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My Winter 2015-2016 Sports Gadget Recommendations

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Introduction:

(Before we start, you can find my Black Friday deals post here, expect a massive update of products on sale on Thursday morning when many deals kick off.  This guide attempts to as best as possible take into account those price changes, while also providing guidance beyond this weekend.)

It’s once again that time of year for my recommendations guide.  I tend to time this to be just ahead of the holiday buying season, but more importantly to take into account what is usually a glut of new devices that have arrived over the past 45-60 days.  I’ve been holding off just a few weeks longer than I’d normally want to, simply to ensure adequate time with all of these devices before making recommendations.  That said, there are a couple of ‘provisional recommendations’ based on devices that have just arrived in the last few days or weeks where I don’t feel like I quite have the time I want to make a solid recommendation.  Yet, ignoring them would be equally wonky.

My goal here being to give my specific recommendations – exactly the same recommendations I’d give to my own friends and family.  This post isn’t here to list every option on the market in an effort to make every manufacturer happy.  Nope, it’s a clear cut ‘what I’d buy’ for certain use cases.  Of course as more and more companies get into the market, there ends up being more and more possible scenarios as the products expand in functionality.

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 (about the only thing that might change on my list is using the FR235 instead of the FR620 for running, we’ll see…).

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% on non-clearance/deep-sale items). 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:

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Note that I’ve re-split up these recommendations this year a bit.  Also note that in this case I’m specifically referring to running watches, not multisport watches, they have their own category.  For this category I assume that you’re going to spend 80%+ of your time running.

Do keep in mind that this category is semi-heavy Garmin, because quite frankly – neither Polar or Suunto have released new running-specific watches this year (just variants of existing products).  Or even last year either in the case of Polar.  The only other mainstream entrant that deserved to be here was TomTom, which you’ll find below.

Road Running – Best All Arounder: Garmin FR230/235

I think Garmin really nailed it with the FR230/235 series.  The singular difference between these watches is the optical sensor in the FR235, which the FR230 lacks.  This unit replaces the FR220/225 products of the past, which I felt were overpriced in the mid-range arena compared to Polar’s M400.  But with the FR230, Garmin added in a slew of features once previously only seen on the $400 watches, now at $250.

The FR235 meanwhile has optical HR in it.  In my testing it’s good.  Not perfect yet, but generally very strong for running (less so cycling).  I think the gaps that I have seen with it, they’ll be able to solve – such as more smoothing needed, as well as an already planned upcoming battery improvement fix.  You’ll see my full in-depth review of it sometime late Wednesday (today).

I suspect that the FR235 will become my primary running watch.  Whether or not I end up using the optical sensor on it 100% of the time might be up for debate still, but it checks all the boxes I care about in a running watch today.

Road Running – Geekful of data: Garmin FR630

This is a bit of a new category.  Previously I’ve done it more by price breakouts, but I think that with the slight change in product lineups by comparing geeky data features it deserves its own category.

Right now, there’s no watch that gives as much geeky running data as the FR630.  Sure, the Fenix3 and FR920XT are soon getting the Gen2 Running Dynamics, but the FR630 does contain things like the Lactate Threshold testing and music/playlist control from your phone.  More than that though, it’s just a heck of a lot smaller.

To be clear, you can get about 95% of the stuff in the FR630 on a Fenix3/FR920XT, but it’s really the size as the reason people go smaller.  Some won’t care about that – but for others that’s hugely important.

(Note: This recommendation is semi-provisional right now, since my in-depth review is still pending, likely publishing early next week.  Right now things are mostly quite good, though there are a few hiccups on the touch screen I’m still working through.)

Running – With Music: TomTom Spark

Ok, at the expense of creating a category for the sake of creating a category – too many people asked about this in years past.  So let’s keep this simple: If you want music with your running GPS watch, go out and get the TomTom Spark.  You can get it with or without optical heart rate.  You could also look at the Adidas Smart Run GPS, but I find that awkwardly big for most people, and it tends to be a bit pricier.

The TomTom Spark includes 3GB of music storage, and you can use any Bluetooth headphones to connect to it.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty clean and straightforward mid-range GPS running watch.

Running – Best Sub-$200 Watch: TomTom Runner2 Variants

Now this one is tricky.  Yes, there’s the Garmin FR25 that’s out there – and it’s a great little watch that has smart notifications.  It sits in there around $169.  But, at the same time, there’s the TomTom Runner & Spark/Runner2 units.  The base TomTom Spark/Runner2 is at $149, which makes it far more functional than the FR25, minus the text notifications (but that’s coming soon anyway).  It just has more features.  Though the FR25 is smaller on the wrist. Of course, the Polar M400 is often in the same price range too – though it seems to have long term issues with the USB connector. Still, it’s a good running watch and thus something you can consider and compare features.

Yet it gets even messier.  See, the original TomTom Runner also often goes on sale for sub-$99 (it’s currently $99), making it even better than the FR10/15 below.  So you’ve gotta be a little bit aware of things there.  If you see the original TomTom units sub-$100, go for them over the Garmin’s.  Otherwise, for that $100-$199 range, hit up the TomTom Runner2/Spark.

Running – Best Sub-$100 Watch: FR10/15 on big sale, TomTom Runner otherwise

Finally, heed the advice in the previous paragraph first, and then assuming none of them are sub-$100, then dig around for the FR10/FR15 on sale.  I’ve seen it for as low as $50, off and on lately on random sales.  Otherwise, the TomTom Runner is $99 most of the time and a sweet deal.

Sure, there are other cheap watches in that ballpark (usually more $60-$80), but overwhelmingly the complaints I hear from folks is that the software on those platforms is flaky at best, and cumbersome at worst.  In my occasional testing of units out there (I buy a lot of random stuff to try out), I find the user interfaces super-old school and support rough.  It’s usually just worth an extra Starbucks Frappuccino or two to get a unit from Garmin or TomTom here.

Hiking/Trail/Ultra Running – Best in Class: Fenix3, or Ambit 3 on sale.

My advice here is nearly the same as last year – if you’re spending time out in the woods, get the Fenix3.  It’s simply the best all around option for people spending time out in the trails.  It has everything the FR920XT does, except more navigation related features.  Oh, and it looks a heck of a lot more classy.  So for some of you, you’ll get it just because it’s classy looking.  Note that you can easily swap any of my recommendations above on running (or triathlon below) for the Fenix3 if you’d like.  It’s simply that I believe the Fenix3 is overkill for most runners, albeit just as easy to use as the other watches.

However, you’ll note the Ambit3 is in there.  Some believe the Ambit3 has better GPS accuracy in harder conditions than the Fenix3.  I think that may be barely true, but only to a certain point.  I did some hiking this summer and found that in the hardest of conditions, all three companies (Garmin/Polar/Suunto) can get into trouble just as much as each other.  However, if you can find a good deal on the Ambit3, then it’s still a superb product. Just one that lacks all of the features of the Fenix3 lineup.  Simply decide if you need those features.

The one caveat would be if you really really really want mapping, then Epix is honestly your only choice.  It has all the features of the Fenix3, but also with visual maps you can load and buy.  But in general it just doesn’t make my general recommendations guide.  I think it’s usually a good device, but just not my cup of tea.

‘2015 Winter Recommendations: Running Watches’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programReview
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 26th, 2016 @ 7:55 pm
TomTom Spark$149-$199 (Features Vary)LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 230$249LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 235$329LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 630$399LinkLinkLink
Garmin Fenix3$499LinkLinkLink
Garmin Epix$549LinkLinkLink
Suunto Ambit3 Peak$499LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 15$139LinkLinkLink
TomTom Runner$99LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 10$129LinkLinkLink

Triathlon GPS Watches:

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

Overall Best in Class: Garmin FR920XT and Fenix3

I’m not really sure there’s any surprise here.  Garmin dominates this category for good reason – it’s simply got the most features for the buck – and it’s got more flexibility than other watches.  They’re the only units that offer a quick release for moving from swim to bike to run, as well as offering far superior power meter capabilities than either Suunto or Polar.

As for choosing between the two, it’s honestly mostly going to come down to style choice and display preferences.  The Fenix3 is more fashionable in an office setting, whereas the FR920XT tends to be more sporty in a Newton shoes sense.  The Fenix3 also offers more navigational features, in the event you’re doing hiking and the like.

Note that the Epix does actually have all the software features of the FR920XT & Fenix3 from a triathlon standpoint, and of course includes maps too, but it’s bigger and costs more.  And for 99.99% of people out there, it’s probably unnecessary for triathlon.

Budget Options: Suunto Ambits on Sale

Now if you’re looking for a budget watch, the Suunto Ambit’s when on sale tend to be great alternatives.  Both Peak and Sport models are strong contenders in triathlon realm, though they lack really strong power meter support – so if you have a power meter, you might want to look elsewhere.  But if you’re getting into the sport, there can be some great deals here.  Note that the Ambit3 Run does NOT include swimming or cycling sensor support – so you’ll want to avoid that.  But the Ambit3 Peak and Sport both include it, and I often use the Ambit3 as a solid reference unit in openwater swim tests (I find it consistently tends to perform the best there out of all openwater swim units I use).

As for deciding between Peak and Sport, the key difference is the barometric altimeter.  I find that Suunto has done a superb job with GPS based elevation, so I think the Peak is less valuable for triathletes (but more valuable if you’re out on a trail/hike).

Note: For triathlon I do NOT recommend the TomTom Cardio/Spark or Vivoactive:

I want to be really clear on this.  The reason I don’t recommend these watches is twofold, but mainly centers on the fact that they don’t support a multisport mode.  Yes, it supports running, and cycling, and indoor swimming.  But you can’t tie all those together in a race or training.  Further, it doesn’t support openwater swimming.

This is pretty similar for some of the other running watches like the Polar M400 or Garmin FR230/235/620/630.  Yes, they all support running and cycling, but none support swimming metrics and none support multisport modes.  If you cycle sparingly and don’t swim, then they’re all still viable options.

‘2015 Winter Recommendations: Triathlon Watches’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programReview
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 26th, 2016 @ 7:55 pm
Garmin Fenix3$499LinkLinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 920XT$449LinkLinkLink
Suunto Ambit3 Sport$399LinkLinkLink
Suunto Ambit3 Peak$499LinkLinkLink
Suunto Ambit2 R$250LinkLinkLink
Suunto Ambit2$319LinkLinkLink
Suunto Ambit2 S$219LinkLinkLink

Cycling GPS Units:

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This field has mostly seen competitors abandon it.  No, really, they have.  Sure PowerTap has released a slightly updated version of the Joule GPS+ with Bluetooth capabilities, and Mio has pretty much stopped updating their cycling series with anything meaningful.  Cateye has made some inroads in the lower-end market, but that’s it.

Really the only one who’s given it a go is Polar, for which they submitted a rock star entry this past summer in the M450.  We of course also have Wahoo with their pending ELEMNT, which looks like it could be a very solid first go at the GPS bike computers, however, it just got delayed till January – so it can’t make the cut for now, but is certainly something to keep tabs on.

Best All Around Cycling GPS: Garmin Edge 520:

Over the last few months, I’ve totally transitioned my bike computers to being a fleet of Edge 520’s.  Of course, I use multiple head units for recording data, and these days I’ve literally got four of them up on my handlebars for day to day rides recording power meter data.

For everyone else though – it’s my best overall recommendation on a bike computer.  It’s got built-in Strava segment support, while also having the ability to add maps to it for basic navigation/awareness.  Plus upcoming Connect IQ support for 3rd party apps.  And, it’s just about the right size and really nails the experience.  This hands-down wins this category.

Best Budget GPS Unit: Polar M450

Now, at half the price of the Edge 520 is the Polar M450.  It was announced about two weeks prior to the Edge 520, and is a sweet little unit for $169.  It’s essentially the core features you want on a GPS bike computer, in a rather nice little size.  It can sync your rides afterwards via Bluetooth Smart, and soon also send those completed rides to Strava wirelessly (a major step forward for Polar).  Basically, if you don’t have a power meter, don’t care about on-unit mapping, and don’t care about Strava Segment integration, then I’d definitely consider this unit – especially if you have Bluetooth Smart sensors.

Best Commuter Options: Wahoo RFLKT

Now this is a super-interesting option right now, in light of Wahoo’s Black Friday sale that will put the base RFLKT at $49.  Even more so since last week they announced smartphone notifications will now appear on the RFLKT, plus a bunch of other backend changes they’ve made in recent firmware, based on Wahoo ELEMNT learning’s.  For $49 you get something that you can easily pop on a commuter bike and ride with to record stats and quickly upload them to various sites.  Plus, you can connect to Bluetooth Smart sensors too (if you get the RFLKT+ version, you can also connect to ANT+ sensors).

I think if post-Black Friday they keep the price in the $69-$79 range, sorta like the Bontrager Node units used to be, it’d be a fascinatingly compelling price point/product.

‘2015 Winter Recommendations: Cycling Units’ compatiblePrice / Street PriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programReview / More Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 26th, 2016 @ 7:55 pm
Garmin Edge 520$299LinkLinkLink
Polar M450$169LinkLinkLink
Wahoo Fitness RFLKT+$130LinkN/ALink

Swimming:

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Swimming devices continue to be a funny realm that mostly gets ignored by companies, since many competitive swimmers don’t like to wear tech (or even a basic watch).  So it’s hard to make inroads into the category with such a small market.  Still, here’s some thoughts.

MP3 Players: FINIS Neptune*

This has been my mainstay recommendation for a swimming MP3 player for about two years now, mostly because I like the display aspect, since it makes it easy to get things queued up, while the sound quality is also just fine for a pool.  And then finally, the buttons also makes it easy.  If I look at reader feedback, most are quite happy as well there – with the only complaints coming from folks that require swappage of the device after significant use (which FINIS covers).

*You’ll notice an asterisk, that’s because FINIS just last week started shipping their new Duo (pictured above).  This sorta combines the Neptune functionality with that of the original SwiMP3, it also fixes much of the charging issues with the SwiMP3.  I just haven’t had time to really dig into it yet, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Indoor Pool Watch: “It’s Complicated”…with a side of Vivoactive.

This one is also messy, because I’ve previously recommended (and loved) the Garmin Swim watch.  It was roughly sub-$150, but also now like 3-4 years old and basically untouched.  From a functionality standpoint it was great having a year-long battery life so it just hung out in your swim bag and sync’d when it was close to your computer.  However, it lacked Bluetooth Smart for your phone to download that way, so it’s kinda lost favored nation status.

Instead, your next best bet is the Vivoactive, which is sub-$200 these days.  It’s slimmer than the Garmin Swim was, and just as capable in the pool.  Plus, it has running and cycling and activity tracking and all sorts of other jazz.  Still, I wish there was a Garmin Swim2 with Bluetooth…and done.

Openwater Swim: No good answer

Quite frankly, nobody makes a good dedicated outdoor swim watch.  Your best bet here is to either get one of the multisport/triathlon watches for openwater swim mode (on your wrist).  Or, to otherwise just use any GPS you have and plop it in your swimcap using the swimcap method.

Sensors and mounts:

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

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 almost all categories now.  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.

Heart Rate Sensor: Scosche Rhythm+ (Optical Sensor)

This is my primary and singular running/cycling/hiking/etc heart rate sensor (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.  The Scosche is dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, so it can transmit to just about anything.  I’ve used it now as my primary strap for almost two years.  You’ll see it in almost all my tests these days.

Speed/Cadence: Wahoo BlueSCv2

Wahoo’s BlueSCv2 is what I use when I want a combo speed/cadence sensor, which includes both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart (dual)  Thus, two for the price of one.  I love this model though because of the quick release bands making it easy to move between bikes if you need to.  You’ll find this on all my bikes where I’m doing power meter testing, as I use the magnets as a ‘known good’ for validating cadence readings.

