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Polar launches the Ignite: a feature-packed, sub-£200 running watch

If everything works as promised, this could be an excellent wearable

Surprise! Polar has launched a new running watch that is available to buy right now. Better still, it undercuts the excellent Vantage M and disappointing Vantage V by some margin, while seeming not to dial down the features.
 
That means all of the main bases are covered: the Polar Ignite comes with both GPS and heart-rate tracking, and the ability to track data across more than 100 sports, including swimming. The colour touchscreen will apparently keep on running for up to five days – though less if you’re the kind of ultramarathon runner that’ll routinely rinse the battery with GPS.

 

A touchscreen is an unusual development. While not unheard of for the company, every other Polar watch I’ve used before has also had five buttons, while the Ignite has reduced this to just one. Whether that’ll impact usability remains to be seen – in my experience, combining fiddly touchscreen controls with sweat and/or rain is a recipe for frustration.  
 
Still, touchscreen doubts aside, everything else looks very promising. Polar claims you’ll get a vastly improved sleep-tracking experience with Sleep Plus Stages, which will break the night down into light, deep and REM periods. It uses this information for another new feature – Nightly Recharge – which combines the sleep data with your other metrics to ensure you’re suitably recovering from training and stress.
 
Yes, stress. That’s another new feature Polar is introducing: Serene – its own brand of guided breathing exercises. Polar reckons that using Serene regularly will “help balance body and mind”, aiding recovery and helping improve sleep.  

Finally, there’s FitSpark: a daily training guide that will give the wearer a personalised guide to their exercise based on fitness level, training history and the aforementioned Nightly Recharge measurement. Other familiar features return, too including Running Index – Polar’s name for a VO2 Max estimate – and Running Program, which will provide a program of training for your race, whether it’s a 5K parkrun or the London Marathon.

The Polar Ignite is available to order right now on the official website, priced at £174.50 for a black and silver model with a TPU wristband, or £199.50 for white and silver or yellow and black with a soft silicon strap. Stay tuned for a full review soon, after we’ve had time to put the Ignite through its paces.