My Summer 2014 Sports Gadget Recommendations


I’ve always historically put together a sports gadget recommendations list in late Fall, primarily because that’s when things in the sports technology world tend to settle down.  Further, many folks are looking for holiday shopping advice.  The problem is that over the past 6 months there’s been a TON of new devices on the market in a lot of categories.  And in doing so, some of my recommendations have changed.

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.

If you’re looking for a listing of what I use day to day, check out my ‘Gear I Use’ list (as well as The Girl’s list) too.

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 (like saving 10%). And, if you are picking up items that are more than $75, you can get free US shipping as well.

With that, let’s dive into it!

Running GPS Watches:


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 last fall, I’ve been using it instead – and it’s working great for me.  Garmin listened when it came to waterproofing, connectivity via Bluetooth to your phone, and customization.  It’s pretty much my perfect running watch.  There’s simply nothing else in the same ballpark anymore from a functionality standpoint by other companies.  And, with the FR620 cycling mode functionality released yesterday, it brings the much requested functionality back to the lineup.

Trail/Ultra Running – Best in Class: Suunto Ambit2 if on sale, or Fenix2 at normal pricing

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).

Last year I ‘awarded’ this category to the Ambit2 over the Fenix(1), because of the versatility the watch had in connecting to cycling sensors as well as being able to do pool and openwater swimming.  But I noted at the time that the Fenix had more when it came to hiking and navigation – but lacked in other areas.

Since then though not only has the Fenix2 come out but they greatly expanded the feature set and even went back and added in a ton of Bluetooth related features to the Fenix1.  At the same time, Suunto has added in a handful of features while also filling the biggest gap I saw at the time: Inability to get proper data to 3rd party sites (for example, by adding automatic sync with Strava, and .FIT file export).

So to that end this is still a slightly tricky category.  But I’d kinda put my recommendation as such: If you can get the Ambit2 at a lower price (like it is for the next 10 days) then that’s still a solid choice.  But if it’s at a higher $500+ price, then go with the Fenix2.  Said differently: I don’t believe the Ambit2 is worth the high-price they’ve set for it.  But I do believe the watch is much more competitive about $100 cheaper, making up for the lack of Bluetooth phone connectivity.

Running – Moderate/Mid-Range: Garmin FR220 or TomTom Cardio

This one is actually super simple.  If you’re looking to spend about $200-$260 on a running watch, ask yourself one question: Do you want optical heart rate (so you don’t have to wear a strap).  If the answer is yes, then go with the TomTom Cardio Runner.  If the answer is no, then go with the Garmin FR220.

The FR220 is just a very solid runner’s watch with lots of customization as well as the ability to do Live Tracking and smartphone integration.  Meanwhile, the TomTom unit offers a bit less customization and fewer features – but brings in the big fish of having optical heart rate monitoring, eliminating the need to wear a heart rate strap.  For some runners that is a major advantage.

From a site/app standpoint, the FR220 is the main winner here, with the TomTom website still being a bit of a sore point.  However both watches allow you to save in common file formats so you can easily upload to pretty much any site you’d like on the internet – so I wouldn’t let that be the deciding factor.

Running – Budget Range: Garmin FR15 or TomTom Runner

In the budget range I love the new Garmin FR15 GPS watch. Just released last month it combines an activity tracker with a GPS watch.  So you can go out and run and track your activity via GPS, but then for the other 23 hours of the day you can use the unit’s internal step counter to measure your steps.  Then later this summer they’re adding in sleep tracking (albeit, fairly basic).

The TomTom Runner meanwhile gets the mention because it’s a bit cheaper.  The price is set to be reduced on July 1st down to $149US (the new regular price).  Further, unlike the FR15 its able to sync to your phone directly – which is definitely a plus.  You also actually get slightly more customization on the TomTom Runner than the FR15 (but you lose the activity tracking).

Finally, if you’re looking to save even more – check out the lower priced Garmin FR10 watch.  It’s $129US these days and while that’s a bit of a premium over the sub-$100 GPS watches, you’ll more than make up for it in features and stability.  Put another way, out of the 600+ 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…).

‘2014 Recommendations: Running Watches’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programReview
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 23rd, 2014 @ 12:13 pm
Garmin Forerunner 15$169LinkLinkLink
TomTom Runner Cardio$269.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin Fenix2$399LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 620$399LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 220$249LinkLinkLink
TomTom Runner$149.00LinkLinkLink
Suunto Ambit2$319LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 10$129LinkLinkLink

Triathlon GPS Watches:


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 rollerbladers, mostly because of their versatility and flexibility in configuration and display customization.

With that in mind, I’m going to note that in general, now would be a bad time to buy a triathlon watch at regular price.  At least, if you don’t need to buy a triathlon watch for this immediate already in-progress season.  All of the units below are getting a bit older, and pretty much everything is due for refresh.  So personally, I’d save my cash.  Nonetheless, if you’re in a short term pickle – here’s what to go with:

Overall Best in Class: Garmin FR910XT

This is a tricky one.  You’ve really got three hot contenders here: The Garmin FR910XT, Garmin Fenix2, and then the Suunto Ambit 2/2S.

For most triathletes, all three will do just about the same thing, and all three will do it well.  Except, in my mind there’s one key feature missing on two out of the three: The quick release kit/system.  With the Fenix2 and Ambit2 you’ll need to keep it on your wrist the entire time and there’s no quick release system like on the 910XT.  If that’s not a concern, then you’ve got more options here.

The Fenix2 has a leg-up over the Ambit2 and the FR910XT though in that it can integrate with your smart phone and do Live Tracking.  On the flip side, the screen isn’t quite as easy to read as that of the FR910XT or Ambit2.

For this category I’d highly recommend looking long and hard at the tiny little differences between the watches, here’s a direct link to the comparison chart for all three.

Do note that I expect to see both the FR910XT and the Suunto Ambit replaced by newer versions before the end of the calendar year.  And perhaps by then we’ll see that the Polar V800 has matured enough to make the cut into the recommendations as well.

Budget Options: Garmin FR310XT and Magellan Switch/Switch Up

Let me be clear: From a price to functionality ratio, there’s (still) no better deal on the market today than the FR310XT.  It hovers around $170-$190US, 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.  The Magellan Switch meanwhile can be occasionally seen for as low as $125, but is usually in the $150ish range.

‘2014 Recommendations: Triathlon Watches’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programReview
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 23rd, 2014 @ 12:13 pm
Garmin Fenix2$399LinkLinkLink
Suunto Ambit2 S$219LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 310XT$170LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 910XT$399.00LinkLinkLink
Magellan Switch & Switch Up$129-149LinkLinkLink

Cycling GPS Units


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 current prices at $200, it’s still an awesome deal.  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.  We haven’t quite seen as many updates to the unit as we did during the initial release cycle – but most people seem quite happy with it.  About my only complaint there is (still) the mount, which can be prone to breakage.

Cycling with navigation: Edge 810 or Mio/Magellan Cyclo 505

If you want turn by turn navigation (like a car GPS), there’s not a ton of choices.  You’ve got a few Garmin units (Edge 810, 800, Touring), and then the Mio Cyclo units.

Last fall I recommended the Edge 800 over the Edge 810, as I felt the features didn’t justify the extra price.  And in many ways I still feel the same way.  However, the ability to upload via Bluetooth is becoming more relevant with Garmin’s new automatic sync partnerships (like Training Peaks last week, MyFitnessPal this week, and who knows who next week).  Over time these partnerships will likely cover all the major players in this space.  And in doing so makes the unit more appealing.  For example, if automatic Strava uploading were enabled – that would increase the value of the unit substantially (over the Edge 800).

Meanwhile, you’ve got the Mio Cyclo 505 (also branded as Magellan).  That unit received a substantial firmware update last month that added in a ton of features.  For example the ability to control trainers and Shimano Di2 integration.  There’s a number of features that Garmin units don’t have (such as the ability to connect to Bluetooth Smart sensors).  It’s a really strong contender.

There are some minor nits though with it that may cause more serious cyclists to pause – specifically the lack of a lap function, insufficient power data recording, and the inability to put together workouts.  The lap piece is coming down the road in a future firmware, so that should help there.  And, I don’t find the interface as polished as the Garmin Edge 810, though that’s a lesser issue.  But I do think over time Mio will be able to play catch-up in a lot of areas.  No doubt that I see them as Garmin’s biggest competitor.

So why not the Edge Touring?  In many cases 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.  So if you’re looking to save some cash, go Edge 800 instead of Edge Touring.

Budget GPS Option: Garmin Edge 200 or RFLKT+

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).

You also do have the Wahoo RFLKT and RFLKT+.  These units require your smartphone be on you at all times, as they display data directly from popular apps, sorta like a dashboard.  It’s a bit cheaper than the Edge 200, and gives you a bit more flexibility because the apps allow you to easily pair sensors like heart rate and cadence sensors.

‘2014 Recommendations: Cycling Units’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10WHP)Review
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 23rd, 2014 @ 12:13 pm
Garmin Edge 810$399LinkLinkLink
Garmin Edge 200$129LinkLinkLink
Garmin Edge 500$199LinkLinkLink
CycleOps Joule GPS$130LinkLinkLink

Cycling Power Meters:


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 Power Meter Buyer’s Guide from last fall.   Nothing has changed there since then (neither in products nor in my opinions), and I don’t expect any shifts in the near future.

Now, I will note that the best bang for the buck continues to be the PowerTap hubs.  Previous to last 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 buyer’s 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):


I recognize it’s sorta the wrong season for trainers (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), but I figured I should at least help folks looking for the right option.

