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My Winter 2014-2015 Sports Gadget Recommendations

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(Before we start, my Black Friday post will hit tomorrow and be updated throughout the week.  This listing attempts to as best as possible take into account those price changes.)

It’s that time of year where tons of folks are looking at gadget options – either for themselves or for friends and family.  For many years I’ve put together a list around November with my gadget recommendations.  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.

Now this past June I put together a Summer recommendations guide, but since then a lot of stuff has changed in certain markets.  Meanwhile, in other areas nothing has changed – for example, cycling computers remains identical to what it was this summer.  For those that are familiar with my summer recommendations, here’s the sections that have changed in this post:

– Triathlon watches
– Running watches
– Action cameras
– Activity trackers

All other sections remain unchanged.

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 (both of which will have updates this week, though, fairly minimal changes).

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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Road Running – Best in Class: Garmin FR620

It used to be that I used the Garmin FR610 for all my running adventures, but since the FR620 came out last fall, I’ve been using it instead – and it’s working great for me.  Garmin listened when it came to waterproofing, connectivity via Bluetooth to your phone, and customization.  It’s pretty much my perfect running watch.  There’s simply nothing else in the same ballpark from a functionality standpoint by other companies.  And, with the FR620 cycling mode functionality added this summer, it brings the much requested functionality back to the lineup.

Many will ask why the FR620 over the FR920XT? It’s true the FR920XT has more functions – a lot more.  But for some, including me, I really do like the super slim aspect of the FR620 over the bulkier FR920XT.  That said, I’ve been using the FR920XT over the last few months and I might be slowly switching to that as a running watch.  We’ll see…

Trail/Ultra Running – Best in Class: Fenix2, or Ambit 3 on sale.

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

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

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

So to that end this is still a slightly tricky category.  But I’d kinda put my recommendation as such: If you can get the Ambit3 at a lower price then that’s still a choice.  But if it’s at a higher $500+ price, then go with the Fenix2.  Said differently: I don’t believe the Ambit3 is worth the high-price they’ve set for it.  But I do believe the watch is much more competitive about $100 cheaper, making up for the lack of features found on the Fenix2.

Running – Moderate/Mid-Range: Polar M400

This is the first time in years that Garmin has lost the coveted best mid-range running watch to another company.  It was held last year by the FR220, but with the Polar M400 being far cheaper than the FR220, and having more flexibility, and more features – it was an easy choice.

The FR220 sits at $249, whereas the M400 is $179.  Both have good running features, but only the M400 also includes a daily activity tracker for measuring steps when not in a workout, and sleep metrics at night.  The M400 also supports a slew of sport modes that you can fully customize, and they’ve got footpod support planned for the next month or so – rounding out treadmill use.  Like the Garmin it can upload via your mobile phone to Polar Flow, their training log site.  The site recently announced 3rd party compatibility options, and a number of major 3rd party sites are already working on connectivity to Polar.

Ultimately though, the price is the biggest ticket here as to why it’s the winner.  At $70 cheaper, it’s a no-brainer.

(Update Nov 2015: One thing we have seen a spike in during 2015 is failures of the USB port, primarily due to corrosion. Interestingly, in the October timeframe we started seeing Polar ship a slightly different USB port arrangement on the M400’s. Whether or not it fixes things is still to be determined.  On the bright side, Polar has swapped out pretty much everyone’s units without question.)

Running – Budget Range: TomTom Runner (or FR15 on sale)

The TomTom Runner with its new $99 sale price has easily moved into the top spot here.  It’s able to track your runs, has some basic structured workout functionality and alerting options, as well as can upload via your mobile phone.  Plus, you’ll get more display customization on the TomTom series than you would on the Garmin FR10/FR15 watches.

Now, in the event the FR15 goes on sale, then it’s definitely worth considering again especially since it has daily activity tracking (steps), which the TomTom doesn’t.  The challenge is that at regular prices of $169, it’s only $10 cheaper than the above Polar M400 – which is a far better deal.  So the price has to drop quite a bit to really be a contender here.

If neither unit is on sale, then I’d still go back to looking at the FR10, which floats at around $129US.  It lacks heart rate or activity tracking found in the FR15.  But beyond that virtually everyone who purchases one is happy with it (judging by 600+ comments on my review post).

‘2014 Winter Recommendations: Running Watches’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save with the VIP program
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 27th, 2017 @ 4:31 am
Garmin Fenix2/Fenix2 SE$399LinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 620$399LinkLink
Polar M400$179LinkLink
Suunto Ambit2$319LinkLink
Suunto Ambit3 Peak$499LinkLink
TomTom Runner$99LinkLink

Triathlon GPS Watches:

Triathlon

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

Back in June, I noted that it was a poor time to purchase a new multisport watch.  Now that we’ve had two new watches hit the market, you can easily see why.  Both the Garmin FR920XT and the Suunto Ambit3 arrived, and the Polar V800 has seen some solid updates, like indoor swimming in the last few weeks and power meter support the previous month.

Overall Best in Class: Garmin FR920XT

Despite those updates though, there’s really no competition here at this point.  The sheer volume of features found on the FR920XT dwarfs that on even the V800 and Ambit3.  While I think Polar has the longer term option of catching up with consistent new firmware updates to the V800, I think the hardware limitations of the existing Ambit3 platform make it difficult for it to hit the same level as either the Garmin or Polar units.

When it comes to new features in the FR920XT, it’s essentially pulling the ‘best’ features found on all the other new Garmin fitness devices over the past 3 years into a single watch.  Everything from live tracking via  phones to daily activity tracking (i.e. steps/sleep) to new swim interval timer modes and tons more.  While I could list all the new features here, it’d really just be redundant with my previous ‘What’s new’ section, as well as the full In-Depth review.  Perhaps what I think may be the most important feature though is Connect IQ, which means that developers will be able to start releasing apps for the FR920XT, allowing you to add functionality that perhaps Garmin hasn’t.

Of course, there are some areas I’d still like to see them focus on – such as courses and the barometric altimeter calibration.  But for most triathletes, those are likely to be of less concern in daily training or even most races.

Budget Options: Suunto Ambit2 S, and in some cases FR310XT

At the budget end, you’ve got the Ambit2 S, which sits at $219US these days.  That’s a very solid deal for a watch that tracks across all three sports – including laps in the pool.  Plus, Suunto’s addition of standard export capabilities over the last year mean that it’s easy to get these to the platforms and apps you’d like, including direct connection to Strava.  Plus, it looks like a normal watch and can be worn day to day as a regular time watch as well.

