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My 2011 Sports Technology Recommendations

Last year I put together a GPS recommendations guide in August – which has become the staple of my recommendations around products.  Then in November, I put a different guide together around my recommendations for the holiday.

This year, I decided to combine the two.  These are my simple and straight forward recommendations based on a slew of categories.  I get a lot of daily e-mail on which products to choose based on various requirements – and I think I tried to capture the gist of many of those e-mail questions in the below.

As you’ll probably notice – I have links to pick them up on Amazon – and if you use those links, it supports the site.  As you also probably know, I end up buying all the products I review – merely to be able to provide support and answer questions after the fact.  That cost money (sending Amazon.com home baked cookies hasn’t worked yet as a replacement for my Visa card).  Of course, as long as you enjoy what you find here – then your reading is good enough in my book.

The Runner:

Until last year, I had to separate out the ‘Runner’ category into a few categories based primarily on size and usability.  This year however, with the introduction of the FR210 last fall and the Timex Run Trainer this fall – I’ve largely consolidated my recommendation that for 95% of runners, the Garmin FR210 or the Timex Run trainer is the way to go.

Then, we got the Motorola Motoactv a few weeks ago.  And I’m loving it.  There are some initial growing pains – but the team has been releasing firmware updates faster than burritos at Chipotle to address these issues.  And for the majority of runners not needing more than 3 hours of battery life – this device is downright awesome.

So which one to choose?  Well, the FR210 is the smallest of the bunch (size wise), but it also contains the least functionality.  That said, it’s an awesome watch and does the job accurately.  With GPS on, you’ll get 8 hours of active battery life.  A few weeks in standby (time-only) mode.

Meanwhile, Timex came on the scene back in October with a really full featured watch at sub-$200.  It does a lot more than the FR210 as far as customization and general functionality, but it is also bit bigger.  With GPS on, you’ll get 8 hours of active battery life.  And 6 weeks in standby (time-only) mode.

And then we have the Motorola Motoactv.  This is part MP3 player, part running watch.  With the built-in WiFi it’ll automatically upload your runs as soon as you get home.  You’ve got all the customization of a high end Garmin running watch – but with the screen clarify of an iPod Nano. Love it! Just wish the battery life and waterproofing were a bit more robust.

In Depth Review:
Garmin Forerunner 210
In Depth Review:
Timex Run Trainer
In Depth Review:
Motorola Motoactv

The Advanced (Function) Runner:

So what is an advanced function runner?  Well, not necessarily an advanced runner.  But rather, just someone who wants some more advanced functions – such as a lot of highly configurable settings, or things such as course navigation.

The FR610 is indeed the running watch I use day to day.  While I have access to a FR910XT and…well…every other watch on the market – this one just works.  And works well.  For advanced runners, in my mind it’s the perfect watch.  It offers more data field customization than the FR210 (so you can mix and match and data fields you’d like), and its touch screen is very different than the FR410’s touch bezel.  Touch bezel = annoying, touch screen = nice.  The battery with GPS on it’s about 8-9 hours, whereas in standby (time only) mode it’s a few weeks.

If however, you need longer battery life (i.e. an ultra runner) – these have 20 hours a pop, then look at either the FR310XT or the FR910XT.  From a runners standpoint, the key difference is the FR910XT includes walk/run mode, whereas the FR310XT does not.  Both include vibration alerts.  Additionally, the FR310XT and FR910XT include additional navigation functions that the FR610 doesn’t have.

In Depth Review:
Garmin Forerunner 610
In Depth Review:
Garmin Forerunner 310XT
In Depth Review:
Garmin Forerunner 910XT

The Triathlete:

In my opinion, there’s really two key options here to look at: The FR310XT or the FR910XT.  If you’re trying to save some cash, go with the FR310XT.  If you can spend a couple extra bucks – then the FR910XT is the way to go.  Based on nearly 7 weeks of using it now – it’s a freakin’ awesome watch.  The major difference between the two is going to be in the swimming arena.  The FR910XT does indoor lap swimming, whereas the FR310XT just sits there and looks pretty in the pool (basic timer only).  Outdoors, the FR910XT gives you swim metrics in openwater – though I don’t quite find it as accurate as the old swimcap method (within about 10%).

In Depth Review:
Garmin Forerunner 310XT
In Depth Review:
Garmin Forerunner 910XT

So why not the RCX5? Well, honestly, I feel it’s overpriced at this juncture.  Base options put it on price with the FR910XT – but without all the functionality that requires you to purchase additional accessories.  I really do enjoy the watch, but I hate that the GPS pod is not included.

(Note: See the budget section for some additional triathlon watches)

The Cyclist:

If you’re a cyclist, you’ve got two options you should focus your attention on.  And really, deciding between the two all comes down to one thing: Whether or not you want mapping.

And by mapping, I mean car-GPS style maps.  Both units will do breadcrumb style maps – but only the Edge 800 will breakout high resolution maps and on-road routing (meaning it actually understands what a road is, whereas the Edge 500 just follows dots you specified).

But the Edge 500 on the other hand is brilliantly simple to use, works really darn well – and is super lightweight.  If you routinely ride the same routes, then go with the Edge 500.  If however, you’re always looking for new routes and changing things up – then the Edge 800 is more your style.  Personally I was using the Edge 500 day to day…then my wife stole it, so now I’ve got the Edge 800 instead.

