on August 10, 2008
I've been training with the Garmin 405 for a year now and love it. Given the mixed reviews here, I was apprehensive about getting it, but it really is a great training device.
Out of the box, it's quite good. After configuring it and just getting used to the way it works, it's much better. For example, mine is set to auto lap every kilometer and I mostly use a custom view with lap pace, heart rate and total distance. Interval Workouts are also very handy and easy to set up. The possibilities are endless.
The bezel takes some getting used to, but once you have configured the views, you simply leave it alone while running or tap with the middle of your finger (works better than the fingertip for whatever reason) to change views. You can lock the view by pushing both side buttons at the same time. This keeps it from switching views and beeping madly when wet or from bumping your shirt sleeve.
As I've progressed as a runner - first marathon in 2008, 3:52 at 41 years old - I've tried a variety of watches. First, a Timex Ironman, which I loved, but no Heart Monitor. Then a Timex Heart Monitor which I used with the Ironman (for the 100 lap memory). The Timex watches were stolen so next, a Nike Heart Monitor with the Nike+ Sports Band and Foot Pod, which looks cool but is not very accurate, even calibrated. Changes in speed, hills, etc. will affect the accuracy of any foot pod system. Once calibrated, it tended to be about 3-5% off.
Now, the Garmin 405. Likes:
1. Normal size - Unlike the 305, which I would not wear, the 405 is a regular watch. I wear it all the time.
2. Everything in one device - HR, pace, distance, elevation, laps.
3. Pace - I thought the whole GPS thing might be a bit too high-tech for a guy who loves the simplicity of running, but it is very, very nice to know your pace as you run. I use Hal Higdon's training plans, which call for all kinds of runs, with warm-ups, intervals, tempo intervals, pace segments, etc. The pace feature makes doing these workouts possible without having a coach at your side.
4. GPS frees you from mapping out your route. You just run until it shows your distance is done. The Garmin Connect site then shows your map. This doesn't sound so amazing, but it is very liberating. You just run wherever you want, explore your neighborhood, whatever. It transforms city running.
5. Auto laps. Great feature. Records all your details (time, HR, pace) for each lap automatically. You can review on the watch or on Garmin Connect.
6. The Garmin Connect website is very good and continually improving, with new features every couple of months.
7. The data seems pretty accurate, based on a track workout. In a recent 10K race, it recorded 10.2K, but some of that variation is certainly due to my weaving among the crowd. All GPS devices have a margin of error.
1. Battery life - with GPS enabled, it needs a charge every couple of days to avoid the dreaded "low battery" warning in the middle of a workout.
2. The USB stick for wireless transfer. It works, but Nike does it better. The Nike+ pop-out USB stick is a much simpler way to transfer data to the computer and a much better way to keep from losing the USB part.
3. It can take a couple of minutes to find satellites and loses accuracy in bad weather. This is probably true of any GPS device.
4. You need the foot pod to record distance indoors. One more piece of gear (and not cheap). I didn't buy it. It would be great to be able to manually add the distance to a workout on Garmin Connect.
All in all, the Garmin 405 is an incredible training device. It is the best choice in the market. Nothing comes close to it. 5 stars.
I hope you find this helpful.
on August 19, 2008
As a long-time user and fan of the Garmin 305, the Garmin 405 was a product I was looking forward to for months as I was excited to see the next generation of the 305 I have enjoyed so much.
I could not be more disappointed with the result.
The Garmin 405 is a classic example of a good product concept and clever design gone horribly wrong as the Garmin team focused on form (looks) clearly beat out the folks worried about function. The watch looks fine (great for a HRM/GPS watch, so so for an everyday watch) but in terms of actual purpose-built functionality, it is terrible. There are multiple reasons for this which I will outline below.
(1) Useless when wet (yes, that includes sweat). The fact that you cannot toggle between screens or do anything with the bezel while the device is wet should have caused the designers to toss out this novel touch sensitive concept and stick with what works. Instead, they decided to go with a neat design concept that works great when the salesperson is showing it to you at the store, but will provide endless hours of frustration when you are out running and just want to see your heart rate. This is my first bullet point because it is the best example of the type of design failures that make this a terrible device.