If you want to save a bit more, you can pickup the Garmin FR310XT.  It hovers around $175US, and has the vast majority of the FR910XT functionality.  The core areas that both it lacks compared to the Suunto Ambit2 S though are indoor swim tracking, as well as stroke metrics for outdoor swimming.  The FR310XT has a variant of openwater swim mode to be used on the wrist, though accuracy isn’t as good as the Ambit2 S.  If you’re just getting into triathlon and aren’t quite sure what your plans are – I’d really recommend the FR310XT over the higher end watches. But if you can afford the extra $50 for swim tracking and the ability to just use it as a regular day watch, I’d go the route of the Ambit2 S.

‘2014 Winter Recommendations: Triathlon Watches’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save with the VIP program
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 22nd, 2017 @ 4:36 am
Garmin Forerunner 310XT$170LinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 920XT$249LinkLink
Suunto Ambit2 S$219LinkLink

Cycling GPS Units

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

As I’ve noted previously, anytime someone in the cycling/sports technology industry starts a conversation about bike computers, it always starts with “it’s like the Edge 500”.  Well, there’s reason for that.  Given the Edge 500’s current prices at $200, it’s still an awesome deal.  If you don’t care about maps and turn by turn navigation, you won’t find a better unit out there.  Plus, with all Garmin devices pushing automatically to sites like Strava, Training Peaks and more – it’s hard to beat that connectivity.

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

Finally, the O-Synce Navi2Coach is very solid, and I’d have no problems using it day to day either.  We haven’t quite seen as many updates to the unit as we did during the initial release cycle – but most people seem quite happy with it.  About my only complaint there is (still) the mount, which can be prone to breakage.

Cycling with navigation: Edge 810, second with Mio/Magellan Cyclo 505

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

Last fall I recommended the Edge 800 over the Edge 810, as I felt the features didn’t justify the extra price.  And in many ways I still feel the same way.  However, the ability to upload via Bluetooth is becoming more relevant with Garmin’s new automatic sync partnerships (like Training Peaks, Strava, SportTracks, and MapMyFitness).  Within the course of a few short months these partnerships covered all the major players in the game.

Meanwhile, you’ve got the Mio Cyclo 505 (also branded as Magellan).  That unit received a substantial firmware update this past fall that added in a ton of features.  For example the ability to control trainers and Shimano Di2 integration.  These were features that Garmin didn’t have at the time, though have since been added to the Edge 810 and Edge 510.  That’s why the Mio is slowly sliding out of contention here, but I’m keeping it for the moment as a very viable alternative.

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

So why not the Edge Touring?  In many cases the Edge 800 isn’t all that much more expensive than the Edge Touring.  And the Edge 800 has far more functionality than the Edge Touring does, except in the area of round-trip routing (whereby you tell the unit you want a 50-mile ride and it goes and creates a random route).  The Edge 810 lacks that as well.  Meanwhile, the Touring lacks 80%-90% of what either the 800 or 810 has.  So if you’re looking to save some cash, go Edge 800 instead of Edge Touring.

Budget GPS Option: Garmin Edge 200 or RFLKT+

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

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

‘2014 Winter Recommendations: Cycling Units’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated September 15th, 2015 @ 3:36 pm
CycleOps Joule GPS$220LinkLink
Garmin Edge 200$129LinkLink
Garmin Edge 500$199LinkLink
Garmin Edge 810$399LinkLink
O-Synce Navi2Coach$249LinkLink

Cycling Power Meters:

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

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

The good news is that I cover these in-depth in my 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:

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The best way to cover this section is to go read my complete 2014 cycling trainers guide, so again like power meters, I’d go over and and check out that post for all my recommendations (a massive list on a slew of categories).  Plus, just on Friday I posted my massive Trainer App guide.

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.

Swimming:

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MP3 Players: FINIS Neptune + See MP3 Player post

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

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

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

Pool Swim Watch: Garmin Swim

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

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

Openwater Swim Watch: There’s no good answer.

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

‘2014 Winter Recommendations: Swimming Units’ compatibleStreet Price / PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 15th, 2015 @ 11:49 am
FINIS Neptune Swimming MP3 Player$139LinkLink
Garmin Swim$150.00LinkLink

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.

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

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

You’ve also got the Wahoo TICKR RUN, which builds on the base TICKR by adding in the ability to measure pace/cadence without a GPS (i.e. treadmill), as well as give a look at running efficiency type numbers.  I’d have no problems recommending that for runners (but it wouldn’t be of any use to cyclists).  Now, I’d be cautious on the TICKR X though, I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding into what it does.  It doesn’t integrate with watches from the standpoint of being able to save your heart rate and upload it to the watch. It only works with the Wahoo App there.

Optical Heart Rate Sensor: Scosche RHYTHM+

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

Dual Speed/Cadence Combo: Wahoo Blue SCv2

Over the last month or so, Wahoo has come out with the v2 of their BlueSC, which includes both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  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.

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

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

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

Cadence-Only Sensor (ANT+ or BLE): Wahoo RPMv2

I’ve been using this in tests since it came out last spring, all without issue. 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.

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

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

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

Bluetooth Smart Footpod: Adidas miCoach Bluetooth Smart Footpod

For Bluetooth Smart footpod capable devices or apps, I’d go with the Adidas one.  It’s the smallest BLE footpod on the market and works great with most devices.

Bike Computer Mounts – Garmin quarter-turn Edge (and Forerunner 310XT/910XT/920XT) cycling mount: Barfly TT and Road Mounts

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

‘2014 Winter Recommendations: Sensors’ compatiblePrice / Street PriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save with the VIP program
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated January 30th, 2019 @ 5:56 am
4iiii's Viiiiva$79LinkLink
Barfly Tate Labs Road Bike Handlebar Mount$25LinkN/A
Barfly Tate Labs Timetrial/Triathlon Bike Mount$37LinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)$45LinkLink
Garmin Speed-Only ANT+ Sensor (magnet-less)$39LinkLink
Scosche RHYTHM+$79LinkLink
Wahoo Blue SCv2 - Bluetooth Smart/ANT+ Speed/Cadence Sensor$59LinkLink
Wahoo TICKR$49LinkLink

Weight Scales (Connected)

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

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

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

Now, what about ANT+ scales?  At this point I wouldn’t recommend them.  Garmin (being the only company that ever enabled uploads to devices from them), has pretty much killed off support for them in new devices going forward.  Thus buying one of these scales at this point would be kinda silly.  Plus, with the exception of the low-end ones, I’ve felt for a while now that the high-end units are a wee bit overpriced.

