on June 10, 2010
pros-quick satellite fix, very clear display, waterproof, shows the info you need not what you don't, uses buttons instead of bezel controls, uses USB instead of wireless connection.
cons-fairly expensive, GPS loses some accuracy under heavy tree cover.
This watch is especially good for two kinds of runners: those who run on trails, and can't easily lock in distances (and thus pace); and those who travel, but still want to run outside, rather than on hotel treadmills. In both instances, this watch will give you accurate distance information, as well as pace and heart rate. The other big improvements that I haven't seen mentioned in other reviews are that unlike the 405, it has reverted to button controls, and also to a direct USB cable connection to your computer for uploading run information. Garmin is not advertising these changes, since they are ostensibly steps backward from the 405's bezel controls and wireless connection, but these were the sources of most of the complaints about the 405--especially problems with the bezel once it got wet with sweat or rain. This is no longer an issue.
You have to wonder whether some of the people writing these (one star) reviews actually run--or whether they work for Polar or Timex? The watch gives you distance, time and pace, as well as heart rate information, as you go. For most easy or long runs on trails or the road, this is all you need. On the track, you know the distance, so if you're doing intervals, just use the stopwatch. The only scenario where the lack of 'current pace' could be a problem as far as I can see is in doing tempo runs, if you do do them by time (say 20 minutes easy, 40 minutes tempo, 10 minutes warm down) instead of by distance, as I do them. By time, you could get a situation where your first and last miles of tempo running get mixed in with running at an easy pace, and the pace data would be useless. Still, if you set the autolap function at .25 miles, very little of your run is going to be logged inaccurately (at most the first and last quarter mile in that tempo workout). Similarly, if you happen to be changing pace lot during a run and want immediate feedback, the watch does give you that. So-called current speed on a GPS watch is always somewhat of an estimate anyway, since it is plotting your location between two points, measuring the time it took you, and then doing the math. There's really no such thing as an instantaneous current pace calculation, and if you have your watch set on .25 mile autolap, that's not much more than the distance that would actually be used for a current pace calculation otherwise.
One criticism: although the satellites initially lock onto my watch after an average of 30 seconds and seem to give very accurate distance ad elevation information (the latter on the Garmin Connect website), there is one part of my usual run under heavy tree cover where it seems like the satellites lose me for a tenth of a mile or less, which makes the data for that mile always come out slower than I'm actually running. It makes up the difference on the next mile, which makes that one come out too fast. Both are off by around 15 seconds/mile, and this is a bit annoying. Although I can do the calculation to average the two and see that each time they basically come out even, it seems that Garmin should have come up with an algorithm for the watch's software that would compensate for such discrepancies within the mile where they happen, rather than giving inaccurate information for two consecutive miles.
Bottom line: this watch gives you a lot of useful information, and even more when you download it to the Garmin Connect site. Unlike other Garmin watches, it doesn't give some extra cycling information and the heart rate monitor doesn't work in the pool, so it's really a watch for runners, not triathletes. But for semi-serious to very serious runners, it gives you everything you need, without the bells and whistles--and the headaches--of the 405.