If however, you’re looking for a cheaper (ANT+ only) combo option, just simply pickup the Garmin GSC-10 – which usually hovers around $30-$35.  I believe Bontrager also has a dual option out these days too, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Cadence-Only: Wahoo RPMv2

This one is another unit that you’ll find on many of my test bikes, mostly because of portability.  I also take it with me travelling when I’m using a hotel spin bike.  It’s a small pod that attaches to the side of your bike crank and it transmits on both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart, so you can use it with your Garmin device or your smart phone.

Speed-Only: Garmin Speed-Only Sensor

Since Wahoo hasn’t yet come out with a dual ANT+/BLE speed sensor, it’s the Garmin one for the win.  This 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 previously.

Note: You can also try out the Velocomp dual ANT+/BLE sensors, which I’ve been using on and off – but I just haven’t tried the BLE portion out as much yet.

Running Footpods (ANT+): 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’.

Running Footpods (Bluetooth Smart) : 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.

Best ANT+ to BLE Bridging Solution: 4iiii Viiiiva

While this may seem an odd category, I keep getting requests for it – so I’m putting it here to assist folks in my recommendation.  There is really only one other competitor in this space, which is the Mio Velo.  However, I find that 4iiii has done a much better job with the overall ‘package’ on the Viiiiva, which just got a huge pile of cool updates even this week (years after release), including the ability to save data while away from the phone and the ability to work with ANT+ gym equipment (something Garmin watches used to do).  Oh, and it’s still a dual ANT+/BLE HR strap.

Bike Computer Mounts (just computer): Barfly 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.  Note that I easily recommend the Barfly for just the bike computer, but if you plan on attaching an action camera to the same mount, read on…

Bike Computer/Action Cam Combo Mount: K-Edge Combo Mounts:

In the event you’re going to hang an action cam from your bike computer mount, that’s where I typically recommend you transition away from the Barfly mount and more to the K-Edge mount, due to the stability for cameras.  Read more on that in my action-cam section though.

‘2015 Winter Recommendations: Sensors’ compatibleStreet Price / PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10MHD)More Info / Review
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 26th, 2016 @ 7:55 pm
Wahoo Blue SCv2 - Bluetooth Smart/ANT+ Speed/Cadence Sensor$59LinkN/AN/A
Wahoo Fitness RPM2 (Bluetooth Smart/ANT+ Cadence Sensor)$49LinkN/AN/A
Adidas Running Footpood (Bluetooth Smart)$79LinkN/ALink
Scosche RHYTHM+$79LinkLinkLink
Garmin Speed-Only ANT+ Sensor (magnet-less)$39LinkLinkLink
K-Edge Action Cam MountsVariesLinkLinkLink
4iiii's Viiiiva ANT+ to Bluetooth Smart HR Strap & Bridge$79.00LinkLinkLink
Timex ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)$51.00LinkN/ALink
Suunto ANT/ANT+ Running Footpod (good for both ANT types)$70.00LinkN/ALink
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)$45LinkLinkLink
Barfly Tate Labs Timetrial/Triathlon Bike Mount (for all Edge units, 310XT/910XT/920XT with quick release kit)$37LinkLinkLink
Barfly Tate Labs Road/Mountain Bike Handlebar Mount (for all Edge units, FR310XT/910XT/920XT with quick release kit)$25LinkLinkLink

Weight Scales (Connected):

Withings-WS50-WS30-WiFiScales

Best Options: Fitbit Aria or Withings WS-30/WS-50*

I’ve been including little snippets of these scales in my Fitbit Surge and Withings Activité 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, and body fat).  Any other relevant differences are partnerships or platforms.  And, again, they’re both great scales.  I use them both, frankly just depending on which bathroom I’m in.

*The one exception here is the new Garmin Index scale, if you’re heavily aligned to Garmin.  I have a fully separate post coming out on Thursday talking in detail about choosing a WiFi weight scale (yes, perfectly timed to your Thanksgiving self-stuffing).  But basically, if you’re really into having all your Garmin data in one spot, then the Index makes a ton of sense (and thus far, it works pretty darn well for me).  But if you’ve got data in other spots/partners – then it makes less sense to get the Index since they partner with only a single site: MyFitnessPal.

‘2015 Winter Recommendations: Weight Scales’ compatibleStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10MHD)More Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 26th, 2016 @ 7:55 pm
Garmin Index Smart WiFi Scale$149LinkLinkLink
Withings WS-50/Smart Body Analyzer WiFi Weight Scale$149LinkLinkLink
Withings WS-30 WiFi Weight Scale$99LinkLinkLink
FitBit Aria WiFi Weight Scale$129LinkLinkLink

Action Cameras:

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Best All Around Action Cam: GoPro Hero4 Silver

I love my little Hero4 Silver.  Seriously, you’re not taking it from me.  It’s not just one thing that makes it awesome.  It’s the quality of the lens/resolution I get on both photo and video, it’s the super-crisp touch screen on the back, it’s the fact that the app is super-mature and easy to use (and far faster than Garmin’s), plus the size makes it easy to use.  I bring this everywhere; it’s always with me on every trip and the vast majority of runs and rides.  Plus, when I want to shoot 2.7K, I can do that.

I have virtually no complaints about the camera, except I wish that it also did what Garmin’s VIRB XE does with dashboard metrics.

Best Cam for Sports Metrics: Garmin VIRB XE

So why the VIRB XE if I love the Hero4 Silver?  Well, there are cases where I want to share videos with various dashboard metrics overlaid on it – like power, speed, pace, etc… For this, the Garmin VIRB XE rocks.  They’ve taken all of the quirks of the original VIRB and really cleaned them up, and the desktop software is just super easy to use and produces really pretty videos.  I do find the phone app often flaky and slow though.

So why not just use the GoPro combined with a Garmin wearable to record the data and mix after the fact?  Well, it’s just one more thing to deal with.  For me, I find the time savings worth it.  So if I’m shooting something that I want to share that type of info (i.e. a ride or something else that would have data overlaid), I’m going to go for the VIRB XE.  I do find that the photo performance in low-light far lags behind the Hero4 Silver, but in good sunny conditions it does quite well.

Best Safety Cam: Cycliq Fly6

Next we’ve got the Fly6.  If you’re not familiar, this isn’t an action cam per se, but it’s the closest category I’ve got.  It combines a rear light (which you’d want anyway) with a camera.  Basically, this is a safety cam.  And not in the sense that it’s going to save your ass, but rather, it’s like an insurance policy for later.  I have it on my bikes while riding around the vast majority of the time and it’s just silly easy to use.

Now, this isn’t really a replacement for a GoPro or the like, it’s not got that level of quality.  Rather – it’s just so in the event something bad happens to you – you can prove it wasn’t your fault, or even better – catch the person if they left you at the scene.

Action Cam Mounts: K-Edge Action Cam Mounts

Now, while I often use the Barfly for my Garmin Edge, I really prefer the K-Edge mounts for my action cams.  I’ve come to love the sturdiness of the K-Edge mounts, especially the new combo mounts they’ve made (Garmin + GoPro).  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’ve bought front/back mounts for every bike I have, love them.

‘2015 Winter Recommendations: Action Cameras’ compatibleStreet Price / PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10MHD)More Info / Review
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 26th, 2016 @ 7:55 pm
Cycliq Fly6 Bike Camera$169LinkLinkLink
Garmin VIRB XE$399LinkLinkLink
GoPro Hero4 Silver$399LinkLinkLink
K-Edge Action Cam MountsVariesLinkLinkLink

Activity Trackers:

So…here’s the thing, in the past, I used to have a section here on activity trackers.  But the market has simply gotten so big, and the features in general overlap each other on so many units.  It’s nearly impossible to simply say “Go get a Fitbit” or “Go get a Polar Loop” or “Go Get a Jawbone”.

Instead, it’s really best to look at whatever activity trackers either:

A) Your friends are using
B) Your existing device is on

Seriously.  If you’re motivated by competing with friends, then you want to be on the same platform as them.  So if they’re all on Fitbit – go get a Fitbit.  And same goes for Garmin or Withings, or anyone else.

Secondly, if you already have (for example) a Garmin device, heck, it’s likely it has an activity tracker in it.  But say you want something else – in that case, get something on the same platform as that – so you can track everything in one place.  It’d make no sense to have a Fitbit activity tracker and a Garmin GPS watch.

Next to last – the vast majority of activity trackers are roughly accurate.  To that I meant that no activity tracker on the market is perfect.  None.  Instead, they are estimations – treat them as such.  Each company tries to fine tune their algorithms for various use cases.  Some might be better at guarding against false positives in the shower, but less so doing dishes.  Others the inverse.  What matters is that at the end of the day if you’re activity tracker said you only did 2,000 steps, and you’re goal was 10,000 steps – then you were…lazy.  Meanwhile, if it says you did 9,782 steps and you think you really did 9,923 or 9,458 – just go walk around the block an extra time.  It’s about tracking trends – not exacts.

Lastly, in general I prefer activity trackers that have a display on them.  If I didn’t need a display, then most phones these days can track 99% of your awake time anyway.  So for me, I want to be able to glance at my wrist and see how many steps I have and how far from a goal I am.

Cycling Power Meters:

CyclingPowerMeters

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 this 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.

Cycling Trainers:

IMG_0502

The best way to cover this section is to go read my complete 2015 cycling trainers guide, so again like power meters, I’d go over and check out that post for all my recommendations (a massive list on a slew of categories).

Obviously, given it’s now basically the trainer season, there’s no more trainers coming out till at the earliest mid-next year, with most announcements typically happening at Eurobike in August each year.

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
Bia GPS
Bryton Cardio 60 Multisport Watch
CycleOps Joule 2.0 (Original)
CycleOps Joule GPS
Epson SF-810
FINIS Swimsense
Fitbit Surge
Garmin Edge 1000
Garmin Edge 20
Garmin Edge 200
Garmin Edge 25
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 510
Garmin Edge 520
Garmin Edge 705
Garmin Edge 800
Garmin Edge 810
Garmin Edge Touring (Normal)
Garmin Edge Touring (Plus)
Garmin Epix
Garmin Fenix
Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SE
Garmin Fenix3
Garmin Fenix3 HR
Garmin Forerunner 10
Garmin Forerunner 110
Garmin Forerunner 15
Garmin Forerunner 210
Garmin Forerunner 220
Garmin Forerunner 225
Garmin Forerunner 230
Garmin Forerunner 235
Garmin Forerunner 25
Garmin Forerunner 305
Garmin Forerunner 310XT
Garmin Forerunner 405
Garmin Forerunner 410
Garmin Forerunner 60/70
Garmin Forerunner 610
Garmin Forerunner 620
Garmin Forerunner 630
Garmin Forerunner 735XT
Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Garmin Forerunner 920XT
Garmin Swim
Garmin Tactix
Garmin Vivoactive
Garmin Vivoactive HR
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
Leikr GPS
Magellan Echo
Magellan Switch & Switch Up
Microsoft Band 2
Mio Alpha Optical HR Monitor
Motorola Motoactv
Nike+ GPS Sportwatch
O-Synce Navi2Coach
Polar A300
Polar M400
Polar M450
Polar RC3
Polar RCX3
Polar RCX5
Polar V650
Polar V800
Soleus 1.0 GPS
Soleus 2.0 GPS
Suunto Ambit
Suunto Ambit2
Suunto Ambit2 R
Suunto Ambit2 S
Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS
Timex Global Trainer
Timex Marathon GPS
Timex One GPS+
Timex Run Trainer GPS 1.0
Timex Run Trainer GPS 2.0
Timex Run x20 GPS
Timex Run x50
TomTom Multisport
TomTom Multisport Cardio
TomTom Runner
TomTom Runner Cardio
TomTom Spark
Wahoo ELEMNT

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

‘2015-2016 Winter Gadget Recommendations’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programReview
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 26th, 2016 @ 7:55 pm
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312 Comments

  1. Sagar

    Awesome! Cant wait for your 230/235 review later in the day. Just hope the HR tracking for cycling is serviceable

    Reply
  2. Stefan G.

    Ray,
    Maybe you will mention this in the 230/235 review, If so you can ignore this post.

    I’d like to know what it is that make you recommend FR230 so good compared to M400?

    Reply
    • Adam

      my guess would be:
      – battery life
      – IQ Connect
      – vibration alerts
      – advanced workouts (* not sure here though, matter of taste I guess)

      Reply
    • Mike S.

      I bought the M400 last spring before the new Garmins came out. At the time Ray favoured the M400 over the 220 (except for a few caveats) as it was cheaper and nearly the same as the 220 feature-wise.

      I’m pretty happy with the device and just got a Scosche Rhythm+ for the HR data. My only complaint is the charging port which is a pain to access and plug in. On the other hand, you can use any standard micro-usb cable instead of a proprietary cable.

      Battery life is pretty good. I can go 3-4 days between charging.

      Garmin has pretty well knocked it out of the park with the 230 and 235. I’m looking forward to see how Polar responds.

      Having said that, if I were buying *today* I’d probably spend the extra money to get the 230 for the extra features it offers. But I am happy right now with the M400.

      Reply
    • Mike S.

      One more minor complaint about the M400.

      While you can use a third party HRM with the watch, it won’t work with the watch’s Fitness Test for some reason. Same with their IOS app Polar Beat.

      This is annoying but not enough for me to jump ship. Yet.

      Reply
    • Adam

      Mike,
      Polar uses Heart Rate Variability in their Fitness test and Orthostatic Test in conjuction with heart rate. Many third party HRMs dont measure heart rate variability so the M400 wont have all of the metrics to runs those tests.

      Reply
  3. Marcel

    Looks like someone was up all night, writing :) Thanks for the recommendations, Ray. A ‘quick’ Q: a friend asked me about my Garmin experience and said he was considering… the 225. Is that completely out as a cheaper alternative to the 235? In answering, I told him about the 235, but since I doubt he cares about the connected features much, I also pointed him towards TomTom, while mentioning that according to your review, the 225 was a good watch in itself, which might get have some good deals now. Should I have steered him away from it completely?

    Reply
  4. Volker

    …still waiting for your “in depth review” of the epix…

    Reply
    • Brian weatherington

      Ditto going to have to make mind up on next watch soon was hoping for the Epix review first.

      Reply
    • Shaun

      ditto or should it be trippo now?

      Reply
    • michael

      Don’t wait
      It is the best sport watch out there.
      Just 3 grams more then fenix 3 but more convenient form factor, plus better battery life, 8gb of memory and real colorful maps.

      Ray fell to the buggy preproduction restricted version of epix and so did not like it. That’s it.
      I use epix for more than a month as a triathlon and everyday watch. It is a fantastic device!

      Reply
    • Huh? I never had a pre-production unit of Epix (outside of initial photos). Virtually all of my use with Epix has been on a unit I bought at a store two blocks away. :-/

      Reply
    • michael

      Your hand on review of epic was from January 5,
      As far as I understand Garmin started really to sell this watch only half a year later. So what did you have in January if not a preproduction unit?

      Garmin as usual starts selling units with incomplete software so only latest versions of the FW are stable and bug free on the level of 920 or fenix3.
      I use 3.10 version.

      BTW I love your reviews. You do a great job!

      Reply
    • Per the “outside of initial photos”, that was a beta/pre-prod unit at/before CES, and then I didn’t touch/have another one till I bought one in (May?). That Jan post wasn’t a review, I think I even state that. It’s just an overview of things – that’s all.

      I was responding to the comment saying I had done all my testing on a pre-prod unit, which simply isn’t the case. I’ve had a retail unit (which was very buggy upon launch), though in general it’s fairly stable for what I’ve used, lately.

      Reply
    • Michael

      I see, sorry for misunderstanding. You invest so much to the “overview of things” so it looks like a review :-)

      I am just trying to find the explanation (as well as many others I guess) why you did not publish a “in-depth” for Epix yet and we see that you are still using it from time to time.

      BTW Fenix 1 and Fenix 2 I had before the Epix, both had much more bugs in the SW in complarison to Epix half a year after the lunch.