‘2014 Winter Recommendations: Weight Scales’ compatibleStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 26th, 2015 @ 6:18 pm
FitBit Aria WiFi Weight Scale$129LinkLink
Withings WS-30 WiFi Weight Scale$99LinkLink
Withings WS-50/Smart Body Analyzer WiFi Weight Scale$149LinkLink

Activity Trackers:

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Let me be clear – this is a category that’s in a huge state of sea change right now, and especially over the next 45-60 days.  There’s a ton of recently announced new/revamped models either days away from being available (i.e. Basis Peak, Fitbit Charge, Jawbone UP3, Withings Activite), and those that won’t hit till early 2015 or so (Fitbit Charge HR, Fitbit Surge, Apple Watch), plus other recent new on-market options like the Microsoft Band and Jaybird Reign.

As a result of all this churn, what you’ll see over the next few weeks is existing units dropping in price.  This is partly in response to new models, partly due to holiday sales, and partly due to clearance ahead of new models at CES the first week of January.

In general, if I was looking at purchasing a unit right now – I’d stick to one of the ones being sold for cheap.  I think there’s too much uncertainty at the higher end of the market with too many new companies introducing products that simply don’t do what they say they’ll do.  Be it beautiful touchscreen displays on some new activity trackers that don’t work when you sweat, or optical HR on others that don’t work during a workout.  A lot of companies are pumping optical heart rate sensors into these units, but not a lot of them actually work accurately.

Said differently, tread carefully with models that are just showing up over the next few weeks.  And, expect to see my pop out thoughts on most of the above as they arrive over the next few weeks (many of which are scheduled to show up this week).

Activity Tracker – Athlete: Polar Loop or Garmin Vivofit

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

If you can get the Vivosmart on sale, that’s definitely an option as well.  You’ll lose some battery life there, but you’ll gain smartphone notifications and the ability to pair it to a cycling speed sensor.  On the flipside, not having to charge the regular Vivofit is really just awesome.

Activity Tracker – Budget: FitBit Zip

Finally, when it comes to the budget selection – the $49 FitBit Zip is about as perfect as it gets.  It gets some 6-8 months of battery life and then uploads via Bluetooth Smart in the background to your phone.  I wear it near-constantly and just don’t have to think about it.  It just works…perfectly.

So why the FitBit Zip over the Misfit?  Well, for me it’s one simple reason: I want a screen. I think being able to glance at the number of steps without having to look at your phone is meaningful and a motivator. Obviously, some feel differently.

‘2014 Winter Recommendations: Activity Trackers’ compatiblePriceAmazon LinkClever Training - Save with the VIP program
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 27th, 2016 @ 5:04 am
Fitbit Zip$59LinkLink
Garmin Vivofit$49LinkLink
Garmin Vivosmart$169LinkLink
Polar Loop$55LinkLink

Action Cameras:

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

Over the past month or so we’ve seen GoPro release a trio of new models, while at the same time I fully expect to see a flood of new action cameras at CES in the first week of January (as is customary).  Obviously, since GoPro does annual releases and they just put out theirs last month you won’t see anything new from them till next fall.  But the rest of the industry should respond then – both at the new ~$100 budget action cam range, as well as the more expensive $500 level.

Action Cams – Best Quality: GoPro Hero4 Black

When it comes to high quality 4K footage, it’s hard to beat the GoPro and the ecosystem there – especially on the mount side of the equation.  The size also has remained the same, which is great for both convenience of placement and compatible 3rd party solutions.

That said however, I wouldn’t recommend it as the best overall action cam option for most people.  That’s because despite being the most expensive, it’s also the one with the lowest battery life – barely breaking an hour.  If you’re looking at GoPro’s specifically, I’d look at either the Hero4 Silver, or, one of last year’s Hero3+ Black models on clearance somewhere.

Action Cams – Budget: Garmin VIRB (base)

This unit is floating between $99 and $129US, which makes it the same price as the new 2014 Hero Base (or cheaper).  Plus, it’s got a ton more features than the GoPro has.  While it’s a little bit bigger than the GoPro, the handy LCD for framing your shot as well as the fully complete timelapse modes and ability to use it with VIRB Edit easily (software app) make it an easy choice for those looking to save money.

Finally, it has more picture and video resolutions than the GoPro Hero base does along with having a battery that you can can remove (the GoPro Base doesn’t), so if you want to get a spare battery for those long ski days, you can do so.

Note that while a handful of retailers are showing the product is discontinued, I wouldn’t worry much there. While true that VIRB based production has ceased, Garmin continues to pour resources into the platform – including new partnerships and software updates announced in the past few weeks.  I’d have no qualms about purchasing a unit at $99 or so these days.

Action Cams – Those wanting GPS/sensor data: Garmin VIRB Elite

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

All that said, the core reason I’d recommend the VIRB over the GoPro is if you plan to overlay data onto videos.  If you don’t plan that, then there are few reasons to go the route of the VIRB (albeit, much better battery life of the VIRB is one of them).  I discuss all the detailed pros and cons of VIRB vs GoPro at the end of my Garmin VIRB In-Depth review.

Oh, and for those curious – why not the Shimano CM-1000? Well, while it’s a great little camera, they’ve failed at the one job they had to do: Bring out the software app to actually overlay the data. There’s almost no point in buying that camera without that software. And they’ve been promising it since summer without delivery. Even if they delivered it tomorrow, the camera itself has seen no other updates. This is in comparison to every other action camera on the market seeing either regular software or firmware updates.

Action Cam Mounts: K-Edge Action Cam Mounts

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

Action Cam Flying Mounts: DJI Phantom 2

I’ve been slowly sneaking in shots into various posts from the DJI Phantom 2 over the past few months since purchasing one, and thus far loving it for use with the GoPro.  With a bit of creativity you could probably get some other action cams to mount on it, but you wouldn’t get the stability you get with the GoPro (I’d love a well made VIRB mount for it).  I shot a bunch of stuff in New Zealand with it and the GoPro series within my GoPro Hero4 In-Depth review.

As an aside for those interested, the 3DR Iris+ just arrived as well last week and I’m starting to poke at that a bit.  In some areas it exceeds the Phantom 2 from a usability/functions standpoint, while in others it’s a bit funky.