(2) Use of built in functions/screens - The makers carried over the capabilites of the Garmin 305 and added a virtual training partner functionality, but the display can only show three fields at once and the fields themselves are too small for good viewing while in motion (ie running). Cycling between the displays is easy to do while sitting on a couch, even fun when you run your finger along the bezel, but when you are out running you quickly realize that it is very difficult to accomplish anything with the device. With the 305, if you wanted to change fields on the fly, you could manage to do it while keeping a reasonable pace. With the 405, you need to press buttons and run your finger along the bezel to switch fields - again, great on a couch, nearly impossible on a run.
(3) GPS Accuracy. I have traded messages with people who disagree, and I will say that I sometimes have great accuracy, but have also had multiple experiences where the accuracy of this device is off by so much as to make the pace and distance benefits of a GPS useless. The best example is running a measured mile with typical neighborhood street tree coverage and having the device show I went a total of 0.70 miles (the 305 on the same stretch showed 1.01). I have had this happen multiple times in various locations and therefore have stopped using the watch in races when I want to know my true pace and distance (I am using the 305 again).
(4) Silly things that might (or might not) drive you crazy - There are two buttons on the Garmin 405 - both on the right side of the face as you look at it. These buttons perform some useful functions, including locking the bezel so that you can wear the device in a non-GPS mode and avoid running down the battery needlessly while still using the device as a watch. The problem is that if, like me, you actually own a daily wear watch and when you travel you prefer to put the 405 in your bag or suitcase, having the two buttons on the same side means that if they press against anything they will unlock the bezel and the GPS will start running (or try to). The result will be a dead battery when you pull it out of your bag. It may seem minor, but pulling the 405 out of your bag after you arrive and want to go for a run, only to see it is dead, again and again, is annoying. The positive offset is that the watch actually charges at a pretty decent speed. Oh yes, and when the battery does, in fact, die, you will need to go through all of the intro screens again to get it going which will sometimes freeze on you (check message boards for solution to this as some people have posted them).
Overall, this is a terrible product and if you really want to get a GPS enabled running device, I would highly recommend you buy the Garmin 305. It is much cheaper and while it does not look as good, the size will not bother you after a couple of wears and it will work flawlessy for you. I suspect they will eventually correct the failings of the Garmin 405 but until they do it is not a good use of your money.
on June 2, 2009
I had been looking to buy the Forerunner 405 for some time, but was reluctant because of all the bad reviews on here. I had the Nike+, which was terribly inaccurate and quit working after a couple of month. I went ahead and purchased the watch, ignoring the bad reviews.
First, I read reviews that said the bezel is hard to use. No, it's not. You have to sit there and play with it to learn how to use it. When it goes into sleep mode, it's not responsive, so you have to hit one of the side buttons a couple times to wake it up. Not a big deal. Personally, I sweat a lot, and have not had any problems with the bezel not responding when I run. It has never locked up on me either. You can adjust the sensitivity of the bezel. It's preprogrammed on medium and I haven't had any problems with this setting. People complain that the bezel is easy to hit accidentally, thus leaving it on and draining the battery, or whatever they complain about. You can lock the bezel so that this doesn't happen. If you lock the bezel and this still happens, then don't throw it in a gym bag or somewhere it can get knocked around. Personally, I wouldn't be throwing my $300 GPS-enabled sports watch around anyways.
For the people who say that it's not accurate, I have had no issues with it's accuracy. Actually, I think it's very accurate. I was worried about it picking up satellites because when I had satellite radio in my car, it would frequently lose signal on a road that I run on. The Garmin has never lost signal during my run, and I live in WV and my route is right near mountains and trees. For those who complain about the way it displays information during your run, you can program it to show you what you want, and you can turn off autoscroll so that it stays on the one display. If you want to see the next page, just tap the bezel. It's really easy. I found that having 3 items on the page was too crammed and small to read, so I changed it to only show 2 items. I have it set to show my pace and distance.
For those people who complained about how long it takes to pick up a satellite signal, yes it may take a couple of minutes. Do some light stretching while it acquires the signal. For those complaining about the battery life, I ran 14 miles with it over the course of a week and it got down to 38%, so I threw it back on the charge just in case. It's simple to check the battery life, so check it now and then, and if it gets low, charge it. Just like you charge your cell phone every night or every other night. Just be sure to turn the GPS off after every use to save the battery.
