I used the 305 since it came out and was excited to get the 405. Now, several months later, I am back to the 305. A huge disppointment. I can only imagine it was designed by a bunch of engineers who have never actually gone for a run.
The 405 looked great out of the box and playing around with the touch sensitive bezel was cool while I sat at my desk. The three field only display was a bit disappointing and while I could not get the USB wireless connector to work, I figured it was a PC issue (apparently it is a Garmin issue I have since learned).
Here are the key comparisons between the 305 and 405 and why I'd stick with the 305.
(1) GPS Accuracy - For running or walking the accuracy obviously matters a lot. I have seen the 405 off by as much as 15% for a measured mile where the 305 was spot on. My assumption is that to fit the GPS antennas into a smaller form factor they ended up giving away some accuracy. It is incredibly frustrating to be running a 7:30 mile and check your watch to see it shows you at a 10:40 pace.
(2) Information viewing - You are limited to three fields per page and they are harder to see. In order to see your HR you have to tab through a page (by touching the bezel- more on that later). It is not easy to manage while running and if you have to do something like reset your HR monitor you will pretty much need to stop to do it (same goes for any settings adjustment).
(3) Form v function - smaller than the 305, but in reality not by much and a nicer looking watch. Sitting at my desk (or standing in a store) and looking at the watch it will be impressive, and you will enjoy running your finger along the bezeland seeing it change settings, and will also enjoy playing with the touch sensitive bezel. They tried to get fancy as everything is driven by touching the bezel. This works great standing still but is totally unrealistic when you are actually running. Worse yet, the instructions actually warn you that the touch sensitive stuff does not work when it is wet (yes, that includes sweat). I ran with it today (decided to give it one more chance), and could not get the watch to switch to the second screen after a mile. It is insane that this does not work andthat they released the product with this flaw.
My sense is that Garmin rushed this product out the door due to market expectations and a need to get some revenue in the quarter (Garmin stock dropped 18% recently when they delayed their smart phone and I have to imagine they were rushing to get this out the door as well - maybe pulling people off the 405 to try to get the smart phone on track?).
All that said, the Garmin 305 is a great product and if you can get over the fact it is ugly you will find it is not cumbersome to run with. My guess is they will figure out the 405 issues at some point but based on what I have seen, these are HARDWARE issues, so software updates will not fix the problem.
I probably should have been clued into problems with the 405 when I saw some ads for the 305 in magazines this month - they are coming out with new features for the 305 (quick release strap so you can pull it off your wrist and stick it on your bike - funny thing, this is the order that the ad showed - obviously not any triathletes in the Garmin marketing dept....).
They have recently add compatibility with the Mac; their Garmin 'ANT Agent' works on the Mac, and can load data in to the Garmin Training Center or to the myGarmin website.
Based on my experience of a few weeks, I rate it as 'beta' software. Not particularly buggy, but also pretty feature light. And the initial setup is very hairball due to lack of support for Safari. In the end, I had to copy and paste the registration URL to Firefox, where it worked.
Too bad that Garmin doesn't have a user forum to discuss these issues.
Garmin was selling the 405's for its debut at the Boston Marathon. They think it will hit stores in May or early June. I ran 9 miles this morning with it. The past 3 years, I've used a Polar RS200sd with a footpod.
1. Interface: I thought the Garmin would be super slick like my iPod. It's not. The Garmin face is a scroll wheel, but it was not obvious to me how you "click" when you want to go down a menu or up a menu. I'll have to go look at the owner's manual.
2. Fashion: I wore it out last to see if it could be wore as an everyday wrist watch. Unfortunately, touching the scroll wheel in two places turns the backlit on. I did this on accident several times bumping the watch against things. I will probably only wear it for workouts.
3. Size: I was surprised at how light it was. I strapped it on and it was not too heavy. I was expecting it to weigh more.
4. GPS worked great. Found the satelites in Boston even with buildings around and I was off.
5. It is not waterproof like my Polar is. Only water resistant.
6. The interface showed me my time in larger font and my pace and total distance in smaller font. I wanted to swap out one of my numbers for Heart Rate instead and could not figure this out. I'm going to have to look in the owner's manual.
7. I think the GPS smoothes out my pace over the footpod with the Polar. The displayed pace was slower to respond to changes in my pace.
8. I liked the Garmin HRM strap better than my Polar strap for comfort.
Overall, big props for the weight, size, and GPS functionality. Poor execution on the user interface. Will definitely need to spend some time with the user's manual.
You might want to check out Ascent from Montbello Software. Mac native and runs circles around Garmin Training Center for the 205/305. I'm using it for my 405, but only after exporting a file in windows from GTC and importing it into Ascent.
You can actually find the 305 on eBay for under $180, at least from the auctions that I've seen lately.
I will be using the 405 as my main watch, even if I have to charge it weekly. I am new to running with a Forerunner, and the 205/305 looked big on peoples wrists. I'm sure Garmin will be able to add the extra functionality through firmware updates on the 405. Which functions are different now?
Interesting! I am looking at buying the 405 without the strap, as I still have the one from my now stolen 305.
The Garmin support website says that some versions of the 405 are compatible with the HR monitor. How can you tell if the one you are buying is compatible? Or is it just a trick to make you buy the more expensive version?
You can use it - I use my Garmin Edge 305 for Geotagging photos. Make sure you sync the clock of the camera and the GPS though first - makes life easier. You'll need to export them as GPX and use a program like Geosetter (for Windows) or HoudahGeo for Mac to sync the two together.