‘2014 Winter Recommendations: Action Cameras’ compatibleStreet Price / PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated October 3rd, 2016 @ 6:08 am
DJI Phantom 2 (for GoPro)$699 (+ mounts)LinkN/A
Garmin VIRB (Elite)$299LinkLink
Garmin VIRB (Normal)$99LinkLink
GoPro Hero4 Black$499LinkLink
K-Edge Action Cam MountsVariesLinkLink

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
Apple Watch Series 2 & Nike+ Edition
Apple Watch Series 3
Apple Watch Series 4
Bia GPS
Bryton Cardio 60 Multisport Watch
COROS APEX
CycleOps Joule 2.0 (Original)
CycleOps Joule GPS
Epson ProSense 307
Epson SF-810
FINIS Swimsense
Fitbit Ionic
Fitbit Surge
Fitbit Versa
Fitbit Versa Lite
Garmin Edge 1000
Garmin Edge 1030
Garmin Edge 130
Garmin Edge 20
Garmin Edge 200
Garmin Edge 25
Garmin Edge 500
Garmin Edge 510
Garmin Edge 520
Garmin Edge 520 Plus
Garmin Edge 530
Garmin Edge 705
Garmin Edge 800
Garmin Edge 810
Garmin Edge 820
Garmin Edge 830
Garmin Edge Explore
Garmin Edge Touring (Normal)
Garmin Edge Touring (Plus)
Garmin Epix
Garmin Fenix
Garmin Fenix 5 (5/5S/5X)
Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (5/5S/5X)
Garmin Fenix 6 Series
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 245/245 Music
Garmin Forerunner 25
Garmin Forerunner 305
Garmin Forerunner 310XT
Garmin Forerunner 35
Garmin Forerunner 405
Garmin Forerunner 410
Garmin Forerunner 45/45S
Garmin Forerunner 60/70
Garmin Forerunner 610
Garmin Forerunner 620
Garmin Forerunner 630
Garmin Forerunner 645
Garmin Forerunner 735XT
Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Garmin Forerunner 920XT
Garmin Forerunner 935
Garmin Forerunner 945
Garmin Instinct
Garmin MARQ Athlete
Garmin Swim
Garmin Tactix
Garmin Vivoactive
Garmin Vivoactive 3
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music
Garmin Vivoactive HR
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
Garmin Vivosport
Hammerhead Karoo
Leikr GPS
Lezyne Mega-C 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 Ignite GPS
Polar M200
Polar M400
Polar M430
Polar M450
Polar M460
Polar M600
Polar RC3
Polar RCX3
Polar RCX5
Polar V650
Polar V800
Polar Vantage M
Polar Vantage V
Samsung Galaxy Active
SIGMA ROX 12 SPORT
Soleus 1.0 GPS
Soleus 2.0 GPS
Stages Dash
Suunto 3 Fitness
Suunto 5
Suunto 9 Baro
Suunto Ambit
Suunto Ambit2
Suunto Ambit2 R
Suunto Ambit2 S
Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Suunto Ambit3 Sport
Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR
Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR
Suunto Spartan Ultra
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
TomTom Spark 3/Runner 3
Wahoo ELEMNT
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT
Wahoo ELEMNT MINI
Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM

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

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583 Comments

  1. Hans Oosterhof

    Hello Ray,
    as usual great work. THANKS
    Hans

    • WyldScallions

      Awesome guide.

    • lola

      Please sign my peition to bring the Motoactv back! link to change.org

    • Umm…the company was sold, disintegrated, and basically parted out. Many of the people who worked on the Motoactiv project have left years ago. Not going to happen, there’s nothing left behind the scenes.

    • Louise

      Hi. I need some help! I run and go to the gym. I use strava and endomondo, I have a scosche rhythm +, I’d like a watch to track HR and have hr zones and announcements for hr zones and calorie targets. I’d like to be able to sync the calories burnt with myfitnesspal or just to strava and endomondo, to sync with the scosche hr, and to be able to turn off the Bluetooth function on the watch. What are my options? Thanks for your site ray.

  2. David

    Thanks for the great buying guide. Quick question for you that I suspect you’ve answered somewhere, but don’t know where to find: is there any difference in accuracy between speed measured by GPS (say the Garmin 920xt) as opposed to speed measured by a sensor, like the Garmin you recommend? I know they measure speed differently, but do they generally get the same result with similar reliability? Thanks.

    • It depends. For the vast majority of road riding conditions – there’s little differences. Where you tend to see differences is in mountain biking or other places with lots of sharp twisty turns, or significant tunneling that you’d want speeds otherwise.

  3. Runningchunk

    The Garmin Vivosmart’s cycling mode doesn’t really work (speed spikes of > 1000 mph), so that might not be a good reason to recommend it as an alternative to the Vivofit. There are also issues with Android pairing, though that doesn’t affect all users.

    Otherwise, thanks for the gear recommendations!

    • Hmm, I haven’t seen the speed spikes in my testing. Odd.

    • Runningchunk

      There’s some discussion at the Garmin Vivosmart forum (e.g. link to forums.garmin.com), but it’s probably a case of only people who have had problems speaking up. Personally I’ve had speed spikes on every one of over 25 rides, but it might be something unique to my setup (GSC-10, Vivosmart 2.60, latest Garmin Connect).

    • Runningchunk– interesting data, indeed. I have an older BlueSCv1 from Wahoo Fitness, but my v2 is in the mail today or tomorrow. I’ll be testing that in the next day or two and will report back here with my findings. I have a Vivosmart on v2.60 and it works great for HRM data, but again I don’t have ANT+ bike support yet (will, in a few days).

      FWIW I think the Vivosmart is better than the Vivofit, if for just the addition of the cycle data input. Notifications don’t do much for me personally, and the touch screen is nice for backlit but otherwise “meh” … LOL

  4. AUN

    Hi Ray,

    many thanks. Any update if Polar (V800) has solved their issue with connecting to the adidas Bluetooth footpod?

    Cheers!

    • I haven’t tried it recently, but I believe the majority of issues have been tackled but now it’s just down to ‘by-design’ items such as ‘by design’ that the jump test functionality requires a Polar footpod.

  5. Me

    Nice summary Ray! Any chance the M400 will allow for swimming metrics that have just been released for the V800? Either as a free firmware update, or a paid one? I don’t need the V800 because I don’t do tri, but I do run and swim a lot and I’d like both activities in the same device and ecosystem.

    • I’d say zero chance as a free one, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them eventually allow that as a paid option. Polar has clearly stated they want to move in that direction (one which I think is rather smart), but I’d expect other features to be offered first – one that appeal more to runners than triathletes.