Somebody complained that it doesn't read a steady speed/pace the whole time. No, it's not going to read that you are running a 10:30 pace exactly the whole 5 miles you run. Naturally, you are going to speed up or slow down and not realize it, and lets face it, it's a tiny electronic GPS device and may not be 100% in tune with every step. Mine will generally bounce around 15-20 seconds above or below my goal pace. What matters to me is that I know within 15-20 seconds what my pace is exactly when I'm running, and at the end it gives me very accurate pace averages for each mile. I have had no issues with transferring my data to the computer. The ANT stick quickly links to the watch, and it may take a minute or so to download. The software does what you need it to do. If you need something fancier, there's more software out there. Lastly, this watch is large. For the men that may not be a problem. I am female and I found this watch to be rather large, and I am not a tiny person. This isn't a watch that a female can just wear fashionably. If you think this is a small sports watch, it's not. But, the strap has plenty of notches to adjust to just about any size wrist.
I'm sorry to complain about other people's experiences with the watch, but I just don't understand how they are having these issues and I am not. The issues that some complain about seem to be easily resolved by simply becoming more familiar with the watch or thinking ahead a little. This isn't a watch you can just throw on and run with right out of the box and it be perfect. It is highly customizable, and everybody is different. Once you customize it how you like it, it is a very accurate, useful tool to aid in your training. I am saddened that the negative reviews almost prevented me from purchasing this item, when it has been the best purchase I have made in a long time. I love this watch and highly recommend it. If you are not good with electronics, then maybe this watch isn't for you.
on January 22, 2009
Based on user reviews (on Amazon and other blogs, web pages, forums, etc) I was extremely hesitant to purchase a Garmin 405. Many of the reviews outlined possible pitfalls and headaches that I was not prepared to deal with on a daily basis just to keep a log of my training. Prior to receiving a Garmin 405 this past Christmas, I had used plenty of their products in the past with little or no worries. I was a little dismayed by what I read about the 405 based on my past experiences with Garmin. I was content to believe the reviews and discard the hype and abandon the idea of using a 405 altogether. Let me tell you what ultimately changed my mind.
In November I ran a marathon in San Antonio. I had all but completely talked myself out of ever getting a 405 and was looking around the expo at other heart rate monitors and gadgets that could help me track my training progress. As I was making my rounds, I realized that Garmin was there. I expected to see only sales people but was pleasantly surprised that the company had also sent several of their engineers and designers. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, I walked up to their table and challenged them with all of the problems and issues that I read about. I'm not going to refute the other reviews on this page on a line-by-line account, but I can tell you this with reasonable certainty: 95% of the people that are discontent with this product didn't do their research before buying a Garmin. The technical manual on this product is available for download for free on Garmin's site. So is their software (just in case you want to poke around and see what it looks like, obviously you can't really do anything with it without a Garmin). Many of the "bugs" they're experiencing aren't bugs at all, but user errors. There is definitely a learning curve associated with using this device. Isn't that always the case any time you introduce a new element into your training? The good part is that the curve isn't that steep. I had mine up and running in less than 15 minutes after opening the box. It found a satellite signal within seconds and I've never had acquiring one ever since. I've run with this watch in several states and in urban and rural environments. It's been on the road and off-road with me and I've had no problems. It's accurate and very easy to use. The touch bezel works like a charm and I've never had an issue getting the data I need from it (even while on a 20+ mile run). The battery life seems to be good and I love all of the functions. I've even used it with the foot pod and bike cadence sensor with no problems. Garmin really did do a good job with this product.