In Depth Review:
Garmin Edge 500
In Depth Review:
Garmin Edge 800

Note: I can’t at this point make any recommendations on the new Joule or Joule GPS announced back in June – simply because it’s not out yet and I haven’t had any appreciable hands on time with them.  I do think they may have a solid product – but until I’ve had a chance to use them, I can’t recommend them.  And the old Joule just isn’t competitive pricewise anymore with the new metrics on the Edge 800 (also coming to the Edge 500 shortly).  And why not the Edge 200? Well, at $150 it’s only $50 away from finding the Edge 500 on sale.  And the Edge 500 does so much more.

On a Tight Budget:

If you’re on a budget, then there are two options to check out.  First is the trusty Garmin FR305 – which continues to dominate the running scene, despite being nearly half a decade old.  It has the vast majority of the functionality of the FR310XT – except without the waterproofing or longer battery life (or power meter support).  But, if you just use it while running or cycling – it’s perfect.  Especially at an average of $125.

If you’re a triathlete and really need power meter support or a fully waterproofed watch, then check out the Timex Global Trainer.  It’s not as full featured as the FR310XT or FR910XT, but it does do the trick and is fully waterproofed.  Depending on moon phases and tidal patterns you’ll often see it dip into the $160-$180 range – and occasionally the rare $125.  Plus, with the August 2011 firmware update – the vast majority of previous satellite issues are taken care of.

In Depth Review:
Garmin Forerunner 305
In Depth Review:
Timex Global Trainer

The Swimmer:

There’s two options here – and both of them are very solid.  First up is the FINIS Swimsense watch.  It keeps track of all your laps/paces/distance and does so really well.  They integrate with a number of sites, and the battery life is excellent (days).  It’s very accurate in my experience and it contains features other watches don’t have (such as automated intervals, which automatically pauses the timer when you hit the wall and stop).  Note, the Swimsense only works indoors.

On the other hand, you’ve now got the FR910XT that can do swimming – and it does it really well.  The data fields are incredibly customizable, and the display is downright brilliant.  Based on my experience in the pool – it’s just as accurate as the Swimsense (I’ve been wearing them both at the same time over the past 7 weeks).

So which one wins?  Well, it depends.  The FR910XT is twice as much as the Swimsense.  And in my mind – the one defining difference is really the display.  The FR910XT’s is just incredibly easy to read underwater with a slight twist of the wrist when pushing off the wall.  The Swimsense display you get used to, but it’s not as easy to read.  On the flip side, the Swimsense is considerably smaller on your wrist than the FR910XT.  Finally, for those who are curious – I still have a showdown post coming between the two, and it’s actually mostly written.  It’s just that I’m waiting on some final Garmin Connect pieces to get finished on the swimming side so I can give them a fair fight.

In Depth Review:
FINIS Swimsense
In Depth Review:
Garmin Forerunner 910XT

Why not the Pool-Mate Pro?  Well, I find the user interface painful to use – and the service integration is nowhere near the Swimsense or Garmin FR910XT.  It keeps track of laps well, but since the Swimsense is the same price – I prefer that.

As for swimming MP3 players – check back on Wednesday.  Should have it out then!

Scales and Sleep:

Finally, some categories that don’t require movement!  My two favorite non-active gadgets are here.  First up is Zeo.  This does an awesome job at forcing you to understand what you’re sleep really looks like.  I’ve long since used the bedside Zeo clock for almost a year now (on and off), but the new Zeo Mobile is great if you travel a lot like me.  I’ve taken it on all my trips over the past few weeks.  It’s super easy to use and connects straight to your smart phone.  Both the bedside clock and Zeo Mobile read your brainwaves to be able to analyze your sleep.  More useful to me though, is simply the recording the data for later analysis.  It’s interesting to see how much sleep I actually get – versus what I might think I get.

Then we have scales.  I love the Withings WiFi scale due to its integration with everyone under the sun (Training Peaks, Sport Tracks, etc…).  You step on the scale, and it sends your weight and body fat information instantly via WiFi to their service.  You can use iPhone/Android/Windows 7 Phone apps to view that data, or it’ll automatically end up in one of the other sites out there that you’ve configured.  While we saw this summer that the body fat readings are questionable for some, I still recommend it for weight – since that’s simply what I use it for.

Slightly cheaper than the Withings WiFi scale is the ANT+ enabled LifeSource Uc-324ant scale. This unit only does weight – but it has a display on the front and then wirelessly connects to your Garmin watch to upload data to Garmin connect.  At $109 it’s considerably cheaper than the Tanita BC-1000 or the Tanita HD-351.  Though the BC-1000 does do body fat (again, questionably).  But neither Tanita’s have displays on them – requiring a watch.

In Depth Review (older Zeo):
Zeo
In Depth Review:
Withings WiFi Scale
No In-Depth Review Yet:
Some initial thoughts here

Computerized Trainers (CompuTrainer vs TACX):

Some folks have asked me to put forth some thoughts on whether to get the TACX Trainer or the CompuTrainer.  As you know, I’ve had two CompuTrainer devices I bought – and have had them for years, and have used them multiple times per week during that timeframe.  Back in late October, TACX sent me a loaner TACX Bushido trainer to use for a period of time to evaluate it.

While a full In Depth review is coming very shortly on the TACX Trainer – here are my ‘preview’ thoughts between the two.  The TACX trainer from a software development standpoint is far and away better than the CompuTrainer – there’s little  argument is contains more features and functionality than the CompuTrainer.  Further, the legal entanglement that RacerMate (the company behind CompuTrainer) has found themselves in around their new RacerMate One software suite has essentially killed that product for the foreseeable future.  Though, even with that product – the functionality for the home user is still far further along in the TACX suite.

