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View Garmin's Forerunner demonstration video.
Choose from 12 data fields to display on the 305's screen. View larger.
The design cleverly integrates the GPS antenna and aims it towards the sky when you're running or walking. View larger.
The Virtual Partner function makes your workouts more competitive. View larger.
Choose from three workout modes that help you target your training goals. View larger.
The 305 features rudimentary mapping and location marking functions. View larger.
Not so with the 205. Garmin's engineers obviously burned the midnight oil and have come up with a waterproof design that, while certainly not as small as a sports watch, feels just as comfortable. The curved casing allows the unit's antenna to face the sky when you're running, while the widescreen display is perfectly positioned for viewing when you need it. And the display certainly deserves a few kudos. While it's smaller than the display found on previous Forerunners, its resolution is far higher, offering incredible clarity and crispness.
Garmin has smartly given the 205 a simple button layout and the buttons have a nice tactile feel with good pressure response. The right side houses the menu selection and enter buttons, while the left houses a power/backlight button and a mode button. This simple and elegant solution is a big improvement over the sometimes confusing button functionality of previous Forerunners. View button layout.
The underside of the 205 is pretty nondescript, except for a row of contacts that interface with the included charging and data cradle. The cradle is small and unobtrusive and its single mini-USB port connects to either an included AC adapter, or a USB cable that connects to your PC. In addition to data transfer with the USB cable, you can also charge the 205's embedded lithium-ion battery via a powered USB connection from your computer.
The big news about the Forerunner 205 is that it features an integrated, high-sensitivity SiRFstar III GPS receiver. What does this mean? It means that the 205's ability to both track, and maintain a lock on, your position is better than anything before it. After an intial battery charge, our product tester had the 205 on his wrist and was tracking speed and distance with GPS satellites within 3 minutes. The next time we used the 205, satellite acquisition was nearly instantaneous. A run through dense trees didn't faze the unit either; tracking remained true and steady. Performance on a bike was equally impressive. Whatever witchcraft has been cooked up by the designers of the SiRF technology, we like it!
The simple docking cradle makes charging and data connectivity a snap (Forerunner 305 model shown).
The 205 is first and foremost a training tool, and its ability to organize a ton of data types into a user experience that is intuitive and simple is no small feat. Whiz-bang technology aside, if you can't use it and make it a natural part of your exercise routine, it's worthless. When it comes to these factors -- and here's the take home message on the 205 -- this device is successful where many other devices fail.
The heart and soul of the 205 can be found on the data screens, which give you real-time information about all aspects of your workout. In fact, the 305 can display a dizzying array of data, such as calories burned, distance, elevation, grade, and heading, as well as multiple lap and pace modes.
Thankfully, the device makes it easy to define how much or how little data you want to view during a workout. You can arrange the data that's most important to you and then make that data appear front and center on the device. Indeed, within a few minutes of skimming the manual and fiddling with the device setup, you'll have your most important data displaying just the way you like it.
Garmin's Virtual Partner function was cool feature of previous Forerunners and they've decided to keep a good thing going with the 205. If you're the type that performs best when you've got a competitor egging you on, you'll love this function, as it allows you to set up virtual running or biking companions that compete against you.
If you're looking for an complicated workout with a variety of intervals and intensity levels, or just a quick three-mile jog against your best time last week, the 205 has you covered. Navigating to the Workouts menu on the device yields three options: Quick Workouts, Interval, and Advanced Workout. A quick workout is just that; set the distance and time, distance and pace, or time and pace of your planned workout and off you go. Interval workouts are just the same, but they allow you to add repetitions and rest between them. When you really want to get fancy with your exercise, you can step up to advanced workouts, which include goals for each workout step, as well as varied distances, times, and rest periods. You can use the Garmin Training Center software to set up these workouts and then upload them to the device.
PC Connectivity and Software
Garmin has been outfitting their devices with USB connectivity for some time now -- a welcome move for those who struggled with serial port connections in the days of yore. Thanks to USB, the 205 integrates seamlessly with the Training Center software and we quickly had workout history uploaded and stored on the PC.
In a first for the Forerunner series, the Training Center software also lets you define courses on your PC that you can upload to the device. When course information is combined with uploaded workout information, the Forerunner becomes a complete guide, telling you where to go, when to make a turn, and what kind of workout to do when you're on the road or path. Back on the PC, the software's ability to overlay workout data on maps of the course makes it easy to see where the course offers up the tough hills and the easy recovery spots. Plus, the ability to track historical performance on a given course is a great way to measure your improvement.
The 205 is also fully compatible with Garmin's MotionBased service, which takes your training to another level by connecting your data with the Internet. While we weren't able to use the service, the promise of sharing courses, maps, workouts, and performance data with other users is intriguing. And if you're a serious endurance athlete, you'll be glad to know that the 205 is also compatible with TrainingPeaks.com, an easy-to-use web based training system designed to help athletes train for any event.
I use this for all my training. I am a marathon coach as well. I find this to be an outstanding tool in coaching. I am able to measure my team's pacing, and well as manage my own. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Coach Joe Scott
I bought this a few yrs ago on recommendation of a runner friend. Although he uses a one that is a few steps up from this one, he knew what I needed. Read morePublished 18 days ago by C. Bledsoe
Works very well! This is a better model than the 210 in my opinion. It's easy to use & has the navigation feature that the 201 had.Published 2 months ago by Linda Adam Hall
I live in the Boston area . . . not exactly in the middle of nowhere and it takes a long time to find signal and often loses signal if it's overcast or I'm running through heavily... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Laura
My wife used this when training for marathons and other races. She seemed to enjoy it but hasn't used it much since the birth of our second child.Published 2 months ago by Kevin
It has altitude measurements on it, which important up here in the Rockies. Nike needs to get that on their models!Published 3 months ago by Timo Mostert
OK, so it's not the latest Garmin Forerunner but for heavens sake, this thing will NOT quit.
I've used it around the country for hiking and biking and NEVER had an issue with... Read more
Great Garmin. Easy to use and very reliable. I would recommend this Garmin to other runners. You can set it to show just what you need.Published 4 months ago by Jil
this is a must have for marathon training .
You don't have time to map everything out before a run. Read more