And the best way to do that is to read my complete cycling 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).

As far as trainer announcements go, those all happen in late August starting in Eurobike.  I’ll have some more reviews of trainers lined up for late August and early September.  So it’s kinda like the triathlon watch scene – it’s probably not the best time to buy a trainer right now.



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.  And 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.

Pool Swim Watch: 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.

Openwater Swim Watch: There’s no good answer.

Quite frankly, there isn’t a specific outdoor swim watch that I’d recommend.  The closest there is comes from FINIS in the Hydrotracker, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  It’s overpriced and I found it prone to error.  Honestly if you just want to track where you went, grab a cheap GPS unit and stuff it in your swimcap.  Alternatively, if you’ve got a bit more money to spend, any of my triathlon swim watches above will measure swim distance outdoors within about 10-15% while on your wrist.

‘2014 Recommendations: Swimming Units’ compatibleStreet Price / PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10WHP) / Clever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10WHP)More Info / Review
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 23rd, 2014 @ 12:13 pm
FINIS Neptune Swimming MP3 Player$139LinkLinkLink
Garmin Swim$150.00LinkLinkLink

Sensors and Mounts:


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.

Before I get started, I’ll note that when possible I’d highly recommend folks buy dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart (BLE) sensors.  These are available in some categories now, and should be available in almost all categories by the fall (and at worst, the end of the year).  The reason for going dual is simple: It allows you the flexibility to choose whichever device you want and know it’ll work with it.

Dual Heart Rate Strap: Wahoo TICKR or 4iiii’s Viiiiva

The Wahoo TICKR is new on the scene, while the 4iiii’s has been around a while.  The TICKR (regular edition) is a simple dual ANT+/BLE strap.  Whereas the 4iiii’s does the same, but can also bridge ANT+ sensors over to supported Bluetooth apps on your phone.  So in that respect, the Viiiiva does more cool stuff, but does cost a bit more.

You’ve also got the Wahoo TICKR RUN, which builds on the base TICKR by adding in the ability to measure pace/cadence without a GPS (i.e. treadmill), as well as give a look at running efficiency type numbers.  I’d have no problems recommending that for runners (but it wouldn’t be of any use to cyclists).  And on the TICKR X front, that’s now been delayed till at least the end of summer, so I wouldn’t wait on that until the features are finalized.

Optical Heart Rate Sensor: Scosche RHYTHM+

In the last two weeks this has become my primary and singular running heart rate monitor (when not testing something else).  I just love it.  While I liked the Mio Link wrist straps, I’ve found the signal too weak in some cases and then also not quite as stable as the Scosche from a measurement standpoint.  Like the Link, the Scosche is dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, so it can transmit to just about anything.

ANT+ Speed/Cadence Combo: 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.

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. Wahoo is planning on updating this model to be dual ANT+/BLE, but it’s still slated for later this year unfortunately.

Speed-Only (ANT+): Garmin Speed-Only Sensor

This new little sensor is perfect if you only want speed.  It requires no magnets and no zipties, and just simply clips on your back (or front) wheel.  I wrote up a thing on it here rather recently.

Cadence-Only Sensor (ANT+ or BLE): Wahoo RPM2

This sensor hits the shelves next week, and in my testing it’s been doing quite well.  It transmits on both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart, so you can use it with your Garmin device or your smart phone.

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 yesteryear.

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

Bluetooth Smart Footpod: Adidas miCoach Bluetooth Smart Footpod

For Bluetooth Smart footpod capable devices or apps, I’d go with the Adidas one.  It’s the smallest BLE footpod on the market and works great with most devices.  I have seen some issues with the Polar V800 – but that seems to be more of a Polar problem than a Adidas problem, since it works great with everything else.

Bike Computer 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 to justify the price.

‘2014 Recommendations: Sensors’ compatiblePrice / Street PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10WHP)Review / More Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 23rd, 2014 @ 12:13 pm
Scosche RHYTHM+$79LinkLinkLink
Wahoo TICKR RUN$79N/AN/ALink
4iiii's Viiiiva$79LinkLinkLink
Wahoo TICKR$59LinkN/ALink
Garmin Speed-Only ANT+ Sensor (magnet-less)$39LinkLinkLink
Wahoo Blue SC - Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Sensor$60LinkLinkLink
Barfly Tate Labs Road/Mountain Bike Handlebar Mount (for all Edge units, 310XT/910XT with quick release kit)$25LinkLinkLink
Barfly Tate Labs Timetrial/Triathlon Bike Mount (for all Edge units, 310XT/910XT with quick release kit)$30.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)$45.00LinkLinkLink

Weight Scales (Connected)


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

I’ve been including little snippets of these scales in my 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.

‘2014 Recommendations: Weight Scales’ compatibleStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10WHP)More Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 23rd, 2014 @ 12:13 pm
Withings WS-50 WiFi Weight Scale$149LinkLinkLink
Withings WS-30 WiFi Weight Scale$99LinkLinkLink
FitBit Aria WiFi Weight Scale$129LinkLinkLink

Activity Trackers:


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 or Garmin Vivofit

Both of these units are very solid, and both of them allow you to connect to heart rate straps to get more accurate calorie data when doing non-step related activities.  I’d really say the choice simply comes down to whether or not you’ve got Garmin stuff already or got Polar stuff already.  The differences between them are teeny-tiny.

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.

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.

‘2014 Recommendations: Activity Trackers’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programReview
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 23rd, 2014 @ 12:13 pm
Garmin Forerunner 15$169LinkLinkLink
Garmin Vivofit$129LinkLinkLink
Polar Loop$109LinkLinkLink
Withings Pulse$99LinkLinkLink
Fitbit Zip$59LinkLinkLink
Basis B1 Watch$199LinkN/ALink

Action Cameras:


The action camera market continues to get more and more crowded, seemingly each week.  But for the most part, you can divide cameras up into ones with good clean user interfaces and good software suites, and then cameras with clunky user interfaces and lacking/poor software suites.

While there have been updates to some cameras since last November (for example, an updated Sony Action Cam), they haven’t really changed the landscape of my recommendations.  Further, there’s no doubt been plenty of rumors about new GoPro releases this summer.  I’m hearing that those won’t at least happen in June, but beyond that who knows (I don’t).  So like anything else, if you plan to use it mostly in the summer, then go out and enjoy what’s there now – I don’t expect you’ll regret any purchases of the below.

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 – Those wanting GPS/sensor 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 since release with new functionality for it (including just a week or two ago).  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, the core reason I’d recommend the VIRB over the GoPro is if you plan to overlay data onto videos.  If you don’t plan that, then there are few reasons to go the route of the VIRB (albeit, much better battery life of the VIRB is one of them).  I discuss all the detailed pros and cons of VIRB vs GoPro at the end of my Garmin VIRB review.

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 sturdiness 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 these.

Action Cam Flying Mounts: DJI Phantom 2

I’ve been slowly sneaking in shots into various posts from the DJI Phantom 2 over the past few months since purchasing one, and thus far loving it for use with the GoPro.  With a bit of creativity you could probably get some other action cams to mount on it, but you wouldn’t get the stability you get with the GoPro (I’d love a well made VIRB mount for it).  Expect to see more shots over the summer from cool places as I take it with me on some trips.  Though, I did include some aerial photos inside my recent Edge 1000 review post.

‘2014 Recommendations: Action Cameras’ compatiblePrice / Street PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10WHP)Review / More Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated June 23rd, 2014 @ 12:13 pm
GoPro Hero3+ Silver$299LinkLinkN/A
K-Edge Action Cam MountsVariesLinkLinkLink
Garmin VIRB (Normal)$269LinkLinkLink
Garmin VIRB (Elite)$349LinkLinkLink
GoPro Hero3 White$199LinkLinkN/A

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, Heart Rate Straps, 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
Bryton Cardio 60 Multisport Watch
CycleOps Joule 2.0 (Original)
CycleOps Joule GPS
FINIS Swimsense
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
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 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 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 Run Trainer GPS 1.0
Timex Run Trainer GPS 2.0
TomTom Multisport
TomTom Multisport Cardio
TomTom Runner
TomTom Runner Cardio

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


  1. Hemi

    Once again, nice work. Thanks for all the great reviews.

  2. John

    Thanks for the all the great reviews! I think I've read them all! Have you had a chance to spend much time with the Jawbone UP24? I'm looking to purchase a wrist-based activity tracker in the near future, and I think I would like the sleep tracking ability of the Jawbone. But, how does it compare to units like the Polar Loop (the other unit I'm looking at potentially buying) in terms of durability/waterproofing/general "just works" factor? I actually like the fact that it doesn't look like a watch because I've spent too much money on my watches already that I wear to work and am not looking for something to replace those.

    Thanks for any help you can offer and keep up the great work on the reviews!

    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, actually wearing it right now. It works well in terms of tracking steps, but it lacks the HR functionality like the Polar Loop has. Further, the thing that I still don't like about it is that it doesn't have a display. So I always have to check my phone to see where my progress is.

    • David replied

      I am a long time Garmin Vivofit and Nike Fuelband user. My wife uses the Jawbone UP24. I for one think the UP is great. Even with the always on Vivofit screen after a week or two of "new toy" fiddling the reality is I don't check it compulsively, perhaps review at the end of the day... and that I could certainly do on the phone. Since I *don't* want to wear a bracelet AND a watch I choose the Vivofit but for many women and those men who want to wear a bracelet with/without a separate watch the UP24 is a great choice. It by far is the best looking wearable and in terms of waterproofing it is like the Nike & Fitbits... ok to get wet/shower/etc. but not full immersion like swimming or a bathtub... for that you need the Polar or Garmin.

