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Customer Review

1,084 of 1,095 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent workout tool, May 3, 2006
By 
This review is from: Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS Receiver With Heart Rate Monitor (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I like this thing quite a lot. I've had it for about three weeks, and have used it on 12 workouts so far. I use it primarily for running, with biking a secondary usage. The main reason I wanted it was for the instantaneous readout of distance, running pace and heart rate, the latter needed for the speed work I want to do this running season.

The core functionality (distance and heart rate monitoring) works perfectly. There's none of the signal drops I've had with other heart monitors. Once the satellites are initially acquired, I've only had one dropout when I was outside. The initial acquisition of the satellites can be quirky and can take some time. The accuracy (according to the readout) is +/- 25ft, depending on how many satellites can be found. I've compared the distance measurement on the GPS with a known, measured distance on one of the trails I run on (the Chicago lakefront path). The GPS always increments a mile when I'm within 5 or 10 feet of the mile marker sign on the path. Well, I guess that's the least I should expect from a $350 GPS unit! Of course it's bigger than a normal running stopwatch, but that hasn't bothered me at all. The heart rate strap is also very comfortable and well-designed.

The display is crisp and has one outstanding feature: The information presented on the various pages can be completely user-customized. The default screen layout is rather poor, but in just a few steps I could replace it with the information I wanted to see while I run. There are almost 40 different data fields you can choose from for display. Examples: current pace, average lap pace, average run pace, heartrate, distance.

The only disappointment is the point-in-time (instantaneous) pace measurement: It varies wildly during a run. I see swings as big as +/- 3 minutes/mile. I'm a marathoner and I know my pace is fairly consistent during a run. I just looked at my run today, and according to the data the first mile varied from 5:57/mile to 12:06 mile. I suspect the problem is either in the averaging algorithm (too short a distance?), or in the uncertainty that results from different satellites coming in and out of view. The variations seem to get worse under tree cover compared with an open area. Luckily there's a lap-average pace that can be presented, and at least that value is useful and more accurate. The bottom line is that you can't look at the watch and say "right now I'm running 9 mins/mile". There is the ability to specify a pace smoothing factor, but I have it maxed out and still see the variations. The elevation readout also seems inaccurate, but that isn't important to me.

Upload of workout data to the PC software (Training Center) is transparent. The PC software is very good for presenting time/distance/pace/heartrate/calorie data. However the maps it shows are very crude. I've worked a bit with one of the online, subscription services (MotionBased). That looks really good and provides some additional functionality beyond the included Training Center software, although I still haven't decided if it's worth the $$$ yet for long-term data storage. MotionBased allows export to Google Earth, and it's tremendously cool to see your running path superimposed on a satellite image. You can recharge the unit through the USB port on your computer, although it's slower than using the dedicated recharger.

I had hoped that owning this device would prove motivational for me, and indeed it has. I can't imagine running or biking without it. Updating my training log is trivial now: Plug this thing into my computer, and it's done. My hope is that a future software update will do something about the pace calculation (maybe a few additional levels of smoothing?). If so, the Forerunner 305 would earn 5 stars+++.

Positives:

Flawless heart rate sampling
Great distance measuring and lap-average pace calculation
Seamless integration with a PC
Fully-automatic training log update
User-customizable display

Negatives;

Wildly-varying pace readout.
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Comments

Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 21, 2007 11:25:39 AM PDT
Just a note - there is Mac Compatibility now. It is a download from the Garmin Website!

Posted on Aug 23, 2007 4:47:37 PM PDT
Thanks for noting that the pace wasn't very accurate. I almost bought this for that feature alone.

Posted on Nov 22, 2007 5:40:25 AM PST
JCB says:
For a free online upload site, try the Trimble Allsport site at http://www.allsportgps.com/Default.aspx . It's free and has the Google Earth feature you mention. It overlays a map on default and you can catagorize your workouts in many differnt catagories if you multisport. Also, you can share it via a "public" option. You can also view other people's suggested workouts in areas that you are traveling to. I've used this about a year and really like it's features.

Posted on Jan 19, 2008 9:01:48 AM PST
K. Hartung says:
The pace count can be adjusted to a less sensitivity to display a better pace count for you to monitor.
The Pace count works great but it can vary due to tree's, buildings and GPS signal strength conditions.
The watch can also be set to beep, when you run above a set pace count or below a set pace count so you don't have to look at it when running.
the watch is awesome.

Posted on Sep 20, 2009 1:04:43 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 20, 2009 1:05:48 AM PDT
Edgars1969 says:
I use average pace, that works fine. I used other gps devices and none will show you good pace measurement, because no gps unit shows data exactly. So you just have to live with this.

This is best for runners, I used suunto x10 - that was losing data very often.

Garmin 305 once it gets gps signal stay locked all the time.

Posted on Sep 26, 2009 10:28:03 AM PDT
When there is a lot of cloud cover does the garmin lose the satellite signal? Also, does the watch give you any trouble when it gets wet-i.e.: during a rainstorm or while running through a stream?

Posted on Nov 7, 2009 9:25:46 AM PST
Linquel says:
I'm seriously thinking of getting one of these and I only have one more question that I haven't been able to find an answer to. Since Pazman posted this review in May of 2006, can you tell me how the long-term battery life is? Does it stop holding a charge after a year of use? Is it easy to replace the Lithium battery if it stops working? I'd appreciate any insight you can offer. Great review.

Posted on Mar 10, 2010 5:18:50 AM PST
J. Williams says:
Instead of relying solely on the gps to calculate your speed, distance ,avg ,etc, just get the optional footpod. It is small and very lightweight. I don't even notice it. I find that the gps feature is more for keeping track of your routes and to keep you from getting lost in the woods if you're a trail runner/biker. Just like in a car, gps can't be relied on to a tee. There are simply too many variables. I've used the footpod with my first Garmin Forerunner 50 and now the 305 and it has always worked great.

Posted on Jun 9, 2010 10:02:26 AM PDT
G. Collins says:
Re "wildly-varying pace." I don't own this watch -- though I am considering it! -- but I've found with a different make/model of handheld GPS that the pace varies wildly due to arm swings. On your wrist, you're thrusting it forward, then pulling it backward. Hard to believe that level of sensitivity, perhaps, but when I fastened that GPS to a waist belt, the pacing smoothed dramatically.

Posted on Jan 3, 2011 7:37:45 PM PST
Is there an added fee for using the workout data or the google earth of any garmin forerunner?
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