (I almost never use this screen). Pressing the lap button provides lap information including distance traveled, time elapsed, average lap HR and speed. So far, I am quite happy with the available data. I believe the screens are configurable. I would like to create a screen that had current and average speed, current HR, total distance and total time. LOL, that may be one line too many, but I can wish.

The online software is good, but not great. To me, seeing a map of my workout along with real-time HR and speed data is amazing. I know this technology has been around for years, but it is new to me. The wokout data is comprehensive. It includes lap time, distance, speed and HR, and cumulative time and distance. I'd also like to see cumulative HR average added, but this is a quibble.

My biggest concern with the software is that it is Internet-based. It is a little slow, but not annoyingly so. But a bigger concern is what happens to my data if Polar goes away? I worry that I could lose access to my workout data.

Other than that, I highly recommend this device. I've subtracted one star because the software is Internet-based with no obvious way to access data without an Internet connection, the relatively small UI glitches, and the very high price of this device. The RCX5,nonetheless, is without a doubt my best exercise monitor ever.
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