      If you are willing to trade the screen for a more bracelet like form factor and don't mind removing it for swimming the UP24 is a great choice with one of the nicest apps of any wearable around.

    • Aaron replied

      I never understood the appeal of wrist-based trackers... from the purely aesthetic perspective. At worst a bit like the old casio calculator watches from 30 years ago. At best a soulless hippy-dippy armwrap thingy. Must be just me with the $billions they are selling.

      My The Girl puts her fitbit in her pocket and saves the wrists for the blingiddybling. On reflection I might save some money with a pair of jawbones, hot glue gun and pack of craft store rhinestones. Do you think she'd notice? XD

    • David replied

      Some look ok, but yep... none have ever been an aesthetic win, in particular if you like to change it out day to day. Wrist based trackers are popular for two reasons...

      1. You are wearing them and won't forget to switch them when you change clothes etc. like with the older style fitbits that clip to or go in clothing. (This is my favorite reason)

      2. If they have a screen you have easy access to quickly check your progress without having to pull them out etc.

    • John replied

      Thank you both for your advice! I actually just ordered by Jawbone UP24 today (through your link to Amazon) because I think that I will like the data that it produces around sleep, and I like the overall look of the app. I look forward to your review of it because you always inform me about features that I didn't know existed in my devices.

      Also, how did your tv spot go? Did you ever post a link to the video?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Enjoy John, and thanks for the support!

      Yup, the link/video for the TV segment this morning is all here: link to dcrainmaker.com

  3. Luciano

    Nice work and thanks for such a great website. One suggestion: why don't you put in the article the links for your reviews of the products mentioned? I believe it would make sense for your readers.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Luciano-

      The 'More info' button in the little table at the end of each section lists the In-Depth review. But, that's probably a good idea to add a second set of links.

  4. Leo

    Curious why Garmin Edge 1000 wasn't mentioned. Too expensive and too many bugs? Somehow I thought in Garmin's plans 1000 will replace 800 and 810.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, too buggy.

      Keep in mind, these are 'My' recommendations. I simply wouldn't recommend the Edge 1000 today to anyone. Perhaps in a month, perhaps in 6 months - but not today.

    • Scott Buchanan replied

      The Edge 810 is hardly bug free either :|

    • Rainmaker replied

      It's pretty stable for me (whereas the Edge 1000 was...well...not so much). Hopefully the Edge 1000 improves. There's a new firmware drop yesterday which I've been using about 10 days now, and that's definitely helped in some areas (but not all).

    • Neil replied

      This is the one area where I wish that you (or someone) could do better Ray...although I don't think there's any good way to do so. For example I'm on my 3rd garmin 510 and it's a complete hunk of junk. All 3 have had problems combining the wheel speed sensor with GPS data and 2 of the 3 have had memory corruption. I'm sure that reliability testing just isn't feasible for you personally (seemingly it's not something that garmin can handle either)... but have you considered some sort of user rating system? I know those aren't perfect either, but I think they might fill an in part of the whole picture of a product that isn't currently available anywhere out there (besides maybe amazon ratings).

    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, I've pondered something like that, but it's tough because it always because the 'forum' problem. Which is that only unhappy people vocalize being unhappy with a product, whereas happy people don't generally say anything.

  5. Harmless Harm

    IMHO you must be more careful with these kind of posts since it drives your readers towards Garmin for most if not all segments. Part of it is perceptual since you use Garmin products as reference while benchmarking others. Hope you realize the impact of these posts, both for Garmin and the others.

    • Rainmaker replied

      I call it like it is, and give recommendations like I would to family. If Garmin is the best in that segment - than so be it. The simple reality is that as of today, Garmin is generally making the best products in most segments. Not all of course, which is why you see variance. But I think it's silly to point someone to a more expensive product with less features just to try and add diversity. I know some magazines do that, but not really the way I roll.

    • Dave Lusty replied

      Hi Ray, just to counter the above post, I find it clear you're unbiased when comparing to last year - for instance the Fenix lost out to the Ambit because at that time it was not up to scratch. You make these things pretty clear in your posts so I'd say carry on as you are, I don't think anyone who's read more than a couple of posts sees any bias at all.

    • Tim Grose replied

      And look at the comments on the Edge 1000...

    • Dr. D replied

      I suspect Ray uses innovation as the benchmark and not Garmin. The V800 is the first to combine everything in one, so that it sets a standard at one of the spectrum just as the FR15 does on the other end. That does not mean the V800 must be a recommended item.

      Ray's formula for what he does here is to give you and I an unbiased review, the final decision is purely up to us.

      @Ray - keep up the good work. The sports tech world owes you a lot and dare I say mere mortals like me too.

    • Captain Chris replied

      "I call it like it is, and give recommendations like I would to family"

      I feel like one of the family! Thanks for what you do!

    • Matt replied

      "IMHO you must be more careful with these kind of posts since it drives your readers towards Garmin for most if not all segments. Part of it is perceptual since you use Garmin products as reference while benchmarking others. Hope you realize the impact of these posts, both for Garmin and the others."

      Uhh... you realize this are his recommendations right? He thinks garmin has the best product in terms of price/features/usability in each of the categories. For him to list brand Y or brand Z just to list them means he's not doing his proper recommendation. Obviously, you can make your own choice, but these are his preferences.

      That's why the title of this article is:

      ********My******** Summer 2014 Sports Gadget Recommendations

    • David replied

      Harmless... if the Garmin products are superior or set the standard then well, they should win. The only part of any of this that makes me sad is while I agree with MANY of Ray's choices, including the Garmin's... I still feel the entire sports market segment is being subjected to overly pricy buggy devices and Garmin is the poster child. It reminds me of smartphones in 2006... the Palm Treos and Blackberrys had great "features" but then in 2007 a new phone from Apple came along that had the same or less features but showed the entire market just what junk they were peddling.

    • Sean replied

      Who knows, we may see history repeat itself. If Apple does release an iWatch and it's good, they may disrupt this market too.

    • Harmless Harm replied

      I confess I am biased, I had two broken G620 and to make things worse a faulty G510 als well. Bad luck maybe... Sorry I wont recommend Garmin to my family...
      From feature perspective I really wanted to like 620, I agree on this winner.

  6. Jérôme

    Hi Ray, have you ever considered the garmin etrex series for cycling (with turn by turn navigation, cadence and speed and HRM), and running as well (maybe a bit bulky, but if you have a camelback, you won't notice them, and can change the batteries mid-run) ? I have one (etrex 30) and a forerunner 405 and I tend to use both for long runs in places I don't know and biking... etrex are much cheaper too... Thanks

    • Adam replied

      good point here!
      I also have eTrex30 myself and always mount it on my bikes. Mainly for recording/navigating purposes (not so much for HR or any cadence/power sensors), but still it's very handfull. Big clear display, easy buttons, compass, pretty solid open maps.
      Also recently I moved from road running towards trail running and noticed on my old FR305 few problems with altitude and general signal strength when in mountains (specially in deep and narrow canyons). So when running with camelback, I just throw in eTrex (still with FR305 on my wrist) for recording purposes - it's just more accurate and does not loose signal that easy. With some decent mount, it could be even attatched somewhere outside of my backpack and serve as the only unit during the run.
      The biggest issue for me is missing simple start/stop activity functionality.


    • Rainmaker replied

      I haven't played with the eTrex series much (or many of the other 'Outdoor' units). I do have a Monterra that I play with sparingly, but that's more of a proof of concept platform in my mind (it's Android).

  7. slartiblartfast

    G'day Ray. Are you going to be doing a review of the Shimano sport camera? It was released earlier this year, but is only just becoming widely available. Seems like a solid alternative to GoPro and Garmin VIRB and quite a bit smaller. I realise there is only one of you and many products coming out all the time.

    • Rainmaker replied

      I'm hoping to. Shimano has been really tough to get ahold of, but as you noted, just yesterday retailers started getting notifications about availability. So I'm hoping to be able to get hands-on a unit soon!

    • Mark replied

      Really? There's really only one DC Rainmaker? There's not a whole team of Rays behind the scenes cranking out this stuff? :-)

    • Rainmaker replied

      I know, I need more me's. Mini-me's.

      And by 'more', I mean...any at all.

    • Mark replied

      Can I volunteer?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Perhaps...I'm trying to figure out some opportunities/options down the road.

  8. Julien

    Hi Ray - thanks for the great summary. Do you know where we can buy the Scosche RHYTHM+ in France ?
    Scosche does not deliver to France - cant find it on Amazon either or anywhere ?
    Any other idea ? I really had enough of chest straps :)
    Thanks for all

    • Rainmaker replied

      Hmm, I don't know when they are shipping to France. Though, Clever Training can probably help you out there. ;)

    • Marcello replied

      Thanks Ray!
      Have successfully ordered one On Clever Training :)

    • Marcello replied

      Didn't mention that I live in Italy!

    • Julien replied

      Thanks - had not realized they shipped to Europe.
      Done, ordered.
      They need to open a warehouse in Europe so we can save on shipping costs :)

  9. JM

    Once again you manage somehow to put garmin above all in all categories. Really? Garmin Vivofit? Fenix2 with Suunto Ambit2 ....S!!!! ??? Don't forget you made a comparisson tool!

    • Rainmaker replied

      In general, they make the most competitive products in those categories. Again, this isn't a "let's be nice and make sure I include everyone in the industry post". Further, it's not an industry overview. It's what I'd recommend to friends, family, and readers post.