      I train around 7 times a week with Epix (running, cycling and swimming) and currently the most bothering bug for me is the occasional unlock of a “touch screen lock”. Yesterday it happened to me after a 1.5 wave catched me during an open water swimming session and the active touch screen with a lot of water drops made my watch crazy.

      Reply
    • Sandro

      Until this is fixed, if you don’t really need much interaction with the watch I suggest to lock the device instead of the screen. That seems to really lock it for good. Also, I suggest to do the same if you expect to enter those conditions: for example when running under rain I lock it before I start, as otherwise at some point it will inevitably start behaving like a monkey was touching screen and pressing keys.

      Reply
    • Michael

      Thanks for the tip, Sandro!
      I will try this.

      Reply
    • Jacques Dean

      Hey DC

      Great site! Work in outdoor retail (South Africa) and use your site daily to see what’s coming up.

      What happened to the Garmin FR25 review? Can’t seem to find it on the site anymore.

      Thanks again again, keep on keeping on.

      Reply
    • I have a hands-on preview of sorts here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      But haven’t actually published a review on that unit.

      Reply
    • Jacques Dean

      Great thanks, will check it out. Seems like pretty good value, good bang for your buck at the moment.

      Reply
    • Jacques Dean

      Tried to open the link but she is broken.

      Reply
  5. Tom tom runner 1 better than polar m400??? It,s a joke???
    M400 it’s under 200$ now.

    Regards

    Reply
    • Umm, the Polar M400 has been under $200 for well over a year, get the Runner is half that. From a pure runners perspective looking for a budget watch, there’s very little reason to go spend an extra $100 just for the heck of it.

      Reply
    • Jason

      Amazon has had the m400 for as low as $135 though. $138 right now.

      Reply
  6. I’m surprised the v800 didn’t even get a mention in multisport, it can be found very very cheap these days even if it’s less competitive on a feature basis. It’s also now in theory been finished so can actually do multisport :)

    That said, I’m wondering whether January will bring a replacement from Polar as it’ll be the two year anniversary of the v800, and they’ve recently been toying with colour screens…

    Reply
    • Grzeg1

      I hope it’s not finished… Still no route uploading, immature openwater and indoor swimming support, no cadence from wrist unit, training targets limited to fixed zones, no sensors reconnect support, no battery status during training, no support for many power meters and for any footpod except the big egg. And so on….
      Also (as with M400) I don’t think we’re going to get Strava sync soon. Sadly Polar has a habit of not saying they’re not going to deliver until a few days after the announced date.

      Reply
    • Robert Black

      “training targets limited to fixed zones” That’s the fly in the ointment as far as I’m concerned. otherwise I’m extremely satisfied with both the M400 and V800.

      I can live with manually exporting to sportracks, rotating four pairs of running shoes, I need to specify what shoe I’ve worn when so that’s not an issue for me.

      Reply
    • Yeah, to me the V800 falls outside the scope of devices I’d actually recommend to someone for triathlon. As in, I wouldn’t recommend it to a friend – which is sorta how this post has its origins. I think Grzeg nailed many of the concerns.

      Reply
    • I assumed it wouldn’t be a recommendation, I was just surprised at the complete lack of mention given it was the only other option and it’s extremely discounted right now so is far cheaper than the 920XT. Admittedly when I posted I didn’t know that big list of missing stuff – Polar is more a rose tinted past for me these days. If they had a colour screen and Ant+ I’d probably give them a try but having to replace everything just to give it a go makes it a non-option

      Reply
    • Dom

      “immature openwater and indoor swimming support” – can you be more specific?

      Reply
    • giorgitd

      I was a big Polar fan for many years – I owned an Accurex II (!) and still have a perfectly functional S720i (anyone interested ?). The hardware has been bulletproof and the customer support first rate +++. But when they released the V800 full of promises…ummm…I was not ready to be a beta tester and pay for the privilege. And I did not have confidence that the promises would be met on a reasonable time frame, Seems like I was correct…

      Reply
    • Grzeg1

      Still a lot to do with style recognition, length counting, stroke counting, gps openwater accuracy. No drill mode – if you do drills it will “learn wrong moves” and constantly add/skip lengths until reset. People who replaced it with 920xt say that “it beats V800 hands down when it comes to swimming”. Other than that – HR in the pool does not work because the strap falls off, HR in the open water when using wetsuit does not work because of interference with GPS and signal attentuation by wetsuit. I got it only because of Garmin’s gps issues, but it does not seem to be the case any more, so now I’m thinking about getting rid of it.

      Reply
    • Chris Holliman

      I’m curious why you wouldn’t recommend it nowadays. I do see some knocks which it is doubtful they’ll fix, but almost everything listed previously as “it won’t do” or “it’s coming” is now in it.
      In the “doesn’t” I get that the route uploads are simplistic, and that it doesn’t do some customized training profile methods. Both are “loaded to the watch” options, and I don’t think either are going to be available, neither have ever been promised. But having eliminated those 2 (and only 2) knocks that I still see outstanding, on to the “fixed/now included and WORKING items…)
      It is extremely accurate on GPS tracking (I can see where I’ve had to go 2ft off line around the back end of a car that covers part of the sidewalk on a run as an example).
      It does cadence directly from wrist now (no footpods needed)
      Polar Flow syncs directly to Strava now.
      It tracks indoor AND open water swimming correctly (and has for a very long time, since last summer, as I’ve mentioned, Ray, have you retested it anytime in the past 6-8 months on those features that weren’t working early-on?)
      You can actually see live heart-rate while swimming (something that Garmin simply can’t do, due to the radio technology used). Good to see if you are blowing up your pace in a race instead of overdoing it, rather than waiting till you are out of the water to find out what happened.
      GPS tracking works well, while swimming open water, something Garmin isn’t good at.
      They are now adding GoPro integration to provide video overlay (like the Garmen ViRB), which is a feature I wasn’t even looking for, but is excellent they are pursuing it!
      The V800 updated to 2016 software, is NOTHING like the V800 with early 2015 software. They may have been a little slow, but they have lived up to every promise they’ve made. And now they are adding features that weren’t even on the list (GoPro integration). It isn’t fair to at least consider double-checking before saying you’d not recommend it to someone. Now if they simply have to have highly customizable training profiles, or turn-by-turn routes loaded, I agree that’s lacking, so if that’s the deal breaker, so be it. But for a triathlon or any multi-sport capable tracker (it’s up to something like 42 pre-configured profiles, Kayaking, Volleyball, you name it), if you are wanting to track what you are doing, rather than specifically needing to follow a preset training plan, I’d like to know what it lacks from it’s competition, simply because maybe I’m missing something (and they are slightly adding to the lineup of options with a couple more color palettes).

      Reply
    • Yup, I often use it as a comparison point against other GPS units on the market for GPS track testing. So yes, I do use it often enough to know where it sits. I can’t really give them too many props for adding in basic features (i.e. running cadence) that were promised years ago, and then that competitors have had for years as well.

      That said, at this point the V800 still fails to have many features the FR920XT had from…two years ago. Let alone the Fenix3 or even Ambit3. Plus, aspects like the GoPro integration aren’t here today, but planned for later this year (6+ months from now). Polar hasn’t had a good track record at delivering software updates on time.

      As Greg noted, the HR strap in water really doesn’t work well unless you wear something over it (men or women). So it’s not terribly useful for most situations.

      Nonetheless, as I stated at the beginning of my gadget recommendations – the goal of this list is to give recommendations based on how I’d recommend a device to a friend or family. Not to simply recommend a device to check it off the list as being included. And trying to back into a device isn’t how I decide either.

      Reply
  7. Sandro

    I do a lot of trail running in new places, and for me the Epix has worked really great (occasional bugs aside).
    I typically prepare the gpx trace beforehand, and either just show it on the map or follow the course. I don’t know how the Fenix would have fared in this conditions, as I don’t have one, but the extra benefit of having some map info besides the track itself is a great bonus. And the ability to install maps obtained from OpenStreetMap data, and therefore to iteratively add resources myself to the map, is just great. There are several caveats (e.g., I keep the map oriented north, as refresh due to re-orientation is not great), but for this specific use case I think it’s just a great device already now, and I look forward to what it can become in a few years from now.

    Reply
  8. Daniel

    Hi Ray,

    Your Trainer Recommondation link is broken.
    it’s link to dcrainmaker.com

    Thanks for the great write up!

    Cheers

    Reply
  9. Hi Ray,

    do you know if the signal strength is good enough to record the hard rate with Scosche Rhythm+ while swimming when mounted right next to the watch?

    Thanks for your advice,
    Thomas

    Reply
    • I did a limited test once and it did work, and a few others have done tests too with mostly success.

      Reply
    • Grzeg1

      My SR+ is coming, so once I have it, I’ll be able to tell you more about it. Got it specifically for swimming.

      Reply
    • Grzeg1

      Just finished my first session. It definitely works when next to the watch. Worked both when on the inside and outside of my arm. I suspect though that when on the inside, it reports too low hr. So I put it on the outside but then had to lock buttons as it would press pause when moving hand. I have yet to verify HR accuracy against my H7 but to do it I need another watch (cellphone app won’t do here 😉 )

      Reply
  10. Ray

    Hi Ray
    Any idea when full review will be forthcoming for Edge 520.
    Thanks

    Reply
  11. BartMan

    Looking forward to FINIS Duo review. My current (ear canal based) headset for swimming is driving my crazy, I’m truly considering switch to bone-conduction ones.

    Reply
    • Thomas E.

      Ditto. The first generation (yellow) rocked, the second generation (X2) was a disaster. I think the size and bulkiness of the Neptune’s display screen outweighs the function it provides, so I am excited to see Finis return to the original form factor. I will be interested in Ray’s opinion and especially sound quality and max volume comparisons from the older units.

      Reply
  12. JoeriB

    Ray, any news if Garmin would add Strava segments to one of their watches? This is the only thing holding me against buying a watch. Have currently still an Edge 500, which for my usage is still a great device. Only Strava integration is a thing I really would like to have, in an easy way. I know there are possibilities with the Edge500 with the Ghost function, but not really straightfoward.

    Reply
    • Nothing there. I’ve asked a bunch of times, but that question is always skipped over.

      Reply
    • Carl

      For what it’s worth, ive disabled Strava segments on my Garmin Edge 510. I was super excited for this feature, until i started using it.
      Too many “crappy” segments around here, with red lights and such… plus, it stops displaying all the stats when i get on a segment… which kinda ruins my powermeter-pacing…
      Also, hearing a “looser” sound when you dont bet your PR, kinda annoying…
      So yeah, excited about it until i got to try it out.

      Reply
    • Sebastien

      ditto for the non display of stats when on a segment. If they added the ability to display a couple stat fields on top in the segment screen that would be a LOT better

      Reply
  13. Jason

    Getting the forerunner 220 for Christmas – $150 right now.

    Reply
  14. David Tunney

    Do you think there would be merit in getting a recent Wahoo Kickr and testing it for accuracy? May *significantly* change your trainer recommendations and bring them up to date and, pun intended, make the recommendations more accurate.

    Reply
    • I actually think they have a very strong handle on newer kickers (things made in the last year), since dedicating one persons entire job to accuracy testing. Just as I think the early units were good too. I suspect the problem children are the ones in between those two timeframes.

      Reply
    • David Tunney

      Thanks – unfortunately I seem to have gotten on of the dodgy ones, picked up in Ireland two months ago so lord knows when its was made, but its ****ing useless.

      Will see what happens

      Reply
  15. Tichy

    Ray, what about including the Traverse for hiking? To me, that watch combines the looks of the Fenix 3 with the reliability of Suunto (and has vibration alerts). You can’t connect a Tempe to it, though. At least here it’s also considerably cheaper than the Fenix 3 (2900 vs 3700 NOK).

    Greetings, Tichy

    Reply
    • For me, Traverse is a quirky duck. Like you said, it’s basically the looks of a Fenix3. Or said differently, it’s an Ambit without the bump and with vibration alerts…and that’s it.

      But more problematic, they took a way a ton of functionality from the Ambit. So now you’re with something that costs just as much, but has less. Unless you count the vibration/bump items – but really – those are standard across the board on every other watch from $100 up, so should I really pay more for them?

      Of course, if you’re looking at watches that are hiking, and don’t mind paying a premium – then it’s certainly a contender. There’s nothing wrong with it it (I have a few little quirks I don’t like), but it does work well.

      Reply
    • Tichy

      Ray, define “a ton” 😉 Me being a casual runner the Traverse has surely enough features. I was more looking for something reliable on the barometric side. And I would love to not get my GPS out for checking distance/… while doing a trip. I do sea-kayaking, hiking, running and skiing. Ideally the Traverse would have tide prediction worth the name and would be way thinner…

      Greetings from Tromsø, Tichy

      Reply
    • Using your example, you can only create/choose 5 sports, vs 10 on Ambit Sport/Peak (and no multisport of course).

      I actually got a really cool Excel spreadsheet from Suunto listing every feature ever on the Ambit lineup, that talks to where they are present/not present. I’ll see if I can narrow down the diffs. Or that it doesn’t support anything but HR sensors (which is fine for hiking, but less if you do cycling).

      Other interesting things is that I hate is that there isn’t the ability to wait for satellite before starting an activity. Meaning, you press start, then it finds satellites, then it starts the recording. You can’t split that up at all and first get satellite, then press start (such as if waiting around at start of race). I haven’t found a setting to turn that off yet, so hopefully one exists.

      Reply
    • Hello Ray, thanks for the clarification. Five sports modes are indeed a bit marginal:
      * Sea-Kayaking
      * Hiking
      * Skiing
      * Running
      * Cycling

      Ok, that’s only if you want to differ those sports on the watch (or by symbol on Movescount). The wait-for-satellite thing you mentioned is also of less concern — if the first lap is off somewhat, so be it. Not a concern in the ballpark I’m running/… in. Did you experience any issues using the barometer? I know there is fused alti based on accelerometer and a barometer mode (e.g. for sea kayaking). The “fused alti” mode was introduced into the Fenix 3, if I’m not mistaken, right?

      Again, thank you and have a nice evening, Tichy

      Reply
    • Rob_NZ

      Hi,
      On my Ambit 3 Sport, i go into the Exercise menu and select the Sport Mode (for example ‘Running’ and the Ambit then acquires the HRM and satellites. It does not start recording until I press ‘Start’.

      Is the Traverse different then? That seems a bit odd.

      Reply
    • On the Traverse you don’t press the start, it just starts as soon as it acquires satellites. Yes, it’s odd.

      Reply
  16. Hakon Hrafn

    Hi Ray and thank you for all your invaluable in-depth reviews.

    Any chance that you will post any comments or update on the Elite RTM B+ ? That is if its possible to increase the resistance more quickly by switching one or two gears or increase RPM (more fluid resistance) at the same time as the trainer is increasing the resistance (magnetic brake) ?

    The reason for asking is that the price in Europe is already 300-400Euro lower than for KICKR/NEO so if RTM B+ so if its usable for very short and intensive sprint intervals then it might be a good reason to buy it.

    best regards,
    hakon

    Reply
    • Grzeg1

      Elite has a beta firmware available that speeds up resistance change. But it’s yet to be tested. See this one: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Reply
    • Agree. My problem as I noted in the other post is really that they’re short on two key areas:

      A) Speed of resistance change
      B) Broadcasting of ANT+ Power/Speed/Cadence

      Until they address both those areas, it’s super hard to recommend. While I know they are working on addressing both, only the first one has a date (Feb), which is a heck of a long time away. Elite, for all their trying, has a very poor multi-year track record of giving software update dates and failing to meet them (by huge margins). And February is nearly at the end of the trainer season anyway.

      If they were to send out/release beta updates of both (ala what Wahoo and others do), then I’d be more open to a cautionary recommendation, as it basically ensures they’ll actually release it and not just hold it till next year as a new product improvement.

      Reply
    • Grzeg1

      I was under impression they actually offered to send beta firmware to me (just I don’t have the trainer yet). Didn’t they offer the same thing to you?

      Reply
    • They didn’t offer to me.