  6. Turn The Damn Cranks

    Thanks, as always, for an excellent post. Quick question that follows up on an email exchange we had a while ago: In the hope that Black Friday will bring a good deal on the FR15, at what price do you think the FR15 is fairly priced compared to the M400? I am guessing $129 based on what you said about the FR10, but wonder if it should be more like $100. (I realize the M400 brings a lot of extra functionality to the table, but am kind of wedded to Garmin Connect and don’t really need the extra features. And before that comment garners a ton of replies, I realize there are many reasons to export to Training Peaks or Strava. But for now, Garmin Connect it is.)

    Thanks again!

    • It’s tough. I think it’d have to be closer to that $129 or so mark to make up for it. But even then it’s really a personal value decision as to how much you value that $40. I suppose at some point though it’s always just another small bit to the next level, so that eventually spirals a bit out of control.

      For the FR10, I think an appropriate price for that is sub-$100, but even at $99 for example, the TomTom runner is a far better option.

  7. Tim

    A great post, I appreciate the detail and numerous categories.

    I noticed the Edge 1000 not mentioned… too expensive compared to the 810? Cap-touch screen problems? Battery life / physical size?

    I’m curious if we’ll see a new Edge 500 sized bike computer with Connect IQ in the Spring… 🙂

    • Just too expensive. With the Edge 510 and Edge 810 getting both Di2 support and Garmin Connect segments, I just can’t justify the Edge 1000’s price. Now, that said, I do think that they’ve made good progress on the vast majority of the issues I raised at release. I’ve got two of them on one of my bikes now and haven’t seen any real issues there lately. Though, I do far less navigating in the fall/winter as the weather gets crappier, since I tend to stay closer to home.

    • Greg

      Edge1000 is pretty reasonable with the clever training discount. Made my jump from the 810 worth is.

  8. Ryan

    Any word on pricing and availability for the M400 footpod? Liking it better than the FR220, but without cadence, it’s a tough sell.

  9. Dr_LHA

    One of the nice things about Apple’s HealthKit is that it allows standard body measurements, like for example weight, to be shared between different health apps. So if I update my weight in the Health app, it updates on Strava etc.

    For this reason alone, I think I’d discount the Fitbit scale over the Withings. Fitbit’s refusal to support HealthKit makes something broadly useful (easy, global update to your weight in all apps) rather pointless, as if I have to edit the value in Health by hand after using it, I might as well just use a regular scale.

    • Agree. I just did an article about HealthKit here:
      link to arijaycomet.com

      (hope you don’t mind my sharing this here, Ray– just thought it would be applicable) 🙂

      From what I saw the only app that actually pulls BACK the weight data in my testing was Strava and Wahoo, though. Other apps like Garmin doesn’t touch weight data from HK, and Withings only writes data, doesn’t read weight data. Still, it is a nice feature but needs to “mature” a bit (HealthKit)

    • Dr_LHA

      The apps that I use (Cyclemeter and Strava) both read the weight data from HealthKit, it’s clearly easily done.

      My main gripe about HealthKit right now is that the pedometer as read by the M6/M7 data is useless for cyclists, as it counts pedaling as steps, even if you have a HealthKit enabled cycling app recording your cycling data. So every day I’m told I do something like 25,000 steps and climb 97 floors, almost all of which is riding a bike.

  10. The 4iiii Viiiiva’s bridge function doesn’t really work that well. Only one 3rd party app that I know of supports the proprietary data stream that the device puts out.

    All other apps use the round robin data delivery method and you end up with a massive amount of lost data.

    Unless, of course, they’ve changed things.

    As a dual ANT+/BTLE heart rate monitor it’s not bad.

    • David

      If by one app, you mean iSmoothRun, Strava has recently added support for full multichannel recording under iOS 8. I tried it this morning. It recorded fine, but I didn’t care for the app. Maybe I didn’t play with it enough, but it wouldn’t display cadence and I couldn’t find the manual lap button.

  11. Bjorn van der Neut

    Puh just ordered the Garmin FR620 so good the see that I made a good choice. Sorry not with your link, needed it tomorrow. Old Garmin Forerunner 405 died on me today 🙁

  12. Aaron

    Ray do you know if the Forerunner 620 can charge during an activity, like for ultra runs? I’m debating between that and the 920 to get the additional battery life.

  13. Andy

    REI has the Garmin FR910XT for $269.99. Would this be a good deal being that the 920XT has a ton of new features?

  14. B Carter

    Ray do you have any thoughts on the Withings Pulse O2? I’ve been asking for one during the holiday season. Would you go ahead with that or wait until CES and see what drops out. I’ve never had an activity tracker so it’s not a pressing need, and I can certainly wait if better things are coming.

    • Though I cannot speak for Ray, my personal time with the Pulse O2 (OX) found it to be a bulky device that was more a gimmick on the heart stuff than anything else. With my iOS iPhone I’m able to get the same heart rate (resting) with just the camera (sure missing the deeper SpO2 data, but not that useful for most people). For the price those are going for I think his list above better indicates what you should buy.

      My $0.02 would be the $99 Fitbit Charge (Black Friday pricing there)– the $50 Misfit Flash ($25 on Black Friday at BestBuy), or the Garmin Vivofit/Vivosmart for the more fitness-minded individuals who want more expansion down the road. Also the Fitbit Charge HR will probably end up being a really nice all-in-one device in the spring time.

  15. trickycoolj

    I just got started running in the last few months and jumped on the Garmin FR220 two weeks ago based on the Summer Guide. But honestly I think an important caveat to note in the midrange running category is that even though the Polar gets the win on price, if you’re already in the Garmin ecosystem it’s still worth getting the 220. I already have an Edge 500 for my bike and it just made sense to go with the 220 for my new interest in running since the running dynamics in the 620 are just overkill for someone just finishing Couch to 5K but it offers a little more in planning workouts than the FR15 so I can continue with interval training and have the watch notify me for the run/walk cycles instead of relying on clunky phone apps for the intervals.

    • That’s definitely true, if you have existing Garmin devices, then ‘paying-up’ likely makes sense from an ecosystem. Though, I suspect if we fast forward a few months down the road it’ll matter less and less and other companies implement integration with 3rd parties that allow you to be more and more flexible with your activities and training logs.

    • Dave Lusty

      Also, if Garmin is your “home” ecosystem, they allow you to import your Polar data. Sadly Polar have yet to really play nice with others but they seem to be working on it. It’s a shame as I’ve always found the Polar data display to be much better for actually consuming data for instance the multicoloured HR graph to show zones.

