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My 2013 Sports Gadgets Recommendations

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(Update: My Summer 2014 Recommendations are now available!  Go check that out instead!)

Each year around this time I put together my recommendations on sports gadgets.  Some consider this a bit of a holiday pick-list, and others just use it the remainder of the winter for determining their sports gadget purchases.  I know many of you have also used my ‘2013 Gear I Use’ list (as well as The Girl’s list) too.

Like previous years, I try and divide up the categories to be as specific as possible.  Ultimately however, there’s always going to be some overlap in features and functionality between the categories.  Additionally, it’s possible you may have a certain edge case that crosses categories – in most cases I address the ‘who is this good for’ aspect towards the end of the review, or in the comments of each review.  So those are great places to get additional clarification answers.

Finally, if you use either the Amazon or Clever Training links, you help support the site.  I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased. You can read more about the benefits of this partnership here. You can pickup most devices below through Clever Training using the links in the tables. By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.

With that, let’s dive into it!

Triathlon GPS Watches:

Aug8StJohnsTriathlonNoText

This category is for what the industry calls ‘multisport’ watches, but, that typically just translates to triathlon watches.  They track your time/distance/etc… within the three sports – swim/bike/run.  From a non-triathlon multisport aspect, these watches are often used by everyone from wind surfers to roller bladers, mostly because of their versatility and flexibility in configuration and display customization.

Overall Best in Class: Garmin FR910XT

This should come as no surprise, but for the triathlete looking for the single best sport-focused device, the FR910XT still remains on top.  It covers both in-pool and outdoor swimming, as well as cycling (with all the advanced power meter metrics) and running.  While Suunto has done great work with the Ambit 2/2s, and they come in a close second place there, the lack of proper 3rd party compatibility as well as the lack of structured workout functionality is what pulls it back a bit (and lack of advanced power meter metrics).  Now, note the FR910XT is getting a bit long in the tooth, and historical timelines put it on the board to likely be replaced next season – so do keep that in mind when it comes to whether you need a watch now, or a watch next season.

Budget Options: Garmin FR310XT and Magellan Switch/Switch Up

Let me be clear: From a price to functionality ratio, there’s no better deal on the market today than the FR310XT.  It hovers around $170US, and has the vast majority of the FR910XT functionality.  The core areas that both it and the Magellan Switch lack though are indoor swim tracking, as well as stroke metrics for outdoor swimming.  The FR310XT has a variant of openwater swim mode to be used on the wrist, while the Switch does not.  If you’re just getting into triathlon and aren’t quite sure what your plans are – I’d really recommend the FR310XT over the higher end watches.

‘2013 Recommendations: Triathlon Watches’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10JKW)Review
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 20th, 2014 @ 5:38 am
Garmin Forerunner 310XT$170LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 910XT$399.00LinkLinkLink
Magellan Switch & Switch Up$129-149LinkN/ALink

Running GPS Watches:

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Road Running – Best in Class: Garmin FR620

It used to be that I used the Garmin FR610 for all my running adventures, but since the FR620 came out earlier this fall, I’ve been using it instead – and it works great.  Garmin listened when it came to waterproofing, connectivity via Bluetooth to your phone, and customization.  It’s pretty much my perfect running watch (though, I still wish it had some basic cycling and navigation features).  There’s simply nothing else in the same ballpark anymore from a functionality standpoint by other companies.

Trail/Ultra Running – Best in Class: Suunto Ambit 2

This category covers units with barometric altimeters as well as longer battery life.  Both of the options I note below contain a ‘long battery life’ mode, which reduces the number of GPS points recorded (through a variety of means).

This is a tough category, in part because the options are so similar here – and at the same time, there are so few options.  Really, you’ve got two and a half options: The Suunto Ambit 2 or the Garmin Fenix/Tactix.  You could toss in the Ambit 1 in there, but I wouldn’t buy it at this point for a variety of reasons (no further updates, over-priced at anything more than ~$250US, and so on).

So why the Ambit 2 over the Fenix?  Well, for running-focused features neither watch has as much capability as the FR620 (or the FR910XT), but they counter-balance that with a barometric altimeter and more hiking/navigational features.  Meanwhile, the Ambit 2 specifically has more additional sport functionality than the Fenix does (it can swim indoor/outdoor and full bike sensor support as well).  Whereas, if I was recommending a unit more for hiking and navigation (as opposed to running specifically), I’d focus more on the Garmin Fenix (or Tactix).

Running – Moderate/Mid-Range: Garmin FR220

Up until about two months ago when people asked this question my answer was more diverse.  I said that the Timex Run Trainer 2.0, the Polar RC3, or the Garmin FR210 were all in the same camp.  And, depending on the person’s needs, the TomTom Runner was also a very viable option as well.

But, the reality is that time moves on, and so do new product choices.  The previous four units were all quite good, but ultimately the FR220 is better.  Primarily because it has more functionality in it than any of those (by a wide margin), and also has connectivity for live tracking and phone uploads (none of those do).  Size-wise it’s pretty much the lightest and smallest of the bunch as well – an important requirement, especially for smaller-wrist women.  If I weren’t for the FR620, I’d easily run with just the FR220 (and did, much of this fall).

Running – Budget Range: Garmin FR10

Last but definitely not least is the Garmin FR10.  If you’re looking for a budget watch, I’d recommend starting here.  It’s got all the basics (how far, how fast, etc…), but lacks connectivity to heart rate straps or a treadmill mode.  Now, there are other options about $30 cheaper in the $90-$100 range, but I find that those options lack the polish of the FR10.  And, put another way, out of the 500+ comments on the FR10 review, I think there’s virtually no complaints about the unit (unheard of, btw).  The same can’t be said about the other units (which, while decent, are almost all the exact same physical unit just with different brandings: Soleus, Timex Marathon GPS, New Balance, etc…).

‘2013 Recommendations: Running GPS Watches’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programReview
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 20th, 2014 @ 5:38 am
Garmin Forerunner 620$399LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 220$249LinkLinkLink
Suunto Ambit2$319LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 10$129LinkLinkLink

Cycling GPS Units:

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Best Bang for the Buck: Garmin Edge 500, CycleOps Joule GPS, O-Synce Navi2Coach

As I’ve noted previously, anytime someone in the cycling/sports technology industry starts a conversation about bike computers, it always starts with “it’s like the Edge 500”.  Well, there’s reason for that.  Given the Edge 500’s new price at $200, it’s an even better deal than before.  If you don’t care about maps and turn by turn navigation, you won’t find a better unit out there. Sure, there’s the Edge 510 with Bluetooth tracking and uploads, but it won’t get you natively to Strava (requires 3rd party sites), and it’s a lot bulkier than the sleek Edge 500.

Meanwhile, CycleOps has the Joule GPS, which…’is sorta like the Edge 500’, except from CycleOps.  Importantly though, it does more around historical power metrics (like showing your 5min power max, weekly and monthly maxes, etc…).  Many folks like it just as much as the Edge 500.

Finally, the O-Synce Navi2Coach is very solid, and I’d have no problems using it day to day either.  The company continues to innovate with new functionality based on user requests via firmware updates.  About my only complaint there is the mount.

Cycling with navigation: Edge 800 or Edge 810

If you want turn by turn navigation (like a car GPS), there’s really only two units in town: The Edge 800 or Edge 810.  Now, technically there’s also the lower cost Edge Touring as well.  I’ve played with it a bit, but haven’t done a full review on it yet.  So I may update this section down the road.  And, before anyone nitpicks, yes, I’ve tried other options like the Mio navigation units (the size of a t-bone steak on your handlebars), and others, many having a clunky interface.

At the moment though, the Edge 800 isn’t all that much more expensive than the Edge Touring.  And the Edge 800 has far more functionality than the Edge Touring does, except in the area of round-trip routing (whereby you tell the unit you want a 50-mile ride and it goes and creates a random route).  The Edge 810 lacks that as well.  Meanwhile, the Touring lacks 80%-90% of what either the 800 or 810 has.

At any rate, why the Edge 800 over the 810?  Well, much like my 500 over the 510 above, I just don’t see the 810 as worth the extra cash depending on the price (basically just adding Bluetooth connectivity and a new user interface).  Despite the fact that the Edge 800 is generally beyond the period we’d expect new feature enhancements, it actually got Garmin VIRB connectivity last week, as well as even further extended Garmin Vector support.  Again though, don’t expect anything new feature-wise there.  Just focus on it being the good deal it is.

Budget GPS Option: Garmin Edge 200

If you’re looking for a budget option that records your route, your first and best bet is actually your phone with a free app like Strava, MapMyRide, Wahoo Fitness, or similar.  If however you want more of a small handlebar unit, then the Edge 200 is where it’s at.  While I’ve been playing with some other options, ultimately, at $129 it comes down to the Edge 200 being the cleanest interface and the easiest to upload to Garmin Connect (or any other site you’d like, they all support it).

‘2013 Recommendations: Cycling GPS Units’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10JKW)Review
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 20th, 2014 @ 5:38 am
O-Synce Navi2Coach$249LinkLinkLink
Garmin Edge 810$399LinkLinkLink
Garmin Edge 200$129LinkLinkLink
Garmin Edge 500$199LinkLinkLink
Garmin Edge 800$320LinkLinkLink
CycleOps Joule GPS$220LinkLinkLink

Cycling Power Meters:

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Choosing a power meter is a tough decision matrix.  Anyone who answers the question “Which power meter should I choose?” and instantly names a specific brand name/model upfront , is full of crap.  The correct answer is “Tell me more about your usage plans?”.

There are so many variables that go into that decision beyond just price.  For example: How many bikes?  What type of bike? What type of pedals? Do you want to move it around a lot? Race wheels or not? What do you want to measure?  And on and on.

The good news is that I cover these in-depth in my 2013 Power Meter Buyers Guide that I wrote just over two months ago.  No worries, nothing has changed since then, nor will it change anytime in the near future.

Now, I will note that the best bang for the buck continues to be the PowerTap hubs.  Previous to August, it was really the Stages Power Meter at $699.  But with the PowerTap price reductions down to $799, that’s sorta the best of both worlds there (for all the reasons I note in my buyers guide).  But again, there’s places where the PowerTap wheel isn’t the best option – so you’ll want to understand those in the guide.

Cycling Trainers (Resistance Controlled):

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It’s only been a few weeks since I published my 2013 Trainers Guide, so again like power meters, I’d go over and and check out that post for all my recommendations (a massive list on a slew of categories).  That said, here’s my recommendations on resistance controlled trainers (those that automatically control resistance of the trainer).  Again, way more options in the 2013 Trainers Guide.

Best in class options: Wahoo KICKR and PowerBeam Pro

When it comes to the best overall trainer, the Wahoo KICKR currently takes that title – primarily due to the ability to broadcast and receive commands on both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart.  No other single trainer does that today, the rest require picking one or the other.  Plus, the open API for the Wahoo KICKR means that companies are able to quickly build apps for it.

At the same, the with the CycleOps making the API available for the PowerBeam Pro to anyone who asks (both Bluetooth and ANT+), it means that the open-platform aspect is becoming less of a differentiator between the two.  And with the price a fair bit lower for the PowerBeam, it makes it much more viable than it would have been a year ago.  Thus, I’d encourage you to read my trainer guide post above to see which makes the most sense.