      Reply
    • Grzeg1

      I read their email once again. They definitely said they had it and wanted me to become a beta-tester. Would you be so kind and try it out?

      Reply
  17. Gunnar

    Having owned close to every gadget under the sun, I have to agree that the FR 235 for running and edge 520 for cycling are great choices. Very happy with my new 235 as well as my edge 520.

    Reply
  18. Brianf

    Still no love for Stryd running power meter. Probably still too early and you are still evaluating the product.

    Do you think running power meters will have their own category at some point in the future? I think there might be some partnerships/acquisitions that bring a chest based power meter/hr sensor that will work for all 3 sports within the next few yrs.

    Reply
    • It’s just too early. I’ve been using it on every run the last few weeks, but ultimately, it’s simply too early to recommend (both in the review cycle, and I think in general).

      I think down the road running power will be a category, but for now it needs to find it’s way – both technically and non-technically. For example, technically it doesn’t account for wind yet. Which quite frankly is one of the major reasons you’d actually use it. Without that, it’s far less appealing.

      Reply
    • Grzeg1

      I guess in this case it’s no different than a Movescount/ConnectIQ app like this one: link to movescount.com

      Reply
    • brianf

      I agree about needing to account for wind. Check out Stryd forum posts on wind impact. In particular posts from fred_flinstone aka Andrew Coggin. Interesting stuff.

      link to club.stryd.com

      Reply
  19. Steven

    In the single entrant device category: Garmin Varia rear radar — easily the best gadget I have ever purchased. I was so ready to pitch the garmin ecosystem and go phone only or wahoo but then this came along… It’s cool, it works, it keeps me safe, I just wish it had a giant battery fused in there.

    Reply
    • Funny, I was trying to figure out where to stick that – and eventually gave up on putting it somewhere. I agree, I think it’s brilliant if you’re a non-city rider.

      Reply
  20. Matt

    Hi, Ray,

    Thanks so much for the extensive, helpful reviews. I noticed that the spark’s optical hear rate monitor version didn’t make the cut. Just wondering if it’s because you feel the monitor isn’t accurate enough or there’s just better products in roughly the same category/price range?

    Also, I found your activity monitor recommendation interesting because I’ve considered purchasing one but they all seem to have flaws/compromises that make them a tough sell for someone with a phone that tracks activity or someone who is considering a watch/gps unit. At least that’s how I feel and it seems like you concur with that.

    Anyway, thanks again and have a great holiday season.

    Reply
    • It’s tricky, and is really a pricing challenge more than anything else. I find it similar in accuracy to the FR235 (good, but not perfect). On one hand, it’s cheaper (great!), but at the same time, it lacks a ton of features compared to the FR235.

      Yet, if you really want optical, you can often find the Cardio for well under $200US, which is a better sensor but lacks activity tracking of course. So it’s kinda one of those scenarios where you really want activity tracking, and don’t want to spend more then $249, then yes, the Spark makes sense.

      I know, it’s probably confusing. One of those massive ‘if…then’ type decision matrix trees that make these sorta posts tough to write.

      Reply
    • Pierre

      If you only want sleeping monitoring and rest HR (24/7).
      What would be your choice then?

      Reply
    • Harvey

      I have this same question. I really like the Basis Peak for its constant HR monitoring and (for me) very accurate sleep detection. But the OEM silicone strap causes a rash when I wear it too long, and the metal portion of the clasp on the third-party rubber strap I got digs into my wrist in a way no Garmin clasp ever has. But the reviews of the Garmin oHR watches suggest that none offers the same constancy of HR monitoring.

      Reply
  21. Pavel J.

    Hi Ray,
    Can I have two questions about activity trackers?
    1) Is there any platform that would be interconnected? Ie. if I measure anything on a GPS sporttester does automatically transferred to activity tracker? And vice versa? It just seems stupid to me to run 2 devices at once (I know you do normally … but with you it is your job). And even if I had something measured on both devices that the web application use more accurate measurements of sporttester option, and replaced it in the activity tracker?
    2) Are there any available informations that Suunto is working on a separate activity tracker?
    Thanks. Pavel

    Reply
    • 1) No, no platforms that I’m aware of today actually backport activities from one device down to another. Only to the central platform.

      2) Not sure on their future plans.

      Reply
  22. Long Run Nick

    Ray, again, thanks for all you do. Have a special Thanksgiving. Living with an attitude of gratitude everyday can be a great habit. I sometimes shake my head when folks get a little upset when there are dastardly HR spikes, actual pace is off by some seconds or the back light isn’t as bright as a Zenon headlight.
    I expend my energy realizing how fortunate I am to be able to run and have the life I have. Being a 24 year old Army Captain in Vietnam, did a lot to change my perspective, and has been a constant for me over the last 48 years. My best to The Girl and of course, Lucy.

    Reply
  23. Ryan

    Your comment about the Activity Tracker really hit home with me. Have been a FitBit user since the Ultra (then One, Flex, Charge and ChargeHR), love their site, and all of the data its accumulated over the years for me. I only have one friend who I do challenges with, but that’s enough for me to keep wearing the ChargeHR as I try out the FR235 as a full-time activity tracker/GPS watch.

    I wish there was a way to easily share the data between the sites, as I don’t think the ChargeHR is necessary if I am wearing the FR235 (even if there are decent gaps between the results provided.

    Reply
  24. Russell T

    I have not used it but the new Bryton Rider 310 for $99 seems like a steal for a GPS/ANT+ bike computer.

    Reply
  25. Brody

    Thanks, love these lists and the reviews of the items I don’t use….. Yet….

    Question, since I enjoy your reviews so much can I have my boss get ahold of you when he questions why I keep refreshing your page? I don’t think, “DC Rainmaker teased the 235 review and I don’t want to miss it” will cut it.

    Cheers for the holidays!

    Reply
  26. Thomas Brock

    I’m more excited about the 235 review than Thanksgiving and Christmas combined!

    Reply
    • Brian Simpson

      Yeah I know. Today is my birthday and today I received the FR235 in the mail. As I sit here eating dinner and the kids are waiting for me to open presents I instead keep hitting refresh on this web site anxiously awaiting the FR 235 review before I decide to open the box or not.

      Oh the power of DCR.

      Reply
    • Soon. Editing.

      Reply
  27. Paul S

    What about cycling GPS with real maps and navigation? The ELEMNT is out because I want the ability to choose and replace maps, and from your review the 520’s map support is pretty basic. The 1000 or the 810? My 800 will be entering it’s fifth year of use in April and I’m beginning to think about a replacement. (Not interested in anything that Garmin may have in the pipeline because I won’t trust it for 6 months after release anyway.)

    Reply
    • The 810 is either about to be replaced or shelved depending who you believe so probably better looking at the 1000 unless price is an issue. The 810 is great when it works, but it does have some issues now and then even after years of bedding in. For instance the Strava segments feature causes quite a lot of the units to silently shut down for no reason. I’ve not followed the 1000 so no idea if it does the same.

      Reply
  28. Rodrigo Valle Teixeira

    Ray,
    Do you know if the Wahoo RPM cadence sensor is compatible with the Garmin 920XT for running cadence?
    And/or will it work for cadence sensor based instant pace, now supported in 920XT’s latest firmware?

    Thanks!
    Rodrigo

    Reply
    • No, the RPM is only broadcasting as a Cycling Cadence sensor, not as a footpod. Wahoo could enable such a mode though, which would address the gap.

      Reply
  29. Matt

    Hey Ray. Trying to decide between Quarq Elsa RS, Power2Max with Rotor 3D/praxis or Powertap P1. Really only one bike but multiple wheels. Have Shimano Di2. Little worried about getting new product (p1) but also not sure about losing ability of Ultegra/DA chainring (p2max) and worried about reliability (Quarq). With various deals cost is close between these options.

    Reply
    • I think overwhelmingly folks are happy with the P1’s. Some early adopters did have oddities with power spikes and a few random manuf issues. But the latest firmware from a month or so ago made all those go away.

      Further, I wouldn’t be worried about reliability with Quarq these days. I think the vast majority of complaints you see there on units were from years ago – and not new.

      Just my two cents…

      Reply
  30. Jeff

    Ray, What are your thoughts on the Fenix 2 at the price point of $199? I feel like its a steal for a novice trail runner like myself, but my concern is that it is aging and won’t get updates in the future. I have a hard budget of 300 dollars, so the Fenix 3 while sexy, is way outside my means at the moment.

    Reply
  31. Richard Kaufmann

    Best cycling unit for old eyes. .. Edge 1000 because you can read it!

    Reply
  32. Francisco Migoya

    Hi Ray,
    I want to buy a cycling computer and I was pretty sure on getting a Garmin Edge 1000 but now based on your recomendation should I buy the Edge 520 over the 1000? does it worth the extra 150usd for the 1000(i found a deal at $450)?

    Normally I use my fr920xt to track my trainings but, I want to have something more visual when I’m on the bike, and want to sometimes follow a certain route. I usually switch bikes between mountain/road. I´m planning to buy a power meter in the near future so probably is a good move to buy a computer.

    Love your blog.

    Regards

    Reply
    • It 100% comes down to how much you navigate. Soon, the Edge 520 & Edge 1000 will be evened out in terms of functions, aside from mapping. Where the Edge 1000 has more capabilities, especially for picking locations on the fly.

      Reply
  33. Steve

    When is k-edge going to come out with a computer/camera mount for TT/tri bikes (mounts on the aero bars)? I’ve been waiting for one for quite some time.

    Reply
    • We talked about it at Interbike, they just weren’t sure if there’s demand for it. That said, I’d say there’s just as much demand as there is for their existing TT product.

      Reply
  34. Josh Martin

    Ray, any word if Powertap will have a firmware update for the P1’s that will allow single leg training.

    Reply
    • Hi Jose-

      Yup, just confirmed with them that an update for the P1’s to add single-leg training is on the way. Sounds like the next update (currently in beta testing).

      Reply
  35. I recently got the Garmin 225, what do you think makes the 230 so much better? Things like notifications or am I missing a big upgrade?

    Reply
    • R_Tellis

      Off the top of my head.
      Larger screen area, more data fields per screen, advanced features like Vo2Max & Lactate Threshold that used to be reserved for higher end units.

      Reply
    • David

      Bigger screen. 2 screens that show 4 custom data fields at a time, instead of 3. Smaller, thinner, lighter. Significantly improved battery life. Optical HR also does 24/7 HR monitoring even when not working out including determining resting heart rate. GPS+GLOSNASS chipset has much better performance in heavy trees or building areas. VO2 max, race predicator, finish predicator. Connect-IQ custom downloadable apps.

      Reply
    • David

      PS: thats for the 235 which has optical heart rate like your 225. Also the 235 can rebroadcast HR to other electronics like an Edge bike computer etc. which the 225 can’t.

      Reply
  36. Pedro Ibarra

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for the great list. this is more of a comment on the activity trackers and why somebody would have two different platforms – well, I am one of those crazy users who have a Fenix 3 and a Polar A300 :) Why? I find that the Garmin’s activity tracker methodology (counts steps as your goal) is pretty simplistic. I like Polar’s activity method where activity is what sets your targets. This means any activity will gain percentage towards your daily goal. I also like the fact that the A300 can capture HR data while swimming using any polar band or the H7 – which the Garmin can’t do unless you have the new strap and even then not really a seamless process to upload to sites. Why not use a Polar V800? well, I have most of my devices which are ANT and not bluetooth, therefore, not able to use them with a polar Tri watch. I also like Polar Flow’s site and ease of profile building for the A300 – for example, I have a yoga profile in which all notifications,etc are turned off – beeping in the middle of a class is not Namaste-like. Anyways, just throwing out there the reason why somebody may have different platforms while enjoying both greatly.

    Thanks,

    P

    Reply
  37. Jake

    Does anyone make a small clip-on for trail running? My old MOTOACTV was the ideal form factor for my wife (she despises watch style devices when running), sadly that little guy gave up the ghost last year, before she got a chance to try it out. The Edge I replaced it with though has been fantastic!

    Reply
  38. Mario S

    “The TomTom Spark includes 3GB of music storage, and you can use any Bluetooth headphones to connect to it. ”

    :-)

    Reply
  39. Todd Johnson

    Regarding the higher accuracy of GPS in the Fenix etc for trail runners.

    Apologies if this is a stupid question, because the answer is just “the GPS chip is twice as expensive” or something. But from the Fenix3 in-depth review, it seems like GLONASS is the main reason why the Fenix/Ambiit/etc class of watches has higher accuracy. Is that true? Would you expect to see similar accuracy with a 235 with GLONASS on, or is there just fundamentally a difference in quality of the hardware?

    Reply
    • David

      In running on a wooded trail that I have done many times with the older 620, my new 235 was much better at maintaining track and similar to my Edge 520 (also GPS+GLOSNASS) when riding the same trails. While the 620/220 came a long way with firmware updates over the years in terms of accuracy it always was a bit wonky compared to even much older Garmin units but it seems Garmin finally has put a class leading chipset for accuracy into their most modern watches. I am more than happy and for the first time in years Garmin launched a new set of watches where at launch there wasn’t a host of people post on their forum with accuracy issues.

      I am more than happy.

      Reply
    • David

      PS: I’ve only done GPS+GLOSNASS runs with the 235, I haven’t tried with GPS only so I don’t know if GPS only would produce similar results. I don’t do ultras so I don’t need the battery savings of GPS only. Bottom line… likely the most accurate tracking running only watches Garmin has ever made.

      Reply
    • Paul S

      It’s a complicated question. Nowadays Garmin uses Mediatek chips while others (Suunto) use the SIRFStar that Garmin used to use (I have an old 60CSx with SIRFStar). Due to some legal stuff which you can find out about using Google, Garmin can’t use SIRFStar any more. There are people on the Garmin forums who swear that SIRFStar is better than Mediatek, but of course the Garmin forums are where people go to complain about Garmin devices. Personally in the tests I’ve done over the summer and fall comparing my Epix (GLONASS on) with my Edge 800 and occasionally my VIRB Elite, I’ve found that the Epix is slightly worse than the others, although my main conclusion is that they’re all not that great in the forest under close inspection. But I’d also expect that larger devices would be better than smaller, because there’s room for a better antenna, so this isn’t really surprising.

      GLONASS should help because of the extra satellites to reference, but it’s not magic.

      Reply
    • Todd Johnson

      Super informative and helpful answer. Thanks!

      Reply
  40. Ryan O' Neill

    Great reviews Ray, looking forward to the 235 review :)

    Reply
  41. Page

    I purchased the Garmin vivofit. When playing racquetball the people I’m playing, using other products, are recording caloric burn of 500-600 calories and I’m showing 100. I’m not that good a player to have such a difference in caloric burn…what’s the deal?

    Reply
  42. OregonIan

    Hey Ray, I don’t imagine there’s much demand for it but I would love even a quick look at the Lezyne bike computers. They have shit connectivity and an Edge 25 will steal their lunch money on paper, but Lezyne seems like they can design things so much better than anyone else out there (except maybe that Canyon protoype).

    Prettiness must count for something, right?

    Reply
    • OregonIan

      See your comment from march here:

      dcrainmaker.com/2015/03/5-random-things-i-did-this-weekend-12.html/comment-page-1#comment-1179448

      I’m just curious to see what you think looking back now that they seem to have totally fizzled.

      Reply
  43. Danny

    Nice work Ray,
    I’ve been patiently waiting your reviews for the Tom Tom spark and Garmin 235. The main interest in the Tom Tom was the music but reading it’s review I have decided to hold off for the 235.
    I ended up getting a pair of the Sony sports Walkman earbuds as they hold music in them so no more phone and cord (once I get the Garmin 235 that is).

    Reply
  44. Mike S

    I just got my FR 230 and it’s great. But, would give my left cheek for someone to develop a simple pool swim app for it on IQ, please, really please. Garmin Swim still on duty, but someday the buttons will wear out.

    Reply
    • Paul S

      The difference is because none of the devices you mention can measure calories burned. So they all lie to you. You’re just seeing different lies.