I will only offer this final thought as a word of caution on any training device. Judging by the reviews, some people are looking for something that will catalog everything with 100% accuracy, 100% of the time. There is no such device in the world, but Garmin comes really close. The gadgets and gizmos that are out there for fitness and training today are simply tools. No serious athlete would stake their entire training plan on one device or gadget. Still, I think that Garmin has created one of the most reliable products out there for the functions you get. There are more accurate tools for measuring pace, power, etc., but if you're looking for the GPS functionality, Garmin is the smart choice.
on November 15, 2008
When I was trying to decide between the 305 and the 405, I read every single review from a couple of different websites...it seemed that there was a lot of negative reviews on the 405, but also some hidden gems that make regular use of the watch a pleasure. I was shocked by how much Mac users seemed to hate the thing...since I own a Mac I knew I was going to have to work a bit harder to get the data to my Mac. For me, the deciding factor for the 405 ended up being the usability of the watch as an actual watch....it does look pretty sharp...and for $350 it better get more use than for an hour a day on a run...
Here is what I've seen with my own use over the last couple of weeks:
The set up on my Vista PC was actually pretty simple...I followed the directions to the letter and went to the Garmin site which helped me get everything set up pretty quickly. There are some pretty good directions there...I can't see how anyone could screw this up honestly...but it seems that some folks have had trouble with it...I was able to update the firmware right then and that went well also (just be patient as it seems to update one firmware version at a time and not all at once)...
Once I got my PC all set up, I downloaded Trailrunner on my Mac...which supports the .tcx files of your runs that you can export out of the Garmin Training Center software (which really isn't good)...I don't know if there is a similar software package for the PC, but since I rarely use my PC, I really didn't take the time to look...
After I got done with some runs, I came home and was amazed at how easily the Ant+ stick picked up my watch...it even picked it up once when I left the watch downstairs...which I thought was pretty cool (but I haven't tried to see if I could do it again, I just bring my watch upstairs)...I would assume that if you have your watch in the same room as your computer it would pick it up pretty easily...
From this point I really wanted to get the data back on my Mac and into Trailrunner...and this seems to be the difficult part for most Mac users (the Garmin site says to get VMware and run it through that way-which is insane, but some might not have a PC box in their house like I do, so it would be the only way at this point)...What I end up doing is importing the data wirelessly, then pull it into Garmin Training Center...then export it as a .tcx file which I email to myself and pull up from my Mac...then save it to a folder and "open" into Trailrunner from there...sounds like a lot, but takes maybe 5 minutes at the most...and the newest version of Trailrunner is awesome...
I also have seen some reviews where the watch is not responsive to the bezel touching...what I ended up figuring out after watching the video on the Garmin site, is that when the watch is in powersave mode you actually have to wake it up before it will respond...which can be done by clicking either side button...then the bezel responds to touch etc...this is really a much cooler feature than you would think...it really helps avoid draining the battery during regular "watch" use...
As far as getting going on runs and using the HRM...it picks the HRM and Satellites up really quickly...which is surprising based on what I've seen in some reviews...it actually picked them up while I was in my house...and as of yet, I haven't had any trouble with using it on my runs...it shows my Heart Rate in huge numbers and the first screen shows pace/total time/total distance big enough that I can see it while on the move...I don't really need it to do much more than that as I am not what you would consider a fancy runner at this point with sprints or crazy heart rate work...I just have it auto-lap my time at a mile and call it good...
The GPS has been darn near 100% accurate so far (I live in Houston TX)...and everything that comes through on Trailrunner is also within 1%...
I took the advice of one of the reviewers and bought it from a running store in our area that is known for good customer service (Luke's Locker in Houston) and they have a 30 day no questions asked return policy that covered me in case anything crazy happened...I was nervous with all of the complaints about it not working when wet...but that hasn't happened to me yet (I even licked my fingers to see if anything strange would happen and nothing did)...
I really like the watch and would hope anyone considering it would really do their homework...I really like the watch and give it a huge thumbs up!
Garmin just released support for Macs...and after using it for about two weeks - it just blows away the Windows version. My Windows PC was never able to sync with Garmin Connect automatically...the Mac version does it without a hitch. The interface is better, it is way more stable, and it actually does what is intended. The Garmin Training Center for Macs is about the same as the Windows version - nothing special, but it gives all the info you would need for your runs or workouts...
I've used the watch for almost 8 months and have had no problems...it's still as reliable as when I first got it and I still think to myself after literally every run, "What an awesome watch"...
on January 12, 2010
First off, i want to say i read almost all of the reviews because $250+ is a lot to spend in the blind.
