Customer Review

186 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miles ahead of the rest, January 30, 2010
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This review is from: Garmin Forerunner 405CX GPS Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor (Blue) (Electronics)
I really did my homework in choosing a fitness watch with heart rate monitor. I ordered competing models from Garmin, Timex, Polar, and Suunto, to look them over closely and compare. Then I sent them all back but this one.

Someone pointed out that this Garmin watch is a little on the clunky side - that's true. I have a small wrist,and the watch part of it is long and flat and doesn't really fit nicely. They had to pack the GPS receiver inside the band. But no matter - with the band strapped tight, it stays put, and it's not so huge that people would say "What's that thing on her wrist?" It still looks like a watch. A funky sort of a watch maybe, but not a television set or anything.

I think you need to decide if you want GPS or not. I decided that yes, I really wanted GPS to measure my distance, because I run and jog and hike and travel quite a bit, so my routes are always changing. In my ideal world, I'd be able to pop up a map on my PC and see my route, and have a table showing all my workouts and how many miles they total, in running, biking, etc. I could finally answer the folks at the running store when they ask how many miles are on my running shoes.

I ended up with this Garmin, far and away the best choice for just what I wanted. All the other GPS solutions were separate strap-on-the-arm ones that contain AAA batteries that need to be replaced every 12 hours of operation - ouch, costly. Even with rechargables, it would be a hassle to be always taking them out, plugging them into the charger, putting them back in the arm-band-GPS unit. The watch on those other devices was just a receiver for the arm-unit. Granted, it meant that their watches could be a little smaller ... I really liked the design of the Timex the best, and the Polar was small too. But who wants to carry a clunky thing around their arm? That's one more thing to pack or lose, more batteries to buy and fuss with, more parts to break... forget it.

I also was swayed heavily by the Garmin software and tight integration with the PC and mapping software. None of the other brands, as of this writing (January 2010) had anything near as easy. Polar excels at fitness tracking, but not the mapping part. Timex and others require third-party mapping solutions that you have to manually upload and integrate with. Only Garmin had a simple plug-and-play solution. Plug in their little included USB "ANT Stick" (like a little thumb drive), and bring the watch near, and it automatically receives the data the watch stored from your workouts, loads it into your Garmin fitness/mapping program, and you can see all your stats and your routes etc.

I also liked that this unit is one of the few that tracks altitude, so you know not only how many miles, but how much total up and down you went (cumulative). It can display the data on a chart with any paramets you set, for example you can see the actual altitudes of your run along your route. That is so cool!

Other people trashed this unit because the bezel-touch operation is a hassle. One guy made the point that he just locks the screen into a view before his run starts, so he doesn't hassle with the touch thing going haywire. That is the perfect solution, and it's what I did too.

So with this Garmin watch, you only have to remember two pieces: the watch, and the charger. The charger clips right onto the watch to rejuice the battery inside. It ships with conversion plugs for international outlets.

Here's a tip that isn't clear from Garmin's specs: the GPS can be turned on or off. With the GPS on all the time, the watch will run out of juice after about 8 hours and will need to be recharged. With the GPS off, it lasts almost 2 weeks. It works like a normal watch, tells date and time, etc. Heart rate monitor. Etc.

I was worried that this watch wouldn't work if you, say, went out in the morning for a hike, stopped for lunch, continued hiking... 8 hours wouldn't be enough. The simple solution is to turn off GPS when you don't need it, and your battery will last as long as you need it.

So, if you can afford it, this one is the only way to go, if you want GPS. I've had it a month, after handling all the others, reading their manuals, etc., and settling on this one. I'm super happy with it and love Garmin. Next generation will be even better, when they fix the bezel issue and get the watch to be even more watch-looking, but this is miles ahead of the competition as is.

** Update - I've now had this model for almost two years, and still think it is fantastic. A few things I learned - The link to mapping software works great, I have two years' worth of running/biking stats and I can click on any single run to see the route. Since I travel a fair amount, it's a great memory of places. It's also great when I go to the running store for shoes and they ask "how many miles are on the pair you're wearing now?"

It also has a handy feature where you can set a starting point, such as the parking lot of a hiking area, and then once you're completely lost, have it point the way back - you get an actual arrow pointing and a distance indicator of how far away you are from that point. It's kinda buried in all the menus, so not something you'd be able to find quickly unless you did it regularly or had the user guide right there, but I used it twice and found it a comfort knowing that, even if I got lost, I wouldn't be lost.