Best Budget Resistance Controlled option: BKOOL Trainer

This is a bit of a newer category this year, primarily due to BKOOL’s lower price.  The BKOOL trainer is available these days just about everywhere globally, and their upcoming firmware update for full-on ANT+ support really opens the platform to using any software suite you want.  Plus, they’re available everywhere these days.  Previously the closest thing I’d recommend was the Tacx Bushido trainer, but based on the bugginess of the software as of late I’ve shied away from that lately.

‘2013 Trainer Recommendations List’ compatiblePrice for trainerAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10JKW)Review
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 20th, 2014 @ 5:38 am
BKOOL Trainer€500/$650LinkLinkLink
CycleOps PowerBeam Pro$999LinkLinkLink
Wahoo Fitness KICKR$1,099.00N/AN/ALink
Kurt Road Machine (with inRide)$199 + $340LinkLinkLink

Swimming:

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MP3 Players: FINIS Neptune + See MP3 Player post

There’s a lot of options in this category. Some are good options by reputable companies.  Some…are crap knockoffs.  I’d really encourage you to read my Swimming MP3 Player Shootout post to get all the details on many of the units out there.

The one new unit to the market though that I’ve reviewed since is the FINIS Neptune MP3 player.  I did this back this past summer and really liked the unit.  Any many of you as readers who have picked it up have said the same.  Thus, like I concluded in my post, if I were looking at an MP3 player these days, I’d be sticking with the Neptune.

Again though, read both the Neptune review and the MP3 Player Shootout post.

Watches: Garmin Swim

There are a handful of options in this category, but I don’t think there’s any real discussion that the best isn’t the Garmin Swim.  While the FINIS Swimsense was a good option at one point, it’s sorta beyond it’s prime.  You’ve also got the Poolmate Pro and HR, which, are a bit more clunky than the Garmin Swim.  The Poolmate HR does do heart rate, but for the life of me I can’t get that strap to stay put during flip turns on my chest (and no, I’m not going to wear a shirt over it at the pool).

Thus, the Garmin Swim.  The unit measures your laps and distance, and can be configured for drill mode as well.  Afterwards it uploads the data to Garmin Connect, and a variety of 3rd party sites support it as well.  Note that it won’t measure outdoor swims, just indoor – as it depends on an internal accelerometer to figure out each time you hit the wall of the pool.

‘2013 Recommendations: Swimming’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10JKW)Review
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 20th, 2014 @ 5:38 am
Garmin Swim$150.00LinkLinkLink

Sensors and Mounts:

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If you’re getting any of the units listed above, you may be in the market for accessories.  Obviously, some bundles include accessories, while others do not.  Here’s what I recommend based on having entire buckets worth of accessories to test with.

ANT+ Heart Rate: Garmin HRM-Run & Garmin HRM3 (post-July 2013)

When it comes to measuring heart rate and transmitting it via ANT+, the best option today on the market is the Garmin HRM-Run (if you’ve got the Garmin FR620), or the Garmin HRM3 if you have any other ANT+ device on the planet.  The HRM-Run addressed a ton of issues with dropouts and spikes, and the data by and large looks great for not only me but everyone else that’s been using it.

Meanwhile, the Garmin HRM3 got the same software changes for all units produced after July 2013.  So software-wise it’s identical to the HRM-Run except it doesn’t have the Running Dynamics pieces for the FR620.

ANT+ Speed/Cadence: Bontrager Quick Release ANT+ Sensor

I love this sensor.  It quickly snaps on and off bikes with an industrial rubber band, and I’ve never had a problem with it.  Pure awesome.

If however, you’re looking for a cheaper option, just simply pickup the Garmin GSC-10 – which usually hovers around $30-$35.

ANT+ Footpods: The Timex, Suunto, and Garmin mini-footpods (whatever is cheapest that day)

As long as you pickup any of those three above they all work the exact same way and all function with any ANT+ device.  In other words, just pickup whatever is cheapest that day.  Ensure that you aren’t picking up the giganto footpods of yesterday year.

If/when in doubt, check out my post on ‘All you ever wanted to know about the ANT+ footpod’.

Bluetooth Smart HR Strap: 4iiii’s Viiiiva Bluetooth Smart & ANT+ Heart Rate Strap

If you’re looking for a Bluetooth Smart HR strap, I’d definitely go this route.  Not only is it generally only a few dollars more than generic Bluetooth Smart HR straps, but it also is firmware upgradeable and – even more importantly, it bridges between ANT+ devices and Bluetooth Smart on your phone.  No other HR strap does that.

Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Sensor: Wahoo Blue SC

The Wahoo Blue SC was the first Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Sensor, and remains the best option out there for getting speed/cadence data into your smart phone or other Bluetooth Smart enabled device (like the TomTom Multisport watch).  I’ve tried a few others – like the Panobike Bluetooth Smart one, but wasn’t impressed with either the unit’s attachment (zip ties), nor the company’s support team when I received a dead on arrival unit after purchase.

Bluetooth Smart Footpod: Adidas miCoach Bluetooth Smart Footpod

This was just released in the last few weeks, but it’s pretty solid.  I picked one up recently to test with the Adidas MiCoach SmartRun GPS, and it works well there.  But, more importantly, it also works with the Wahoo Fitness app and any other app that supports the Bluetooth Smart footpod specification.  This way you can finally get pace and distance data indoors on a treadmill into your phone apps without the need for additional adapters.  I’ll likely be writing up a longer post on it in the future, but this should help folks who need it today.

Mounts – Garmin quarter-turn Edge (and Forerunner 310XT/910XT) cycling mount: Barfly TT and Road Mounts

I love my Barfly, specifically for triathlon, the TT/Aero Barfly.  I reviewed it back here, but it just works perfectly.  While K-Edge does make some great (and really darn sturdy) mounts for Garmin units, I simply don’t think your Garmin unit needs that much mount durability.

Action Cam Mounts: K-Edge Action Cam Mounts

Now, while I prefer the Barfly for my Garmin Edge, I really prefer the K-Edge mounts for my action cams.  In doing all my testing lately I’ve come to love the sturdyness of the K-Edge mounts.  It’s hard to explain to someone how incredibly rock-solid these mounts are until you attach a camera to them and don’t even get a sliver of a millimeter of sway on them (unlike a stock mount).  Incredible.  I just bought a bunch more to use with all sorts of cameras.  You can literally hang a full blown DSLR on most of things.

‘2013 Recommendations: Sensors and Mounts’ compatibleStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10JKW)More Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 20th, 2014 @ 5:38 am
K-Edge Action Cam MountsVariesLinkLinkLink
4iiii's Viiiiva ANT+ to Bluetooth Smart HR Strap & Bridge$79.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (with Running Dynamics) - HRM-Run$99.00LinkLinkLink
Wahoo Blue SC - Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Sensor$60LinkLinkLink
Timex ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)$51.00LinkLinkLink
Suunto ANT/ANT+ Running Footpod (good for both ANT types)$70.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3$50.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)$45.00LinkLinkLink
Barfly Tate Labs Timetrial/Triathlon Bike Mount (for all Edge units, 310XT/910XT with quick release kit)$30.00LinkLinkLink
Barfly Tate Labs Road/Mountain Bike Handlebar Mount (for all Edge units, 310XT/910XT with quick release kit)$25LinkLinkLink

Weight Scales (Connected):

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Best Options: FitBit Aria or Withings WS-30 & WS-50

I’ve been including little snippets of these scales in my recent FitBit Zip and Withings Pulse reviews.  Overall, either scale is a solid option and really just depends on if you’re aligned to either of those platforms already (FitBit or Withings).  If not, poke at the slight differences with 3rd party partners, and see if either of those partnerships matters.  Failing that…flip a coin.

Seriously – they’re near identical scales (exempting the more advanced WS-50 with pulse and air monitoring).  Any only relevant differences are partnerships or platforms.  And, again, they’re both great scales.

Now, what about ANT+ scales?  At this point I wouldn’t recommend them.  Garmin (being the only company that ever enabled uploads to devices from them), has pretty much killed off support for them in new devices going forward.  Thus buying one of these scales at this point would be kinda silly.  Plus, with the exception of the low-end ones, I’ve felt for a while now that the high-end units are a wee bit overpriced.  And lastly, as for the Wahoo Balance scale – the lack of data upload partnerships there compared to FitBit and Withings make it a bit of a non-starter.

‘2013 Recommendations: Weight Scales’ compatibleStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10JKW)More Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 20th, 2014 @ 5:38 am
Withings WS-50/Smart Body Analyzer WiFi Weight Scale$149LinkLinkLink
Withings WS-30 WiFi Weight Scale$99LinkLinkLink
FitBit Aria WiFi Weight Scale$129LinkLinkLink

Activity Trackers:

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To say I’ve tried a lot of activity trackers would be an understatement.  I have all of them.  Really, pretty much every one released to the market from every FitBit variant to both Nike variants to everything in between – including plenty I’ve never bothered to post on here.  Here’s where I stand on things.

Activity Tracker – Athlete: Polar Loop

My Polar Loop review is forthcoming in the days ahead, but in the meantime, I think it’s that the combination of enabling heart rate monitoring for calorie during exercise burn via Bluetooth Smart heart rate straps is brilliant. And, for the time being, unique to Polar.  Everyone else just takes a complete and total guess when it comes to accounting for calories in activity.  Plus, beyond that it still makes for a great and normal activity tracker just like the Nike Fuelband (except with more).

Activity Tracker – Data Geek: Basis B1

There is no activity tracker on this planet that tracks more things than the Basis B1.  Especially once you account for all the new metrics they added a few weeks ago.  It measures everything from skin temperature to sleep to optical heart rate monitoring.  And, then displays it in one of the most well laid out displays out there today.  The only downside is that the optical sensor used in the Basis doesn’t work terribly well during exercise, resulting in spikes/drops.  But…the other 23 hours of the day, it’s there.

Activity Tracker – Mid-Range: Withings Pulse

I really like the Withings Pulse, especially at the price that it sits at ($100).  It does all the usual activity monitoring things (steps/distance/calories/time), but, also does resting heart rate via a little optical heart rate sensor.  Thus in my mind, if you’re going to get a unit that’s clip-on, this one really makes the most sense from a price vs functionality standpoint.

Activity Tracker – Budget: FitBit Zip

Finally, when it comes to the budget selection – the $59 FitBit Zip is awesome.  It gets some 6-8 months of battery life and then uploads via Bluetooth Smart in the background to your phone.  I wear it near-constantly and just don’t have to think about it.  It just works…perfectly.

‘2013 Recommendations: Activity Trackers’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10JKW)Review
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 20th, 2014 @ 5:38 am
Polar Loop$109LinkLinkLink
Withings Pulse$99LinkLinkLink
Fitbit Zip$59LinkLinkLink
Basis B1 Watch$199LinkN/ALink

Action Cameras:

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I’m working through a ton of action camera review posts at the moment, all likely to hit in the coming weeks as I finalize them.  This includes everything from the Garmin VIRB’s to the Sony AS-30V to JVC and Pyle’s most recent entrants, and a few more as well.  In the meantime, here’s the top contenders based on taking more action cameras through airport security checkpoints on recent trips, than the airport security checkpoints have themselves.