I always read the worst reviews first, that is how i am, and i was very worried about this product. In the end it comes down to this; the people who wrote the 1 star reviews had no idea how to work their watch, and if they did, well, then i guess programming a watch during a run is a hobby of theirs. I will hit on all of the topics i found discouraging and write what i have found to be absolutely amazing.
First; The biggest complaint BY FAR is that the bevel doesn't react very well, if at all while wet. This is true. BUT, first the person using the watch needs to understand the bevel. The bevel is very sensitive to touch, there is no audible or palapable clicking, just touch, that is it. They complain that when it is wet, or you sweat, you cannot use the bevel, i do not disagree, it is almost impossible to use the bevel when it is wet, (i live in the seattle area, it is always wet when i run). Caveat to all of that, YOU DO NOT NEED TO TOUCH THE BEVEL WHEN YOU RUN! If anyone can think of a reason to touch the bevel while you are running please tell me. This is the botom line; the watch has a program that you can set up to scroll (program called auto scroll on the watch) through three different pages/interfaces as you train. the three interfaces are- heart rate, pace, distance+time+pace, and you can set it up the scroll through these pages fast, slow or medium WITH OUT TOUCHING THE WATCH!!!!! What else, while you are running, would you want to do????!!!! I can understand and relate to the runner who wants to program their alarm for the next morning while they are on a 5 mile jog.....wait, no that is sarcasm. If you are into programing your watch while you run, then this product is not for you. It is called OPERATOR ERROR, and yes, i hope some of these dopes that wrote their comments read this. This product is amazing. One thing i haven't delved into is knowing the exact time of day as i run, i don't think i can know this without using the bevel (but i haven't looked into it, so i will not state that it is an impossability! HINT HINT)
So GPS features, are outstanding, i was using google earth religiously before i bought this and still do. I plan my routes via google earth, i hate running under 5 miles. Spot on. period. yes it takes a minute, not 5 minutes, but a minute to find the satellites....hmmmmmm.....all gps' are like this, no? Give me a break, not only does it do all of it's features perfectly, but it has an awesome program that tracks all of your workouts on your computer and makes the after workout that much more enjoyable.
Before this watch i used a $20 dollar cheapo, big upgrade, but worth it all the way
Bevel locking system is great
Whole product is top notch
on July 22, 2008
I've been using the watch for about a month now, almost daily. The watch itself is great. Great functionality, great specs, very usefull. BUT - and there's always a but - the watch basically freezes up when it becomes wet. I sweat more than average and the iPod-like bezel does not respond when wet. I read a bit about this and made the purchase anyway. Big mistake. I am now returning because after about six miles, it is useless. A few other comments:
- Strap is comfortable but if you have a larger chest (I'm 44"), and you are forced to wear it tight, plan on buying lots of the $10 straps. Mine is already showing signs of streatching. I had a polar before with a nylon strap and this wasn't an issue
- There is some negative play on getting the watch to sync with PC. I'm a fairly technically savy guy and it took more than one try. The instructions online aren't the best.
Takeway, if you are a skinny runner who doesn't sweat, this watch is a five. Otherwise, you may want to avoid.
on October 30, 2008
I would recommend buying the Garmin Forerunner 405 as long as you don't sweat when you run/bike/workout. However, if you are like me and sweat when you take part in these activities: DO NOT BUY THIS WATCH! Yeah, you'd think that Garmin would have tested their watch on actual runners, but apparently not. Once you start sweating the watch starts "freaking out." It beeps incessantly for no reason. You can no longer switch between the screens because it totally locks up. This is not an isolated incident either. I took my first Forerunner 405 back for the same reason and foolishly tried another one. Same result. Moreover, I'm not so sure it keeps very accurate distance. I've run on a number of marked trails and even tracks and the watch is always 5-10% off. At least the watch looks cool and works great when you are sitting on your couch. All in all I'm very disappointed in Garmin and wonder how they can look themselves in the mirror when they are charging $350 for a watch that doesn't work.
on July 10, 2008
As a triathlete, I am always looking to improve my skills and my tracking of my progress. This tool is ideal for that.