      Reply
    • Paul S

      Sorry, this comment was in reply to the question about the Vivofit above, but I was using my iPhone, which doesn’t always treat this web site properly. Accelerometers can’t measure calorie burn.

      Reply
  45. Great round-up as usual Ray! Many thanks.

    I was a little surprised to not see any mention of Apple Watch here, for running, or just tracking. Admittedly running with the Apple Watch falls short against the devices you have mentioned (IMO), and in tracking you defer full details because of the size of the market, but I feel it could have merited a mention, simply because of the amount of interest in the product.

    Having said that I know you have promised an Apple Watch review that hasn’t yet appeared, and which presumably will be completed soon. I expect that is going to be one huge in-depth review, and a mamonth draw to the site for a lot of readers both new and old, so I think I understand why you may be taking your time with it.

    Or am I off-target and the AW is it off the queue completely until Apple Watch 2 is released?

    Reply
    • David

      I’m going to guess you are off target. I got the Apple Watch about 5 months ago and presumed that any inadequacies as a tracking or sports device would be curable with software. The reality has been stark. It’s not waterproof according to Apple (although it appears to actually be). The built in optical HR is one of the weakest and most inaccurate on the market. The bundled workout software is so incomplete as to be a joke. The UI during workouts is a mess and the screen is woefully used. There is no tie into online storage of ones workouts etc. The only thing it does well at is tracking steps and a $50 tracker can do that. No sleep tracking of course.

      But software cures that right? 3rd party software, even with watchOS 2.0 is beyond a mess. strava’s barely does anything and their promised 2.0 software never arrived. runtastic and others crashes. nothing comparable to anything from tom tom, polar, garmin or others. its beyond a disaster… because it essentially unusable.

      I *love* Apple. My first computer was a 1984 Mac 128k. Everything in my home is Apple: iMacs, iPads, iPhones, Apple TVs, Airport Express, Airport Extreme… everything.

      The watch look nice, the bands are easily interchangeable and it displays notifications well BUT thats it. The hardware is as big an issue as the software. I think it is going to take 2.0 or 3.0 versions of the hardware before we can realistically look to this as even a competitor to a Garmin F25.

      I bet Ray, like I did got the Apple Watch for all the promise of what it, or a 3rd party app could do. When it turned out to be so disappointing from a sports perspective I’m going to guess he waited for watchOS 2.0 only to discover nothing really improved at all. Ray writes reviews of sports electronics and the Apple Watch remains dead on arrival.

      Perhaps you could comment Ray? I’m suspecting aren’t even going to deliver a review until something with the watch changes…

      Reply
    • I’d concur with all of that.

      It did occur to me that maybe Ray leaving Microsoft, and the lack of Apple comment and review may mean that Apple could be Ray’s next permanent place of work! Pure speculation on my part but (much) stranger things have happened.

      Also a bit confusing (and would fit with the possibility of at least some dialog/agreement with Apple) that the old Apple Watch Fitness Focused post Ray did back in May now seems to have been partly removed? link to dcrainmaker.com – at least all I am seeing are pictures and comments – no text from Ray which I am sure used to be there? Or am I going mad!

      Ian

      Reply
    • David

      Anything is possible but my simple guess stands… the Apple Watch just is such a non-starter regarding fitness/sports there is nothing to review.

      It’s kinda sad… I have this $600 Apple Watch on my wrist which I love the way it looks but I am jealous of my Garmin 235 sitting on the table and wish I could be wearing it 24/7, but I have to justify my expensive watch so it sits only to be used for sleeping and workouts… all with a kludgy imperfect Apple Health app trying to blend the data between the two, with varying degrees of success.

      Reply
    • Patrick

      Agree with your comments re the Apple Watch. It held a lot of promise, but has failed to deliver as a running watch even if you’re willing to run with your phone (which I am and always do). WatchOS 2 hasn’t changed all that much. And, as far as hardware goes, it much more difficult to read in full sun that either my FR620 or, I assume, my new FR235.

      That being said, I’ve been more than happy with the Apple Watch as a smartwatch, and generally where it during the day when I’m *not* running. The FR235 may throw a bit of a wrench in that depending on how 24/7 tracking works. But I assume I’ll eventually end up going back to my routine of using my Garmin (now the FR235) for running and cycling, and the Apple Watch for the rest of the day.

      Reply
    • Paul S

      You’re assuming that Apple wants to compete with Garmin. I don’t believe they do. If they did, they would have done a much better job.

      As I sit here typing this on my iPhone, I’m wearing an Apple Watch on one arm and an Epix on the other (and a Disney Magic Band next to the Apple Watch). The Apple Watch is not a “fitness device”, period. It’s a great smart watch though, much better than the only other smart watches I’ve used, my Fenix and my Epix.

      Reply
    • All that duly noted, My vote if anyone cares is the AW is a pretty good v1 for every day use for notifications, glances, apple pay, weather, music, podcasts, plus quite a few other apps (YMMV), and pretty decent for casual health tracking. As a sport watch it is 70-80% there for running with some apps, much lower (10%) for bike, and nowhere for swim or triathlon.

      Still the radio silence from Ray is strange. It’s not like he has ignored the Apple Watch, he has posted about it once, and has clearly been testing it.

      Ray – put our minds to rest and answer our short survey :)

      1) Is the AW not worthy of your attention anymore and that’s the last we hear of it!
      2) Is there a humongous review on it’s way, so we just need to be patient!
      3) Can you not say for reasons you can’t disclose (I guess a non answer could be taken for this response too :)

      1,2 or 3 Ray? :)

      Reply
    • The Apple Watch is a superb smartwatch – a great smart watch. But it’s a not so great sport watch. It’s just generally messy to use, and doesn’t get terribly accurate data (HR, and pace/distance w/o phone on you).

      If I can get past all the other reviews that folks want, I’d like to get both an Apple Watch and Microsoft Band 2 review/something out.

      I don’t have any reasons to not disclose anything. As is usually the case, I simply try and follow reader interest in products.

      Right now though…I’ve just gotta get this crapton of posts for the next 24-36 hours out the door. :)

      Reply
    • Thanks Ray 😉

      Looking forward to that crapton of posts!

      Reply
    • Btw Ian – the post you were looking for is here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      The post you linked to was just an unboxing pile from The Queue.

      Reply
    • David Corsi

      I never thought Apple would directly compete with Garmin but I did think with activity tracking and optical and IR based HR tracking hardware we would get a world class hardware platform that 3rd parties could leverage. The beauty of the iPhone and iPad is how completely they can be transformed into do anything computers with software. Instead a combination of disappointing hardware and severe software limitations has crippled the ability of 3rd parties like Strava and others to make the Apple Watch into a true sport watch. I continue to wait for the day when a future daily smart watch like the Apple Watch can be transformed into a great runners watch through 3rd party apps.

      Reply
    • Ahhh – my sanity has returned! Thanks for the link Ray 😉

      Reply
  46. Jay

    Wahoo Fitness Kickr +/-2% accuracy?? Their website reports +/_3% I’m nitpicking probably, but like to see accurate reporting. Enjoy your blogs and equipment insights.

    Reply
  47. Danny

    My question is what would be a better option: Forerunner 235 or the Forerunner 230 + Scosche Rhythm+? I like the flexibility of the placement of the Rhythm+ I also like that I could use it with other devices. From what I could tell it seems to be more accurate than the forerunner HRM.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Mike S.

      If you want my $0.02 on the matter.

      I just got the Rhythm+ to pair to my Polar M400. I like the flexibility that comes from having a separate HRM device that will not only work with my current watch, but any future watch. You can also use the Rhythm+ with apps on IOS devices (I assume that’s the same with Android devices).

      When running in cold winter weather, I can wear the Rhythm+ under my sleeve and pair it to my watch which is over my sleeve. I wouldn’t be able to do this with an integrated HRM watch that needed contact with my skin.

      Reply
    • Danny

      Good point. More accurate or not I think the flexibility is worth it.

      Reply
  48. Artur

    Awesomeness!!! Many thanks!

    Reply
  49. Gerard

    Did you get a chance to try out the Garmin Cycling Combo Mount and compare it to the K-Edge? Since the VIRB moved to GoPro-style mounts this mount should work for both Garmin and GoPro cams.

    Reply
  50. Theodoros

    What about the garmin index scale?

    Reply
  51. Wal

    I’m not so convinced about the Wahoo RPMv2. I sent one back because it was giving readings all over the place (on a fixed gear bike so I knew it wasn’t erratic pedalling) and was given a new replacement. (Kudos to Wahoo for good support.) Sadly if anything it’s even worse. Regularly shows ~40 RPM when I’m coasting down a hill on reasonably smooth pavement.

    I followed this up with Wahoo support and the last answer I received (in relation to readings whilst coasting) was that it reads in RMP so I need to wait for at least 40 seconds before being upset about a non-zero reading whilst not pedalling. I gave up bothering to respond at that point.

    Reply
  52. Casey

    Hey Ray,

    Which fitness tracker has the best heart rate monitor for working out?

    Reply
  53. Paul

    Notice the HRM-TRI didn’t make the list. Do you feel the Scosche Rhythm+ is still superior overall despite some relative drawbacks (need to charge, no swimming monitoring)? Should there be a “Best Triathlon HRM” category?

    Like many here I am huge fan of yours – your site, podcast and support of World Bicycle Relief are all inspirational. If you’re back in Seattle and up for a ride/swim/run, please let the community know. It’d be fun.

    Reply
    • Yeah, I do like the strap in general, but was somewhat trying to avoid creating categories for just a single product. Sorta like inclusion of Varia I talked about above.

      Reply
  54. Harith Mothana Al Kubaisy / MCT 73956

    Gladly subscribed to the DCR VIP program and ordered the Garmin FR 630 after a long battle of dilemma.

    Thanks for the massive efforts Ray, I hope that it turns out to be a good purchase.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the support Harith!

      Reply
    • Harith

      Least I can do, and I like I previously stated somewhere on this website, whenever you’re in Oman again, don’t hesitate to drop me an email. It’s a shame that you didn’t get in a run when you visited Muscat.

      Reply
  55. Steph

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you so much for your amazing work, the insight is priceless.

    I am wondering if your could point me in the right direction for a watch. I am choosing between the Garmin Fenix 3 Multisport or the Suunto Ambit 3 sport. I do a lot of different sports (swimming pool and openwater (competitions), running, road cycling, hiking, skiing and kayaking) but now I am taking the leap into triathlons.

    I am looking for a fairly user friendly watch for a very small wrist.

    Thank you so much for your time and help.

    Reply
  56. Malachi

    I’m amazed that you underplayed the fenix3 GPS accuracy problem!
    I had the fenix3 for 6 months and gave up after some horrible performance in the mountains. If you are mountain running or just need a reliable long battery lasting GPS watch then I would strongly suggest the Ambit3.

    Reply
    • If I look at folks today using it, with all current firmware, I just don’t see a lot of upset individuals. Simple as that.

      Reply
    • Kevin

      Ray – there are still dissatisfied Fenix 3 users out here, it’s just that we’ve moved past the grumbling phase (and maybe away from Garmin in general). While Garmin watches are loaded with features, the make/break feature for me is GPS accuracy. Running-wise,the Polar V800 & Ambit 3 consistently measure closer to verified distances in my part of the world than my 920 or F3 (for which i still maintain FW updates and test occasionally).

      Reply
    • I’m not saying there’s not some left out there, I’m just saying it’s a very small number (a fraction of a percent at best likely). Just like there are unsatisfied V800 users, or Ambit3 folks.

      Given the number of Fenix3 units shipped is well into the hundreds of thousands now – if things were truly as widespread as some would have you believe, then there would be more complaints.

      Reply
  57. Zee

    Hi, I’ve been trolling your site, and many other for about 3 or months now in complete confusion about how to proceed. I’m a first time buyer and having recently come back from a big knee injury (big being the severity of my injury and my physique since it happened) am a little overwhelmed. I do bootcamp exercise about 4 days a week and run about 2 – 3 times a week typically between 5-7kms. I’ve never used a gps watch or fitness tracker and don’t know the technicalities of HRM functionality etc…i am totally new to this!

    Any recommendations on which watch in the mid-entry level range is a good fit, most accurate calorie counter etc. The polar M400 seems to come up most often but i’m undecided between that, the FR 15 or perhaps the TomTom multisport.

    Also how accurate are HRM straps vs internal watch HRM

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

    Reply
  58. Asaf

    Does anyone happen to know if the M450 can work with both H7’s broadcast protocols? I know it works perfectly with the Bluetooth protocol, but will it work with the other protocol? (the one for swimming underwater)

    Not that I plan to swim with the m450… but I may use the H7 strap in conjunction with the M450 and another BT watch.
    Then I hope the other watch will use the BT while the M450 will still show heart rate by receiving the other HR protocol…
    Anyone had such an experience?

    Reply
    • Edgar Angelone

      No problem at all, just make sure that you pair H7 and V450 first. Once the v450 picks the bluetooth signal, get your by watch into cycling or any other sport mode – it just picks the other signal although sometimes the actual heart rate data won’t show until you start the activity – on standby all you’ll see is “—“

      I got this from a similar comment about the polar 800 and it works. Hope this helps
      Edgar

      Reply
    • Grzeg1

      @Edgar you talked about the other way. M450 to bluetooth and V800 to GymLink.
      @Asaf it won’t work. M450 will only do Bluetooth, so you’ll be left with GymLink for other devices. The only ones that will do GymLink are Polar’s V800 and A300 and maybe some older models. So no chance with e.g. Ambit3

      Reply
    • Asaf

      Thanks Edgar and Grzeg1. God knows why Polar dropped the gym link in the m450 and left it on the a300.

      Reply
  59. impressively thorough review mat, well done.

    No Limits though?! I know I know I’ll get me coat!

    Seriously though, riders should get their other halves to read this when coming up with ideas for xmas presents.

    Reply
  60. Zee

    Garmin forerunner 25 or polar m400?? Need a first time runner watch with activity tracker. Not too fancy but Bluetooth phone notification is a bonus

    Reply
  61. Allan

    Just noticed that your home page (#2 of your “5 Easy Steps”) is linking to the 2014 Edition of this guide. It took me a while to figure out why you still seemed to be recommending the Garmin Edge 500 and 200 bike computers….

    Reply
  62. Nicholas Noyes

    Hey guys, I’m Looking for new GPS Watch for Xmas as my Polar M400 is lurking round at OCR Uk Championships somewhere, so doubt its going to found anytime soon.(Have contact them about missing watch)
    So if you have choice which one of these would you choose:
    Garmin Forerunner 230 GPS HRM
    Or
    Suunto Ambit 3 Sports HRM
    Both are the same price but GF230 is newer.
    What your say about these product?

    Reply
  63. Staffan

    Isn’t it time to put a link to this one on the first page instead of the old 2014-2015 one? Better to guide everyone to the most recent version!

    Reply
  64. Eric

    Do you have any rec or suggestion for a swim watch for swimming with a tether? While it would count strokes, it wouldn’t count laps.

    Reply
  65. Terra72

    I’m thinking about updating my triathlon watch (currently on V800, previously on Ambit 2S). FR920XT (black/silver) is the current frontrunner (no pun intended!) if I decide to upgrade (as supported by your recommendations above, especially in the comments).

    Last year saw a lot of new products at CES, especially from Garmin (Fenix 3 etc). I understand that there is always a risk that a new product is just around the corner, but with CES taking place next month, do you expect significant upgrades from Garmin / Polar / Suunto etc at this year’s event? (as you can tell, I don’t have a lot of brand loyalty).

    Thanks,
    Erik

    Reply
    • As always, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of new devices from many companies at CES.

      That said, at this point you’re within 30 days of CES (announcements would be Jan 5th) – so you could always return it within that 30d way if something of more interest pops up.

