Top critical review
59 people found this helpful
my opinion changed as I learned how to use this watch.
on October 17, 2011
The entire review history is below, but my most recent remarks, dated 4/13/12, are here.
If you read the prior remarks, you'll learn I bought this watch mainly for its pulse rate monitoring feature. It took me a while to figure out how to used the device, but after a few weeks the bells and whistles were ringing and tooting as they should, and I was 5 start happy with the purchase.
We had a leap year this year, and the embedded software did not take that into account. It began reporting the day of the week wrong. The date was correct, that was probably worth a one star reduction.
I've owned the about half a year. In the last few weeks the heart rate monitoring function seems to have gone wrong. Replacing the battery in the chest strap transmitter and carefully cleaning the chest strap pads did not help the unit recover this basic function. I'm back to Timex HRM watches now. This watch is something I may use when running a new route because its GPS functions still work, but it is not useful to me as a HRM. It's now 1 star. I hope others who bought it are not having the same problems.
After one week:
First, to set the stage: I had been an avid user of the Timex heart rate monitor watches. I am hardly an elite runner, simply needing the PRM to keep my pulse rate in the right range and for the timing function of the watch to remind me to turn back to home after 20 minutes. The Timex does that very well.After three years the buttons on this watch are not operating as smoothly as they once had. It is time to replace it.
I planned on another Timex, but who can resist all of the bells and whistles this watch provides at a small increase in price?
It seems to do heart rate better than the Timex. The Timex would often report a pulse of 90 after I had been running long enough so that I knew it was at least 140. This watch does a better monitoring job. The stopwatch works well enough. The compass function actually works too -- the GPS chip knows the direction you've been running and it's happy to tell you.
Initial satellite reception on turn on is slow -- the receiver actually is turned on manually. I turned off the receiver for a few minutes, turned it on again and it found the satellites very quickly.
There had been some complaints about the Garmin Forerunner 305 (?) having a limited battery life. A full charge on this watch lasts at least days, probably longer.
I ran a known 2.91 mile trail, the watch reported it as 2.7. It was a deeply wooded trail, but even if reception was poor connecting the dots on a trail that was one big loop should not have resulted in that big an error. It could be the watch was not set up correctly.
I also can't connect this thing to the mapping function on the computer and there are other functions I simply am not able to invoke -- the instructions could be a lot more clear!
I'll spend another week playing with this -- that probably means 3 or 4 more runs -- and if I can't figure out the correct way to do mapping and get a little more confidence in its GPS functions and some of the other features it will have to go back and I'll revert to the Timex again.
Oh, the other thing is this watch is just about 2 inches in diameter and about .75 inches thick. I could wear the Timex as an informal watch without having people ask about it: this one is hard not to notice. If I can make all of the features work that would be a small disadvantage.
Here's hoping it turns out to be a keeper! I'll update this in a week or two. Note to other purchasers: please post your findings and whatever tricks you've learned to better use this watch here.
First, about the GPS function. The trail known to be 2.91 miles long mentioned above that the watch claims is a 2.74 mile loop is wooded. It may be there are areas where the watch loses its GPS function. I today ran a known 5k route, largely open, and the watch reported it as 3.09 miles -- close enough!
It took some doing but I was able to get the watch to talk to the computer press mode (the D button) to stopwatch, press A to start the timing, press A again to stop it when done and then press B to carry the information to memory. It can then be downloaded to the computer. The trail shape and route shows correctly but is not overlaid onto a map. I have not figured out how to show a pulse rate v distance chart on the computer either.
I upped this to a 4 star rating -- if the learning curve was not as steep it'd be 5 stars. The watch does all I wanted it to (heart rate, timing). It downloads to the computer (finally), the compass function is pretty nice, especially if you're out on a trail and want confirmation as to which trail branch is the best way back to the car. The recorded distances, which I questioned earlier, are pretty much what I expect now, I was misusing some of the functions. (see the learning curve comment above).
Getting the GPS determined route to overlay onto a map -- Google or otherwise -- can probably be done, but I have not figured out how to do that yet.
The price of this watch on Amazon when compared to the more basic HRM watches offered by Timex makes this a great value. The extra features for me are well worth the few extra dollars.
I hope some other users who have figured out how to use all the functions tell us about their experiences. For me, however, the packaging the watch came in goes to the recycling bin, it is not going back to Amazon.
So after owning this thing for a while the pain of the learning curve is fading and I now have this interacting with maps too. I now like it 5 stars worth.
It seems to be more responsive than the Timex it's replacing to heart rates. The extra functions, like way point navigation, are simply a lot of fun.
The watch has about 10 hours of battery life when the GPS function is turned on, and an unknown but seemingly many days worth of life when it's used as a time piece.
For people like me who view exercise as a way to maintain health it's a neat tool. It probably has some shortcomings for others who are working at shaving seconds from personal best records and it would be good to hear from them.
If you're considering getting something like this give it a try. Amazon's return policy gives you ample time to return it if you don't like it. If your experience is like mine, in the first week that return policy will look like something you'd want to use, but after less than a month you'll probably be keeping it. I do recommend you print out the 17 page instruction manual, it's easier to follow than the one sent with the watch.
One other minor thing. This HRM defaults to a maximum pulse rate determined by the 220 minus your age formula. When you are trying to set pulse rate ranges based on specific knowledge that your determined max rate is greater than the one given by that formula, you'll have to put in a number lower than your actual age.
Nov 19 2011
I had this GPS on during a flight. It did a good job reporting altitude, but the speed function in the runner's mode worked only to 200 miles an hour.
I still like this thing 5 stars worth. My biggest early error was not getting a 10 year old to get all the functions working.
Saturday Feb 11, 2012
I still consider this a 5 star device, but maybe not as a watch. Today it correctly is reporting the time and the date but it is reporting today as Sunday, not Saturday.
I'd be interested if other owners are experiencing the same error.
Also, a caution. The 10 hour memory does fill up, and attempts to save new data are rejected. Older information is not overwritten. Don't let your memory buffer get to 100% as I did, or your last exercise activity will not be recorded.