From hardware standpoint, things get tricky.  The CompuTrainer is a beast – and as such can take a pounding day in and day out.  It’s designed to last a decade+, and it does.  The TACX trainer on the other hand is technologically superior in that it’s fully wireless – not a single wire for power or connectivity.  Its mounting/bracket is also much quicker/faster for day to day use putting the bike on/off, and it’s easy to use anywhere.  I can literally drag it out onto my front lawn and bike right there complete with streaming video and ANT+ data to a laptop.

Finally, there’s the support angle.  The RacerMate group is pretty good with support, I’ve sent my unit in before – and their procedures are well defined and well measured by many.  TACX on the other hand tends to have a bit of a bruised reputation here around support responsiveness and software bug resolution.  From my perspective the TACX support team has been great for the things I’ve needed help with – but I also recognize that I likely receive special treatment – something I’ll be unable to get around.

So which one would I choose?  Well, the TACX is considerably cheaper.  It’s also more functional.  It’s just a case of which one will last 10 years.  As a geek at heart, I’d probably go the route of the TACX at this point if I were to buy a new device.  I don’t believe CompuTrainer as a product can ‘catch-up’ to what the TACX unit can do from a software or hardware functionality standpoint.  I should note that even as someone who lives in the world of the CompuTrainer standalone mode (read: rarely uses the software) – the TACX is still easier for the rider because all my existing ANT+ accessories pair with it – no wires required.

IMG_3349About $1,500 directly from RacerMate Inc
In Depth Review:
CompuTrainer
Initial Thoughts:
TACX VR Trainer

 

Tracking/Phone Sport Accessories:

There’s a few items that don’t really fit well into the categories above.  First up is the Garmin GTU10 tracker.  This little gum-pack sized tracking device will automatically update your location as often as every 30 seconds.  You saw me use it back during Boise 70.3 Half-Ironman to track both myself and my wife.

While the web service needs a bit of work (still can’t yet create a public facing page) – the service overall works great if you’ve got close friends and family wanting to watch where you are.  It’s great for long training rides, or other long endurance races.

Then we’ve got both the Wahoo ANT+ iPhone key as well as the ANT+ iPhone bike case.  These both work awesome.  If you’re looking to get ANT+ data onto your iPhone, the ANT+ key is the way to go.  With over 100 apps support it today, there’s so much cool stuff going on.  Same goes for the bike case, though being a bike case it’s better for cycling than running (though it’ll work just fine running).

And then – if you’re looking for a cell phone with ANT+ data built right in, check out the Sony Ericsson Xperia Active.  This little Android phone is waterproof (swimmable!) and has ANT+ data built in.  While no US carriers to my knowledge have it with contracts, you can buy an unlocked phone (new) and simply put a SIM card in it.  That’s what I do.  I take my iPhone SIM card card out of the iPhone and straight into it (tiny 99 cent adapter required).

As always, if you’ve got specific technical questions on any of the products – the best place for those is the comments section of that given products In Depth Review page, since most are answered there.  If you’re looking for comparison stuff – most of the in-depth reviews also have a comparison guide at the end.

And finally – thanks for reading – and for supporting the blog, I appreciate it!

84 Comments

  1. Great overview Ray!

    I'm surprised to see you are not recommending the FR60/70 anymore for anyone?

    A friend of mine was very interested in it due to its 1y battery life - he wants to wear it as a normal watch too, without recharging all the time.

    Reply
  2. Probably not a lot to be said about the Lifesource Uc-324ant scale as it really just displays weight and passes it via ANT+ to the watch but is there anything else you can add about this device?

    Thanks for a great site.

    Reply
  3. Ray,

    quick note for the Timex Run Trainer price. Sports Authority has run some specials recently with Friends and Family discounts or get 25% off any in store item. You can use this for the Timex Run Trainer, then until the end of year you get a $50 rebate from Timex.

    I did this a few days ago, and the price in store was $189, minus 25% came out to about $148 (NY taxes), then subtract the $50 mail in rebate, so it will end up coming out to about $100 for the Timex Run Trainer all said and done. Cant beat that price anywhere.

    Just search online for Sports Authority coupons or I'm sure there will be some deals post Thanksgiving

    Reply
  4. Hi Geert-

    It's a valid point. In the past I recommended the FR60/70 for folks that wanted a small watch in that form factor. Now, we've got the FR110/210/TRT that while are not quite as cheap - are in the same small form factor.

    That said, maybe I'll go ahead and toss it into the budget category. It is indeed a really awesome little watch - especially for $90.

    Hi Nathan-

    Indeed, I've gotta just write up a post on the Uc-324. As you guessed, it pretty much just weighs you, shows you your weight and then transmits it to the ANT+ scale. The cool part is you don't need the watch if you want to just see your weight. About half the time I just simply step on the scale and see my weight.

    Hi Jared-

    Thanks for the heads up - good deal!

    Reply
  5. Ray,

    what about indoor trainers now that you're reviewing the Tacx ? How does it compare to the Computrainer and possible other trainers you've tested ?

    Keep up the good work !!

    Gert

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Ray do you know if the Motoactv battery issue can be solved with a software update or is it a hardware issue? Seems unthinkable that they would go to market with a watch that runs out of juice in a few hours.

    Reply
  7. DanM

    For the Xperia Active phone, will this work on any phone network? I hate my current sprint bberry and want to make sure before I go out and buy one.

    Reply
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  9. Pedro

    Uau!!
    Thanks for the direct comparisons, as allways great work.