      Reply
  66. I have an Ambit2 S and a plan to start HR training soon. I HATE chest straps. Can I assume the Scosche RHYTHM+ is compatible with that watch? It appears to be and if I’m going to spend the money, I’d much rather have an optical sensor on my arm.

    Reply
  67. Markus

    Hi DC,
    I would like to know, if the Garmin Edge 520 is compatible with the Tanita bc 1000?!

    Thanks,
    Markus

    Reply
  68. Jon Hughes

    Hi Ray,

    I’ve brought a Wahoo RPMv2 a couple of months ago to use on my turbo. However, the battery only seems to last a few days before it dies and needs replacing. I’ve tried several brand new batteries but it’s the same every time. Is this a known issue? Can anything be done? I have the latest firmware installed.

    Love the site (and Lucy!)

    Cheers,
    Jon

    Reply
    • Hi Jon-

      It sounds like the unit is probably defective (and is basically shorted out, so it continually runs). I’d just ping Wahoo support via e-mail, and I’m sure they’ll simply stick a new one in the mail for you. Quick and easy.

      Cheers.

      Reply
    • Jon Hughes

      Thanks Ray. Happy holidays.

      Cheers,
      Jon

      Reply
  69. Josh

    Ray, heart rate monitors USA seems to be offering the 920 black grey as a stand alone unit and/or with hrm run only. Any chance we may see that out of CT?

    Reply
    • I checked, it doesn’t sound like that’s a valid/real SKU, so I’m not sure what’s going on there. Odd.

      Reply
    • Josh

      Yeah seemed odd. Either way I ordered the tri bundle from CT a bit ago today as with footpod pace now available I’m happy to rock this watch once again! Btw what happened to my little bicycle icon?!

      Reply
    • Thanks for the support!

      On the icon – double check that you’re currently logged in (top right corner). And thanks for the support there too!

      Reply
  70. John

    Hi DC

    I recently bought the Garmin 235 and it says 16 hours of battery life with GPS, is that with the internal HR monitor on/off and is it based off your experience using the unit or the Garmin website? I am worried about the 235 lasting on one of my longer runs (Comrades Marathon- roughly 10-11 hours). I want to be able to monitor my HR during the course of the run. Do external HR monitors increase the battery life of the unit?

    Regards

    Reply
    • Yes, it would increase battery life to use a HR strap during exercise. Definitely. Someone just yesterday posted some great battery test numbers in the comments section of the FR235 review, really interesting.

      Reply
    • John

      Thanks for the reply, seems as if its the backlight causing most issues. Is there a large difference between using 1-second vs smart recording rates and battery life?

      Reply
    • Backlight on all GPS watches is a huge drain, but with the FR235, it’s more the optical HR sensor.

      There’s zero difference in battery life between 1s and Smart. That’s purely a function of saving storage (which is silly these days, it’s sorta a leftover from days of past).

      Reply
  71. Fırat

    Hey Ray (and other readers) I need help,
    I’m from Turkey and watches here are much more expensive. So I have to choose very carefuly. I’m right now between polar m400 and garmin forerunner 225. I’ve read both reviews and couldn’t decide. Prices in my country; m400 310$, fr225 450$. My needs are:
    1) I’m not a pro runner so I don’t need super advanced stats. Distance, HR, pace etc.
    2) I do weightlifting and I’ve read there is a mode for that in polar that you can add. (estimated calorie burn while lifting would be nice)
    3) I really want an activity tracker since I sit at office all day. But I’ve also read while reaching your goal; m400 counts every activity you do, while garmin only counts steps or run.
    4) An optical sensor would be nice, but I could also use a strap since I will use it only running, walking and lifting.
    5) I don’t care about the smartwatch and notifications thing.
    So, is the fr225 would worth paying extra 150$ ove m400?
    Thanks for answers.

    Reply
    • Fırat

      *At 1) I meant Distance, HR, pace etc. would be enough.

      Reply
    • Harvey

      Not a sports physiologist, but it’s my understanding that the calories burned from weight-lifting activities aren’t as easily or usefully tracked by watches and apps as they are from cardiovascular activities.

      Weight-lifting activities use different muscles of different sizes in different ways. Short and simple, the impact those activities have on heart rate is not a reliable predictor of calories consumed. While your heart rate may increase to deliver more oxygen to the muscles in need of oxygen, the only muscles really being fed are the ones being exercised – yet the watches will compute the calorie usage as if you’re feeding all of the muscles involved in the selected cardiovascular activity. Thus the value you see will be based on the running/cycling/swimming equivalent of that increase in heart rate – which is normally going to be considerably higher than the actual calories consumed doing a bench press or leg extension or whatever else you’re doing.

      Reply
  72. andrew

    Hmm, every single Fenix I’ve had (all 3 so far) have been extremely glitchy. When a watch and its software can’t do the basics of keeping track of a run without shutting off or skipping miles, they are terrible. Not sure why you’d recommend something like that. Haven’t experienced even one glitch with the Ambit 3 Peak (not going back to Fenix)

    Reply
  73. androse

    I am looking for a fitness watch/band to track my tennis and swimming activity. I need a very accurate heart rate monitor (preferably built into the watch/band but am open to pairing with the Scosche Rhythm+). I am prone to getting SVTs (supra ventricular tachycardia–my heart occasionally decides to race and not slow down) so the accurate heart tracking is important to me. Ideally the watch/band would provide steps and distance for tennis, be waterproof and provide basic pool analytics (open water water would be nice), heart rate during tennis or swimming, 24/7 heart rate would be nice but not necessary. I see some units provide 3d tracking of movement during an activity… this would be nice if it could be leveraged for stroke recognition in the pool and on the court.

    I currently own a Mio Alpha. The down side is that it does not save a workout. I have found it to be consistent if not accurate in its heart rate tracking. It did track an SVT pretty well at 180+bpm though I suspect it was missing some beats. I would like to save these events for my doc.

    Thanks for any and all suggestions and comments.

    Reply
  74. Felicity

    Hi,
    Thanks for the great review. I am a PhD student and for some trials I am conducting I am looking for a device that can work both as a GPS and as an activity tracker (with continuous HR) but I also want something that makes it easy to record meal times. The meal content doesn’t matter as such but just being able to press a button or tap a screen to say a meal was eaten “now” and preferably have that data downloadable (along with all the other activity data) in an excel spreadsheet would be perfect (but I can always manually enter as long as I am able to see the date/time somewhere). If you have any ideas or recommendations that would be great.
    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
  75. Daniel

    Hello,

    I want to thank you for all you do and compliment you on your thorough evaluations and reviews – Thank You!

    I have a couple of questions regarding the Fr235. If I understand correctly, it is a multi-Activity tracker; however, not s strong for other activities as it is for running?

    My questions are:
    How does it do with treadmill running and do you need the foot pod for accuracy?
    Will it work for cycling and do you need a foot pod or other item to track the cycling activity?
    If I understand the review accurately, the software, sleep and heart rate monitoring are not as good as the Fitbit?

    Thank you for any feedback you can provide.
    Respectfully,
    Daniel

    Reply
  76. David

    I am a triathlete but i am looking specifically for a running watch. I have no interest in any of my swim metrics so I have been torn between the 630 and then the 230/235. I am pretty geeky about the the run dynamics and that seems to be one of the big differences between the two sets. In your own recommendation you call that out, do you think the dynamics is worth the jump in price? Especially given the need to buy the HR bundle.

    Also with the 230/235 I want accurate HR when I am training that is very important to me and I would prefer to run with the HR strap, can you still pair and HR strap with the 235? I would want the optical HR for the rest of the day.

    Any help would be great.

    Reply
    • Yup, you can still pair a HR strap to the FR235. However, the FR230/235 won’t get you the Running Dynamics.

      In general, I don’t think they’re worth the price. It’s fun to look at it for a run or two, and then you realize they have little to know actual value in training or racing (cadence aside).

      Reply
  77. Andrew

    I see that you like the Garmin Forerunner 630, in part because of its size. My girlfriend runs on the petite side, so the physical size of the watch is actually very important. She currently has the Forerunner 15, but it doesn’t meet her needs (other than physical size). Any thoughts on whether or not she will find the Forerunner 630 too large?

    Reply
  78. Alex

    Love your site and reviews – really interested in your views on best in class for wearable coaches e.g. Moov.

    Loving adventure racing, in an ideal world, I would love a device with GPS, optical HRM, good for running, cycling, kayaking, swimming in open water and that provides some coaching feedback (happy to get that through carrying a phone). Fenix 3 optical is good but no coach….

    Appreciate your thoughts….

    Reply
    • The Fenix3HR may be what you’re looking for. But, we’ll have to see how the optical HR sensor handles. Hopefully Garmin starts shipping soon and I’ll be able to provide some clarity there with final software/hardware.

      Reply
    • Keir

      Any update on the release date for the 3HR? My poor old Fenix(1) is fighting on despite being wounded and every time I start a run I fear the start/stop button will cease completely. 1st quarter is the promised date but we’re getting near the end and I’m getting impatient. Ta.

      Reply
    • Already been released! :)

      It started shipping the first week of February.

      Reply
  79. Nicolas

    Hi Ray,

    Have you heard of iHealth? Do you have any feedback on the quality of their products, in particular of the activity tracker:
    link to ihealthlabs.eu
    and the connected weight scale:
    link to ihealthlabs.eu ?

    They have a similar offering to Withings, and I’d be interested in your feedback on what they do.

    Reply
  80. Sergio

    Question, Does the Suunto Ambit3 automatically switch from swim to bike to run modes? or does this have to be done manually? Thanks, I can’t seem to find this information.

    Reply
  81. Janyne Kizer

    This morning my Garmin Swim finally bit the dust. One of the buttons no longer functions. I would like to replace it, however, I thought that I’d touch base to see if perhaps I should wait for Garmin to release a new model. I’d just hate to buy a Garmin Swim and then a new model be released in the next few months. So… replace or limp along for a bit? Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Janyne Kizer

      Alternatively, if drill mode were to come to the Vivoactive…

      Reply
  82. Norbert Spiteri

    A new GPS sport watch with MP3 player will be featured on Indiegogo next February 24th ” theSportGPS ”

    link to youtube.com
    link to indiegogo.com

    Reply
  83. Peter

    Hi:
    I’m a recreational athlete–swimming, cycling and hiking–sometimes running. I’d like a watch that is a pedometer, allows we to count laps while swimming and overall calories; perhaps distance cycled, but not a deal breaker. All these fancy watches do too much. Is there one that does just these simple things? Optical HR preferred; I don’t need it to be terribly accurate.

    Thanks for this site. I trust what you say. Peter

    Reply
  84. Eli

    Seems like you should update the “Overall Best in Class: Garmin FR920XT and Fenix3” section. First the Fenix 3 isn’t just the 920 with more navigation features anymore. Sure the 920 added the newer running dynamics, support for the swimming HR straps since release, and connect IQ since release but that is about all. The fix 3 added:
    Added support for ‘Auto Do Not Disturb’.
    Added support for Speed/Pace and Heart Rate audio prompts
    Added support for Row App
    Added support for Row Indoor App
    Added support for Standup Paddleboarding (SUP) App
    Added support for Golf App
    Added support for the Lactate Threshold feature
    Added support for the Performance Condition feature
    Added support for the Stress Score app
    Added Calories widget
    Added ‘Find My Phone’ app
    Added Music Controls widget

    So if you want a watch that can do everything the 630 can do while also supporting swimming the Fenix 3 is your only bet. The Epix seems to be in the same boat at the 920 although it never got support for the newer running dynamics. Seems like the Fenix 3 is the golden child.

    Makes me wonder about future support for muscle oxygen and power during running (Stryd running power meter) as I’m guessing the 920 won’t get the functionality. No, Connect IQ is not an answer since if you saw the latest video Garmin did with Moxy talking about ConnectIQ they were talking about how some ConnectIQ devices wouldn’t be able to support the functionality to write custom entries to the FIT file.

    Reply
  85. Steve Eyles

    Your 2016 update re Activity Trackers indicates they are pretty much all the same. What I would love from you is a review of the apps they integrate with ie Garmin & Garmin Connect. I feel the strength and weakness of a product is how it intergrates the data !
    Yours Hopefully.

    Reply
    • Well, it’d be a short piece: Garmin Connect doesn’t integrate activity tracker data with anyone. 😉

      Actually, to be fair, they kinda-sorta-barely integrate it with MyFitnessPal, but it doesn’t work half the time. But otherwise, that’s it!

      Additionally, Garmin doesn’t allow other 3rd party apps to connect to Garmin Connect (again, except MFP, which again, doesn’t work half the time).

      Reply
  86. JT

    Ray,

    Which watch would you say has the most accurate gps and distance traveled feature regardless of price? For example would any of them be accurate enough to accurately track pace and distance on a 400 meter track?

    Reply
  87. Melissa

    So, I’m looking to replace my Fitbit ChargeHR…its been great since I’ve had it (when they first came out) and I love the app; but, after daily use its wearing out. I’m looking for a tracker that will keep track of daily steps, daily activities (mainly running and cross/weight training), calories, HR, and sleep (preferably automatic sleep recognition) and that, all things considered, is accurate in its measurements. I’d also like its companion app to provide the information in a relatively easy and clear manner. …I workout 4-5 days a week–usually a run and then some cross/weight training and a few 5Ks throughout the year. Though I do a lot of running/love running, I wouldn’t say i’m and avid or hard core runner …its more just recreational for me. Given this information, What would your top three fitness/running-fitness tracker recommendations be (that are in the $125-$350)???

    Reply
  88. Jason Durst

    What should we do about purchasing a watch for my wife. She has been waiting and waiting and waiting for Garmin to come out with a smaller (girl) version of the 920xt. She has tiny wrist and the watch is so much larger than it need to be on her. I’m almost afraid she would injury herself it’s so big on her wrist(insert sarcasm).

    Should we just buy the 920xt or should we continue to wait and wait and wait:-)?? Thank you sir.

    Reply
  89. Ashley

    Hi Ray,

    I’m considering both the TomTom Spark Cardio and the Garmin FR 235. I’m looking to use it for running and lifting. I want a watch with a reliable optical sensor. Which do you recommend? (Forgive me if you’ve compared these two, I didn’t find it)

    Further info: I’m currently using my Suunto Ambit 3 paired with Scosche Rhythm Plus. Chest straps don’t last for me. Previous watches, Ambit 2 and Garmin FR 15 (hated this one).

    Reply
    • Ashley

      Nevermind, I’ve decided to give Garmin another try and go with the FR 235. Thank you for all of your reviews, they’re very helpful!

      Reply
  90. Jordan

    Hey Ray.
    I’m sort of jack of all trades master of none and want to get more serious with my training. I run. Hike. Trail run. But also am military so I use gps and do minimal land navigation. Due to a budget I’m stuck between the Garmin fenix 2 and Suunto ambit 3 peak. Any thoughts on a better option because both seem to be just as good for what I need. Thanks.

    Reply
  91. Trygve Andresen

    You know these watches better than I do, but I think that the lack of a barometric sensor in the garmin 630 makes the 920 a better running GPS watch for me. I think that’s a somewhat huge minus for the 630. On your hill repeats, cross-country training and even your long run, you want your elevation chart to be somewhat accurate. My experience is that, without the barometric sensor, you can forget about that.

    Reply
  92. Tom H

    I stumbled upon your site today and am extremely grateful for all the info. I have been an HRM junkie for years, but have been using a Polar 725x forever and it is now dying. I have quickly found that there are an overwhelming number of options out there now. I want to track hiking, biking, skiing (BC and Alpine) vertical, distance. I need something that will perform in high attitude, cold conditions (up to 20,000 feet). I have looked through and done some comparisons. I have been looking at Polar 800, Garmin 920XT, and Suunto Ambit 3. They all seem relatively similar, but wanted to see what your thoughts were.

    Reply
  93. Steve

    The Forerunner 920XT seems amazing. Given that you’ve reviewed the VivoActive HR now, which of the two would you choose? I’m not quite clear on the major differences given the drastic price difference.