Before I bought the Forerunner 405, I was using a Timex Ironman Heart Rate Monitor and a Sport Brain pedometer to track various data. While I really like both products, I found they didn't track enough of what I needed and the pedometer, while I did calibrate it, wasn't super accurate in tracking my mileage or pace. Thus, I wanted something that would do everything my existing two gadgets did, only more accurately and with more functionality. The Forerunner 405 is that training tool!
I absolutely love the Forerunner 405 and feel it is the best value on the market for what it does (as some of the other similarly priced products don't have near the capabilities and functionality and some of the more expensive products don't offer enough added capabilities to justify the much higher price.) I also love that the GPS is in the watch unit...not a separate gadget you have to hook onto your waist like most other products with similar capabilities.
What I love about this product is how many things you can program it to track and how you can customize it for your specific needs (and you can change those custom features as your needs change.) For example, I do a lot of hill running. I know the hills I run are fairly steep, but never knew how steep and really wanted and needed to know that. The Forerunner can be programmed to include grade that tells me just that. Now I know the exact grades of those hills. I also love that you can program up to 9 things it tracks while you are on the bike or run (up to 3 items in each of 3 fields) but you don't have to program it to its maximum potential. I don't have the foot pod or the GSC 10 for the bike like another reviewer as I have a computer on my bike already. However, the Forerunner and my bike computer are identical in their data, which just tells me how truly accurate this unit really is. Granted, because I don't have the GSC 10, I don't know my speed by looking at my Forerunner until after I sync up with the ANT stick, but since I have the bike computer, it's not an issue. Another really cool custom feature is that you can program your specific heart rate zones into the Forerunner (which sends that data to the ANT stick and the software programs). I know some other reviewers mentioned it was a bit complex to program. Yes, it takes some time if you're going to really use all its functionality, but if you read the owners manual (the bigger one, not the quick start one) and follow the directions, it's really very easy. Also, if you have questions or problems with anything, the Garmin customer service representatives are super helpful and can help you do or fix whatever you need (I know this as I've called them twice and they were great!)
As for the ANT stick and the tracking software that you download to sync to the Forerunner, it's awesome. The Garmin Training Center shows you line graphs of your heart rate and which zones you were in for each workout, which is very helpful. The Garmin Connect software has much more detail, including pace, mileage, average speed, average heart rate, max heart rate and so much more. I know another reviewer said he wished it was USB vs. the ANT stick, but if you are like me and you only use one computer to upload your data from the unit, this won't be an issue.
Another cool feature is that the the Garmin is compatible with Training Peaks. So if you use that product too, you can upload your data to TP in minutes. What's nice is that when you do that, TP's software figures out how long you were in each HR zone so instead of only knowing your average and max HR (which is what the Garmin software tells you, for the most part), you can see exactly how much time you spent in each HR zone, which I find very valuable. The Garmin Connect software links with Google maps too, so you can see where you went on your bike or run, which is kind of fun, but not really a training tool necessity. That data also transfers when you upload to TP.
My only complaint is that this product is not supposed to be used in the water. So, you can't use it to tell the distance you swam in open water. But, since this is something I don't do that often, it's not that big of a deal.
So, if you're looking for a great training tool that is highly accurate and customizable, I think you will love the Forerunner 405 and feel it is a great value.
on September 12, 2010
I have had the 405 for over one year now and I cannot understand how a company could make such a badly designed product and not recompense the buyers for their flawed design. If this was a car, there would have been a recall, not for the sake of safety but for the sake of customer satisfaction.
Bottom line - the touch bezel option is worthless when wet. The locking feature has to be used often and the intense frustration that comes when you have to take the watch out of locked mode to either change a setting or turn watch back on because your break went over the allowed minute will drive you crazy. I've used this watch for a year and I've learned to live with it, but I would not ever give it 5 stars.
I guess if you live in a very dry climate and you do not sweat a lot this probably would be a 4 star watch, but still the bezel ... this is not an iPod, it's a watch and when you try to use it as a watch in normal mode it doesn't even give the date unless you push one of the buttons down and that activates the GPS to begin draining the battery down.
I'm trying to decide what to replace this watch with, either the 310XT or the Timex Global Trainer. I hope this review helps at least one person not buy this watch and look else where for a better design.