    Reply
  10. What software does the TACX come with out of the box? It is a little confusing what is included and what is inthe PC upgrade kit. I have ant+ sticks a plenty... I just need the software... Can't wait for the full review! I love the wireless concept of the TACX!

    Reply
  11. Tom

    Hi Ray, Are you aware of the TrainerRoad product? Its Mac compatible & you are able to use it with your own equipment.

    Reply
  12. Since you've done so many races...tri's and running, you should do a race recommendation list for people trying to plan out their calendar...

    Reply
  13. Hi Brian-

    Out of the box it includes basically all the software. It just doesn't include extra videos such as the Tour de France style ones where you race just ahead of the riders. Those you purchase as a seperate package. But everything else as far as all the different modes, etc are all included.

    Hi Tom-

    Yup, super familiar with TrainerRoad. Check out this post from back in September with the guys:

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Note that I didn't list them above because those trainers are specific to being able to control wattage and thus control the end to end experiance on a trainer. What trainer road does is instead record and display that value on a screen. Awesome stuff, but they can't apply wattage/force.

    Hi ConArtist-

    Great idea for a future post! Going to add that to the list!

    Thanks all!

    Reply
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  15. What about the best workout/gym watch that also does GPS? Is it the Forerunner 910XT? I've had several watches, FR60, 310, now 610, but not the best for working out at the gym.. Any thought?

    Reply
  16. I just bought the Finis swimsense and I'm very disappointed about the display ... very difficult to read either out of the water.

    Reply
  17. Jason

    Ray,

    I just found your site and love it. Thank you for all the effort you put in to creating such an interesting and entertaining site.

    If the 910xt was not option, would you choose the 310XT or the Timex Global Trainer as they are relatively close in price with the holiday specials going on?

    Happy Holidays to you and yours!

    Reply
  18. Hi Funk-

    For gym watches, I'd probably go with a slimmer watch - such as one of the running ones (i.e. FR210/FR610). Though there is nothing at all wrong with a bigger watch, all have GPS (which you'd set to off), and all can record inside.

    Hi Jason-

    I'd probably choose FR310XT over TGT, as I believe the FR310XT ecosystem as a whole is better (i.e. 3rd party products supporting it), and I feel that it's more of a polished product than the Timex Global Trainer. Given the cost down to $239 ($289-$50 rebate) - it's only about $50 more than the Timex Global Trainer.

    Enjoy!

    Reply
  19. Hi Ray, Thanks so much for your valuable help. I have a question about the FR 610. I run exclusively by heart rate, so when I look down at my watch, that’s the number I want to see. Then I’m interested in distance and time – not much else. I saw from the manual that the display is customizable, but I want to confirm that. Can the FR 610 display be customized in running mode with GPS on so that the heart rate is the in the center as the largest displayed number with distance and time on top/bottom?

    Also, you mention frequently about uploading running data to the Garmin site. Does that cost money? Is there a way to store and analyze that data on my PC (I use a MAC)?

    Thanks in advance.

    David

    Reply
  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  21. Ray, nice preview of the CompuTrainer vs TACX. But what are your thoughts on the Cycleops Powerbeam Pro?

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  22. Ray, Just found this site and love it! I'm holding off getting a trainer (computrainer or other) until I see your full review! Please hurry! Also for your review, if you could include any discussion on integration with Apple OS, that would be cool.

    Thanks,
    Dave M.

    Reply
  23. On the PowerBeam Pro - the unit actually just arrived to the house on Wednesday. It's this weekend's project. :)

    Reply
  24. Ray,

    Love the list as always. I wondered if you'd have a recommendation for a "dumb" ANT+ bike was unit (do they even exist any more)? Ive got my Garmin watches, but having just a basic $40 display on the bike (like a cheapy cateye) that spoke ANT rather than something proprietary would be great. I really don't need the 500's gps (and stealability) in this case.

    Thanks again for a great site!

    Reply
  25. Michael

    Hi Ray,

    I have just come across your site. What a great site, very very useful information.

    I'm looking for a device that would keep track of my calories, movement during my day to day activities, either at the gym or on the soccer field.

    Is there a device that would satisfy my requirements that I'm looking.

    Thank you
    Michael

    Reply
  26. Thanks for your blog and in depth reviews - very professional and helpful.
    Have you ever reviewed any of the Suunto for runners?

    Reply
  27. I haven't done any Suunto reviews to date, though, I do have a Suunto watch sitting around to try.

    One of the reasons is that I'm not a big fan of seperated pod designs for the GPS piece - I find they get lost easily, and while there are usually gains in battery life for the host watch, those are just less relevant with the standby battery life of GPS watches today (6 weeks for example, for the Timex Run Trainer).

    Finally, Suunto has changed directions recently, and won't be investing in the running/triathlon scene - and instead focusing their efforts on hiking/outdoor devices. So, it seems a bit silly to go out and buy a watch from a company that isn't innovating.

    But, that's just my two cents...

    Reply
  28. Just checked out your reviews and I have to say, I'm very glad you've updated your recommendations. After going through a couple of Garmin reviews, I realized that at the end of some of them you state that those devices are your top recommendation - at that time. It's a bit confusing when I have to correlate the date of your review, and then chart out when you say it's "the best" device. I'd day that some of the older reviews deserve maybe an UPDATE tag at the top stating that a possible superior device has been released and to refer people to that review . . otherwise there's a lot of going back and forth. So far your overall summation posts like this help to weed out the overlap. Maybe a post like this every 6 months or year could clear that up without having to do updates? I'm not sure how you'd like to handle it.