Action Cams – General: GoPro Hero3 (White)

If you’re looking at the best overall option, I’d say go with the GoPro Hero today, specifically the entry level white model.  No doubt the higher end models are great, but realistically they’re un-necessary for most users unless you’re planning to get really into high speed videography and/or more advanced post-production use.  In the event you’re looking at the need for more flexibility in post-production, then jump up to the GoPro Hero3+ Black.

The significant numbers of 3rd party add-ons on the mount side for the GoPro make it fairly appealing, plus the wide availability of spare parts in most sport shops around the world should you need it.

Action Cams – Cyclists or those wanting GPS/ANT+ data: Garmin VIRB Elite

I’m really liking this action cam.  I’ve been using it constantly for all sorts of things over the past few weeks and am really impressed by it in scenarios where I want to show what I was doing from a GPS map standpoint and/or ANT+ data sensors (for example, my cadence, heart rate, etc…).  The VIRB Edit software is also surprisingly good, and Garmin has been publishing software updates nearly every week with new functionality for it.  Yes, the camera is slightly more oblong than the GoPro, but it’s also waterproof out of the box, and the record button is easier to use when mounted in strange places.  Plus, the ANT+ remote control option via your Garmin Edge unit is really damn cool (to start/stop recording of video directly from your Edge).

All that said, I wouldn’t generally recommend spending the extra money for the VIRB unless you’re getting the VIRB Elite, or, if you plan to merge data later on between the VIRB (Elite or Regular) and your Garmin Edge to produce map + sensor videos.

‘2013 Recommendations: Action Cams’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10JKW)Review
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 20th, 2014 @ 5:38 am
Garmin VIRB (Elite)$299LinkLinkLink
GoPro Hero3 White$199LinkN/AN/A

That’s all folks!  But don’t forget the comparison tool!

Ok, lots of recommendations.  If there’s a category I’ve missed (entirely plausible) – just drop a note in the comments and I’ll try and come up with a recommendation and add it above.

More importantly though, you can mix and match just about everything I’ve talked about above, with in-depth comparison tables over at the product comparison calculator, which today supports: Action Cameras, Watches/Bike Computers, Power Meters, Activity Monitors, and Trainers.

Select product use/budget for a comparison from the drop down menus:

Select product type:
Select product use:
Select price range:

Note: While many running watches have a basic bike mode, only running units that are multi-sport focused are also included in the bike-only results (in addition to bike-specific units). Hiking units are those that include a Barometric Altimeter, Magnetic Compass and navigational functions.

Or select products for comparison by clicking the product boxes below:

Adidas Smart Run GPS
Bia GPS
Bryton Cardio 60 Multisport Watch
CycleOps Joule 2.0 (Original)
CycleOps Joule GPS
FINIS Swimsense
Fitbit Surge
Garmin Edge 1000
Garmin Edge 200
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 510
Garmin Edge 705
Garmin Edge 800
Garmin Edge 810
Garmin Edge Touring (Normal)
Garmin Edge Touring (Plus)
Garmin Fenix
Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SE
Garmin Forerunner 10
Garmin Forerunner 110
Garmin Forerunner 15
Garmin Forerunner 210
Garmin Forerunner 220
Garmin Forerunner 305
Garmin Forerunner 310XT
Garmin Forerunner 405
Garmin Forerunner 410
Garmin Forerunner 60/70
Garmin Forerunner 610
Garmin Forerunner 620
Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Garmin FR920XT
Garmin Swim
Garmin Tactix
Leikr GPS
Magellan Echo
Magellan Switch & Switch Up
Mio Alpha Optical HR Monitor
Motorola Motoactv
Nike+ GPS Sportwatch
O-Synce Navi2Coach
Polar M400
Polar RC3
Polar RCX3
Polar RCX5
Polar V650
Polar V800
Soleus 1.0 GPS
Soleus 2.0 GPS
Suunto Ambit
Suunto Ambit2
Suunto Ambit2 R
Suunto Ambit2 S
Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS
Timex Global Trainer
Timex Marathon GPS
Timex One GPS+
Timex Run Trainer GPS 1.0
Timex Run Trainer GPS 2.0
Timex Run x20 GPS
Timex Run x50
TomTom Multisport
TomTom Multisport Cardio
TomTom Runner
TomTom Runner Cardio

Finally I’ll be looping back tomorrow with some Black Friday deals as well for a small number of these items (plus, other goodness).

As always, thanks for reading – and supporting the site!

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187 Comments

  1. John

    I saw the Adidas watch and got all excited expecting some comments on that review. lol #stillwaitingjustincase

  2. Guillaume

    Technically, the Joule is (now?) branded by PowerTap (of course, same company in the end, but someone looking for the Joule won't find it on the CycleOps website).

  3. rabbit

    Great job!
    I am waiting for your garmin virb/elite review Like to know, whether your findings correspond with mine.

    I come from germany and my english ist not so good but your reviews are the best- don`t get such good reports in german(y)!

    best regards
    rabbit

  4. Ben

    Great article that I'll make sure to forward to my friends that are looking for gear!

    Have you had any issues with pairing your VIRB Elite with different cadence sensors? Mine won't pair with my GSC-10 and Garmin support has replied saying it's a known issue that they're working, but I'm just curious if you've experienced it as well.

    Are you planning on testing the waterproof-ness of the VIRB? I've been mountain biking with mine and even though I know it's decently protected I'm still wary of water crossings while having it mounted. I know they say it's waterproof in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes, but I'm confident enough to go out and test that.

    • Rainmaker replied

      I haven't tested the cadence again on this past week's firmware. Last time was two weeks ago. I believe the issues cropped up in the last week.

      As for waterproofing, yup. I went swimming with it. In salt water. Three times. :) Still seems happy.

      Oh, and left another outdoors in the rain for 5 days.

    • Ben replied

      That's great to hear Ray! Thanks for doing the testing so I don't have to risk it myself :) Just to be clear, that was without the dive case, correct?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, without dive case.

      You can see a pic from it underwater in my Israel post a week ago. Fwiw, it won't focus underwater well w/o the dive case. Not that it would be an issue on a mountain bike unless things went really wrong...

  5. Baxtton

    Really nice review. I found great gift ideas for me to me.
    Thanks

  6. Brent

    One thing that would be of great assistance but perhaps a lot of work is a software logging recommendation (free or paid).
    I use golden cheetah for cycling and although i don't require the same detail for running i find all the free logging sites are very basic doing no more for me than putting it in a spreadsheet. For people thinking of going the paid way like me an updated guide / recommendation would be great.

  7. rc46

    I see that the CycleOps Powerbeam Pro is now on sale at Clever Training for $799. I wonder if that is the old version with the private Ant+ or the new one?

    • Rainmaker replied

      It's the private ANT+ variant, but does broadcast power with ANT+ devices (i.e. your Edge unit). CycleOps has not yet released the one based on the ANT+ Trainer Profile, as said profile hasn't yet been formally released.

  8. Victor

    It would be great to see a review on PerfPro and TrainerRoad. Still can't decided. I also know that Golden Cheetah does something similar but it would be good to get a comment on those two.

    Thanks

    • Rainmaker replied

      I think GC still needs another version to be in the same heat as PerfPro and TrainerRoad.

      I do talk about which product may be the best option within this post: link to dcrainmaker.com Note that pretty much everything there applies regardless of which trainer you 'apply' it to.

  9. Steve

    I am surprised you are still recomending GoPro over the VIRB - maybe from a budget point of view if you opt for the GoPro white edition, but as a long time user of GoPro cameras I am now a covert to the VIRB. (1) VIRB Ease of use - slide to record and slide to stop, simples (no fiddling with those GoPro buttons trying to work out if it is recording or not. (2) VIRB Battery Life - 2.5+ hours, ok the VIRB is bigger and heavier but with the GoPro 3 you are lucky to get an hour which is pretty poor. (3) VIRB Waterproof without a separate case - so no lens Fogging killed so many of my GoPro recordings in cold water. (4) VIRB mounts use teeth so no slipping, plus there is a GoPro compatible mount in the box so you can re-use all the existing GoPro mounts out there. (5) VIRB Elite GPS / ANT+ Video Overlay is Awesome! ... So for me it is the expensive VIRB Elite until we see what GoPro come back with in version 4!

    • Rainmaker replied

      Right now it's mostly a budget focused recommendations, along with the slightly awkward sizing on the Virb. I completely agree on all your points however.

      Where I see divergence though is around non-bike mounted applications. For example, helmet/head mounting, where the Virb's more obtuse size is a bit more awkward visually.

      I like the mount teeth, however, I very much dislike the inability to use a screwdriver to get the mount tighter (like you go can with a GoPro). With the GoPro if you were trying to fit something in a small space you could always use the screwdriver to get in there and tigthen it up. Whereas with the Virb I have to use my big clunky hands.

    • Mike P replied

      Besides the potentially ;-) 'awkward visually' part of the VIRB head mount - any experiences or recommendations on Head Strap Mount vs. Shoulder Harness Mount (while running etc.)?

      Thanks for the great work, always a joy to read and treasure trove!

    • Rainmaker replied

      I'm going to get some running with the shoulder and head strap likely tomorrow sometime. Still a little bit sore from that whole marathon thing on Sunday.

    • Mike P replied

      Great, thanks!

      And well done on the race, hope you're happy with your 7.30 avg considering esp. stressful schedule leading to it (I know, when is it not ;-)

    • Peter replied

      And what about Contour? I am using CountourHD 1080p for 2 yeras and I like it. I bought this Helmet Camera for $135.95. Battery life is also around 2,5 hours and Contour has lot of mounts. I am using Headband, Helmet and Car mount.

    • Rainmaker replied

      They (Contour) went out of business back in August.

  10. mandohack

    Hi, Ray. Appreciate all the work you put into this, so slackers like me get the right gear. The o-synce computer is great. The mount and the "updated" mount are no good. I couldn't keep the thing attached to the bike. I would recommend against it for that reason and that reason only. Until they fix the mount with a complete redesign, this thing will not stay attached to a road bike. If they do that, I'm all in ... again ... for the third time.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, as noted above, the mount is the only area that I dislike. I've never had it dislodge from the bike, but I just find it clunky. That said, I can only hope continued pressure on them will address it.

  11. Struan Lownie

    If you get the Garmin 910 (accepting it will likely be replaced soon) is there any reason to have the 620 as well? Do you expect the replacement to have all the features of the 620?

    • Rainmaker replied

      No reason. I would expect whatever replaces the 910XT to have the same new connectivity features of the 620 + the old features of the FR910XT.

    • Struan Lownie replied

      Great that's what I expected, will I think continue to tolerate my RCX5 until the new 9XX apears and then I'll upgrade.

      Thanks for the great reviews and advice.

  12. Paulo

    I think your reviews are the best worldwide. Congratulations on your work.
    I would like to ask your opinion between Garmin Forerunner 110/210 vs TomTom runner. I'm a biker that is starting to run to build up. I'm using Endomondo to run, but I need a screen to look at and understand what I'm doing. Wich one will suit better (tigth budget)?
    Thanks.