      As for the Fenix2 with Ambit2S - absolutely. Why should I pay an extra $100+ for the Ambit2 regular over the Fenix2 (or even Fenix1)? Seriously? If the Ambit2 was the same price - sure. But again, prices are a massive part of it.

    • KenZ replied

      There's a great reason why you'd pay $100 more for the Ambit2 over Fenix2: The Fenix is still a complete mess of a product, with glitches, freezes, crashes, and sometimes just failure to function. Constantly, even with the latest update. I got mine right after it was released, and it's been nothing but a disaster. So bad in fact that Garmin replaced it with a new one, and this new one has AT LEAST four different freezes, drops, or completely nonsensical behavior each week. This happens more often on longer e.g. 3+ hour runs, so most people doing a daily 5 miler will never notice. But for an ultra/trail runner, the Fenix2 remains a complete disaster. Most embarrassing, worst use of $400 I've ever spent.

      Anyone on the fence about that should go over to the Garmin forums and read through the extensive list of glitches and freezes and screwups of this device. Then read the user frustration as Garmin remains basically useless on the matter. Sure, they update the software constantly. But the product has yet to really work.

    • Matt replied

      Obviously you've had a bad experience with your Fenix 2, but that's not to say everyone has. Remember, people complain about the bad more than the good so you have to take the forums w/ a grain of salt.

      I've had my Fenix 2 since the beginning and am more than happy with it. The updates add new features all the time and I don't have the freezes that you've experienced. I highly recommend the Fenix 2.

    • morey000 replied

      The Suunto forums are just NOT littered with function complaints like the Garmin forums. The Ambit2 is remarkably, possibly perfectly- stable.

      In fact - I just did a search for the word "freeze" on a suunto forum, and the only times it came up were in relationship to Garmin products.

      and a 2S for $219? wow. I'd agree with Ray on the regular pricing. $500, and $600 for a Sapphire is a bit much. But- if you can get them at competitive prices like this- they are seriously solid products.

    • TimRPM replied

      Thanks for great reviews and recommendations.

      One small note: I echo the slight surprise others have shown at recommending the Fenix 2 in the same category as the Ambit 2s or even the full Ambit 2. If price is a big factor, the Suunto devices have it sewn up, certainly in the UK (Maybe US prices are way different? It wouldn't surprise me if there were trade tariffs on Finnish producs...free trade in the US, as in the EU, is more a rhetorical flourish than a reality!)
      Ambit 2s: £207 (wiggle.co.uk)
      Garmin 910XT: £245
      Ambit 2 Full: £285
      Fenix 2 +HRMrun £360

      Granted, the Fenix 2 has the extra running data and the bluetooth. But there is a heck of a price hike to get there, especially over the Ambit 2s. I just can't see it taking the crown in this category, even ignoring the very widespread reports of serious bugs and freezes from Fenix owners.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, in the US the order of price (without rebates/sales) is:

      Ambit2 (full)

      It's a pretty substantial jump ($100) from the FR910XT/Fenix2 to the full. The sales change things around, and thus as noted in the text above, do change my recommendations.

    • Ted replied

      I've read the complaints but I absolutely love my F2. It's an awesome multisport watch! Logged literally hundreds of miles so far (mostly running but hiking, and skiing as well) with zero crashes and only few minor bugs. My guess is there are a couple faulty units out there but that's going to happen with any product on the market.

      Awesome post Ray!

  10. Chris

    Many thanks - a very helpful summary of what's been happening across the field. I'm currently weighing up a 910xt (£239 from amazon, similar at others, so around 30% off) or using my ageing (but working fine) 405 with a Garmin swim. Interesting to hear the 910xt might be upgraded this year... but then I probably wouldn't want to be paying full price for a new version. Thanks again for your blog.

  11. Always glad to see the FR220 still goin' strong as a top pick ! :D

    Sometimes I have problems with it saying I am running a 2m20s mile (or thereabouts...). Obvies I know this is not right. haha. I bought a foot pod after a few months to make sure I was getting accurate data ... didn't you post recently about the hierarchy of the foot pod vs. watch accelerometer (which reigns when there's a discrepancy)? There was an update that changed this perhaps? Is there a way to change this manually? (sorry I just can't seem to find the post).

    Thanks !

  12. Christian

    Hi again Ray
    Agree with you on the Polar V800, sadly i bought it beein a techno head. So im wondering if i should just wait it out or sell it and buy a Fenix 2 with a garmin edge 810/1000

    • Rainmaker replied

      I really think that if you're not in dire need of a multisport watch right now, I'd really wait to see what happens later this year. That allows the Polar V800 to mature, it allows new entrants to hit the scene, and it allows us to see if said new entrants are buggy or not.

  13. Ben

    Hi Ray, firstly thanks for producing the site keep up the excellent work.

    I notice hear and elsewhere that you are using the Scosche RHYTHM+ as a HRM but the FR620 as your ’daily runner’ as it where does that mean you don’t need or use the additional metrics that the HRM Run strap provides or there are other benefits of using the Scosche RHYTHM+ that outweigh losing the additional metrics? Which ones don’t you get and of those what do you actually miss? Thanks.

    • Rainmaker replied

      I won't/don't get the Vertical Oscillation and Ground Contact Time anymore when I use the Scosche. I still get cadence. And, some of the heart rate variability things like recovery time and VO2Max are also impacted (could be questionable data).

      For me in my training efforts none of those actually provide much impact on what I do.

    • David replied

      When you come out with a full review of the Mio Link or Rhythm+ I would love to see if you can quantify just how different things like calories burned, recovery time and VO2 max are with the loss of the some of the metrics you can only get at this time from a chest based strap. Are we talking tiny changes or is it significant if you use those metrics I wonder... I agree as much as I like Garmin's running dynamics I don't really use those metrics in a practical way.

  14. Aroulio

    Dear Ray,
    Thanks for all reviews & additional info.

    I'm currently running with garmin 210 (with HR). I also started swim training (as you have seen summer in the Greek seas is really awesome) and I intend to participate in 2 sprint triathlon during this summer.

    After reading a lot I was just about to get a brand new 910 based 1)on its accuracy 2)on my love for analyzing numbers and basically 3)on a previous comment you said you didn’t expect a new triathlon edition this year (I believe this post was regarding 2014).

    So the question is to buy:
    a)a used 310 (about 180$ w/o HR) in order to re-sell it soon with low cost and then check the new version or 910
    b)a new 910 (about 430$ w/o HR)
    c)wait for the new version.

    If I buy 310 or 910 do you suggest I should keep 210 for running or sell it (except its soft premium HR) to reduce the cost?
    Do you expect a 310 replacement or a 910 replacement?
    Do you have an estimation of the time for the new edition?

    Thanks in advance

    • Rainmaker replied

      Since you have two tri's this summer and since your summer is longer in Greece, I'd probaly go with the 310XT for now, and skip the indoor swim training piece.

      I would then sell the FR210 if you can and just use the FR310XT for that.

  15. The_Blackkite

    Another great post, Thanks Ray!
    I have on my wish list for my B-day in September the FR620, to avoid buying it just before a FR630 comes I was wondering if you have an idea when a FR630 would come? Still this year or more likely next year or even only in 2 years? How often does Garmin update their devices in general?


    • Tim Grose replied

      FR610 was 2011, FR620 was 2013 so....

    • Rainmaker replied

      I'd agree with Tim, no chance of a FR620/FR220 replacement this year.

  16. skijeti

    Glad to hear that SCOSCHE RHYTHM+ is performing as advertised, it's on my must have list.
    As usual great write up, thx Ray.

    • Gingerneil replied

      I'm still looking forward to DCR's review of the Link....especially if it includes any firmware update info. I bought one as soon as it was released - maybe too early? I've been happy with mine - accurate (now that I've found the best place for it) and I like the form factor. The Rhythm does look interesting tho.

  17. Shawn Faucher

    Do you know of any dual BT/ANT+ footpods coming down the pipe? I'd really like to be able to stop worrying about a bridge and maybe switch to a RHYTHM+, but I switch between my FR610 and iPhone apps too much in the gym to go a non-dual footpod.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Wahoo says they'll have one by the end of the year, but I don't have a specific timeline for it yet.

  18. shai

    Awesome stuff!
    Are you aware of any plans of making the "next generation" edge 500?
    Something with more wireless capabilities and better GPS...
    But still in the same size and not as bulky as all the new ones they are coming out with.



  19. Dave

    I posted this in the Garmin forums, but thought I would share here as well. I respectfully disagree with the 620 as the best in class running watch. I haven't used as many devices as DCRainmaker, but between my 610 and 620 the 610 is a much more dependable running watch, especially if your not running in a straight line in an open field. For a best in class device you shouldn't have to worry if you'll get a wonky GPS track or reboot at the wrong time in your next race!

    In my opinion if these issues are addressed then it would be best in class, although with almost no communication from Garmin it's unclear if it's even possible to address all of them:
    1) GPS Accuracy (Some of my runs lose GPS signal all together, and others have really bad tracks. My 610 performs much better. See fellrnr's analysis for a more scientific look. Many people seem to accept this as "good enough most of the time", but I think that's a low bar, especially when almost all other devices on the market are more accurate.)
    2) Random reboots (usually not during activities thankfully, and this does seem to have improved some with recent firmware updates, but still not resolved)
    3) Lack of footpod integration for more precise pace (the latest update still doesn't give you instant pace from footpod and distance from GPS from my understanding)
    4) VERY slow pace adjustments
    5) Battery life (or lack there of)
    6) Save screen when pausing run (Instead of keeping your hr and other metrics on the screen it asks you to save the activity. If you accidentally touch it then your activity is complete and you have to start a new one. Also, if you want to keep track of your heart rate recovery then it's not there.)