    • Turn the Damn Cranks

      Can you explain more about how to import Polar to Garmin Connect? Based on prior memory and a quick Google search, you can only do so using third party software and none of it works all that well. Would love to know of a really solid solution, as that would prevent the biggest barrier to my buying an M400.

      Thanks!

  16. Dominik

    What is the disadvantage of using the FR920XT as a Ultra runners whatch? Or controversly, what is the Benefit of the fenix 2 – apart from battery life?

    • Chris M.

      I’ve been going back and forth between these two watches too – strictly for ultrarunning use. One disadvantage of the 920xt is the lack of in use charging. I take advantage of this with my 310xt on every 100 I run.

      Ray, do you know if this is a software issue that might be fixed/changed?

    • Dominik- Primary area that makes it more challenging is lack of mid-activity charging, inability to calibrate the altimeter, and inability to manually zoom on the course/breadcrumb.

      Chris – It’s something I’ve discussed with them. They noted that there is no hardware limitation there, and they are listening to customer feedback on whether or not to look at a software update to address it. Thus, I’d really send in feedback if folks want it changed. You’d often be surprised how few customer e-mails it takes to move the dial there.

  17. Daniel

    First thing – THANKS! Great summary – give the perfect start point to continue to full reviews.

    4iiii has an update on their Viiiiva -> viiiiva mini which is bracelet pod with IR heart rate sensor and same as original viiiiva ANT+ to BLE bridge. It will be interesting to hear your thoughts on how can it perform in term of HR stability

  18. Steve

    Any further thoughts or inside information on the Echo? I’ve used it for a year and have been pleased but they’ve seemed to push their new fitness watch and leave the firmware updates alone. I had high hopes for this watch when it first launched.

  19. JG

    Ray, I just wanted to point out the Garmin Edge 510 does indeed get you into Strava natively, via garmin connect. I never have to sync with strava anymore–as soon as I end my ride on the Edge 510, the ride uploads to garmin connect through my iPhone and automatically syncs to Strava.

  20. Matěj Novotný

    Great post. Unfortunately I am still not sure what unit to buy. I would like one or two units with this features:
    – wrist GPS unit for sports like running, skiing etc.
    – recovery information
    – daily tracker would be nice but no necessary
    – unit (wrist or handlebar) for ultra cycling with long battery live and ability to charging while riding
    – route navigation (I don’t need maps)
    – HR or power guidance

    Garmin FR920XT seems ideal. I can imagine it although it is hell expensive. But strange navigation and unability for in ride charging are deal breakers.
    I can also imagine combination of Polar M400 and OSynce Navi2Coach or Garmin 500/510.
    Are there some other possibilities?
    I can also wait, I don’t need it now. As a programmer I am curious about some other Garmin units with Connect IQ.

  21. Nick

    Any suggestions on sunglasses? What do you own/like?

    • That’s a tough one. I use Oakley’s, but I just more or less picked out a pair that looked pretty.

    • Turn The Damn Cranks

      Tifosi provides great bang for the buck. I’ve used them for cycling for years, and have run in them as well. If memory serves, it’s around $65 for a pair that comes with three sets of lenses (dark, orange, clear). Much, much cheaper than the equivalent in most better-known brands, and they hold up incredibly well.

    • Kaenon has the best optics on the market right now. As a cyclist I have tried them all and have many sets of Oakley and Tifosi. These blow them away.

  22. Lew

    Great work, Ray.

    Have you seen any substantive difference in HRMs between the current Garmin and Polar offerings? Particularly in cold-weather misreads / spiky readings? I’m still using a 3+ year old Garmin 610 with HRM2 and as I’m tired of using electrolyte gel and/or swapping to an older hard strap until springtime. The 620 misses a couple checkboxes despite the updates, so I’m disinclined to buy a new Garmin strap if you’ve seen any noticeable difference with Polar. My old Polar RS200SD HR monitor just plain worked and never gave funky readings to my recollection, so I’m really leaning toward the M400 despite it lacking a vibration alert. V800 is nice but more than I need at this point.

    Thanks.

    • Not these days. With the post-July 2013 HRM3’s, they seem like a wash to me (HRM-RUN is in the same camp). The updates in the firmware from units made that point forward seem to address the vast majority of issues for 99% of people out there.

  23. fisao

    Hi Ray,

    I just wanted to thank you again for your great articles, reviews and opinions, you have no idea how much you help people out.

    Long live the King !

  24. Jimbo

    Ray,
    Great to see – I generally won’t buy a gadget without a good review from you.
    I was just looking for one of your gadget recommendations last week and had a hard time finding it.
    That and your what I use page.
    Maybe put links to those in the top menu somewhere?
    Or, did I miss the easy link somwhere?

  25. Lara

    I think your link to the TomTom Runner is to the higher-level one with HRM, for $149. The $99 model is this one: link to amazon.com (don’t think I can get your affiliate ID in there!).

    Thanks for the write-up, I’d never have looked at this one before!

  26. Dani

    Thanks Ray!
    Just ordered a garmin edge 500 after your reviews. Only a novice cyclist so getting in depth reviews and explanation makes this mysterious world of road cycling a little easier. Keep up the good work, love the blog.

  27. Wal

    I have a Wahoo RPMv2 and have to say that I’m not all that impressed with its performance. The cadence that’s reported is just not steady. It’s not bad enough to make it useless but it often fluctuates over a 10-15 rpm range. I use it on a fixed gear bike so I know that the fluctuation is not due to a real change as it should track perfectly with speed. It also gives up over ~160 rpm but that’s not likely to be an issue for anyone who has the choice of freewheeling. 🙂

    (All in all my experience means that I would be very hesitant to buy a power meter that uses accelerometers as this would have to affect accuracy.)

  28. I’ve definitely been thinking about the Aria – just love the way it would connect to my Fitbit devices! I feel like I have 5 pounds to go to get into my lower end of my healthy weight, and this would be a big help!

  29. Rex

    Regarding the swim watches, specifically the Garmin Swim. Obviously the unit has been out for more than 2 years. Have there been any technological advances in hardware or other features which would get Garmin thinking about an update and come out with a newer improved version? Maybe you’ve heard some rumblings?
    What new or improved features might consumers be asking for?

    • Scott Buchanan

      I’ve been asking that for a while but have pretty much hit a brick wall in getting any answers.