  13. Ray anything on the horizon that could displace the Garmin 910xt from top spot in the Triathlon GPS Watches.

    Thanks

    • Rainmaker replied

      Outside of any potential Garmin successor, I don't foresee anyone else doing that. Polar would be the only one, as they are overdue right now for a new triathlon watch. My hope would be that they don't rush it to market, but take the time to get it right.

  14. Vincent

    Hi Ray, which one to choose FR610 and FR220 if they are about same price
    Thanks

    • Rainmaker replied

      It depends, in general though, I'd go with the FR220. Here's why you would want to purchase the FR610 instead:

      1) You want some of the basic navigational features of the FR610
      2) You want the cycling-specific mode (remember, you can still change the display to 'Speed' on the FR220), or you want ANT+ speed/cadence sensor support on the FR610
      3) You want to display 4 customizable data fields instead of three, per page.
      4) You want Virtual Partner (the FR220 has pace alerts, which is like a floor/ceiling instead)
      5) You want weight scale support

      Those are the main reasons. Personally, I'll take the quicker satellite reception and upload of workouts through the phone, as well firmware updates that way. Also remember that the FR220 has significantly more features than it's older sibling, the FR210 (for example, advanced workout support). So it's really more of a FR620 'Lite' than it is a FR210 'Pro'...if that makes sense.

      Just my two cents...

    • Claire replied

      Just discovered that you have already answered this for someone else here - ignore me question at the bottom, no idea how to delete! thanks!!

  15. ekutter

    With all the problems I have had over the years with Garmin products, mostly around buggy firmware, I keep waiting for something to dethrone them. Garmin is a company I hate to love. But nobody seems able to be able to really one up them. Interesting how they are still at the top across almost all the categories you list. I keep swearing I won't get another, but my 620 is on its way.

    • Rainmaker replied

      It's really truly difficult to get a product out as complex as some of these devices. And it's more than just the device, it's also the platform as well. It takes years of work, and really takes owning the entire process near end to end. There's really only a few companies that have these resources (Polar, Suunto, Garmin), even Timex isn't really in that category since they OEM almost all the watches from GlobalSat.

      You've got to have a huge staff of not just smart technical people, but smart sports people. They have to understand the 'why' behind a given function or feature, and have to think one step ahead. I think Suunto is really the closest at this point, but ultimately they've gotta rev their Ambit yet again, and they've really got to kick it up on the Movescount side. The apps they have is the right direction, but without connectivity to the phone or WiFi, it takes away the potential for consumers to quickly add apps to the device.

  16. Dash

    A lot of phone apps are making serious inroads to ANYTHING that watches can offer. I'm surprised that none of these make the list. A much cheaper solution too!

    Some iPhone apps are bloated, and some are getting cleaner and more efficient. FitFriend is the closest thing that I've found that can really give runners what they want, including splits.

    Anyway this list is great, one that I'll bookmark as a reference for sure. But I still think that iPhone apps are replacing the need for most of the above, and deserve a spot on a sports gadgets list

  17. Conor D

    Assuming that you will move onto the perfect all-round activity tracker whenever it gets released, are you personally going to use one/multiple in the meantime? If so, which?

    I run/cycle occasionally with either a Garmin 110 and HRM or sometimes just GPS via Strava on android. I'm considering getting a Basis to track daily life/sleep. However, I've a feeling that I'm being an optimistic / unrealistic early adopter of a not-quite-there product. I'm really looking for a future basis device that can replace the Garmin and HRM, with a slim fitbit style band which will be comfortable to wear 365.24.7.

    Aside:- I see the WSJ reports that the rumoured google smartwatch will address the battery life issue hurdle. That might help with my form factor bugbear.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Activity tracker-wise, I don't know. I can't remember the last time I wasn't testing one. :)

      For me though, I really like the transparency aspect of the FitBit Zip. Tiny, out of the way, and just works for me.

  18. Greg

    I'll put up with a certain amount of bugginess from complicated products, but what is beginning to irritate me about Garmin is the long-term unreliability of the hardware. My first Forerunner 305 became unusable after only two years, as did my second--and now my 310xt, (still under warranty, thank goodness), can no longer acquire satellite signal and will have to go back to the manufacturer.

    Are the competitors' products any better in this regard?

  19. Rex

    Ray, with your understanding of the lifecycle and potential new release of a garmin 910XT replacement next season, what time of year do those types of releases happen?

  20. Dion

    Hey Ray
    I just got a BKOOL and I'm very happy about it (after a short session). The only complaint I got is that it isn't compatible with Apple. I'm using windows, but I had hoped that I could've used a tablet to control the trainer.
    Now my question: You write that the upcomming firmwareupdate for the BKOOL trainer will open up the platform. By that do you then imply that you will be able to use Wahoo Fitness App or trainerroad together with the BKOOL trainer?

    As always. Thank you for great reading and thorough reviews

    Dion

  21. Nemo

    I'm a little confused on the new PowerBeam Pro+ options as it relates to the Joule. Your prior review showed the trainer shipping with the Joule 3.0, but it seems now you either buy it with or without the Joule GPS. If you have an old Joule (say the 2.0) do you need to purchase the trainer with the Joule GPS? What do you gain or lose by not having the Joule GPS?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Basically it comes down to the point of control. With the Joule you don't need a computer to control it. So if you go sans-Joule, then you'll need a computer/tablet (Android or iPad) to control the trainer.

      There are also some differences when it comes structured workouts and the Joule supporting them better than the tablet and desktop apps - though I think that's almost been fully addressed (haven't dug into the apps since earlier this fall).

    • Nemo replied

      Thanks! That's very helpful.

  22. Arnd

    I am considering buying the Ambit 2s white. The problem is, it's advertised as a womens watch, which I am not. I am male and not a watch at all. But the only difference to the other ambits seems to be the length of the wristband. I googled a lot but couldn´t find measurements for it. Could someone who owns the model help me out with that?

  23. spudfin

    An FR220 is on the way from Clever Training.....complete with your reader discount. Thanks for the review. Can't wait to strap this baby on. Happy Holidays.

  24. jolaca

    Hi, thanks for your thorough article and your whole website, It's really great!. I'm interested in the HRM3 strap but I'm concerned about that 'post July 2013' warning you give. Is there any way of knowing wich HRM3 we are buying??

    • Rainmaker replied

      No, unfortunately. SKU-wise they're the same. Visibility wise the newer ones have a bit more of gold tint to the outside of them.

      I have confirmed however with Clever Training that all straps they've received and have on stock from Garmin are well after July.

    • Mathieu replied

      Once you have the strap, is there a simple way to verify that the strap is a post July 2013 one?

  25. jolaca

    Thanks again for your quick answer and great info!! I'll buy it from your links.

  26. Carlton

    With the PowerBeam Pro @ $719 after coupon on CleverTraining, I'm finding it hard to justify the $1099 price of the Whaoo KICKR. I'm finding it hard to justify a $379 price difference between the two.

    (Also, it looks like the KICKR is no longer offered by CleverTraining. What gives?)

  27. Markus

    Hi Rainmaker.

    Thanks for your great reviews and a great site!

    I was going to buy the tom tom multisport with HRM but then I saw the thanksgiving deals and I realized that I can get the garmin 610 for about the same price. I'm really struggling on deciding which one to get. The garmin product is a proven product and the 610 has tons of features. On the other hand, i fel like the tom tom watch is a bit more modern in the design and to some extent the features as well (running against a pacer/yourself feature seems nicer on tom tom?)? It also feels like tom tom is constantly improving the watch and adding feature after feature. I also run in both snow and rain, does the garmin 610 handle that? Based on your reviews, it seems like it? I can't remember if it was the 210 you said failed miserable when you swam with it?

    The one feature that I really like with the 610 is the navigational feature. I do run quite a bit on new trails and cities so it would be nice to not having to bring the phone and still be comfortable that I find my way back. How effective is this feature though (it seems extremely basic)?

    So now, to avoid this post to be too long. Would you have bought the 610 or multisport in my situation? And what's your thoughts on my questions above?

    Oh, I'm considering adding some swimming to my training as well and that's why I'm getting the multisport rather the runner version. This may or may not happen though...

    Thanks for your help, and again, a great site!

    Best regards,

    Markus

    • morey000 replied

      Markus,
      the 610 is fine in the rain and snow. no problem there.

      but what navigational feature are you referring to? When the 610 came out, they deleted the basic course following functions that were in the prior 310xt, 405 and 410 watches. I believe that the 610 nav is limited to directing you towards a set waypoint or returning to start. But, it just gives you direction and distance and doesn't follow a course/route. Or has that function been added in more recent firmware upgrades??? If so, I'll get a 610 too!

    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct, but back to start and setting a waypoint are both features not in the FR620.

  28. Dear Ray,

    I am wondering whether to buy the Garmin 910XT this year or to wait for a potential successor. You have already mentioned that you expect a successor to include the same connectivity features as the FR620. Two questions:
    1) Do you think that the 910XT successor would also include the Running Dynamics metrics of the FR620?
    2) Is availability of a successor likely in spring or fall 2014?

    Thanks and best regards,

    Frank

    • Rainmaker replied

      1) I would expect it to.
      2) I would not expect a fall release again like last time. They've noted that didn't work out for a variety of reasons. I would expect a spring or early summer release.

  29. Luke

    Ray,
    As always, amazing.
    I have a garmin question I hope you can help me with.
    I am a runner who is getting into triathlons, and I have an FR610 that I like, but the common issues bother me (band falling off, "slow" satellite reception, poor charging). I am THIS close to pulling the trigger and getting the 620, but the lack of cycling support is keeping me away. I'd also like swimming support, but that I can take/leave.
    The way I see it, I have a couple of options.
    1) Keep the 610 and wait for the 910 replacement to come out. Pro: will have running dynamics of the 620 plus swimming. Con: unclear timeframe for the 910 replacement, spendy.
    2) Get the 620 the edge something (500>800>200 most likely) and +/- garmin swim. Pro: gets me the good running watch and a decent cycling computer. Con: do I really need two/three different pieces of electronics?
    3) Get the 620, +/- the swim, and bike with some iPhone app and ANT+ attachment for my phone. Pro: probably the least expensive. Con: if Garmin ever gets its act together and puts cycling support (I just want speed/cadence, is that too much to ask) on the 620 I've purchased the ANT+ adapter for my phone for no reason.

    I'm hoping I can get you thoughts on the matter. I'm a decent runner (3:34 marathon) hoping to transition to running (half/full marathons) with triathlons on the side to change the monotony. I want the best combination of data support with the amount of headaches, so of course I turn to you!
    Thanks!

    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Luke-

      Ultimately, it really sounds like you want more of the triathlete watch than the FR620 as it stands today. Given that, and given historical timelines, I'd probably go with a cheaper option today (FR610 or honestly the FR310XT on sale for $159), and then wait until next season to pickup a more holistic device.

      Enjoy!