    Reply
    • Unfortunately I haven’t reviewed the Vivoactive HR yet – since it’s still in beta. Rather, just a quick first look.

      However, I think the key things to ask is whether you’ll use the advanced features of the FR920XT (far more capable). If you’re a triathlete, then the FR920XT has multisport mode, which the Vivoactive lacks. Check out the product comparison tool on the right side though to dig into the differences.

      Reply
  94. David Givon

    I am using Garmin Edge 520. It has sinificant difficulties with data grom my Stages power meter. there are cuts every few seconds so I never get clear power data. more then this, if I hold my hands on the hoods, there is more or less reasonable reading BUT… if I move my hands to the handle bar or to the drops, immediately the reception falls and there is no display of power for several seconds. it is important to say that the Stages power meter is allways calibrated and that trainer softwares like TrainerRoad and Tacx read the data from the Stages power meter fluently with no cuts or problems. also important so say that the Edge 520 firmware is the latest ( ver 4.10 )
    Attached is a power graph recorded by the Edge 520.

    Reply
    • Yeah, sounds like pretty typical body blockage issues. For whatever reason, it’s more common on Stages than others. :(

      Unfortunately, there is little you’ll be able to do aside from changing the position of the Edge (such as to a different mount/spot).

      Reply
    • David

      Is this phenomenon the same with other GPS head units or just the wonder of the Edge 520 ?

      Reply
  95. Burck

    I’ve got a specific set of features that i would like in a watch or wristband and i can’t seem to find any that fit all of them. I’ve done quite a bit of searching but to no avail so i was wondering if you know of anything that has GPS, automatic sleep monitoring, 24/7 HR monitoring and waterproof enough to swim with. some additional smaller features would be nice but those are the main 4 i’m looking for so if there isn’t one out yet or it’s out of my price range then i’ll wait. i thought about getting 2 different products to use at different times but it would be more convenient to have it all in one, obviously.

    Reply
  96. TFidalgo

    HI, i’am choosing a GPS watch to track my running, cycling and crossfit workouts, is the Ambit2 S a good choise today over the competion on the same price tag (Ambit2 S in super sale!)?

    Some units now feature Optical HR, but can strugle in some cases, i have this ones in mind:
    – Polar M400 + H7 Band 160€
    – TomTom Runner 2 Cardio (OHR) 170€
    – Garmin Forerunner 220 + HR Band 200€
    – Suunto Ambit2 S + HR Band 225€
    – Garmin Forerunner 225 (HR) 230€

    I am almost certain that the Ambit2S is the one, but is the only one that use ANT+ as base tech. My main concern is buying a unit that is technologicaly outdated!

    Help!

    Reply
    • If the ones noted above, the following are ANT+:

      FR225, FR220, Ambit 2S

      And the following are BLE:

      TomTom Runner 2, Polar M400

      So no major issues there to be honest. I’d agree that the Ambit2 S is the most full featured, however the Runner 2 Cardio is pretty strong for just straightforward running.

      Reply
    • TFidalgo

      The issue of Optical HR can be a downside! Various Runner 2 Cardio users complains about OHR problems… so buying a OHR unit and then have to buy a HR Band don’t make any sense to me, but the confort of OHR is a plus!

      Reply
    • burck

      My issue is finding one that has all 4 Of the main features that I need to help me manage my health. GPS, sleep monitoring, hr monitor and waterproof. I don’t need it to tell me my heart rate in the water just as soon as I’m done I can check. Do you think it would be better to just get 2 different ones and use them for separate activities?

      Reply
  97. Vincent W

    I am looking for a HR watch recommendation. I mountain bike and will train for my first marathon this year. (I also golf, so the vivo is a bonus here, but it is not essential.) I have narrowed down to 2 options:
    Garmin Vivoactive HR – Has a barometer for biking
    Garmin Forerunner 235 – Has Vo2; advanced workouts, interval training, training effect, high sensitivity receiver.

    1. Is the barometer a real accuracy benefit? I like running hills and mountain biking.
    2. Is the high sensitivity receiver necessary for rural / forrest areas?
    3. Can the advanced training features of the 235 be matched by the Vivoactive HR when paired with a computer?

    Thanks for any input guys

    Reply
    • Greg

      I have exactly the same question. I want a watch mainly for running and hiking, and I really like the barometer feature of the Vivoactive HR (assuming it works well). The tracks I produce at the moment via GPS grossly overestimate the elevation gain/loss due to poor vertical accuracy, making the vertical stats almost useless – and deriving elevations from a separate data source has its own set of problems.

      But I also like the advanced stats of the FR235 which are missing on the Vivoactive HR (vo2max, etc).

      I’m inclined to go with the Vivoactive HR, but was also wondering if there was an alternative way to generate the advanced features of the FR235 offline (e.g. using saved workout data to calculate vo2max on a computer at a later time).

      Wondering also how useful the extra features of the FR235 really are in practice, and if people end up using them much or not.

      Reply
  98. Israel

    I have a Suunto Ambit2 S. I love it but I don’t like having to conect it to the computer tu upload the info to strava or the movedcount app. I like the Fenix3 because it has that feature and also more wear versatility. Also live tracking. I have read that the gps on the fenix 3 is not very accurate. So my question is: Should I upgrade my watch to the Fenix 3 or Suunto traverse? Or should I keep the one I have now?

    Reply
  99. Kim

    I am eager to purchase my first running watch, but I am torn between the Garmin FR 25 and the Garmin FR 220 (the FR 220 is about $30 more expensive). I am a beginning to intermediate runner and run roughly 4 times a week. Most of my runs are outside, and I am not too concerned about tracking my treadmill work. I currently use Runkeeper on my phone to track my mileage and distance while I run, but I want to get more immediate feedback on my current/lap pace. Which watch do you think would be a better fit for me? Thank you!

    Reply
    • TFidalgo

      Go for the FR220, for 30$ is the best deal. More features, best HR band.

      Reply
    • Kim

      Thank you. What features make the FR220 a better deal?

      I have tried on the FR 25, and I actually love the band and size of the face. What make the band on the 220 nicer? A hinged band was a must for me!

      Reply
    • TFidalgo

      Well the fr220 have vibration, create/follow custom workouts, on-unit interval feature, training calendar functionality, altimeter, ant+ footpod capable and premium hr band.
      But fr25 have phone notifications, acts as daily activity monitor, virtual pacer.

      so you decide what is the best value.

      Reply
    • Kim

      Thank you. Since I am still ramping up as a runner, I am wondering if I will use the “vibration, create/follow custom workouts, on-unit interval feature, and training calendar functionality” features as I get more serious. Are these things that you use often?

      ETA – I plan to complete my first half marathon next month, and I don’t really have any plans after that. I definitely want to get faster and continue running some longer distance races periodically.

      Reply
    • Trygve Andresen

      If you like the look and feel of fr25, go for it!

      I’ve been running for 15 years, I run every day and have done hundreds of competitions, everything from 800s to marathons. My marathon best is 2:41.

      I own and use the 910XT which is an advanced watch, but I usually use only a fraction of the functions. They are really not interesting or necessary! I love the 910 and have learned to use it my way, but Im intrigued by the simpler watches, and it seems to me as if the FR25 has everything a runner needs, in a easier to navigate and view package. What watch you use don’t define your level as a runner or how far you’ll reach. Whats important is that you get the information you want and stay inspired. So I say, if the FR25 appeals to you, go for it. :)

      Reply
    • Kim

      Update: I went to my local running store where I was able to try on both watches. Since I am small, the FR 25 was the clear winner. It felt comfortable and actually fit on my wrist. The 220 was huge and uncomfortable. I was eager to take it off while I was browsing so I think that it would be a no-go on my runs. Thank you for the advice.

      Reply
    • Trygve Andresen

      Good for you Kim. Congratulations, and happy running! :)

      Reply
  100. Rob_NZ

    Hi, under the feature data for the Mio Link HRM you have it listed as ‘Firmware Updateable: No”

    The Mio Firmware can be updated using the Mio Go app on Android and IOS.

    There is a recent update to Firmware V1.22 that supposedly contains some algorithm improvements

    Reply
    • Thanks, good catch. That was added a bit later in the cycle – just updated the table.

      Reply
  101. Hey,
    I’m 50, not a pro runner and usually run without any watch at all.
    Anyway, I want to buy one now, and I can’t decide between TomTom Cardio Runner ($120) Garmin 225 ($225) or Polar M400 ($140)

    I’ve read lots of reviews, but I’d like to know your personal opinion.

    Thanks

    R

    Reply
  102. Chrissy Sayers

    WOW you are amazing! the most thorough site thus far and I have spent a week reading everything to try and find the perfect GYM cardio fitness tracker with chest heart monitor that monitors everything from heart to calories and one that actually monitors different workouts in the gym – is there a standout watch that does this please. It doesnt have to have GPS. Still I havent been able to find an independent review of such a product.
    many thanks

    Reply
  103. ilias

    Hi Ray,

    I just bought suunto ambit 3S. Is footpod necessary for following the candence? If yes, then what footpod fits to
    this watch?

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • rob_nz

      Hi,
      The Ambit 3 Sport calculates cadence from the accelerometer in the wrist strap.
      It’s an approximation, but given you generally swing your arms in time with your feet, it’s not a bad one.

      Reply
  104. Alan

    Other than Polar analog signals, is there any other way to monitor my heart rate in real time while I am swimming? I guess the market for this isn’t that big, or Garmin would have figured out how to make Ant plus work in the water. Or some optical solution.

    Reply
    • Michael

      A way to monitor HR in real time is a Garmin triathlon watch (920, F3, Epix) together with an optical sensor from Mio or from Scosche. If you put the sensor on the same hand as your watch it is working well in real time under water.
      I personally checked it with Epix paired to Scosche R+

      For some reason if you swim in a pool you will have only real time HR with no history HR data in Garmin connect. When you swim with this setup open water you have all the HR history data like in a regular activity.

      Reply
  105. Colnag

    Hi
    I recently, in error, deleted the Garmin Topo map off the SD card it came on for my Garmin Edge 800.
    I retrieved gmapsupp.img from the trash can on my Mac, but I’m now having trouble getting it back on the SD card so it operates again in the Edge 800. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Paul S.

      The trash on your Mac is simply a hidden folder on whatever disk (one per disk per user), and when you drag something to the trash can all you’re doing is moving the file, not deleting it. The Trash Can that the Finder/Dock shows is simply a sum of all of your individual trash folders. So gmapsupp.img should still be on your SD card unless you emptied the Trash with the card mounted, which actually deletes the files in the Trash. What exactly did you do to lose the file, and what is it telling you when you try to put it back on?.

      Reply
  106. Manuel

    Quick question on the tomtom hr music spark watch, do you expect a new version soon? do you know if tomtom has plans of upgrading it somehow?

    thanks,

    M.

    Reply
    • Would definitely not expect any new unit from them anytime soon. After all, the Spark was just released this past fall. I’d expect nothing new until next year sometime.

      And to be fair, there’s little need for new hardware. What they need is to add in more software (which they’ve been doing slowly but surely, such as the 24×7 HR mode).

      Reply
    • Manuel Rosini

      Thank you for taking the time to answer!

      M

      Reply
  107. Bri

    Im looking for the smallest, no frills (cheapest) women’s running watch. I just want to know HR and time. I would love to know pace, too, but I run barefoot on the beach, so a foot pod is out. (Is there any pace watch that doesnt require a foot pod?) I have NO interest in downloading data or connectivity to any apps.
    Thanks for any input!

    Reply
    • You’ll likely want a low-end GPS watch. Check out something like the TomTom Runner, or TomTom Cardio. The Runner would require a Bluetooth HR Strap (about $30-$50), but can usually be found for under $100. It’ll give you pace and HR. If you get the Cardio, then it has an optical HR sensor within it.

      Alternatively, if you look around you can find the Garmin FR15 on sale for under $75 here and there. Still need a HR strap, ANT+ this time, but also had or under $45.

      Reply
    • brigitte newsom

      Thank you so much! This helps a lot and has kept me from going crazy by looking at so many reviews, haha.

      Reply
  108. Jeffrey

    You were dead on about the Scosche Rhythm+. A really nice optical HR monitor that appears to be very accurate.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  109. Ty

    You mention that the Fenix3 HR doesn’t give running dynamics via the optical HR sensor, only w/ the strap HRM, isn’t that the same as the 630? Thanks Ray, your website is phenomenal

    Reply
  110. andrew barna

    My daughter who just turned 9 has been begging me for a smart/sports watch for the past year. She has been saving up her money and I told her that I would pay for half of the one she choses. She has borrowed a bunch of her friends watches to see which she likes best. In the past few months she has used a gear fit(yuck) gear s2, apple watch, vivoactive(loved but to dim), my wifes fitbits… surge and HR charge. She is basically looking for a GPS watch(loves to geocache and is an avid hiker biker and maps all her rides), HR monitor(has a history of arrhythmias, she feels a bit less tense seeing fluctuations) options for interchangeable smaller bands(tiny wrist). What would be a goood choice of a device under $400?

    Thanks

    Reply
  111. Rebekah Markowitz

    I have a daily fitness tracker watch with heart rate monitor, but I really want something more accurate for my intense boot camp style workouts/training to see heart rate zones and to better adjust to maximize my workouts. So I’ve been looking at basic chest strap/watch combos just to wear when I work out. My workouts include strength, cardio, interval training, circuits, etc. I’ve managed to narrow it down to 3, and I’m just feeling overwhelmed by which one to purchase and it’s hard to find comparison articles. They are all right around the same price.

    So I was wondering if anyone had any opinions on which of the 3 you would recommend:

    1) Suunto M2 – I like the look of this one the most (and by far). Plus it looks like the heart rate monitor is pretty small. I’m a small person so I’m a little worried about bigger chest strap monitors creating strange bulges under my shirts haha. My workout friend loves her Suunto, but she has a higher model. However, it seems to lack some of the features of the others.

    2) Polar FT7 – Very high ranked on Amazon, and seems to have a few more features than the Suunto. However, I don’t really love the look of it. Plus it looks like the chest monitor is bigger and I’m afraid of it being really obvious under my shirt. Anyone know how big that monitor actually is?

    3) Polar FT60 – Surprisingly, around the same price as the FT7 (in some cases, cheaper). More features than the FT7. Like the look better than the FT7, but it’s lower ranked than the FT7 on and I can’t really figure out why. Anyone know?

    Anyone have any thoughts or advice when picking one? I keep changing my mind, and I’m driving myself crazy.

    Reply
  112. Kelly

    I’m looking for a super simple, but very accurate heart rate monitor. I don’t want GPS or bluetooth. I need it for working out while pregnant. I have to keep my heart rate below a certain number, so i need an accurate monitor to do that. I don’t run or bike outside. It’s basically walking on a treadmill or strength training types of exercise. Everything I’m finding is super fancy or it just does too much. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Alan

      If you have an iPhone 5s or later or some recent android you could get a Polar H7 and use Polar Beat app or Wahoo fitness app. Another really cost effective solution would be a Polar FT1 which comes with a Polar strap and is less than $40 on Amazon. I don’t get paid by Polar but I am a fan

      Reply
    • Kelly

      Thanks Alan, I looked those both up, and they have horrible reviews. I’m a little hesitant. I’m thinking I may just have to get something that has more features than i really want just to get something better quality.

      Reply
    • alan

      Polar h7 has over 2000 reviews on Amazon. It is an industry standard.
      I think any heart rate monitor will suit you for what you want. Chest straps are more accurate than optical arm ones. Although the Scosche is pretty good. If you want a wrist based receiver, all the Garmins and Polar will be fine. I am using a Polar A300 when I am not using the Polar Beat App. But just to see a number to be sure you aren’t going into a danger zone, anything will do. The advantage of the older Polar units is that both the chest straps and watch receivers don’t need to be charged. You just put on the strap and start the recording on the watch side. For decades that’s the way it was. Still works. Simple, cheap.

