RS800CX made its appearance on the Polar website earlier this week and many dealers starting to take pre-orders. According to dealers in the US I spoke with or exchanged e-mails with the expected availability in stock is around October 5th. After browsing few sites in Europe they seem to be promising availability on Oct 2nd which is pretty much the same. For most athletes in Europe and North America the RS800CX arrives either in the last last few weeks of the season or if your season already ended it is just for the start of the base training. That is good since you will have time to get used to the new watch prior to any racing.
As soon as Polar announced the watch I took a look at the feature list on their website. Many features are the same as in RS800 family, but I found few things that look new and interesting. Let's start review of the new features - now consider that this is based on the feature list not actual use of the watch. I'll be able to post about the use around Oct 5th. So here is the list of new features (besides the already great feature list in RS800sd or RS800G3:
- All the cycling features added to the watch - too many to list them all, but here are few obvious - speed, distance, cadence and few not so obvious calorie consumption rate /hr, incline measurement, speed pointer that shows whether current speed is higher or lower than average. This is much needed addition that many people wanted to replace their aging S625X to have a watch that can do it all. Majority of these features are already in the CS600 and the only missing feature is integration with the W.I.N.D. Power sensor.
- Route tracking with the G3 sensor - this one is for post-training analysis of the route in PC mapping software. They do not mention Google Earth specifically, but I assume the export to Google Earth format will be possible. This should be good addition for people that like this feature in Garmin units and want to stay with Polar. I'm not sure whether this is very important - after all it did not make me keep the Forerunner 405. I guess I'll not be using this much when I get the watch. Still debating whether to get the G3 or not (note the G3 sensor is required to take advantage of this feature). Anyone has good things to say about G3? Or has seen it work with RS800CX?
- Cadence based target zones - Cycling cadence zones feature is kind of given knowing Polar has it in CS600, but running cadence is a real benefit for people working on their running style.
- Combined training files - ability to combine training files from various sports. This should be interesting and probably useful for all multi-sport athletes.
- R-R intervals / Online HR Variability and Relaxation rate during exercise - Polar talks about relaxation rate in relation to R-R and HRV - not exactly sure what is in the watch, but sounds like another addition. How useful this tool will be remains to be seen, but it is good to see that Polar is adding features that take advantage of the R-R recording capability.
- Sound volume setting - this one sounds like volume adjustments for the alarm, HR/pace and other training alarms. This is something many people will use to adjust the volume of their watch to make sure that even when they run with music they can hear the watch. I've seen complaints on Suunto discussions about the loudness (or lack of it) of the T6c. Sounds like fairly small feature, but it may be quite big considering the impact of not hearing the alarms during training.
- Easy start (setting wizard) - I expect this to be similar to the wizard in the CS600 that walks you through setting-up the watch for your specific parameters. Good addition for new users, but seasoned Polar users will most likely dive into the Settings menu and explore what else is hiding there - I certainly will. Good addition, but fairly limited use - one time to setup the watch.
All the other features not listed above are already in the RS800 line - like guided workouts, training summaries, running index, OwnCal, OwnZone, OwnOptimizer, run cadence, pace, speed, distance, altitude and long list of other features. Did I say already that the original RS800 is a great HRM? With the additions in the CX models it became a true multi-sport watch. But there is one thing that I will miss - the HeartTouch feature. It is not available in the RS800 and does not appear anywhere on the RS800CX feature list. I miss this feature quite a bit - especially the ability to set it to take a lap during workout. I still hope it is there, but it may be a false hope. Oh well even without the HeartTouch this HRM seems like the one to beat.
Few readers (thanks LukeNRG and others) pointed me to the Polar micro-site for the RS800CX - take a look at the watch and the features it offers in more user friendly way than a plain feature list on Polar website.