  30. morey000

    Trail/Ultrarunning. Yeah- the Ambit2 is on my list. Question on the navigation. With my aging 405, I can upload a course into it, and it will guide me with an arrow. It's not a well developed nav, and it has some issues (like if your course snakes and crosses, it will point to the nearest waypoint, not always along your route). Similar issues as the 310xt nav.

    So- does the Ambit2 follow uploadable courses much better? Your review indicates a limit of 100 waypoints. Not sure how to live within that limit for a 54 mile trail ultra. Or when I create a 'course' with hundreds of locations defining it it's not the same as specific 'waypoints'??

    2nd part. The Ambit2S fits my 6" wrist reasonably well. The larger '2' just doesn't. Will the new 5sec GPS update really last the spec'ed 12hrs? I'll need probably exactly that long, if not 14hrs for the Ultra. (can leave my 405 in a drop bag I guess, to finish off the race)

    • Morey000 replied

      never mind. found my answers
      Firstly: the navigation can be up to 100 waypoints (POIs), or up to 10 routes of up to 1000 points. So, 1000 points should be plenty for a long trail.

      And yes, the course/route navigation is much better developed than my ole' 405.

      And- it will be a rare day that I'll need more than 12 hours on the 2S in 5sec mode. if so, I'll use a Duracell Instant USB Charger. 1150mAhr, 3.2oz.

  31. Bryan

    Ray,

    My wife and I are getting into running and she has asked for a GPS watch for Christmas. I just wanted your take on the best bang for my buck. It sounds like the Garmin FR220 would be the best bet. Is that what you would suggest as a good starter model for the both of us?

    Thanks in advance for your time.

    Bryan

    • Rainmaker replied

      Best bang for buck is definitely the FR220. But, if budget is a consideration and HR isn't needed, then check out the FR10 for half the price.

  32. TonyH

    In all honesty, with all the GPS accuracy problems I am reading about in this forum and even more in the official Garmin Forerunner 620 forum, I find it unacceptable and misleading that Ray (who I really appreciate) chooses the Forerunner 620 as the best running watch available. I find this watch, with its current gps accuracy problems, a complete rip off!

    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Tony-

      Posting the same (copied/pasted) comment three times on multiple posts doesn't really make it come true. Neither does 3-5 people out of perhaps 10,000+ people having an issue (or not sure if they have an issue), make it come true. If that were the case then every other technology device on the planet would be a complete rip off.

      This is even more so the case since you noted earlier this morning you don't even have said watch.

      Cheers,
      Me

  33. TonyH

    We all know you are sponsored by Garmin...

  34. Scott

    What's the availability of apps that are PowerBeam compatible looking like these days?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Off the top of my head:

      Trainer Road, KinoMap, and Virtual Trainer (desktop or tablet variant).

      But I know I'm missing some, just running to a flight...

  35. Eli

    does the new fenix/tactix functionality change your view of them?
    link to www8.garmin.com

    • Rainmaker replied

      I think it does. Pondering a bit... it's a massive change.

    • Eli replied

      add a new section to the end of the fenix/tactix review? (make it easier to find the new part)

      Seems like the first bullet point brings the functionality from the 620 where it uses the accelerometer to give the data the footpod gave.

      Smart notifications. So the watch tell the user about notifications like the way the Pebble watch works? (incoming calls, text messages, etc so there isn't any need to wear a pebble with the sport watch) I'm guessing yes as it sounds like its the same marketing term they use for the S4 (the golf watch based on the same hardware as the 620) Will this stay iPhone only or do they plan to add Android support? Will it be added to the 620 or the 910xt replacement?

      Adding intervals and workouts? Does this mean it gets all the same workout functionality the 220/620 has?

    • Morey000 replied

      Hah! i would have to read about the upgrades, moments after I purchased an Ambit2S (from Clever Training- I figured it was about time I supported Ray after all the time I've spent reading his reviews). Granted, it still doesn't do the triathlon stuff (but I've got an Edge 500 and a Swimovate- so I'm not desperate). I was really looking for an ultra/trail watch. But the new Fenix features do make it interesting. What cool toys. ;)

    • Michael replied

      I too am very interested in how your Dec 6th post about Garmins Fenix/Tactix upgrades affects your 2013 best picks. I mostly run, once in a while bike, and am intrigued by the hiking and navigational futures in the Fenix/Tactix. I am trying to make a decision on what to buy. My struggle is between Garmins 220 (because of cost), 620, and Tactix. Thank you for all of your wonderful reviews as these have helped tremendously.

      Michael

  36. Steve

    Hey Ray,

    Great stuff, as always. Are you planning on a blog/recommendations post about indoor training software? It seems like there are many choices out there, i.e. Trainer Road, Cycleops Virtual trainer, kinomap, Strava segments, ect. I know that this is difficult to do, because the overall goal and content of all is very different. Would love to know your thoughts on the best ones to purchase and use.

    Steve

  37. Pau Poquet

    Hello, love your website. I am about to buy my first sports gps watch. So far I have worked out with an armband and the iPhone + runkeeper or runtastic depending on the activity.

    I want to spend about 200 € and I reduced my selection to three units:
    Motorola Motoactv, Garmin 220 or tom tom multi-sport.

    I'll probably buy them with an HRM.
    As you say in the article the 220 seems like a no brainer, a great choice for a runner like me. Plenty of data, slim and with good battery life. It has one big disadvantage though. It is virtually unusable for biking or swimming whatsoever. And this bothers me.

    Motoactv is old, but it has the mp3 player built-in (which I think is awesome), not to mention it is based on Android and is somewhat 'hackable'. The geek inside me wants this one. I am worried with the battery life but it seems as if the cycling is well resolved with this one, right?

    Finally the multisport tomtom, it is not great, no mp3 player but it is somehow compatible with light swimming and biking. And it is a fine piece.

    I think the mp3 player should be integrated on more sportwatches.

    Any other suggestion? I wouldn't mind paying a bit more. Thank you very much

    • Rainmaker replied

      I really wouldn't go with the Motoactv at this point. Yes, it's 'hackable', but honestly, it's not what you want for a running watch long term given the lack of anything new coming that way.

      I should have up the Adidas GPS Multisport watch Review in the next 24-48 hours, so that may be one to consider. It's still a bit raw, but I think it shows promise once they sort out some issues.

  38. Womp

    Hi

    any chance of a review of some stationary bikes ?

    I'm just about to plump for a Cycleops 420 Powertap and hope it has open ANT+ and works like the power beam with Trainer road compatibility (it does not have Bluetooth smart though which is a shame)

    I do wish Wahoo had a stationary bike that would be awesome !

    • Rainmaker replied

      No, no plans at present. Unfortunately the market is rather limited (for consumer consumption, ignoring gym purchases), and honestly I can't afford to have any more large things in our tiny apartment. My wife will kill me.

  39. CMFC

    Hi,

    I want to buy a GPS watch for my boyfriend who does trail running and road cycling. It was no need to swimming functionality.
    What would you recommend?

    Thanks

  40. Stephen-H

    If you had a choice of the Garmin FR610 with HRM for about $200 or the new FR620 with the HRM as well at its current price, which one would you go for? I like the look of the 620, its better waterproofing and few extra features. Just trying to decide if it is worth the extra before making the plunge.

    • Rainmaker replied

      It really comes down to whether or not you'll use the phone connected features and WiFi connectivity, along with running dynamics. Check out the FR620 review, and in the comments section folks have asked similar questions and I've gone into a lot of detail there. Cheers!

  41. I really appreciate all the work and time you put into your quality reviews. I follow your website and facebook page. I am a moderate outdoor runner that only averages about 15- 20 miles a week. I don't race (with the exception of mudd races), cycle or swim however I do train in martial arts.
    I have been flip flopping with my decision on a gps/hrm for the past 5 weeks. I havent made my decision between the three (Ambit 2s, FR220, FR620) because I feel that Suunto makes a better quality watch and has the apps options for things like walking the dog. However the FR620 has running dynamics, instant upload (even though I dont own an iphone) and a color TOUCH screen.

    I love how you incorporate the comparison pictures. Especially the ones with the watches on "the girl". It makes a difference to see the watch on her wrist since we are very close in size and to have her opinion. All of the watch look pretty small on your wrist.

    Thank you so much for your in depth unbiased opinions. If you happen to have something extra to share with me to help me make my decision, I would LOVE IT!

    Thank
    Andrea

    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Andrea-

      Thanks for the comments, I appreciate it!

      I'd agree in general that it's a tough decision. I'd ignore the color screen on the 620, as it doesn't provide much in almost all modes. The touch screen and instant uploads can be advantages. The Apps are useful on the Ambit, especially if you already see one that you have a specific use-case for (like your dog walking example).

      Ultimately, I think you'll be happy with either - so sorry I can't be too much more helpful! Enjoy!

  42. Claire

    Hey, apologies if this has already been answered somewhere on the site...but all the above considered, now that the fr610 is around the same price as the new fr220....(in the uk here anyway) should I still be going with the 220 or is the older 610 better for the bucks?

    Thanks :)

  43. Israel

    Wow!!! so much information! thank you very much. What do you think of Misfit Shine? Can it compete with the fitbits and whithings?

  44. David

    Thanks for all the great info and research on the products currently out there, much appreciated!

    I am looking to buy a GPS watch to track surfing and view my paddling distance as well as speed on waves. From your review it seems the Ambit 2 would be the best option for this rather unique activity, do you agree? Also It would be a bonus to incorporate an HRM with it. My chest will mostly out of the water being on top of the board but have you heard of issues with a wetsuit interfering with the signal?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Ambit 2 would definitely e a good choice. The HRM will transmit just fine above water, so no problems there. And zero problems with the wetsuit either (many athletes doing various surf activities use them today without issue in transmission).

  45. Rhysy

    Ray, I love you reviews!! You are so thorough and you give extremely useful details about the products you review!! Thank you!! I have 1 gripe about the Garmin FR10. It is a great budget watch, but mine lasted 11 months. I am going to replace it, but I'm a little disappointed with the life of the watch.

  46. Alan

    I have been running for many years using various stopwatches and hrm's, never used a gps watch but thinking of buying one now.
    My question is that I am thinking of trying a tri but certainly will keep on running, my training round Dover in Kent is mainly hilly with one run going for around 6 miles there and back with probably a 500-600 rise from start to end on the out run. What would be the best Gps watch if any that would take into account this kind of run?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, any of them will work great there. Some include barometric altimeters, which means they'll measure and display more accurate elevation on the unit, while others include GPS based altimeters, which means that you won't get as accurate elevation during the run, but it corrects it afterwards upon upload.

  47. stefan

    Hi Ray happy new year and congratulations for your website, certainly a mine of valuable information !

    I would like to get some benefit of an activity tracker (mostly for the fun/motivation it could procure) but right now I'm a little bit reluctant to buy yet another device.

    So my question is: do you know any good Android App that would do an acceptable job?

    Greetings from Switzerland!

    • Rainmaker replied

      I haven't explored the activity tracker apps on the Android side unfortunately. I know the Samsung's S Health does it, but I haven't played with it too much.