      I strongly suspect that the Swim is a very low seller and equally low on Garmin’s list to update. If I was to be 100% honest I’m NOT expecting to see a Swim 2 what with low volume sales and swim features in other Garmin models abeit at a (much) higher price.

      Have to admit that I thought that the FR610 was the perfect running watch UNTIL they brought out the FR620 so I’m not the best judge when it comes to additional features BUT if there’s 1 thing that I’d absolutely want in a Swim 2 is bluetooth connection to my phone. The current Ant+ upload is a PITA.

    • I haven’t heard anything that indicates a new version is on the way unfortunately. I’d love to have a new Swim simply with Bluetooth for cell phone sync.

  30. Scott E

    Awesome goodness with the comparison tool! Saved a lot of time crisscrossing comparing and linking out. Unfortunately, with all the nifty write-ups it would have taken hours to navigate the full site, and though simple and basic, the database does the job well.

    You must be a real pain to shop for during the holidays — the guy with every gadget and food & drink beyond compare — Enjoy!

  31. Tim

    I think you meant to say get the *Polar* if it’s on sale.

  32. jose

    Hi DC and thank for your advice. I have a question that I can’t find the answer here. There is one wahoo bike cadence that work as a run cadence too or I’m very wrong here.
    Thank

  33. Marcin

    Ray,

    Do You know when 920xt will be available in Europe (UK, Poland)?
    Some say that it should be in November but November is going to an end – and the watch is still not available:)

    • It’s already available in Europe, plenty of folks have them already. Finding a retailer with them in stock is a bit trickier, but units are out there (the store behind my home in Paris had one last weekend to simply walk in and buy for example).

    • Marcin

      So I have to visit Paris:) hehe.
      In Poland in each shop – we still have to wait. . .
      Some say that units are on the way to Poland…

    • Blazo

      Save you money – its a buggy disaster – I waited 2 months for mine looking forward to no more fiddling after struggling with a 310xt for years…. and then it turns itself off every work out, has the same charging issues as the 310xt (says its 100% after using it for hours) and the updates dont go through properly (still asking me to update after 3 “completed” attempts). Garmin cutting corners on quality control and software people. I dont see why customers should pay 500 euros for the privilege of testing their kit for them.

  34. Francis C

    Hi Ray,

    Excellent write-up as usual. I’m tired of my Mio Ant+ dropping and messing up my HR data every time I run so I decided to wear the Garmin HRM that came with my 910XT. Hehehe. I guess there was a reason why I stopped using it. lol. You recommend the Scosche Rythm+. I’m almost ready to press the button but I wanted to know if you know anything about 4iiii’s Viva-mini. Is it worth waiting for? It’s still on pre-order up to now and I don’t see any reviews on it. I don’t even know if it’s a standalone HRM since they bundled it as Viiiiva+Viva Mini. Not sure why they’re bundling it. Thanks!

    • It might be good, but it’s really going to come down to optical HR accuracy. They’ve delayed for what will be basically a year now (and it’s still not out). I’d agree in theory it sounds great, but they have to execute there.

  35. Ray

    You recommend the Garmin 500 over Garmin Touring, despite the fact that I do while I do triathlons and run, I don’t use all the gadgetry, for example, I rarely use my HRM when running, don’t have a power meter and no intention of getting one. I use a basic IM watch for most of my activities with the exception of my Garmin Edge200, which doesn’t have the mapping, turn by turn capabilities, route planning, etc. I do a lot of touring and will do my 3rd cycling tour in Europe in Aug 2016 (Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne, Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon, and as far West as Barcelona). Still seems like Garmin Touring is my best option, don’t need it until late year. Have read they are still working out a lot of bugs.

    • There’s nothing wrong with the Touring per se, but I definitely wouldn’t buy any gadget for a specific use that far out since it’s like either new units will hit, or deals on existing units.

      My core recommendation of the Edge 500 over the Touring is based that the majority of people don’t need maps.

  36. mucher

    WRT footpods – I think Adidas also makes an ANT+ variant of the speed cell – this can also be a good choice and is sometimes cheaper than Suunto / Garmin.

    • Fabrizio

      I thought so, too, and bought two of them. Unfortunately they won’t pair with my FR305 and my FR405 despite they are listed as being compatible on thisisant.com.
      I contacted Garmin support and got nothing than prebuilt text blocks and keep-the-user-busy replies (each reply came one a week after my message reached them)…
      Others have same issues when looking in the Garmin forums.
      While they might work well with the newer Garmin devices I can only warn to buy them for the older Forerunners.

      Eventually I bought a used Garmin footpod on eBay then and it worked within seconds on both watches.

  37. William

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for you great work!

    Btw, epson, a company of seiko, announced a powerful gps watch SF-810 with built in optical heart rate monitoring, and the power can last for 20 hours with both heart rate and gps on. May be you will intetested to review that watch!

    • Yup, I have one, been using it on all my recent runs. But, at this time it’s not really competitive within the rankings above. A good little watch though with lots to like, but also lots of gaps.

  38. Paul Smyth

    Hi Ray,

    Any update on whether or not Garmin will be fixing the altimeter calibration on the 920XT?

    Cheers,

    Paul

    • They’ve said they’re looking at it, but here hasn’t been any commitment to change anything as far as a specific firmware version or date.

    • Paul Smyth

      It would be cool if it gets fixed as it could really heat up the competition in the trail running sector. I’m not sure how much the navigation gets used by other trail runners. Personally, I’ve never felt the need for navigation with the things that I’ve done. It is, however, very convenient to be able to navigate off accurate altitude measurements. Also, 40 hours in ultratrac is going to plenty of battery for everything but the longer ultras and trails (much more would have you outside the cut-offs in races).

  39. Harmless

    Thanks for creating excellent summary.
    However, there is more in the deal-equation than #features per dollar, e.g. build quality, looks, reliability/durability, customer support; I confess some of these are more soft and hard to quantify and personal. One thing I am worried about is how to interpret all data captured. Displaying data is one thing, but trying to create holistic view/advise on for example recovery is a bigger challenge.

  40. You selected the Garmin FR620 as best-in-class for road running in the winter 2014-2015 selection. This is a device which has users reporting lost workouts, random freezes, reboots and unpredictable pace calculations. Please visit the FR620 support forums at Garmin – this is not a high-end device with excellent build quality. It has issues.

    When you recommend the FR620 you are, in my opinion, asking your readers to take a gamble. They might get lucky and get a ‘good’ unit which works well. Or they might get a dud with erratic behaviour. At $400 I do not think that’s OK.