It is also easy to switch between running and "multisport" modes, which means you can bike and jog and keep those stats separate. (That way, you're not apt to get impressed with yourself for running 20 miles, when in fact that day you were on a bike.) There is also an optional setting (that was delivered through a firmware update a year after I bought it, and probably is pre-installed on newer ones) that will detect if you've stopped moving for a given period, say a minute, and it will put the tracking to sleep till you start moving again. That helps you track your pace better if you have to stop for some reason and don't want that averaged into your overall time.

I have to mention that the wrist band closure is a bit of a hassle, if anyone from Garmin is reading. It has a little lock to keep the end from flapping, but in fact, it's really hard to push the locking end through the little hold-down. Just a wee bit of hassle, hardly worth mentioning. Everything else I said above is still the case. It's a great tool.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 18, 2010 8:44:44 PM PDT
Thank you explaining your research process it was helpful.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2010 11:09:54 PM PDT
Glad it was helpful. I am still using the watch regularly and still think the same.

Posted on Nov 12, 2010 11:41:25 AM PST
T. Pettygrue says:
Thank you for the in depth review of this, as I'm about to make my first "watch" purchase. Curious, do you use the foot pod with it? I haven't quite figured out if it's necessary and exactly what it's purpose is. Thanks again!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2010 12:03:39 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 17, 2011 3:50:36 PM PST
Yes it's confusing. Took me awhile to figure that out. Foot pods work like pedometers, and are a cheap alternative to GPS. If you have GPS, you don't need a foot pod. The only exception is if your workout can't make use of GPS, such as an indoors track with no satellite signal, or on a treadmill where you are not covering ground. You'd need a foot pod in those instances to know how far you've gone.

Generally speaking, GPS solutions use satellites to precisely measure your distance and course; you get a better accuracy and more information from a GPS system. Foot pod solutions use accelerometers to estimate your stride length and calculate how far you are travelling. New technology means they are much more accurate than the pedometers of olden days. But, a foot pod can only tell you the distance you've travelled, not where you've gone, and can't therefore plot your course on any map. They don't measure your direction, etc. It's a budget solution to estimate how far you've gone only. For me, it seems like the manufacturers do a poor job of clarifying whether their solutions are GPS-based or simply accelerometer/inertia-based. Sometimes I had to read it over and over again! Good luck with your decision.

Posted on Nov 20, 2010 4:39:04 PM PST
Roger James says:
Very good and helpful review. I wonder if you ever used the 205 or 305 model?. These models worked OK but had lots of issues. It sounds like this model has more capability than 305. I am primarily a walker would I find it useful for this activity? Thanks

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2010 8:42:01 PM PST
Hi Roger, The 405 was my first GPS watch, so no, I haven't tried its predecessors. I do recall reading some of the other reviewers here who mentioned they had the precessor, and liked this more. You can probably find them by searching past reviews. I saw photos of the 305 and it was simply way too big for me to consider. You're a walker - this will certainly work fine for that, the only possible downside is that you might be paying for more capability than you need. For example, if you always walk the same route every time, you could opt for a cheaper solution that doesn't contain GPS, perhaps even one with just a foot pod, because you don't need the course mapped.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2011 3:41:59 PM PST
N. Mack says:
Hi there,

Did the ANT Stick come as standard in the box?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2011 3:51:40 PM PST
Yes, it did when I bought it. The "what's in the box" section of the description said so. Check and see if it still does before buying.

Posted on Sep 15, 2011 12:25:08 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2011 12:27:50 PM PDT
Weidong Xu says:
Thanks for the thorough review! I have a question about the heart rate monitor: before running, I have to use a penny to turn the power on and after use, I have to open the battery cover to clean the sweat inside the compartment, otherwise, the sweat will damage the battery, it is quite a hassel. Now, the cover is getting loose because of this frequent open and close. Do you have this problem? Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2011 1:26:44 PM PDT
Interesting! I think most people don't bother to turn the power on and off on the heart rate monitor. They only open it when the battery is dead and needs to be replaced, after approxmately 2 years. It sounds like you have cleverly tried to extend the battery life by only installing it when you are using the heart rate monitor. I have yet to open the battery compartment on my heart rate monitor, so just now I opened it to look. There is no sweat inside, no corrosion at all. Everything is tight and fine. Sounds like either the opening/closing has loosened yours as you suspect, or maybe it never fit well in the first place. I wonder if the model has changed. Mine is labled with the Garmin brand, model HRM1G, if that's of any use. Good luck with figuring out a solution!
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