    Based on this post, I'm going with the Garmin 210W - the 610 is just more than what I need right now and much more $$.

    As always, thanks so much for your in-depth reviews. I constantly refer people and businesses to your site and have actually proven a couple of dealers wrong in what they say a watch can or can't do because you actually show it functioning here! :)

    Reply
  29. Based on what I have seen Garmin seems to be really good at holding the price of their Tri units high (the now ancient FR310XT hasn't dropped a penny in ages. I am thinking about trading in a old faithful FR305 - and am naturally biased towards the 910XT, but I despair of it every being much cheaper than it is now.

    The RCX5 is cheaper than the FR910 - $405 with the gps or about the same for the bike sensor and the footpod. How much cheaper would it need to be before you would recommend it?

    Reply
  30. Hello!
    Have you heard about the Suunto Ambit?

    link to ultra168.com

    Sounds nice but it's just bla bla if it's not fully tested by someone qualified.

    Reply
    • Joanna replied

      How can you say that it hasn't been tested. I am sure that you have not even read the whole thing. Also not being tested does not mean that all the talk is bla bla. Better show some respect to people who have put all the efforts to make it and write about it.

      Reply
  31. Anonymous

    Hi,

    What running software do you use? Do you prefer online runlogs or offline runlogs? Which program do you prefer? I have a Mac computer and use rubitrack. I also discovered Ascent. Is Polarpersonaltrainer a good program? I use the Garmin 310 XT HRM but am doubting to buy the Polar RCX5. Because of all the test functionallities. I think the Garmin offline software is very poor. Your advice please.

    Tony

    Reply
  32. Anonymous

    Your reviews are so weldone and usefull, thank you for that, you spare me so much time figuring things out!
    Now i' am avid runner but got into biking quite a bit now and mainly do Duathlons from classic to international distance. I didn't have the budget for a 910 or a 310, but went for the forerunner 610 with the speed and cadence sensor. I should recieve it shortly. I guess that's the only thing that was really missing for me out of your reviews. I'm not a triathlet but i'm not just a runner either!
    Thanks again :)

    Reply
  33. Thanks so much for your hard work and testing on all of these products. I love to read your reviews and am hoping to purchase my first training watch this spring. So for those of us a little newer to the running scene do you have a favourite between the Garmin FR210, the Timex runtrainer or the motorola? It seems like you lean towards the Motorola? Would love to hear your personal opinion on which one you would purchase! Thanks so much. (The music function doesn't so much matter to me).

    Reply
  34. Eddie

    Hi Ray,
    I'm thinking of buying a Garmin Edge 800 but more and more stories are popping up about a new Edge 900. Is it worth waiting? and until when? ;-)
    Thanks! Eddie.

    Reply
  35. I haven't heard anything about an Edge 900 spec wise. But, if and when it were to be released, it would likely be annoucend at Eurobike in late August, and available around November/December (assuming it follows the standard cycle for every other Edge device).

    Reply
  36. Anonymous

    Any plans to review the new Timex Marathon?

    Reply
  37. Yup, absolutely...more soon!

    Reply
  38. Stumbling onto your site has been a godsend. I'm looking at ditching my FT80 and going for another multi sport GPS/HRM and was torn between the FR610, 910XT or RCX5 and this summary and the detailed reviews have been awesome help.
    You suggest above that maybe the RCX5 may compare better if the price juncture was better. I see that Amazon has some for less than the 910XT and includes G5 GPS. Would a $370 price point including GPS put it closer or even beyond the 910 or would you still opt for the 910?
    Awesome site, it's now top of the favorites in my Sport folder :)

    Reply
  39. Honestly, at a $20 price differential, I don't see the RCX5 with GPS competitive to the FR910XT - especially in features. The only advantages in that case of the RCX5 would be heart rate while underwater (but no distance/stroke information), smaller unit size (but no integrated GPS), and longer battery life (again, due to lack of GPS). Just my two cents though...

    Reply
  40. Thanks Ray, gotta say the more I read of the 910XT the more that's the way I'm leaning. The underwater HR was an attractive feature of the RCX5 but I've had no end of trouble with my Polar FT80 keeping HR in water so wouldnt miss it.

    Reply
  41. Bekks

    Hi, Ray.

    I buying my first don't think I fit in any of your categories, and like an Anonymous that wrote in January im missing a recommendation for the WATCH that's best for cycling(combined with running).
    I stand between the 610, RXC5 and perhaps 910(drawback is sice), and would like your view on witch is better. The most important for me is HR/time and speed/distance(for cycling only). Since i don't want to use a speed sensor(or should I get one?) I want the GPS-device that is the most accurate(regarding speed).
    As you can see I don't need the most advanced watch, but I don't mind paying extra for cool gadets(barometric altimeter is tempting) since the price difference between the 3 watches doesn't matter.

    If you don't answer me personally I guess many people would like your input on the best running/cycling-watch.

    Cheers, Bekks.

    Reply
  42. Bekks

    Hi, Ray.

    I buying my first GPS-watch and I don't think I fit in any of your categories, and like an Anonymous that wrote in January im missing a recommendation for the WATCH that's best for cycling(combined with running).

    I stand between the 610, RXC5 and perhaps 910(drawback is sice), and would like your view on witch is better. The most important for me is HR/time and speed/distance(for cycling only). Since i don't want to use a speed sensor(or should I get one?) I want the GPS-device that is the most accurate(regarding speed).
    As you can see I don't need the most advanced watch, but I don't mind paying extra for cool gadets(barometric altimeter is tempting) since the price difference between the 3 watches doesn't matter.