    To be honest, I'm not sure why more people don't look at fellrnr's reviews (again, no disrespect to DCRainmaker, I very much enjoy reading his blog). It appears that Fellrnr had his 620 replaced, and the new one is providing even worse GPS accuracy than the last (link to fellrnr.com). I've seen the argument that he runs the same route over and over, but how else could he accurately compare devices?

    • Tim Grose replied

      Here's that thread link to forums.garmin.com
      BTW just noticed - recovery HR - wait 2 mins on the Save/Discard screen and up it comes...

    • Mike Lin replied

      #6 - From the Save screen, you can tap the back or menu "buttons" on the bezel to get to the regular metrics screens.

    • Dave replied

      @ Mike - I realize that I can push the back button, but I run in the city a lot, so I'm always getting stopped at lights and it's pretty easy to accidentally hit save rather than back on the touch screen.

      @ Tim - I may not have explained my gripe about the recovery heart rate well enough... with the 610 when I get stopped at red lights I can watch as my heart rate goes down, but with the 620 I get the save screen. I can push back to see the heart rate as Mike suggested, but then run the chance of accidentally hitting save. Plus it's another step for something that was easier with the 610.

      I think the save screen issue is pretty minor. The bad GPS and random reboots are the biggest issues in my list from my perspective.

      Also, I should have said this at the beginning: Thanks for the reviews Ray! I do really enjoy reading them! I have no idea how you find the time...

    • Hi Dave,

      I also have the reboot issue and since it sometimes happens when I reach the end of an activity, I do lose a little data too.

      I'm on my 2nd unit and Garmin is considering swapping it out for a 3rd. I didn't know about yesterday's firmware until Ray mentioned it above, so I haven't had a chance to try it yet.

      Also, I did have an incident where the watch got itself into a state where the GPS data was ridiculously inaccurate. I had to manually power cycle it to straighten it out, but thankfully, I haven't had problems with it since. Outside that incident, I find it measures routes I know well just as the 610 did.

      The 610 certainly had issues at first, but Garmin got them straightened out much faster than this. I'm really hoping the rebooting problem is fixed eventually because otherwise, I really do like the product.

  20. pj

    Ray, Surprised the v800 has not made it to the list! Great as a everyday watch aswell as multisport! Major advantage of being able to wear it with a suit! Which you cannot with the 910xt! Great review!

    • Rainmaker replied

      It might make the list this fall, but as of today, it's hard to justify it making the Multisport category list when it can't do swimming, nor a lot of other features (and cost more than others). Again, probably later this year - but not today.

  21. Le coops

    Great site dude!

    Do you think you will be getting a RIDEYE in to test soon?

    I enjoyed your review of the 6FLY but I'm also looking for a front safety camera.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Once they start shipping I likely will. I haven't heard from those folks individually though.

  22. Chris

    Ray, if it weren't for the quick release system, would you say the real difference between the FR910XT and Fenix2 is the bluetooth/smartphone connectivity? I have an 810 (per your recommendation!) and very much like it, but am getting into tri's and really want to get a tri-oriented watch.

    Thanks for everything!

    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes excluding quick release, connectivity is a core difference, but so is display. On a bike the 910XT will be easier to read.

    • Chris replied

      Thanks! Day to day the bluetooth will be more important to me than the visibility, so I think I'll be ordering a Fenix2 from Clever Training soon. :)

  23. Jeff

    I'm a bit surprised with the scale recommendations. There’s really nothing special about them other than they connect via Bluetooth, and have some sort of tracking software. I would think most people seriously training would be interested in body composition and not just weight. Tanita has a few cool ones. Any thought on expanding the scale category?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Well, connect via WiFi. And I'd argue that the tracking and integration with a slew of platforms helps with accountability. With 3rd party platforms they can push to everything from Training Peaks to MapMyFitness to MyFitnessPal, etc...

      The problem with the Tanita scales is that they integrate with...well...nobody. And, on the body comp thing, as I've shown in the past, it's not terribly accurate. They tend to be consistent for a given athlete, but not accurate: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • David replied

      Do any of he scales actually integrate with Training Peaks? I checked withings and fitbit, and neither of them mentioned TP in their list of partners. The Training Peaks store does not offer a scale, so I assume if they aren't pushing one, it may not exist. Or are you talking about 3rd party applications that take the data from the scale and push it to Training Peaks?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Withings does. Or rather, it did (direct connection). I haven't quite validated it's still good though since I changed things around last fall on my Withings account with TP.

      I believe you can also do it with SyncMetrics as well (3rd party).

    • Chris C. replied

      I can confirm that the Withings scale connects with TP for weight and body fat.

  24. David

    Thanks for another great article. I am currently looking to replace a dying FR305 with something modern and this list really helps. I am still trying to figure out if I want to go for another multisport watch, or change to a FR + Edge. One question I had about fitness trackers, how do you deal with the calorie counts from the fitness tracker and using a dedicated device during a workout? Are you supposed to wear both devices, or take off the fitness tracker and run/bike/swim with the dedicated device? I use MFP so I am considering the Pulse (already have a withings scale) or the Vivofit, just not sure how to integrate them properly.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Garmin is working to have only the 'highest quality' device data be shown for calorie counts, so you don't get duplicates.

    • David replied

      Thanks!! Sounds like once that functionality is in place, then I can wear both during a workout, but until then, I should only wear the Forerunner.

  25. Chris

    Do you predict that any of the forthcoming multi-sport watches will have significant benefits over the Garmin Swim when it comes purely to pool use? I'm just getting into swimming seriously, and while I run and cycle, I don't expect to be competing in any triathlons. I've got my GPS needs covered for the other activities, and while I'd like an all-in-one watch, I don't want anything as large/expensive as the 910xt or Fenix2, unless the pool metrics are a significant improvement over the Swim. Something trim that doesn't need regular charging sounds good, and the price is easier, but it's now an older product.

    Thanks for all your great work!

    • Rainmaker replied

      In the pool, probably not. I would like to see Garmin add a Swim Workout feature that they've hinted at promising for years (even the Garmin Connect site still shows it as 'Coming Soon'), but I don't know if such a feature will make the cut.

  26. Angela

    I was wondering about the heart rate sensors and compatibility with iPhone/bluetooth. I was debating on getting a watch (former die hard Garmin user) but have been in and out of injury for a while and about to start another course of PT and just getting by with lifting and biking and swimming. The Garmin 15 looks great but would be nice to just get something cheap for HR just for feedback purposes and effort. Go out for a bike ride with my phone in my bag and have HR on to get a gauge for effort while using Runkeeper for distance, etc. Nothing fancy. Just kind of having fun and playing before (hopefully) getting back to racing down the road. The 4iiii looks interesting but I don't know that I need everything. Can it really connect with a footpod too? How does that work?

  27. Paul

    I'm looking for basically the fr620 but with some internal storage to put music on because I hate running with my phone. Any ideas or thoughts of when these will come out? I know there's one out there but that it is not up to par. Thanks for the help

    • Knut replied

      Paul, get the Forerunner 620 and an iPod shuffle, you're set!

    • Sal replied

      Or an Ipod Nano (last generation): very small and with bluetooth!

    • Knut replied

      Agreed Sal, my recommendation of the Shuffle is part because it's quite inexpensive and part because it clips onto a running shirt, vest or similar. I do realize that the Nano comes with a much higher entry level capacity though, but at quite a price differential as well.

    • Rainmaker replied

      I don't expect one from Garmin anytime soon. Today you've got the Adidas GPS which does that quite well. I think we'll probably see more devices pull instead from your phone for music.

  28. Josh

    As summer approaches, and marathon season approaches, I'm becoming fearful of possible freezeups on very long runs that I've heard about on the Fenix 2. For short runs (under 10 miles), it has performed wonderfully. Ray, any comment or personal experience you've had with multiple long runs or the performance of your 620? The rumors of the upcoming suunto 3 have me very intrigued, in particular in the form factor since the suunto 2 is not comfortable for me.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Outside of initial Fenix2 beta issues (pre-prod), I've never had any crashes on longer rides/runs with either the Fenix2 or FR620.

  29. laq

    any plans on re-reviewing/reviewing the iphone trackers and 'smart-ish' watches?

    i love the wahoo app, but as the magellan can't get text notifications (from what i can tell) i use the pebble - which doesn't talk to wahoo :-( so ismoothrun it is.

    i have no gps problems with either app (sometimes i run both) and i run in a "hilly" (really sm. mountain with lots of ups and downs) and rural with shotty GPS (my tomtom takes 5+ minutes to find a GPS signal) and my iphone has not GPS issues in either app

    the pebble is solid so far for what it does (keeps my phone in my pocket on the trail/road so i don't drop it and bust a screen) (now if you have an echo around you want someone to test ... i'd be happy to -- techie/nerd to techie/nerd)

    but i'd love for you to run a echo/pebble/whatever test and see the comparison

    as well as app test (yea, i already did tests myself but others might like to know the comparisons ... though if anyone wants some info i'd be happy to share what i've figured out .. but be warned i'm no ray ... i did test, and could do a really thorough job if needed .... but my goal was to weed out the weak and stick to the strong

    .. not to mention I don't have cool stories, live in france, do triathlons, taste test cupcakes, or walk the 'hollywood walk of fame' on TV ... i'm just a techie, nerd, ex-homeschooling now empty nest mom trying to get back in shape (or have less shape based on how you look at it) taking it one day/week/month at a time.