  48. Lauri

    Hi Ray,
    I've been reading your reviews a couple of days now and learned a lot! I will continue to do so but I'll try a little short cut and ask you for your opinion. I like making futsal (indoor soccer) statistics I would like extend those to include HR and distance data. What kind of set would you recommend? First I would like to track my HR and distance and any other interesting statistic you can come up with from a one and a half hour workout indoors and later if it would be possible somehow to put a footpod to every players foot and record the data to one device and avoiding to buy ten FR220s it would be great. Also comparing the data without spending a whole day would be nice too. Also I could use the one for my outdoor runnig!

    But anyway, many thanks for the great site! It is very inspiring!

    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Lauri-

      Footpod stats are tricky. The challenge is that GPS data doesn't tend to give you high enough resolution within a football field to really be certain of things. Ultimately, going with straight footpod data will be more accurate (if you primarily care just about distance/pace).

      For that, you could save considerable money and just pickup the FR60 or FR70, which doesn't contain GPS.

      Also, check out the Adidas MiCoach system for soccer, which is designed for soccer and even fits into the shoe.

  49. Israel

    Hi! I already asked, but there was no answer. Do you have any comment on the Misfit Shine? How does it compare to Fitbit Force or Withings Pulse?

    Thanks!

    • Rainmaker replied

      I haven't used Misfit Shine yet, though I do have one. You should see a FitBit Force review in the coming days. The Withings Pulse I've published the review on already.

  50. Debra

    Thank you for the review but I have to disagree with you on the Garmin 910XT. All I do is swim - pool and open water - right now 15 miles weekly and all continuous swims. I am on my fourth 910XT since buying my first in July 2013. Issues include: freezing between pool and open water modes, completely dead battery, and no or sporatic vibration alert. I am fighting for a refund. I only care about total yards, total time, GPS tracking and vibration alert every 880yds and for $399. I should be able to have that. This is NOT a good watch if you swim. Also, there are many complaints on Garmin Forums about the firmware updates that keep messing up the watch functions.

  51. Bob

    Hi. I’m a device which will provide heart rate data when exercising and when sedentary. Will the Viiiiva 4iiii work? And will watches such as Garmin FR220 also give me HR information for many hours a day?

    • Rainmaker replied

      The 4iiii's would work well in that situation because you could pair it to the Garmin unit for excercise (via ANT+), and then for just general usage, you could pair it to a phone for non-excercise recording of data (such as with the Wahoo Fitness app).

      The Garmin could be put into non-GPS mode for the remainder of the day, but I don't know exactly how many hours the FR220 would get in GPS-off mode but still recording. Typically it's 2-3 times that of GPS-on - which is 10 hours, so perhaps 24 hours worth.

  52. Thanks for the great reading. Got one question though, Wouldn't you say Forerunner 310XT is as good for ultrarunning as Ambit - it does have the 20 h running time. I mean running strictly.

    • Rainmaker replied

      In general, yes, it'll work well. The key difference between the FR310XT and the Ambit 2 though is that the Ambit has a barometric altimeter, which may matter to some folks.

  53. Ulrik

    Hi Rainmaker,

    First of all super good reviews, and endless details, havent seen like it :-).

    with that in mind i think that you would be the right person to ask!.
    I am looking for a new GPS training device.
    My preferred option would be to have one device for the different trainings i do (running, road cycling and mountain biking).
    currently i use the XT310 for running, but i did not find the display and controls well suited when cycling, also the mounting is a bit annoying (and it is rather big).
    I purchased the Wahoo Rflct for cycling together with my phone, but i am having issues with connectivity during rides, and also the disadvantages are that it drains the phone battery in GPS mode, and it only works with an Iphone.
    So that is my situation right now, a range of different devices (also have a Polar watch), with different connectivity modes (W.I.N.D, Ant+ and BT).
    My preffered choice would be one device for all 3 activities, with GPS, HR and speed / Cadence (for road cycling).
    If it is not possible to find one device, i am thinking to go with the Garmin Edge 500 for cycling, and stick with the current (or a new and slimmer) Garmin FR watch with Ant+ for running.

    In your opinion what would be the one best device for these 3 activities, or would you reccomend a 2 device approach?

    thanks in advance for your assistance
    Br
    Ulrik

  54. Roie

    Hello, I can get the Garmin Forerunner 610 for 340$ and the Garmin Forerunner 220 for 300$. I am considering both of them and I would like to ask you what do you think I should take.
    Why I should take FR610 over the FR220:
    *Touch screen (not necessarily good)
    *Has virtual partner
    *Has time/distance alert
    *Including cycling mode
    *Can customize 4 date fields (very helpful in my case)
    *Looks better
    Why I should take FR220 over the FR610:
    *Cheaper
    *Water resistant (thought not very useful because the FR610 can also survive half an hour and I have no reason to put it in water more- the swimming measure isn't accurate at all)
    *Lighter
    *Battery lasts longer
    *Including stop watch
    *Colorful (last 4 aren't very important)

    P.S I thought it's important to include I mostly run (2-3 times a week), swim twice a week but can count pools so measuring isn't very meaningful and don't bike much.

    Please state your opinion, Thank you and sorry for my long question
    Roie

    • Rainmaker replied

      I'd state your assumptions are pretty much spot on. However, i'd really add in the Live Tracking and Bluetooth upload pieces for the FR220. Those are pretty big. If you don't care about those, then definitely go FR610. If however, you find those useful, then I'd hedge towards the FR220.

  55. Eli

    I'm having trouble deciding where to go with my first GPS watch. I'm primarily a runner, but I do bike and am considering training for my first tri this year. That said, it's not really in my budget to go over the $250 mark and am not interested in the 310xt (mostly for weight/feel reasons). What I can't decide is whether I'm better off with the Garmin 220 and using my iPhone as a bike computer or getting the TomTom Multisport watch. I've tried both on and like the feel of both. Part of me likes the functionality and history of the Garmin line and part of me likes the multisport aspect and responsive customer support (including dedication to improvements) of the TomTom. If it impacts the decision, I'm planning to wait and pick up the Wahoo TICKR X when it's released. I'd love to get some input; my wife is getting tired of me changing my mind :) Thanks!

    • Rainmaker replied

      That's tough. With the TICKR, you'd be good either way - since it supports both watches. I'd guess one of the big-ticket items I'd ask yourself is whether or not you want the Live Tracking functionality (or rather, whether your wife wants it for tracking you).

      If not, then the Multisport is a better watch. And in fact, for tri's, the multisport is a better watch no matter how you slice it. If for just running, then the FR220 is probably a better unit.

      Hope this helps a bit!

    • Eli replied

      Thanks, Ray! Since live tracking wouldn't work well for me (I don't tend to carry my phone on runs), I went with the TomTom. My gut was telling me that was a better fit for me, anyway, just nice to get a second opinion. I ordered using your Clever link, so I suppose I can always exchange it if it doesn't work for me.

      Thanks for the great site; it's been immeasurably helpful!

    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks for the support via Clever Training - I appreciate it!

  56. Mariella Isabel Izquierdo

    Hi, thanks for this page and your researching work. What happens with the Soleus GPS watch? Can you tell me something about it? It is compared with the Garmin GPS 10 and it seems that work better than Garmin GPS 10

    • Rainmaker replied

      I've posted a review on the Soleus unit(s), which are in the product review section. It's not better than the Garmin FR10 (but, given that it costs about 30% less, that sorta makes sense). I'd generally state that if you look at the comments in the reviews, you've got approx 500 comments in the FR10 review, with I think every single one of them happy with the FR10. You've got some number of comments in the Soleus review, with a blend of people happy/unhappy.

  57. Gregory Cox

    Hi Ray (and others who might be interested in offering their advice),

    thank-you for all your extensive reviews. I am wanting to buy a mid-high range running watch with HRM, but being in my 50's I am a little long-sighted. I can just manage to set my ipod nano 7th gen in sunlight without my reading glasses, which I don't really want to have to carry with me. I normally run with sunglasses. The ipod tells me when I've done each km so I don't need to look at it very often but the distance estimate is just that, therefore the pace is quite unreliable. So, apart from having all the main features that the FR220, TRT 2.0, Nike+ Sportswatch and Tom Tom runner have, my main priority is the ability to be able to read the screen. At the moment I am thinking the Tom Tom because it seems the GPS connection is possibly a bit faster and more reliable than the others, the battery life is good and it seems to have a slightly larger and more easily readable screen. Your thoughts please. Thanks, Gregory

    • Rainmaker replied

      The TomTom GPS reception is about the same as the FR220 - both very solid. The TRT2 & Nike are a bit slower.

      Battery life and screen readability is fairly similar across the four of them. The TRT2 has the highest contrast.

      I would agree that the FR220 & TomTom Runner are probably the two leaders there at this point with the new updates with respect to phone uploads (for TomTom recently).

  58. Ashley

    Hi Ray,

    First off I'd just like to say that you are a review rockstar! I also enjoy the girl's reviews. :) I may be a review junkie. Haha...

    Okay, quick question for you: I've been running for a couple years with iPhone apps and I'm ready for a watch. I'm mostly concerned with size, time, distance, pace and budget. I'm eyeing up the Garmin FR10 or the FR110 with the heart rate monitor, which is currently on sale at Costco for $10 less than the FR10. I haven't found a comparison of the two - Maybe because the FR110 is an older model? Also, I have tiny wrists, so the size is important.

    What do you think? FR10 or FR110?

    Thanks so much in advance!!!

    Ashley

    • Rainmaker replied

      The FR110 is pretty old these days. And honestly, outside of the HR connection, the FR10 has more features. I'd look at see if you can find a FR210 on discount somewhere, as that has HR, and a number more features.

      The one challenge with the FR110 is the lack of instant pace.

  59. ms

    Hi Ray,

    I’m on the fence between garmin 310xt and Tomtom Multisport yet a swimming-pool functionality is a must for me which kinda kills garmin unless I’m missing something like a software update etc.

    Is 310xt really nothing but a stopwatch in a pool? Is there any other alternative to Tomtom that covers running, cycling and indoor swimming in a single device (i.e. 310xt+swim is a no go)?

    Tomtom seems like a solid piece of hardware and I like how much they’ve improved software since the launch but it seems that there’s still a long way ahead of them to get the watch working properly. Is there a ‘third way’?

    This will be my first proper sport tracking device other than Endomondo on my phone so I don’t want to go for the high end of the market without fully realising what do I expect from a watch i.e. ca. EUR 400 units are of no interest today.

    cheers,
    M

    P.S.
    Sorry for double posting, I thought this post may belong here more than to the other place (link to dcrainmaker.com).

    • Rainmaker replied

      Correct, nothing but a stopwatch in the pool. Beyond the TomTom, there's also the FR910XT, Suunto Ambit2/2s, and now the Fenix2. The Suunto Ambit 2s got a nice price cut this weekend as well.

  60. Pieter Michels

    Hi mister DC Rainmaker!

    I'm a triathlete from Belgium and currently I'm looking for a new multisport watch. Now use the suunto t3c and t3d for running and bryton 40 gps for cycling.
    A lot of hardware, so I decided to go for a sportwatch.

    I can't decide between the garmin 910xt and the suunto ambit 2.
    Should I wait for a new 910xt or go for the ambit 2?

    Gtz
    PS: love your reviews!