    If you don't answer me personally I guess many people would like your input on the best running/cycling-watch.

    Cheers

    Reply
  43. Anonymous

    I am looking at the Timex GT and am wonmdering how good the pace smoothing is as this is one of the key reasons for going for this watch.
    Thanks

    Reply
  44. Anonymous

    Great reviews Ray!

    I've been having trouble deciding on my training racing kit.

    I've been a long time user of the Polar s725x using the foot pod and speed sensors on the bike. I then wanted GPS for the run and got a Forerunner 110 which Ive been happy with, initially just running but now also on the bike. Now that I'm training for IM, it doesn't last my sessions on a single charge.

    The Polar kit is good espcially in race situations with HR for the swim, bike speed being picked up automatically as I take the bike and then the run tends to be a fixed distance so time has been good enough. I never raced with the foot pod, but did find it really accurate when not too hilly or off-road a run route. Put in a sharp (even road) descent and it did get confused.

    I've recently got a rugged GPS android phone (Motorola Defy Mini) that I can both bike and run with (but not race) and I have really challenged myself to ask if I really need HR integrated with GPS i.e. do I need to know the location of my heart rate and concluded that I don't when I have speed and distance. MapMyRide/Run is perfectly good to record the route/elevation etc.

    The 910xt is a fantastic analytical tool but even as a qualified Tri coach and 3-time Team GB competitor myself, I can't see using half of what it offers. I did find the Polar HR recording and analysis really useful when in a Masters swimming group (and you have to wear a tri suit to stop it falling off) or in Open Water under a wet suit.

    I think I'm going to upgrade to the RCX5 (with bike and run speed) because:

    It looks and wears like a watch (unlike the 910xt)
    It lasts the session duration I need
    It records HR during the swim
    The bike and run sensors are good enough
    I don't need to analysis HR & GPS together when the watch includes elevation/climb data
    I can race (GPS unecessary) and train with it (GPS on phone that I carry anyway)

    I don't know if that helps Bekks, but it was your question that prompted me to think about what I really needed and then take the time to write it down.

    Oh yes and the Red RCX looks really cool...

    Ian.
    Ian@lee-emery.com

    Reply
  45. Anonymous

    I am a very new runner (just did my very first 5K yesterday) and I am looking into buying a GPS watch. I have been reading a lot of your great reviews. I want to thank you for all of the great in-dept info. (wow!) But I think I am even more confused now about what to buy than I was when I first started looking.

    In a nutshell, I am a newbie, female runner looking for a GPS watch that will basically just tell me my time, distance and current pace. I used a treadmill all winter so I had all that info right on the teradmill but now that the weather is nice here, I'd like to get this show on the road...literally. Any suggestions?? I appreciate any assistance/advice. Thanks so much!

    Beebs

    Reply
  46. bernard reinosé

    Hello,
    Thank you for your reviews; I have a Polar 625x and want to change to a gps watch. the 910xt or the 610 ? I have read the two reviews for a few days and I can't choose.I am more a runner, but as I am injured I ride more at the moment. I can't find my profile in your recommendations. I am a runner and a cyclist, and I don't swim. How it is to work on the 610 while cycling ? Please help !
    If you have friends at amazon, please ask them for a south-african amazon website.
    Regards

    Reply
  47. Mike

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for the great reviews. I'd like your advice for choosing a new gps watch. I currently have a Garmin forerunner 301 with a non-functioning heart rate feature, a Garmin edge 500 with heart rate and speed/cadence sensor and a cycleops joule 2.0 with heart rate for my powertap. I want to eventually do some triathlons, but currently just plan on using a new watch for running. Right now, the timex global trainer is on amazon for $120. Should I get the TGT, since it's a great deal, or should I get the wrist strap to use the edge 500 for running until I can afford the Garmin forerunner 910xt?

    Thanks for your advice,
    Mike

    Reply
  48. Andrew

    Is there any reason why the prices for the Timex Global Trainer vary so much? Prices I've seen are all over the place and range from $400+ to $119, for what appears to be the same unit. I'm tempted to go for one of these low prices, but I'm skeptical that I'll be getting a refurb, or an open box, or something like that. Is it discontinued now or something?

    Reply
  49. Hi Ray,

    I've been reading your blog for some time now and would like to thank you for all the great reviews by buying some running gear from Amazon.

    Amazon has just opened here in Italy (www.amazon.it) so if you could add your links to it I would be glad to use them!

    Thanks again!
    Marcello

    Reply
  50. Rob

    Hi DC,

    You already know there is a new kid on the block with a great GPS sport watch? It's the BB-runner and been sold in Europe as of the beginning of June. Maybe something for a new review or once you're updating this one.

    Regards,

    Rob

    Reply
  51. Hey Ray!!!

    I'm a 17 year old runner and looking for a good (the best) gps watch. I looked all over the forums and read your product reviews front and back. I also saw alot of other fans asking the same question. "Garmin 210 or Motoactv?" Honestly i can't choose! its like apples or oranges :/ I'm hoping since you had both and used both for almost a year you could help me and some others decide :) Thank you for your awesome reviews and support!!

    Reply
  52. Hi Marcello-

    Thanks! The Amazon.it links are on the sidebar, just below the big Amazon logo. Simple click there, and then you can search for anything. At that point, the items are already tagged as from here. Enjoy! And thanks for the support!