    ... plus maybe the app developers would consider adding things like recovery info, and fixing the fact that ismoothrun tracks cadence but uploads it as bike cadence (which while it's annoying does let me know info i need) if DCRainMaker suggested it...

    thanks... and great show, you were amazingly calm

    • Rainmaker replied

      I'll be doing more activity trackers, and more smart watches as they make sense. For me, that means they have to be fairly focused on sport/fitness (versus just more of a geeky smart watch).

      It's just a balance of time really, so I tend to try and focus on the products that I hear the most requests for (+ products that personally interest me).

    • Gunnar replied

      The Pebble watch is is really solid for me as well. I actually sold my RFLKT because the Pebble did most of what I needed (via iSmoothrun). AND I still get text/phone/email notifications and music control.

      The Pebble combined with the Scosche Rythm+ on my upper arm allows my iPhone to stay in my back jersey pocket.

    • iSmoothRun replied

      thanks for running with iSmoothRun!

      regarding cadence, which service are you referring to, when you say it gets uploaded as "bike cadence"?
      If you use TCX it should be correct, cause it's marked as "RunCadence"..

  30. Ben

    Any idea when Garmin is going to add optical heart rate to the FR620? With cycling support, it looks like a good watch. I'd love to train with HR, but the current Garmin straps are useless to me. (No, my heart rate is not 300bpm...)

    • Ben replied

      Oh, I just saw the optical HRMs; those look great! By the way, there is a missing link in the table called "‘2014 RECOMMENDATIONS: SENSORS’ COMPATIBLE". The Rhythm+ review is said to be coming soon, but it is actually already here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks, tweaked!

      As for Garmin adding optical HR - I don't expect that soon. But, I think given the way things look from other competitors (both represented here, and those with rumored plans) - Garmin certainly needs to get on it to remain competitive, especially in the lower and mid-range markets.

  31. Avishai Moscovich

    Hi Ray, thanks for the recommendations and reviews - very very helpful!
    You mentioned that the Edge 500 is $169 but on the CT site I see it as $199. Was that changed in the past few days?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Sorry, that was a typo from a leftover temporary reduction that I forgot to update the database price. Fixed!

    • Avishai Moscovich replied


  32. Eduardo


    You mentioned that you expect the 910XT and Ambit will likely be replaced later this year. Any comment on when the Fenix will be replaced?


    • Rainmaker replied

      I don't know, but I don't expect it to be this year. After-all, a new one just came out 3 months ago.

  33. I'm surprised that you recommended the 910xt because of the quick-release mount. That's the exact feature I'd strongly caution against. Enough people have had their 910xt spun-off during competitive open water swims to show there is a design flaw with the mount. It needs to have a locking tab that must be depressed before allowing it to be rotated and detached.

    I loved having my 910xt mounted on my aerobars. It worked perfectly for 11 triathlons, then it fell in the lake during the 12th. But it probably helped my race time though, as I had $400 worth of anger to work out. It worked out for Garmin as well; I purchased another 910xt. . . sans the quick-release mount.

  34. Gustav

    FR220 vs FR610. Which one would you buy (they're in the same price range atm)?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Go with the FR220. Just my two cents. I dive into that specific comparison a few times in the comments of the FR220 review as well.

  35. Steve

    Which remote controller do you prefer? O-Synce or Garmin?

    • Rainmaker replied

      It honestly depends on which device you use. If using the Garmin, definitely go Garmin for compatibility reasons. If using the O-Synce, stick with that (I haven't had a chance to test Garmin remote with O-Synce device).

  36. Harmless Harm

    What about navigation features is relation to running watches? To me high end running watch must have navigation, at least back2start. Looks for you navigation is no issue despite your frequent travel... Looks navigation is available in multisport category watches or trail running section. Although to me Suunto 2R would qualify. What is your opinion?

    • Rainmaker replied

      For road running I really don't see it as a 'must have' feature at this point. I think that's probably because the screens on today's watches make poor running map companions (whereas something like the Motoactv would have been legit useful). Thus, if I'm going out somewhere where navigation is a requirement, I'm just going to take a phone for that. And again, I'm really looking more at road running with the FR620.

      I suspect within a few years depending on iWatch and/or other competitors - that might change and the screens might be useful for navigation. I guess I'd be looking to have an Edge 800/810/1000 navigation experience on a FR620-sized device. Then I'd be happy.

    • Stanislav replied

      Ambit's Back to Start feature where it displays a general direction and distance to the start (or a chosen waypoint) is quite useful even without a map. I used it multiple times when running in unfamiliar places. I used Back to Start on Garmin FR610 as well. It isn't clear why Garmin decided to remove such a useful feature. Anyway, for me there is no going back to Garmin. I'll stick with Ambit, thank you very much.

  37. Richard Kaufmann

    I'm confused about the Adidas BLE Footpod. The text in the article implies it's new (out for a few weeks), which leads me to think that there's been a recent change. However, looking at link to adidas.com, it appears to be the same one I've been using for quite a while?

    Is it "stale" text from the original post about the footpad that's confusing me, or was there an update?


  38. Rob

    I bought the 910xt back when Garmin had their sale plus the $50 mail in rebate. I like the watch but don't LOVE it, primarily because of the size of it. I used it for my 70.3 a few weeks ago and it worked perfectly, so no complaints about the functionality. I only have one more race this season, so it's primary use thus far has been training.

    With all of this said and as I'm nearing my return window, do you think that the watch at the discounted pricing is worth holding onto with the potential for replacement on the horizon? You say not to get it at full price if there isn't a need, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts about getting it at the sale price.


    • Rainmaker replied

      That's tough since you're close to return window. I guess for me, if I already bought it - then I'd stick with it and use it for the rest of the year. You could revisit things next year. Otherwise, you could be in a situation where a replacement device might not be available until first snow.

  39. MattS

    I've been ready for a while. Thanks for the great site.

    What I loved about my 310xt was that I could set a simple pace range. Alert when I go slower than this or faster than that. Through a firmware 'upgrade' they took that feature away. I don't really train for events, but run occasional 5k.

    Is there a cheap gps watch that has that feature?


    • Rainmaker replied

      Not on the super-cheap side. The FR15 can setup pace alerts, but it's basically targeting a given pace rather than a range.

    • Pavel replied

      Well, there are some non-GPS options that can target a pace or HR interval, I guess. At least my old Forerunner 50 with a foot pod and HR belt could do both of these. So I assume current FR70 should be able to do that too.

  40. Yoav

    I just thought, if you can buy the 310xt at a cheaper price so why buy the adge 500? Even if I am only mountain bikeing ...

  41. Patrick

    Hi Ray, tks for the advices. You've announced some time a goa reviews of the Sigma Rox 10 and Polar V650. Are these coming out soon ? I wonder if they will change your recommendations above for bike gp computers ? Thanks

    • Rainmaker replied

      The V650 review will be out a few weeks after Polar finalizes things. Right now it's going to be a bit still. I don't expect that release to change my recommendations immediately. By fall we can see where things stand - but it's a lot like the V800 in that it'll be released with many features still en route.

      On the Sigma Rox, it's still in my queue to write something on, just backlogged.

  42. John

    Great site, thanks for all the care and attention that go into your reviews. Quick question, I'm just getting back into running and had some success with HR based training before and I'm wondering whether to go TomTom cardio or Garmin fr15/rhythm plus combo. Any thoughts as to advantages disadvantages? Scosche has emailed me tosay three weeks till rhythm plus released in UK so have some time to decide,

    • Rainmaker replied

      That's a tough one. With the FR15 you get the daily activity tracking, whereas with the TomTom you get Bluetooth Smart uploads and the built-in optical.

      With either combo you'll be able to do HR training, and neither watch really includes any sort of prescriptive plan options - so it's mostly just following your own plans for either. I'd say it really comes down to whether or not you want optical HR, or activity monitoring.

    • John replied

      Thanks for the feedback, might go with the FR15 and Rhythm plus combo, as (if Scosche match the current Rhythm price as seem to have in the US) it should come out cheaper, and gives me the flexibility to use the Rhythm plus with other devices if watch needs replacing or running with phone as I do at the moment.
      Still like the look of the tomtom though I can live without bluetooth syncing.

  43. Heather Matthew

    So on the strength of these recommendations, I decided to replace my elderly Garmin FR110 with a 310XT. Further to the 620 cycling compatibility upgrade, I'm now wondering whether I should return the 310XT and go in for the 620?

    I mainly use the device for running and increasingly cycling (outdoor and turbo) as I am getting in to triathlon. For swimming I use a Garmin Swim already. I won't be getting a power meter (unless I win one in the Giveaway!) in the foreseeable future and I don't see myself having much use for a watch in the water (apart from pool training, where I would use the Swim).

    Are the speed/cadence cycle metrics going to be as good as what i'd get out of a 310XT? Can you 'change disciplines' on the 620 without too much fuss?

    Any one got any suggestions or advice? Many thanks.

  44. B Carter

    So am I reading correctly that you are mainly just using the Scosche RHYTHM+ with your FR620 now instead of the Garmin HRM-Run? Is the accuracy & better form factor a good trade-off for the lack of running dynamics? Do you miss any of that running dynamic stuff?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, that's correct. For me the accuracy is fine, and the better form factor is a good tradeoff for me despite the lack of running dynamics (which, I haven't really found much value in beyond geek-factor).