    • as replied

      I have been using the Ambit 2s for 6 months. Admittedly, I don't go into much more data-detail that they have on movescount, and what can get exported to mapmyrun. I have paired the watch with a powercal HRM for some more advanced metrics (albeit, not as precise a a powermeter... though I use it when I spin). So far, the Suunto team has updated the watch OS at least 3 times, though I am not sure that I can tell the functional difference on my watch.

      The readout is clear, the information is excellent, the screens can be customized (information display), and I have more data than I can ever handle. I spin, bike, run and (soon) swim with the watch. It has been dropped, banged, slammed, drowned, etc. and has not missed a beat. I am a HUGE fan.

  61. Ami

    Hi fitness friends! I know DC. Rainmaker is a super busy guy and thought why not go to other people that may be as helpful and not as new as I am to the world of GPS/heat rate monitors. I currently own the Nike+/tom tom GPS watch purchased for my marathon training. I also have the shoe pod for indoor running. Running is not my thing but a marathon has been on my bucket list and its coming off there asap! I consider myself multi sport, well until I saw that most people in this category are more triathalete/cc skiers. Okay, here's what I need it for: GPS (sorry Nike but I do run in the woods sometimes and you don't seem to like that at all), heart rate bc I tend to overdo it and this is a great tool to let me know I need more rest, along those same lines, something that tells me how taxing my workouts are and hours of recovery I need before hitting it again, and lastly, be able to make profiles that I can pull up on the watch for triathlon activities along with trail running (wooded coverage), roller blading, kyacking,football,a variety of fitness classes including kick boxing, mma , boxing, step, yoga, plyos and lifting. The 2 watches that I've seen that may be close are Poplar's gcx5 and Garmins Fenix2 (love the reverse white on black). Also Polar FT80 but have seen bad reviews. Please help! I just need make/model if you don't want to give a detailed response. I can do the work. Thanx so much in advance. God bless you all and keep us free of injury

    • Rainmaker replied

      I would stay away from the RCX5 at this point - it's just a rather old device and doesn't compare to today's units.

      I think the Fenix2 is probably overkill to be honest. I'd look more at the FR220. But, I suppose with the triathlon aspect, then the Fenix2 makes more sense.

  62. Matt W

    Hi. Great site. I am looking at using a 910 XT for ultra running simply because of the advanced running features but more importantly the 20 hour battery life. I am upgrading from a 405. I have looked at both of your ultra recommendations and I appreciate that the 910 is not a pure runners watch, but why was it omitted from the Ultra list? Thanks.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Many ultra runners also want some sort of navigational capabilities, which the FR910XT doesn't really excel at (it often struggles with courses and doesn't have a magnetic compass). Further, many ultra watches want 24hrs of battery life. If however, you're below the 20hr threshold, and don't do too much navigation, then the 910XT will do just fine.

  63. Torkil

    Thank you very much for your reviews and articles.

    I currently use an Edge 500 on my bike, and an Nike+ Sportswatch for running. I hate the watch since I can't upload to Strava, so I have to run with either the edge or my iPhone to track the trip, and the battery isn't any good.

    I was hoping that the vivofit could be a good replacement, since I would love an activity tracker that I could wear all the time and tracks steps/calories/activity, and I don't mind the limited datafield. As long as I can check HR, distance and time separately, that's fine. And it should work with Strava. But there doesn't seem to be anything that fits the bill..!

    Do I really need to buy 3 units (e.g. Edge 500, FR 310 and a vivofit) to cover my needs..?

    • Morey000 replied

      in order for it to work with Strava, you need a gps track - which takes juice (i.e. battery). Activity trackers- since they're designed to be worn all day, don't have GPS. GPS watches- so far, haven't doubled as all-day activity trackers - although with watches like the Suunto Ambit2 having a built-in acellerometer, it's possible. It would just be a matter of a firmware upgrade for this function. But the market may not be calling for such a product. The Venn diagram overlap between athletes shooting for Strava KOMs and those counting their daily steps- may be very small.

  64. Hey Ray,

    Your friend at Suunto,Andre' pointed me to your site, he believes in your opinion.
    Please take a peak at what I do, like to hear your thoughts, site not quite finished yet, close butt no cliff bar .
    I am in the process of trying to combine all aspects of a GPS/Heartrate monitor/Kickass
    watch compatible with my Mac computer and iPhone into one bulk package.
    Mountain bike and road bike mount, swimming data, etc. All the goodies needed to train for an ironman with a super comfortable heartrate strap( key for me).
    I use to use the polar 710, watch insides just disappeared, So love th hear your recommendation.
    Keep smiling, someone back east is on to you.
    Thanks,
    Rick

    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Rick. I'm unclear in looking at the site you linked to where the technology/gadget piece is. It looks mostly related to recovery.

    • Ray,
      That is correct, just wanted your opinion on my site as an athlete.
      Nothing to do with a watch. That is another topic just for my use.
      I do high end sports injury repair, broken athletes are my specialty.
      Just curious on your thoughts.
      Thanks,
      rick

    • Rainmaker replied

      From an athletes point of view, I'd focus on adding detail around what types of athletes you commonly work with, as well as detailed experience and qualifications about you. From my experience, if I'm looking at a sports related medical professional, I'm heavily concentrating on them as a person - who are they, what experience do they have in this area, and why should I trust them?

      But...that's all getting a bit off topic for this post. Cheers!

  65. Ray,

    Please take another peak at my bio. look at the ABOUT column.
    thanks, you r a voice of reason to many fellow athletes,
    keep up the good work.
    rick

  66. Mindless

    No Tom Tom watch? I thought it was the best one.

  67. scott

    spending hours reading your site. great info, kudos for the job you do. looking for a HR monitor for cycling. Getting a virb elite, have a droid phone, reg BT. Use this phone with MMR, Strava, etc. apps as my bike computer, but also considering a garmin unit. Would like something that gets along with everything. Some have suggested a simple inexpensive polar unit, but wouldn't i be better off with something that can interface both BT and ANT+, such as 4iiii, though they seem apple centric. Also, gotta believe there is a comprehensive review of all these, but can't find it?

    • Rainmaker replied

      I'd agree that going with dual-chipset sensor when capable. I like the 4iiii's unit as it's a bit more flexible, but there's also the upcoming Wahoo straps too (TICKR).

  68. Beth FDB

    Thanks for the throughout (as always) post!

    I'm thinking of getting FR910XT but was wondering when has Garmin historically put out its new models? Should I wait a couple of weeks?

  69. Tim

    Hi,

    I am looking to get a Garmin GPS watch for running (mainly road), but the bit I am having trouble with is finding one which will allow me to review splits on the watch. I tried out the Garmin Forerunner 110, and obviously it shows you the split time when you press lap, but until you upload it to the computer you are unable to review all the split times.

    At the moment, I am using the Soleus 131 non-gps watch, which is great because it gives you the option of having total time, current lap time, or both showing on the screen. In a track or other interval workout this works perfectly, because after each rep, I just press lap and it will store that rep time for review, as well as allowing me to use the second split as recovery, before once again pressing the lap button to start the next rep...(hope that makes sense).

    Then I can go to the data section, and look at not only that workout, but also ones I have stored on the watch.

    Basically, I am looking for the exact same thing in a GPS watch, being able to review splits, as well as have current lap time shown on the watch, with just the added feature of knowing how far I have run (mainly for long runs, not workouts).

    Ideally, it would be quite cheap, like less than £150 (~$250). I was looking at the Garmin 210 and I know it can do interval work, but can it do what I listed above? I.e. intervals, but manually as you press the lap button, not automatically.

    Many thanks for all your help!

    • Sarah replied

      Hi Tim,

      I think I understand what you're talking about and the Garmin FR220 does allow you to set up interval workouts and load them to your watch. When setting up an interval you have the option of measuring it by Lap button press (the manual option you were talking about), time, distance, calories, or heart rate. You can also measure recovery periods using those options.

      I've been running with the Garmin FR220 and I love it. It's $250 by itself and $300 if you want a heart rate monitor with it.

      I hope that answered your question!

  70. Brian

    Just wondering, and I realize you wrote this before the Fenix 2....but... I am an ultra runner and you recommend the Ambit 2 over the Fenix with one of your reasons being it has more swim and bike-related features??? This is the last thing an ultra runner is concerned about. You provide the follow up that the Fenix is better for hiking/navigation stuff... And that's really kinda sorta what a trail/ultra runner needs. I understand if you're trying to say "if you only buy one watch and want it to do X and Y. But I guess it just doesn't make sense to say this is the best trail/ultra watch b/c you can use it for tri's as well?

  71. Ray, first off, thank you so much for your reviews. And for the links to purchase on Clever Training. I'm hovering between buying one of the Ambit2 variants and the Fenix2. I've been a mountain biker for several years and an occasional swimmer. I've lost a good bit of weight this year and have really been focusing on my health through better eating, more casual exercise, and will be starting P90X3 in a week. I've also been jogging short distances recently (2-4 miles).

    I'm looking for the best watch which will help me continue to progress in my overall fitness and health through monitoring activities such as mountain biking, occasional running and swimming, and heart rate during workouts. Budget doesn't matter much. I can obviously make a decision on my own through your great reviews and other research, but I'm really curious if you think one of the above watches would be better suited to my personal activities. NOTE: I'm SUPER technical having been a software engineer for 14 years. I just say this to say I pay attention to things like Suunto Ambit2 having apps. But if the Fenix is "better for me" I'd go with it. Thanks!!

  72. Ann

    I owned 2 Misfit shines as I was one of the Ingdiegogo supporters. While I love the elegant design, the wrist strap and clasp could be made sturdier. I lost 2 within 5 months of using it. First lost due to the tracker itself popped out of the wrist strap. I lost the second one during a race, had it on its clasp and looped it around my shoe lace. I just want a simple Garmin GPS watch so after reading the reviews, FR10 or FR220 sounds like a good choice for me. I also own a Garmin GPS 405CX, way too bulky for my small wrist and has glitches that it'd go flat line.

  73. You´re really well equipped, man! Wow. I´d really love to buy a new navigation for my cycling trips but I´m still not sure which one would be the best option. Do you think that an app for my smartphone Samsung navigation is enough? I´ve read a lot about Sygic and it seems pretty good to me, have you heard about it (I mean this one: link to sygic.com ) Thanks!!

    • Rainmaker replied

      I haven't tried that app - but it's got potential. The challenge though is that it won't really record your route, so if you wanted that - you'd be out of luck. Also, it's not clear if it has a bike mode. That's somewhat important as you don't want to be routed onto a highway.

      Unfortunately, when it comes to routing apps for cycling, the choices are practically non-existent.

  74. Paul

    As always your reviews are spot on. I have a variety of toys & gadgets & have just grabbed a Suunto Ampit 2s without the hrm chest strap. Can I use any hrm strap monitor belt as I have a few around the place or do I have to use the suunto version which seems to have a few issues.