      Reply
  113. Thierry

    Dear Mr. DCrainmaker,

    This winter I bought the Powertap P1. (after reading your recommandation 😉 )
    But now I’m strugling with the choice for a new HRM watch.
    Could you tell me if Garmin 910 &/or 920XT are fully compatible with the P1?
    For your info, I’m a triathlete, so yes the watch has to support some water. But measuring distance in water of no importance for me.
    Or do you have another recommendation?

    PS : Couldn’t get in touch with Garmin, to ask them same question. Not very supportive I sence.
    PS2 : Sorry for the mistakes in language. Flemish person writing very fast.

    Thanks in advance for the help.

    Thierry

    Reply
  114. Thierry

    Hi again,
    I Forgot a question.
    Would it be possible to upload a track on a 920XT, and so get guided (arrow, plan sight..) on the road.
    Or do i need a edge 520 or 800 for that?
    Your input is well appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Thierry
    The Belgian Boy.

    Reply
  115. Erin

    Is there an activity tracker with GPS and optical HR that tracks running and biking without any extra sensors? I’m a runner and currently use a Garmin FR220 (which I love), but want to also track my steps, HR, and miles/speed on my bike, which I mostly just do for cross training. I’ve been looking at the Fitbit Blaze, but it doesn’t have GPS. Any other suggestions?

    Reply
  116. Michael

    Ray: My rides are getting longer and outlasting my Garmin 1000 battery, even with WIFI, BT, Cycle Partner, turned off. Do you have any recommendations for portable (re)-chargers that RAPIDLY recharge the 1000 during rest stops, etc?

    Reply
    • Roughly how many charges are you looking for?

      I use different battery packs depending on how many mAh (power) I need. So if I only need to replenish the Edge 1000 once, then I’d go ahead and choose a smaller one. The Edge 1000 doesn’t seem to have a fast charging mode based on my casual observations.

      Btw: Leading cause of short battery on the Edge 1000 is screen brightness (by a wide margin). After that, it’s leaving the map page as the active display page.

      Reply
    • Michael

      Good tips. Thanks (yet again), Ray!

      Reply
    • Michael

      Ray: an additional possibly related to the battery question: I’m riding an event which has both a downloadable TCX.course and alternately a GPX.track for the route I will be riding.
      Is either of these better to use from a battery-life perspective? Any comments on different types of downloads would be appreciated, especially for use with my Garmin 1000.

      Reply
  117. Firmanto

    Thank you

    Reply
  118. Harry stainpoke

    Hi there

    I have been looking at getting a GPS watch for a while now the fenix 3 is looking like the winner.
    Recently I have changed jobs and require an accurate barometer to indicate slight changes in atmospheric pressure. It is not required to indicate changes in altitude.

    Can I set barometric alarms on the fenix 3 or will I be better getting a casio pro trek.

    Get site, read a lot of reviews many thanks for effort.

    Cheers

    Reply
  119. cynthia Hanna

    What software do you use to keep track of all your activities, etc. I am struggling with what software to use as many of them only work with certain products. I have a garmin watch (looking to buy something new shortly) and it does not seem to upload well into any third party software other then garmin connect. I really like mapymyfitness apps and would love to know what gear works best with this software. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

    Reply
  120. Gary Spanedda

    I have a TomTom Multi-Sport GPS watch & a TomTom cadence/speed sensor that i use for cycling. I recelty upgraded to a new Cannondale Synapse 5 Carbon with a Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheelset and the TomTom cadence/speed sensor no longer fit due to the bike & wheel design.

    Any thoughts from anyone on what i might be able to use?

    Thanks,

    Reply
  121. Shuli Cohen

    I am looking for a running watch that can last a 12-hour ultra-marathon, possibly a 24-hour race too. Any of the GPS watch can last that long? If not, what are the options for chargers?

    Thank you!
    Shuli

    Reply
  122. Frank

    Hi

    Thanks for excellent reviews.

    I have tried three different built in optical hart rate watches (Adidas, Fitbit and Apple watch) and they all were more or less crap in weight training. None of them were able to accurately track the hart rate. Only on stationary bike or were your hands were more or less in still position they were able to get the hart beat.

    Have you ever tested the optical hart rate features in weight training?

    If so were any of the wearable able to accurately track the heart rate?

    If you have not tested with weights do you know anybody who has done such tests.

    Which of the models you have tested so far has from your opinion the best ability to track the heart rate accurately from the wrist.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Alan

      The Scosche Rhythm Plus and the Mio fuse are the only ones that really come close to a chest strap.
      I have used chest straps for years. The newer ones are softer and more comfortable than the purely plastic older styles.
      There are many trade offs in this life. Minimal discomfort and accuracy of a chest strap, no batteries to charge. Or less accurate stuff. I have used the Scosche and it comes pretty close, and it can be comfortably attached to forearm.

      Reply
    • Frank

      Thanks for the answer. So you are saying that Mio Fuse is more accurate in weight training than for example TomTom Spark.

      Reply
  123. Alex

    hello. im looking for a smartwatch with a date calendar alarm..it means…when an event occurr notify me with a previous alarm ive programme it..some suggestion?

    Reply
  124. Nolan

    Question; I’ll apologize if this is a duplicate. Is there a single application that will sync both Withings Activity Tracking and Garmin Training Sessions capturing sleep, steps, and total activity; combining activity with out HR (steps) and training with HR? While the devices are nice, a “Single Payne of Glass” is better – in my opinion. I don’t mind having a 2nd Dashboard aka. Strava. But having that single dashboard would be awesome.

    Reply
    • The Withings piece is kinda the red herring. They play well in the general health/fitness realm, but when it comes to sport (i.e. sport activities), it’s a bit more nebulous.

      That said, MyFitnessPal does take data from both of them, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t pull in Garmin sleep data.

      Reply
  125. Pedro

    Hi guys,

    I’m gravitating around the Fenix 3 HR, I really love all the features and it seems to be the top notch solution for everyday and workout monitoring. My only question, for the ones who use it 24/7 is: how bulky is it to sleep with? Do you find it uncomfortable to use it during the night? I know that this is quite a personal opinion, but I’m a bit afraid that I don’t find it comfortable…

    Thanks!!!

    Pedro

    Reply
    • Personally I find it a bit bulky, but I’ve also gotten used to wearing it too. I think if you give it a few days you might get used to it. But it’s still kinda a big watch to sleep with.

      Reply
    • Pedro Agostinho

      Thanks for the quick answer. :)

      Keep up with the awesome work!!!

      Cheers

      Reply
    • Quin

      Pedro,

      I had a Fenix 3 (not HR) for a while before exchanging it for a dedicated cycling computer. I loved it and was very sad to let it go. I found that after a few days of regular wear, it wasn’t at all too bulky to sleep with. But I imagine you’ll figure that out well within the return period from wherever you get it!

      Reply
    • Pedro Agostinho

      Hi Quin.
      I’ll probably order it this week, hope I do find it confortable.
      Thanks for the help!

      Reply
  126. Pete

    Looking for my first activity tracker/watch to track daily activity, runs (indoor and out) and cycling (indoor spin and outdoor rides). I’ve narrowed to Fitbit Blaze or Garmin 235. Appreciate any advice on which one to choose…stuck!

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Quin

      Pete, you might want to consider the new Vivoactive HR, which just came out (Ray just posted some first impressions). One major difference between the two you’re mentioning is that the Garmin has GPS whereas the Fibit Blaze pulls GPS from your phone. If you’d like the ability to for the watch to track your outdoor activities without relying on your phone. You might also consider the various platforms (phone apps and websites) that the two offer. Does one seem easier or more fun to use to you?

      Reply
  127. JC

    Great site! Been following you for a long time now and thanks for your dedication!

    I know you are busy and I have read almost everything on your site but I am still struggling to find an answer and wondering if you would be open to helping me?…

    I had a suunto ambit I decided to sell as I wasnt using it as much as I wanted to.

    I play touch rugby and hockey and do a triathlon or two – small ones and cycle every day as transport and the annual thailand 500km ride over 5 days for charity. I go to the gym, do pilates and yoga and enjoy boxing and personal training and such..

    is there a device that would suit most of the things I do?
    I mainly need to track performance at hockey, cycling, running and if it can also , as a bonus, track indoors as well?
    I currently use strava for cycling and running but cant use a phone on the hockey or rubgy pitch

    I was looking at micoach mini as my hockey boots has a little thingy for that
    I could use a watch or tracker on my wrist without much drama
    is there such a device that I could wear most of the time that would be suitable?

    Bonus tracking food and sleep but only as a wish list :)

    apple iwatch – do they do most of these things now?
    I have seen fitbit blaze which may appear similar ?
    Or go for a more advanced but simple watch that you recommend in your reviews?

    Any advice?
    JC

    Reply
  128. Your Man

    I currently use a Garmin Edge 500 cycle computer, and Garmin Connect and Strava to review stats etc. I might also use TrainingPeaks software for rides!

    I feel a fitness band would encourage general fitness, and sleep tracking would encourage me to get more sleep – I don’t get enough!

    Thinking along the lines of compatibility I see 4 options:

    1 – get an HRM strap and cycle.

    2 – get a vivofit 2 + HRM, and cycle and use fitness band for general motivation – steps etc.

    3 – as number 2 but wait for Garmin vivofit 3 + HRM. When is vivofit 3 going on sale in UK?

    4 – get Vivosmart HR and pair it to Edge 500, and use it as HRM strap via wrist. I know from reviews some HR readings aren’t accurate especially under intense periods.

    Are all the above options compatible and pairable with Edge 500?

    If I went for option 2 or 3 and paired the HRM strap to vivofit 2/3, can I pair it at same time to Edge 500???

    Within the 3 fitness bands can you switch of the ‘movement’ reminders sound. Just don’t want it beeping like mad when I’m in work (desk job).

    Your advice and thoughts on the above would be much appreciated.

    Reply
  129. John W

    Hoping someone can help me out.. I am looking for a watch that tracks heart rate without a chest strap(I like be able to see where my heart rate is at all times). I race motocross so it is also important I am able to set a waypoint for lap time purposes. Heart rate accuracy is important for high intensity cardio work. I do Muay Thai as well and would like to trap calories burned at where my HR is at throughout the class. Thank you in advance for the help!

    Reply
  130. C Robinson

    Hi Ray, you recommend the Garmin Edge 520, but I understood that the Edge 1000 was the top device from Garmin? What is it that leads you to recommend the 520 instead of the 1000? What does the 520 have that the 1000 doesn’t, pricepoint? Something else? Thanks!

    Reply
  131. Womp

    Hi, just after a little help

    What is the smallest GPS watch for a 5 year old ?

    – Small strap or very adjustable
    – Basic GPS function to track routes/distance and upload to Strava ect (via data cable is fine)

    Reply
    • I would look at something like the FR10/15/25 – all are very small. You can often find the FR10/15 for about $50 on clearance in various places. The women’s versions are a bit smaller than the mens versions.

      Reply
    • Womp

      Thanks Ray

      I have found the FR10 for £50 or a Soleus mini for £30

      Just one quick question if i use these on the bike and upload to Strava (changing it to ride) will achievements be picked up as normal? (just something i read in the comments section on the edge 25 page)

      Reply
    • Yup, no problem uploading via USB cable and changing the workout type on Strava.

      Reply
    • Womp

      Thanks Ray, much appreciated

      Reply
  132. Baris Hune

    Have you ever reviewed a Kineitc turbo trainer?, I have heard good things about them and couldn’t find them on your site. Has anyone tried one?
    link to kurtkinetic.com

    Reply
    • It’s just a Rock & Roll Trainer, with the inRide sensor. I do have an inRide sensor review here (on their trainer too!): link to dcrainmaker.com

      That said, for the love of all things holy, please do not pay $736USD for that package. Incredibly overpriced compared to awesome options from Tacx, Elite, and Wahoo at lower price points. You can pickup a cheap trainer mat for $20 on Amazon, a wheel block for $10, and a BLE HR strap is often thrown in for free from Wahoo.

      And unlike that trainer, all of those options can be controlled by apps.

      Reply
  133. Tobias

    Which GPS watches display the beeline distance to the start or even better a programmable target? I frequently run new routes and like to have an indication whether to take an extra swing or head straight home. I don’t need a navigation aid but would rather have the distance displayed on one of the main screens and not burried three menu steps down.

    Reply
    • Most of the ones that have a ‘Back to Start’ function. So something like the mid-range Forerunner series (things above $200), or the Polar M400.

      Reply
  134. Adéle O.

    Just discovered your awsum blog! I broke my sacrum (lower back) and can’t run anymore so just walking/hiking, swimming, scuba diving and cycling (just bought a mountain bike) now.
    The problem is I’m still using my husband’s forerunner 305 and it just won’t die!!!
    Would love my own training watch that isn’t the size of a small tv😂
    I compared fenix3, 920XT and suunto ambit 3 peak…
    Am I on the right track? Any other recommendations?
    Something SMALL and girly please!!

    Reply
  135. John

    While the Scosche Rhythm+ reviews / comments seem unanimous here, I’m going to go ahead and ask a question as this space seems to be rapidly advancing. I’ve been using an Ambit3 for almost a year now and love it ….. but as expected, I’m tired of the chest band. I tried a Mio back in early 2015 but it kept losing connection to the watch so I returned it. I’d REALLY like to put the chest HR strap away permanently.

    So ….. given that it’s mid-May and you have some visibility into future products, would you still recommend the Scosche Rhythm+? Or is there something on the horizon that I should consider waiting for?

    THANKS!

    Reply
    • I haven’t heard of anything new from them. And at CES they didn’t note anything near/medium term.

      Reply
  136. Steve B

    FYI, today the 920xt is on special today on Amazon for only $329.99 for the watch. Seems like a good time if you wanted one.

    Reply
  137. David

    Anybody else suffered a cracked Garmin screen? Mine’s on a Forerunner 235, no impact which I recall, though it did pick up a scratch.

    My feeling is that the screen is just not strong enough, it’s a big face, and to me it’s too vulnerable, but I’d be interested to hear other views.

    Reply
  138. AM

    I bought the 310XT through you many years ago, but regretfully on my latest trip to Japan I lost it :-(

    My use cases are nearly entirely cycling and backpacking.

    So prices on the 310XT are pretty cheap – is there any compelling reason not to rebuy this model? Is there something else I should look for?

    Reply
  139. Linc

    Hi, Ray and everyone.

    I’m trying to decide between Fenix 3 Sapphire and Fenix 3 HR. Long story short: Through my company’s benefits program, I can get the Sapphire for 25% off if I buy directly from Garmin’s Canadian website. The F3HR is not available for purchase on the Canadian website, and local retailers don’t offer discounts.

    Is the optical HR worth the additional cost (Sapphire discounted vs F3HR undiscounted)? I currently use a Basis Peak, which also has optical HR and supposedly is good with sleep monitoring. Fenix would be a huge leap up for me.

    My primary use is hiking and short distance running.

    Reply
    • If you’re already doing 24×7 monitoring, then the F3HR will be a more natural transition (not as big of a gap in collected data). Though, the 24×7 data isn’t as good as the Basis Peak, so if you plan to keep on using that – then you might want to skip the F3HR and go with just the F3.

      Reply
    • Linc

      Thanks for your thoughts, Ray. I was hoping to sell the Peak after getting a Fenix. Trying to juggle multiple sets of data doesn’t sound appealing.

      Reply
  140. Fabio Chichizola

    I would like to see a comparison between the new Suunto Traverse Alpha and de Garmin Fenix 3

    Reply
    • Fabio Chichizola

      Thank you in advance….!

      Reply
  141. Gary

    A quick question, I have sincerely researched and struggled to find the answer (admittedly not read this whole thread): I’m thinking about a watch to cover cycling and running, probably an even mix the two. I’m after a mid price (can’t go 500+aud) watch that has things like gradient, ascend, descend and elevation capability such as my dead garmin edge. Ideally, I”d like a smaller form factor than something like the 920xt (want to wear as all day watch).

    Do I have any options below something like the xt?

    Reply