  45. Todd

    Wondering if there's any solid combination activity tracker / bike computer options that work with 3rd party apps (like cyclemeter)? Seems to me they should all be talking to each other so you don't need an activity tracker for your 23 hours, a bike computer for your 1 hour and ne'er the two shall meet? Is there an all in one option? The new Apple Health feature should help if I'm understanding it right. But any developers or big tech cos (hello Garmin) signed up yet?

    Basically want an option that won't drain my phone battery, and is tied to my everyday tracking. Anyone else feeling this void? If I'm crazy and there's stuff on the market already, please enlighten me.

    • Rainmaker replied

      You can get platforms like MyFitnessPal that will pull in data from multiple sources.

    • Todd replied

      Thanks for the quick reply. It's good adivce to suggest an app, but I guess that answers my question. Apparently there's not a good device on the market that does these things?

      Previously I had My Fitness Pal and found it more useful to nutrition and dietary tracking (ie, entering specific meals, etc.) than for activity and fitness tracking (heart rate, GPS bike riding, etc.). Still looking for the one device that can connect my wrist to the bike without killing my iphone battery. Incidentally, I saw Google released an Apple Health like feature for Android today. so maybe the market's turning toward centralization and convenience for those of us that to combine data.


  46. Adam

    I would say that heavily overpriced Ambit2 over Fenix2 is simply a consequence of european product vs chinesse one. That is trade of. Features aside, Suunto is way better built device. It's just solid, not plastic look (some one mentioned that fenix looks like $10 plastic watch - I wouldnt go that far, but Suunto looks like a war-ready device, rock solid).
    Different thing is that Ray operates with American prices, where Ambit2 vs Fenix2 is really overpriced (sthg like $500 vs $400 is the simplest setup and eve worse $650 vs $450 in packages and saphire version of suunto). But here in Europe things look a bit different. Garmin's price in Euros is same as in dollars (400E) while Ambit2 Silver without HR monitor can be found for 310E (amazon.it) !! Then things look differently...

  47. Ryan

    Need a running GPS watch and have been reading your site the past few days. Looking for the feature of Virtual Racer. That leaves Garmin FR610, 910XT, and a hope and a prayer they add it to Fenix2. So with the rebate and discount at CT, the 610 is $315 and 910 is $355 (both with HRM). Is the little price difference a no brainer? Won't likely use the Cycle/Swim features, but the battery life is a huge plus.

    • Rainmaker replied

      It depends a bit on how big a watch you want to be honest. If you're just a runner, I'd probably go with the FR610 unless you're running more than that 8-10 hours in a shot. But, that's just me...

    • Marcel replied

      I really don't get the FR610 recommendation. That thing gave me problems within months of buying it - spikes in heartrate (making me change the strap & HRM twice), crappy wristband, forcing me to switch to the velcro strap, and finally, battery problems,when the watch started giving up after something like 18km, supposedly with an empty battery (but with 40% left when I connected it to the charger), resulting in continuous resetting and lost data, and now it even frequently starts reverse loading, draining instead of charging the watch. If you google these problems, you will find literally hundreds of people with identical problems.
      Even if you have one the FR610s that doesn't have any of these problems, the existence of these issues should make recommending it very hard, imho.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Did you ever call up support to swap out your watch?

      The issues are fairly rare, despite what Google might say. If you search for issues (or, go to a forum looking for an issue), then by default, that's what you're going to find. People without issues don't post as such.

      The singular issue to really be aware of on the FR610 was the early ones that some people had skin reaction to (first 8 or so months of production), but Garmin has long stopped producing those (in favor of a plastic backing), and still to this day will refund/replace those watches free of charge. Same goes for the pins btw, which were enlarged early on to resolve that problem.

    • Marcel replied

      The battery issues actually over 160 posts on Garmins forum, up until last month. I recognise the trouble with the backing, but didn't get a skin reaction myself after the metal look wore off.
      I did contact support, actually, several times. With the heartrate strap and meter, they sent me a replacement, free of charge, which was great, and that still works. With the current battery issues (I bought the watch feb. 2012) 'all' they are offering, is replacing it, at a price:

      "Garmin offer a 12 month manufacturer’s warranty, if your purchase was more than 12 months ago we can offer to replace your device for a fixed replacement cost of €94.94" (email, May 1t6th)

      I am unsure if that is the way to go, but I was not aware of the changes made to the FR610. If I can be certain it will function properly, maybe I should consider it, but it irks me to have to pay again, it was expensive enough, really. Still, the alternative is a new, different watch, which is more expensive.

  48. Josh

    Choices choices: a brand new fr620 for $359 after discount, a brand new ambit 2 at 319, or a brand new ambit 2s at 219...

  49. Hello, mr. Rainmaker!
    Can you help me with some advice?

    I wish to buy watches with GPS, Heart Rate and I think, I need good instructions. As I see, we have good programs in Adidas micoach. But I don't need to have watches to use Adidas - I have it in my Android smartphone.

    What can you tell about Garmin training programs? Are they good?
    And, as I understand from your site, I can upload instructions only on watches Forerunner 220 or 620? On FR 15 I can't?
    And some people in Russia speak, that Garmin is not best decision, it for hipsters and instagram lovers. What do you think about it?

    To buy Polar, in need much more money - to have GPS sensor, to upload data with FlowLink, now I don't like Polar.

    Final question: Garmin Forerunner 220 is really good and optimal for running (and garmin web-service, and training programs)?

    Thank you!

    • Rainmaker replied

      The Garmin training programs (the downloadable ones) are actually pretty good, especially for being free. And yes, those only work with the FR220 or FR620 and not with the FR15 (they also work with watches like the FR310XT/FR910XT, etc...).

      I'm not sure what's good or bad about Hipsters or Instagram, but, people of all walks of life like Garmin devices (and Polar devices, etc...).

  50. Zaidi

    Hi Rainmaker,

    I'm a trail runner and looking for GPS watch that can last for long distance run. Between fenix 2 and ambit2 which one suitable for ultra trail running and has the longest battery life span?
    I know both has 50hrs battery life but then depending on the setting, which one is better?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Both of them are really similar in that respect. So it really comes down to tiny details or features like Bluetooth connectivity.

  51. Navnit Ranjan

    Hi Rey,
    Always appreciate all your great works so I am back to you for your expert advice.

    I run/hike and do biking.
    I do both run/trail running and max I go 15 mile in run. So I know where I am going and navigation is not big deal.
    While biking I like exploring new routes. I log avg 30-40 miles in single ride, I prefer something which can guide me about bike route.

    Can you please suggest best bet which can serve both biking and running.


  52. Christian Paulin

    Hi Rainmaker

    What A great site. I'm going to buy my first gps running watch. I will only use it for running - mainly short distances: 5 and 10 km. So interval features are most welcome and the virtual partner also seems quite cool.

    My dilemma is the following: first choice would be the FR220, but it's also quite expensive. As an alternative I could buy the FR210 or the (only slightly more expensive) 320xt. The latter seems to offer most bang-for-buck, but my concern is that I would feel it too clunky (especially since I don't need the multi-sports-mode).

    So her main question is whether the 220 is so much better than the 210 and whether the 310xt is a tolerable choice for running-only?

    Prices in Denmark:
    FR220: 400$ (yes I know it is ridiculous compared to US prices)
    FR210: 200$
    FR310: 230$

    Best regards

    • Rainmaker replied

      If she wants a smaller watch than the 310XT and you need to save some money, then the FR210 or FR15 (or the Ambit2 R) are all perfectly fine for running. True the FR15 doesn't have the interval function, but she might find the other features useful instead. Otherwise, if she's looking for phone upload connectivity then the FR220 is really the best bet.

  53. Gonzalo

    I just wanted to share this new and maybe cheaper power meter

    Rotor Power LT spotted - 21 Days of Tour Tech

  54. patricio

    Hol Ray, which one: FR15 or Tomtom runner? Budget runner who likes the sport but not exigent.
    Which one has the best balance between simplicity and customisation? I dont care about the activity tracker what i really care is about the training features like creating workouts, virtual partner or the zone settings in the TomTom, etc. I like to train at certain paces and like to receive feedback from the device.


    • Rainmaker replied

      Given what you're saying, I'd probably skew more towards the TomTom Runner than the FR15 - primarily because you aren't interested in the activity tracker piece.

  55. Jmods

    Newbie runner here...have been using phone + runtastic combo on runs and love being able to see stats and progress etc. Uncomfortable with phone strap combo and would like to buy a gps watch.

    Planning on getting serious with running and training for half marathon in 7 months time. Have researched loads and still cant decide. Between the Nike Sports watch and the Tom Tom cardio.....at the moment.

    Want a watch only for running. Will be training outside but do lots of running on treadmill. Also I live on an island in the middle of the ocean...will these watches still have no problems picking up satellites?

    Advice on which one to pick from the two.....or out of all the choices?

    Thanks, great site and reviews!

  56. Navnit Ranjan

    Hi Rey,
    Need your advice!

    I am thinking about upgrading my running gps watch(Ambit2 R).

    I run and bike mostly and occasionally/rarely hike. But I would like to have option open. Definitely its +ve point.

    I had two option Fenix2 and Ambit2 but now with forerunner620 getting bike mode I got stuck between these three now.

    I see all three almost same priced except Ambit2 having small adv as its under sale for 319/349(HR) @ clever training.

    What you would have picked if given you in my place. Touch screen/bluetooth is advantage but not deciding factor

    Thanks in advance.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Hmm, I'd actually look at the Ambit2S. Unless you really really want the barometric altimeter, you could pickup the 2S for $219 still...which is a pretty darn sweet deal.