    Paul

  75. Chris

    Great, detailed reviews, thanks. I am trying to decide between the Garmin FR 10 and the Nike+ GPS. I'm an amateur's amateur runner, early 50s, started about 2.5 years ago and do 3 to 5 miles, 3x per week. No racing, just fun, but I like to challenge myself a bit so accurate time is helpful, which si why I'm looking at GPS. I keep having to recalibrate the sportband at the track. I don't need a data deep dive, but like the idea of better instant pace on the Garmin, though I'm used to the Nike web portal (I now use a sport band with foot pod).

    The two watches seem rather similar otherwise and I wonder if there is anything new that might tip the scales one way or another. (For instance I read Nike fired it's Fuelband team last month, so I wonder if the Nike+ GPS might be redundant soon.) Anyone have any thoughts? Thank you!

    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Chris-

      You may want to check out the FR15 that was just announced today. Might really tip the scales. Simply check out the home page.

      Cheers!

    • Chris replied

      Thank you so much! Had not even seen that. Personally I would never use the heart monitor or daily activity, but it looks like it would be quite a useful set of tools for a lot of people. I'll keep it in mind as the battery life looks so much better. I appreciate the reply!
      Chris

  76. Chris

    I ended up going for the FR-10 after all. The price was right, I did not need the other daily activity or footpod features on the new FR-15 (never run on treadmills) and you noted elsewhere that there were virtually zero issues with the FR-10 noted in comments here, which indicates it's reliable.

    PS Thanks for the link/discount at Clever Training, and mostly thanks for all your helpful research! So glad I found your site.

  77. Navnit

    Hi Ray, Appreciate your dedicated work.
    I am runner and preparing for my first Marathon, I do sometime trails and looking for your suggestion between Garmin Forerunner 220 and Suunto Ambit2 R/S.

    I liked the 220 form factor and Bluetooth on Garmin side while current sale @REI for Suunto(2R- 185 and 2S 260) are appealing too.

    What’s your suggestion?

    • Rainmaker replied

      If you're doing more trail running the question would be whether or not you're navigating. If so, I'd go Ambit instead of FR220. If that's less of a concern and the phone connectivity is more interesting, then I'd go FR220.

      Between the 2R and the 2S, it would depend on two factors. If lots of hiking/navigation the 2S has a bit more features there than the 2R (not all are critical though). And, if you're doing other sports, than the 2S is much more flexible, especially with any sensors you might want.

      Hope this helps!

  78. Navnit

    Thanks Ray, you answered my question.
    I do more trail running but navigation is not my preference. I will go with FR220.

    Thanks

  79. Lysa

    I have been a loyal Garmin user for 7 years now, but I have to say that my loyalty is starting to wear thin. I am on my 4th Garmin in this time and my partner has had the same amount of 'luck' with Garmin in a shorter period.
    We do not treat our watches badly....but do use them frequently.
    Are we being unrealistic in our longevity expectations? What should the average shelf life be if you use the device once daily on average?
    Thanks in advance

    • Rainmaker replied

      That's a few Garmin's in that time. From what I'm hearing most folks are getting easily 3-4 years out of them. I think we see a little bit less on non-properly waterproofed units (i.e. FR110, FR210, FR305). And a bit better on properly waterproofed units (i.e. FR10). Cycling seems pretty solid, primarily in the Edge 500 range.

      The FR910XT is generally good, though it seems slightly more susceptible to repeated drops on it's head (i.e. dropping on the ground), where over time it eventually develops a crack and loses waterproofing.

      Almost all of the hardware-specific issues I hear generally tend to come from water getting into the unit, even if most folks don't realize it's water.

  80. John O

    I did an "experiment" with my FR 220 yesterday. My training plan called for a 17 KM run. Normally I run from my home and back but because of some narrow streets and lots of tree lined avenues so just for a test, I picked a route outside the city along a dam separating a river from a parallel canal. Totally exposed and no trees nearer than 100m either side. For the first 2K the current pace was jittering a bit with differences to lap pace of about 20s and the pace alarms triggering every 30 seconds or so.
    Shortly after I got to the dam, the pace alerts stopped. I have never seen the current pace and the lap pace so close and so consistent on my 220 before. It remained like this for most of the 8Ks out and back along the dam. When I got back near the starting point, same old story with jittery current pace and alerts. When I checked the activity in GC it showed my track exactly on the dam (which is only about 3M wide) all the way - so perfect accuracy here - best ever so far.
    Now I bought my 220 in January, there were no leaves on any of the trees - as the months progressed the problems got worse - as more and more leaves came out.
    I would now risk betting a beer that all the people who have these problems with current pace jitter are those running in environments like mine and those who are hunky dory with their 220s have the luxury of being able to run out in wide open spaces all the time.
    So I think the jittery current pace is an inherent trait. Like an experienced Garmin user on the forum said it must be due to the new chips used on 220 which are different from the SiRF Star that Garmin used till recently.
    Now you have more experience than I of other devices not having this problem. Who wants to run along major thoroughfares with heavy traffic, obstacles and junctions with traffic lights. not everyone lives out in the open countryside?
    Is the performance of the 220 really state of the art GPS?
    Is the Suunto Ambit 2R better?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Have you tried resetting the unit? Also, have you contacted support?

      As noted, what you're seeing really isn't normal. And as one who does almost all running in the city with obstacles and traffic, etc...it isn't normal.

  81. Spun

    New generation Garmins (FR220, FR620, Fenix I and II) are wearing a new GPS chipset which, right now, and according to the general user experience and with some exceptions that imho don't justify the existence of "some" faulty units (neither a faulty unit batch), performs worse than older units like FR310XT, FR610 or FR910XT (just visit Garmin FR220, FR620, Fenix, Fenix 2 Official forums).

    Your only hope is that you're suffering a known issue that happens at least in FR620 where the GPS works erratically and in the "About" field GPS FW version is 0.00. Looks like there's a patch/workaround for it.

    Otherwise, I'd forget about resetting. And support will simply swap device, which, again for what I've read, solves nothing.

    Hope Garmin can break through this!

  82. Paul

    Hi there, I've been a Garmin 201, 301 and 305 user over many years and have always loved the big display, which has kept me loyal to these models. However, I have had the same 1 BIG criticism of all 3 units in that I have to wait at least 2 minutes, probably longer, to get a satellite fix, which is no joke when it's freezing cold/pouring with rain. And no, I don't want to leave the watch outside!

    I live away from the city with just a couple of houses and fields all around (yeah, nice :-)) so I can't understand why it takes so long for the damned thing to receive a signal.

    With the above in mind, would the TomTom Runner give me any improvement?

    Many thanks!

    • morey000 replied

      the tomtom- like pretty much all the new watches, has the ability to pre-load satellite data (3 day's worth) for very quick fixes. it would, undoubtedly, be significantly faster than any of those old garmins, but probably on par with the new garmins. My new Ambit2 that has this feature seems to lock up to sat's in 5-6 seconds- if that. My old garmin edge 500- sometimes takes a minute or two. The new GPS chips are just great. My guess is that you'll be happy.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Agree, Morey pretty much hit it on the head.

  83. Paul

    Guys, thanks for replying.

    If I just wanted a large display showing time, pace and distance (I don't need any other stats/features as I'll never use these, nor a website facility) and a very fast fix, would the TomTom Runner be the one you would recommend, or something else?

    Thanks again!

    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, I'd say that would work quite well given you care less about the website features (which the TomTom does rather poorly). Enjoy!

  84. Paul

    Many thanks again guys, I've taken the plunge with Amazon - I'll feedback with my findings on the GPS signal next week :-)

  85. Amirul Sabtu

    Contemplating on upgrading my FR10 to another Garmin running watch. Any suggestion on which garmin product integrates better with the Tanita BC1000?.

    Thanks

    • Rainmaker replied

      Not many these days. The newer watches (FR220/FR620/FR15) don't work with ANT+ weight scales unfortunately.

      Within the product comparison tool (see sidebar), there's a row towards the bottom that shows weight scale support (ANT+).

  86. Paul

    Well I'm back with my findings on the TomTom Runner. On the plus side, it took a staggering 2 seconds to locate the GPS signal. On the (very) negative side, the GPS accuracy is very poor. I took an accurately measured route (with my Forerunner 205 and 305s over many years) and I was expecting in the region of 2.6 miles. What did I see? 3.5. Sorry TomTom, it's back to Amazon.

  87. patricio despradel

    Hola Rainmaker.
    Im a runner, not elite but like to take my passion seriously, so i do like good information from my workouts. Now im interesting to do duatlhons. Im not a person with a big pocket, so i need to make a good investment once.
    The watches i like are FR610 and FR310XT. I know both are good for duat and 310XT works for TRI but i don't see TRI's in my future.
    FR610 has the looks and a lot of features but what worries me more are the constant comments about the wrist strap and the durability of the watch.
    The FR310XT its older but a true classic in multi sport.
    My question is: Based in your experience, users feedback which of this two watches are stronger? durable and reliable? Im looking for a watch who can serve me for several years. I know its a lottery but that's why i asked based in your experience and user's feedback.

    best regards, keep doing the best work in the web related to gadgets reviews.

    • patricio despradel replied

      Hi Rainmaker can you please help me with this?

      regards

    • Rainmaker replied

      Hello-

      Between the 610 and the 310XT, the FR310XT is definitely stronger and more durable. No doubts about that. It was designed for triathlons with the whacking, water, and everything else in mind. Whereas the FR610 isn't quite as much hardened.

      Cheers.

    • patricio despradel replied

      Thanks for taking the time to answer amigo!!

  88. ninja

    waiting for the 910xt upgrade. tempted by the FENIX 2, but have noticed some negative reviews (re crashing and GPS accuracy) - do you think the problems can be solved through progressive firmware updates?

    i'd be sooo bmmed if I bought a 910xt now and then garmin brought out something new a few months after

    LOL - you must get sick of people asking when the next garmin is coming out! how "buggy" was the 910xt when it first came out and how long did it take to iron out?

  89. Rafa

    Is it possible to do a review or some comments about the "PAPAGO GW770-US GoWatch 770 Multi-Sports GPS Watch"?
    Thank you in advanced

  90. Gerard

    Hi Ray,

    your recommendation reads the FR620 as favorite running watch.
    Given the current Fenix2 capabilities, why would you prefer the 620?

    thanks

    Gerard

    • Rainmaker replied

      I prefer the FR620 for running specifically because of the size, and that for running it enables Live Tracking with ANT+ (the Fenix2 you have to choose one or the other). Also, I find the display clearer on the FR620.

  91. Len Kiat Leong

    Bought TomTom multi sports cardio that has built in HRM.I'll never buy watches without built in HRM anymore. It's so convenient and accurate too. Features wise, it's still not there yet. But the convenience of going strapless and without footpod won me over. Hope that garmin 910 XT successor comes with built-in sensors too.

  92. Christian

    Hi

    What about the Polar V800? and the Polar V650

    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Christian-

      Nope, neither of those at this time. The V650 still isn't out, so I can't judge that yet. And I think the V800 at this time is over-priced and feature-undelivered. Will that change though? Absolutely. But as of today in June 2014, they aren't quite there. Perhaps by the end of the year it'll be more competitive.

  93. Hi All!

    Just as a heads up I just published my 2014 Summer Recommendations this morning. As such, I'll be closing this post to new questions, but feel free to post questions on that post: link to dcrainmaker.com

    Cheers!