    Hi Rob-

    Thanks for the heads up, I'll look into it!

    Hi Andrew-

    That's a tough one, but if you run with music a lot, then I'd go Motoactv. If not, then I'd go FR210. The FR210 is an awesome watch, but the Motoactv is more versatile in day to day use. Hope this helps!

    Reply
  53. Manabu

    Thanks for all of your reviews!! They are really helpful. You gave the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS a great review and I was just curious, why didn't you recommend it? I'm looking at either buying the Nike+ or the Timex Run Trainer right now.

    Reply
  54. Thanks again Ray! it did help! :) btw have you gotten around testing the accuracy of the motoactv? im deciding on getting the motactv if its on par with the garmins.

    THANKS AGAIN :D

    Reply
  55. Your reviews are awesome and I appreciate all of the thought and detail you include. Like many others on the market, I am having trouble figuring out the perfect watch for me. I have narrowed it down to the Timex Run Trainer or the 610. I can get a good deal on both ($175 and $300 respectively; both with HRM). I can't really see much difference based on your reviews, so I am leaning towards the TRT. However, you mention that you use the 610 and $300 is a great deal. If you were buying today, would you pick the 610 and why?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  56. Anonymous

    Thnaks for such a great site. Your reviews are awesome. I was wondering if you have had the chance to play with the New Balance GPS watches. the N9 and the GPS runner specifically. I found the Timex marathon or the New Balance is all I need at avery good price (under $90). Just wondering which would be better.

    thanks.
    tribilin80

    Reply
  57. Jules

    Thanks so much for a fantastic site.

    I've read and disected your 910XT and Suunto Ambit reviews, as I'm trying to replace a Polar RS800CX with an integrated GPS unit. Main uses are running and cycling (hilly) though not combined.

    Can I ask if the Suunto would make it into any of your recommendations categories? I sense the 910 is a real favorite, and that concerns about Suunto's R&D direction away from pure sports make it a less viable option. Would you have a particular view on which of these two units would serve the run/ride single unit user best?

    Thanks again - truly awesome site.

    Reply
  58. Sam

    Thanks for your reviews! I echo Manabu's post above. When I went to the store to get the Garmin 210 today they were out of it and tried to get me to buy the Nike+ watch. Could you explain your preference for one or the other? The running store guy told me the Nike watch they had did not come with a foot pod and I assume it doesn't come with the heart rate monitor strap either. The lack of those items and the tendency of the Nike watch to break make me lean towards the 210. Also since I have small wrists and run on the treadmill quite a bit the smaller watch and footpod seem important. What do you think?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  59. Anonymous

    HI, I'm a new runner and I was wondering if you already posted something on the mobile side instead of the watches. I have a HTC cell phone and I just bought a Zephyr heart monitor so I can keep my heart on track. I've been looking at endomondo mobile and on line app. Would you have any suggestions for me? Thank you!

    Reply
  60. Max

    hello Ray!

    I need to make a choice between FR 610 and 910XT. The question is: is here any feature that 610 has and 910 does not? except for touch screen and probably watch mode on 610. I'm going to use it mainly for long distance running. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  61. I'm not aware of any. The FR910XT surpasses or equals it in every category except watch-mode of course.

    Reply
  62. Hi Ray,

    Thank you for posting such good and detailed reviews!

    I, like most of everyone else am looking to buy a gps watch... I have been looking at a timex marathon gps watch ($99), garmin 310xt, 405 or the 610. I add the 405 because I found it at a pawn shop for $100. I would consider other watches that you have recommended but not really sure about their full functions.

    I was looking for a watch that could/would measure my distance, pace and overall time. I dont think I would need much more... Which of those watches would you recommend or is there another better watch that you have in your mind.

    Thank you very much
    Bradley

    Reply
  63. The FR405 does that, and so does the Timex Global Trainer at about $125-$130. Well, all of the items do that you listed. I'm not a huge fan of the FR405 simply because of the touch bezel. But all of those listed do measure distance/pace/overall time - so if downloading isn't an issue, any would work. For downloading, then you'd want a Garmin, and/or the Timex Global Trainer (or one of the other brands).

    Reply
  64. Anonymous

    hey DC ill be waiting for an in depth review of garmin fenix.IA.....

    Reply
  65. Indeed, hopefully it'll be coming soon.

    Reply
  66. I just bought a Timex Run Trainer but I found once the watch lost its GPS signal for a long time (>5mins), it will switch off the GPS function throughout the workout. Is there any way I can resume its GPS recording for continuous recording?

    Reply
  67. Hi DC, hope you enjoy your time in France. Like most I am looking at a GPS watch purchase and I am leaning towards the Garmin 910XT. My question is have they updated the firmware to correct the battery issues and have they added a watch feature?

    Reply
  68. I haven't seen any battery issues with it. But no addition of a watch feature. You can turn off the GPS though and get about 50ish hours and just turn on 'time of day', but no date or day of week. So not quite perfect yet.

    Reply
  69. Anonymous

    Hi,
    Thanks for such a great website. I am new to running and have only recently ever heard of running watches. I mainly want to see my improvement over time and see how I am going. I have seen the Garmin 610 but am not too keen on a touch screen as I more want to see the data on the web rather than fiddle with the watch while running.
    What do you reccomend??
    thanks

    Reply
  70. Ray - I enjoy your posts. Does Bluetooth 4.0 and the iPhone 4s change the recommendations for the cyclist?