  57. Navnit Ranjan

    Thanks Ray, you my man. Always up when needed.
    Thanks again!!!

  58. Ivan

    As Garminmuch pretty much killed off support for ANT+ Scales and knowing they got into the activity trackers market, can we expect them to launch a scales under their own brand intergrated with Garmin connect?
    When could we expect such scales to be available?

    Checking your thoughts around this before ordering the Fitbit Aria. (Withings requires iPhone for setup, so that rules it out)

    FYI, I currently use Garmin FR620 and want to follow up my weight vs sports activities. I do not own any Fitbit products at the moment.

    • Rainmaker replied

      I'm not sure, I would have actually expected it sooner to be honest. I don't expect one anytime soon though. Typically stuff like that tends to be announced around CES, as it gains the most traction there.

      There are some 3rd party apps though that will pipe Withings weight data to Garmin Connect. See this post here and SyncMetrics: link to dcrainmaker.com

  59. Hi there and thanks for a really superb website :-) I've got a quick question. I currently own a ambit2 and I run mainly on road - but I love hiking and GPS is a must for me - but I am really interested in a accurate calories estimate. Is the ambit2 accurate or should I consider an alternative?

    Hope to hear for you :-)


    • Rainmaker replied

      I generally find that Garmin/Suunto/Polar calorie consumption on their higher end devices with a HR strap is almost always within just a few percent of each other.

    • Tony André replied

      Thanks :-)

      I really do love the ambit2 so this was great news for me ;-)

  60. Kelli

    So I assume this is year 3 with garmin. I suspect we will see a 920?

  61. Nathan

    Are you all aware of any Garmin watch that allows you to change the display from heart rate to % of max heart rate?


    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, most do. For example, the FR620 does. Almost all of my reviews show the exact data fields. I usually list it in a section called "Data fields".

    • Nathan replied

      Thanks for the reply and for the tremendous review. I noticed that you usually do the data fields, but I don't see it for the FR15 which is the one I am considering.

      Thanks again!

    • Rainmaker replied

      It's within the 'Running Outdoor' section. Search the page for: "Here’s the available ‘Pick two’ options:"

      Also note the section immediately after it with the Lap/Avg/etc options. Cheers.

  62. Tom Billinghurst

    Great reviews fella. Would like a little help though. I have used smartphone for years but as they get bigger the call of the GPS watch gets greater. I run (trails) and ride a lot. Looking at 310xt for about 150 with heartrate monitor! Just interested in pace while running and zones and avg speed while riding and most of all reliable GPS. I have had bad times on waiting for an age on GPS signal to random spikes whist running. Is this the best for that price?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Older GPS units will take a bit longer to receive satellite signal, so unfortunately you won't entirely sidestep that here. That said, you shouldn't see any major speed spikes with the 310XT. Overall, the 310XT continues to be an incredible deal for the price.

    • Tom Billinghurst replied

      So you would say regardless of its age it still goes ahead of some of the other options in that price bracket? like FR15, tomtom etc not to mention with these the loss in multi sport function

    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes and no. Definitely from an overall functionality standpoint. Though, it's much bigger and lacks things like Bluetooth Smart (TomTom) or Step monitoring (FR15). So it's a bit of a balance as to what you might find more value in.

    • Tom Billinghurst replied

      Cool thanks for your comments. it certainly helps. Seems to be so much tech built in its hard to know what i want and what i need and what i dont know what i dont want that i may need!

  63. Jason

    Hello! Would be great to see a review of the new Solar GPS Pulse watch. Thanks!

  64. rajo

    I am surprised that I don't see the Suunto Quest GPS. It costs $249 including HRM and seems to have functionaility only found in the Garmin 600 series.

    • Rainmaker replied

      The Suunto Quest doesn't actually have GPS in it, but rather a separate pod.

  65. Dennis


    With the current sale price of $219 for the Ambit 2S, would you see that as a better deal than going with a 310XT? You mentioned that the 310Xt is still a great price to functionality unit.


    • Rainmaker replied

      In general for triathletes - yes, because of the indoor swimming. For those that do complex custom workouts or intervals though, the 310XT might be a bit better option. But yeah, the 2S continues to be awesome at $219.

  66. Navnit Ranjan

    Hi Rey,
    I agree Suunto2 S is great at this price point of 219 but is it better to go for Ambit2S or wait and see as Suunto may be releasing 3S like Ambit3 .

  67. rajo

    The price of the Quest is $150 with HRM. with HRM and GPS POD retail is $249.

    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, but most people don't want to run with a separate GPS pod (that you have to charge). Thus, it doesn't make my recommendations since I can't really recommend it. Given there are other more capable watches starting at $150ish that support HR straps (per above), those are better options.

  68. rajo

    I guess the issue is that if I want my HR Recovery stored and an index for Overtraining, etc, I can either pay $399 for the FR 620 or use Strava GPS on my mobile phone and buy the Quest for $150. Do you know of any other GPS/HR all in one that has what I need in the under $200 range?

    • Rainmaker replied

      Units like the TomTom Runner have a HR strap and are under $200. Alternatively, if you like your phone you could get the Magellan Echo, which just dropped down to $129 (+ I think about $40 for the HR strap). And then you can use a slew of apps.

  69. RaviVyas

    i dropped my tomtom multi-sport and cracked the glass. feeling rotten as i had chosen this one because it allowed me to run even in mumbai rains and now, i am not going to be able to wear it for the next few months. anyone with experience of mending a cracked glass on their gps watch?

  70. Corri

    Excellent article as usual! I have a slightly off-topic question: where is that outdoor pool in your picture?
    link to dcrainmaker.com

    That looks amazing! I want to take my new Garmin Swim over there workout :)

  71. fili

    Hi Ray,

    are you aware of any news for what concerning Android developments? They were expected in Q2-14.

    I will need then to use it on my two bikes where I have aero bar (3T ergonova and Giant AERO). Any clue on which support should I buy? Wish to sell my edge510.

    Thanks a lot mate.


    PS I was referring to Garmin Fenix2 device.

    • Rainmaker replied

      As of last week, Android is now fully supported on the Fenix2 - including Smart Notifications.

    • fili replied

      Excellent stuff Ray! Thanks a lot. Any help on bar mounting?

  72. Brian

    As everyone else, I too appreciate all the time you put into the product reviews. Makes for an informed decision. I've had an experience with the 910XT that I thought I'd pass along. I bought my first 2 years ago and am now on my 3rd device. Like clockwork my altimeter goes out at 12 months. I've talked with Garmin and they have indicated that this is a known problem and are willing to fix it for another $90. I like the functionality of the device which is why I've exchanged my 3 times but am getting more concerned with this approach and questionable data issues coming from my other ANT devices. Any experience you've had that would show the stability over time?

    • Rainmaker replied

      On your altimeter, have you tried the warm bowl of soapy water and/or toothbrush trick?

    • Brian replied

      I hadn't heard of this. I'll give it a try, thanks for the tip!

  73. Tam Mutu

    Hi Ray

    Am really torn between 2 watches. The Tom Tom Runner Cardio and the Garmin Forerunner 620. Both are cool but can't decide. I love the simplicity of the TT but the GF has a lot more features. The V02 and Oscillation features on the GF are great. But the inbuilt HRM in the TT is a major plus. Both are expensive but would appreciate any help or suggestions in aiding me choose.

    Thanks so much


    • Rainmaker replied

      I'd ignore the Running Dynamics pieces and instead focus on how much you value the built-in heart rate strap. That's in my opinion the biggest reason to choose the TomTom unit. If that's not a critical item for you, I'd look at the FR220 or FR620 (with looking at the FR220 being more relevant to the features on the TomTom units).

    • Tam Mutu replied

      Thanks so much Ray. Think I may give the TomTom a go. Appreciate the advise.

  74. Jason

    Ray, this is an incredible breakdown and in very useful. I do have one question however.

    I noticed that absent in the Triathlon budget options is the Tom Tom MultiSport. I believe it has all the features the others do, plus it has some of the swimming features the others don't. Am I missing something, or did you just not feel it was up to snuff to make the list. I wanted to ask you about that before making a decision.

    Thanks in Advance

    • Rainmaker replied

      The challenge is that the TomTom doesn't actually have a multisport mode, which makes it tough for triathlons. Further, it doesn't support outdoor swimming (just pool swimming). Lastly, in comparison to the units noted, the TomTom is very basic feature-wise. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but from my recommendations standpoint I generally wouldn't recommend the multisport edition.

    • Jason replied

      Thanks so much.

    • Jason replied

      Actually, i do have a followup comment. (sorry to bother). What about for only training purposes, where I wouldn't be rushing between events. Also, I don't train outdoors for swimming.

  75. Collin

    Hi Ray,

    Your site has been very helpful in my search for the right fitness watch. I'm currently off-season training (running and biking) for Cross-Country Skiing and looking first and foremost for heart-rate monitoring and workout planning capabilities. With that in mind, I started looking only at Polar devices, but have found myself considering Garmin devices after seeing your recommendations.

    I know Polar has it's origins in heart rate monitoring and Garmin's is in GPS. Do you feel that Garmin's heart rate monitoring and analysis is on par with Polar?

    I'm thinking a multi-sport watch would be best and am considering the 310xt, 910xt, and RCX5. I've seen you mention that the RCX5 is a dated watch, but it seems the 910xt is almost as old and 310xt is even older. Is it the overall Garmin experience (web,software,compatibility) that puts the 310xt over the RCX5 for you?



  76. Erik

    Any first impressions with the upcoming Timex RunX50+?


Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>