    On the one hand, we have the Edge 500 (ANT+ for heart/speed and cadence). For about the same price, one could get a waterproof bike mount and extra battery (Wahoo or Biologic - any recommendations between the 2?), the Wahoo blue tooth speed/cadence sensor and a Wahoo or Polar bluetooth heart strap(any recommendations?).

    Do both ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0 work comparably? If so, as I see it the tradeoff is between real-time mapping (iPhone) versus barometric-based altitude (Edge 500).

    Aside from that (and weight but I carry my phone anyway), are there other issues that argue for one approach versus the other?

    Thanks -- pedalbarron

    Reply
  71. Hi Ray,

    I am a big fan of the site. I know you have lots going on this year, with the move and all, but do you have any sense of when your 2012 recommendations are coming out? Thanks for all of the hard work, your site is a great resources as well as a great read.

    Reply
  72. FR410 gets no respect.. The touch-bezel isn't that bad! And at the current price point, the feature set is great for the intermediate runner/biker or even a casual triathlete. I was on the brink of spending $150-200 more for the 610 and I'm very glad I didn't.

    Reply
  73. Anonymous

    Just got a rcx5 and I don't think it is overpriced. In Germany you get it on Amazon at 279€ including hr-strap and GPS pod while the Garmin 910XT including hr-strap is 392€. No reason to dismiss the rcx5 just for pricing reasons.

    Christian

    Reply
  74. I keep going back and forth on which device to get.

    I'm a casual runner at this point.. but was previously more serious and I want to get back to that... so I want it to motivate and grow with me.

    I'd like to have GPS and be able to compare past performances (virtual partner?), monitor various pace options (current pace, overall pace, etc).

    I routinely run a few different paths through my neighborhood, so I'd like something that can handle that easily for comparison purposes.

    Although I'm definitely a techie, I don't think I will need the uber ability to slice and dice data... I think mostly, I want something that will be able to show me I'm progressing.

    Reply
  75. And adding to that.. I don't really care what it looks like, though I don't really want to go above $200.

    I will take accuracy and function over form and bells/whistles.

    Reply
  76. Thrown here. I was about to purchase the 310xt, but recently noted on my 305 that you have to be moving in order to see caloric burn. I'm looking for a GPS watch that I can use for running, biking and also weight lifting. I obviously don't need to have GPS capabilities for weightlifting, but I enjoy the caloric burn info. Is there a watch out there for me? I'm not opposed to the pod, but it's not my first choice. Any options? You're help is greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  77. Just wondering if there are many gos watches that give you a position read out real time? I do a lot of hiking, running and biking. I want something that does pace, altitude, and location. Can you help?

    Btw amazing reviews! I will definetly support you through the links. Keep up the great job.

    Reply
  78. Anonymous

    Good morning, i'm looking to buy a watch with heartrate monitor and GPS. my average runs are between 10k to 30k. I basically need it as I have been told to train in heartrate bands and also to confirm how far im going.
    I would love to know your thoughts on what would be suitable.
    regards
    Jonathan

    Reply
  79. Chrissie

    After your reviews, I purchased a Garmin 910xt. I really wanted to use your amazon site (and spend $399) but the Factory Outlet Store has them on sale for $339 right now (w/o the HRM) so a really great price if anyone is looking. Thank you for not only a great review, but a place where I can go and figure out how to use the thing once it comes in!

    Reply
  80. Tridoctr

    I have an itty-bitty bony wrist (15cm circumstance just belwo wrist bones - which is where I wear my watch). All of the GPS with HR monitor watches are very big, bulky, heavy and painful to my wrist or could make my hand go to sleep if I cinch strap too tight. Do you have any recommendations to help solve this issue? (I've tried on a lot of the latest watches).

    I did run with a friend's watch today - it's a GRAMIN and she has a small wrist too. There was a soft strap included that she switched out that allowed the body of the watch to soft-of float over her wrist. I can't find any of this information on Garmin's website.

    Thanks so much - triathlete that needs to send her coach taining info - thanks.

    P.S. It's hard to watch this Lance inerview with Oprah.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hmm, what about the FR210? It's a bit smaller, and should fit a bit better.

      As for the soft strap, it's offered on the FR405/FR410, FR910XT, and I think the FR310XT has one too now.

      Reply
  81. Marge Clower

    I do Endurance...long-distance horse racing. I am befuddled as to what GPS I need. The one I have is not working out too well. I have to wear a sensor on my arm which is not desirable and it is hard to read while I am racing...along with the fact if I do not put the heart rate monitor on the horse it keeps beeping at me to "check wearlink" and I have to press OK before it will continue.

    The one I purchased is a Polar Equine RS300X G1. In that $300 package there is the RS300X Watch receiver, G1 GPS sensor, and T54H transmitter which attaches to the girth and saddle.

    Can you please tell me which GPS would work best for me in your opinion? The main items I need while riding are total miles, MPH, total time, and a-nice-to-have is ability to read current heart rate.

    Thanks,
    Marge Clower

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Marge-

      Unfortunately I don't know much about HR monitoring for horses. If you're including the HR monitoring piece, you'll be largely limited to the Polar systems. However, if you seperate out the GPS side from the HR side then you could pickup just about any GPS sysem. I'd look at the FR310XT as a very robust platform.

      Now, one thing you may be able to do is to take the HR transmitter pod and attach it to the Polar strap (which many people do via this post: link to dcrainmaker.com). This would allow you to utilize the specialized HR strap for the horse with any ANT+ GPS device. Again, I'm not 100% certain how the T54H works however - however it looks like it would be compatible.

      Reply

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