    The GPS accuracy-problems seems to related to power management – users switching from “smart” logging to “every second” get a much better GPS-tracking, but the loose battery life and there’s really no way around this – you cannot have both.

    There are additional issues with the FR 620 reverse charging and system stability. These are basic features that must not fail. Fitness tests, recovery time and bling-bling were added set the FR 620 apart from the competition. It appears that Garmin sacrificed the fundamental features in the process of making the watch stand out from the competition.

    Having a unit replaced three times and still not functioning as expected – when was the last time you heard about that? I read this story on the blog of Valerie Toth.

    I think this is important information that should be mentioned in you otherwise excellent in-depth reviews, as very many people, including myself, rely on them for purchasing advice.

    I was a “garmin guy” and in the market to upgrade my FR210 to a FR220 or FR620. I went with a Polar M400 instead. I’m happy to see this unit recommended as best moderate/mid range, could not agree more.

    • I guess the problem, as you noted, is that you don’t even have a FR620. I can pick any watch here and go find a post by someone on the internet with troubles with that device, again, as you did. And, as always, people generally don’t post when they’re happy with a device.

      As for switching from Smart Logging to 1-second recording getting a better track – of course they do. That’s the purpose of it, it’s to save space, thus reduction in data points. This has been the same since the FR305.

      Both myself and The Girl have FR620’s without issue, both from a retail outlet, so nothing fancy there.

    • Asís

      About the Garmin’s smart logging, I thought that could be the key for poor accuracy when running on an olypic track (400m). When I do 1km series, the FR305 I own typically measures arounf 1040m, which means an error of +4%. When I do road running, I think that the error is much lower. So last week I changed the setting to one point per second, and I obtained the same 4%. Additionally, I did not realize any difference in split times, in pace, heart rate or anything. In summary, I believe that Garmin does a good job with smart logging, and the error source when running on a track must be somewhere else, I assume that when you run the curve on the track, for the garmin it would be some kind of polygon, and the Garmin applies some “smoothing” to connect the dots via a curved line, rather than a series of straight lines, and the math it does could be the reason for this error (But this is just a guess)

    • Dan Lipsher

      Magnus, I had the same reverse-charging problem with both the 305 and the 610. After my fourth Garmin in two years exhibited this problem (then would not accept a charge at all, despite rigorous cleaning of the contacts on both the watch and the charger), I gave up and purchased a TomTom Runner. Call it once bitten, twice shy. TT was about half the price of the 610, although it provides quite a bit less functionality).

      Given Ray’s successful experience with the 620, I would consider it, although I would need strong reassurance that Garmin has resolved all the charging issues. Otherwise, I can’t see spending US$400 for a product that won’t last a year.

  41. Néstor

    Hi. Waiting a pulseon-GPS-basis Peak. All in one.
    Thanks for all your post.

  42. Ben

    I lost my vivofit on the weekend and a little unsure what to do now. I could replace it with another activity tracker which as noted is a bit of wait and see what happens situation with a few different new trackers about to be released. Or I could replace my trusty FR610 with a do everything 920XT but I’m not sure I want to wear a 920XT 24/7, also not sure I want to run with the 920 over say a 620. Lighter is better and as a runner I don’t need the swim/triathlon functions. For roughly the price of a 920XT I could get a 620 and standalone activity tracker. First world problems…

  43. Rick

    Ray, first let me wish you and the Girl a Happy Thanksgiving. Regarding ANT+ is there an adaptor that connects directly to the new iPhones/iPads using the fire connector? Why don’t the cell phones have both Bluetooth and ANT+ internal? Thanks for another get review.

    • Not using the new Lightning adapter. Wahoo doesn’t believe there’s a big enoug market for the physical adapter at this point. Instead, you’ll probably see them add bridging capability to their existing sensors (i.e. the HR strap, RPM pod, etc…).

      On the phone side, many ANdroid phones have ANT+ built in. And, the iPhone hardware is fully capable of it, Apple just won’t enable it. That stems for a long-time pissing match between them an ANT+, due to Bluetooth (though, there was an opportunity years ago…).

  44. Stefan

    Back to #15: I agree the edge 1000 seems to expensive over the 810, but one good reason to prefer it is the larger and better display. Especially when you’re north of 50 and your arms grow too short for reading without glasses. I think the 1000 would score high in a “for the ageing cyclist” sub-section.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  45. Basch

    Hey great advice!
    Could you check out the Sony Smartwatch 3? Android wear with GPS built-in (Runkeeper v.5.1 will support it without phone).
    It could really be a M400 competitor.

    • Yup, the one I purchased arrived this Friday. Looking at poking at it a bit.

    • Basch

      Cool!

      Are you gonna do a full review on it? Where will I be able to read about it?

      Please make some considerations about (possible) future development of the Android wear ecosystem and also a comparison on what we have and can expect to have on the M400 in the future. (i.e. I don’t really see why the M400 couldn’t show notifications in the future… possible?)

    • I haven’t decided yet what type of review, if any, I’ll do. There’s a lot of Android wear watches out there.

    • Basch

      I understand. Of course there are a lot of Android watches, but none have integrated GPS for now (except the Sony one).

      If you end up not making a review, pls let us know some opinions you had about it anyway 😉

    • Greg

      Agreed.. . Serious runners who don’t want to carry their phone running, the sw3 is the only android wear option. Plus it plays music, which for me is a huge deal! If they could link it to hrm and bike sensors the watch could be a killer. Check out xda forums for the battery life and runkeeper experience

    • Basch

      Yeah I’m on XDA as well. I love the idea of having notifications and Google Now on my wrist. And this is seriously stopping me from buying the M400.
      A nice M400 vs SW3 GPS accuracy test would be nice…

    • Chris Bell

      For me it’s the only thing that could replace my trusty MotoActv but is it ready for prime time yet? Endomondo and Runkeeper apps are at early releases, what does Sony bring to the sports tracking party? Sony seem to be doing an awful job of marketing it (any major present giving holisdays coming up in your world Sony?!?), Google Play only seem to be pushing it in the States and no-one seems to know it exists.

      It would be great if you could do a review from the sports consumer point of view!

  46. Dan Hermann

    Ray,

    Thanks for another great review article. It helps to have all the information in one place.

    This is the first I’m hearing of the Barfly. It looks neat, but if I upgrade to the 920XT and pick up the quick release kit for the watch and, won’t I get a mount already? Is there any way to pick up the band only so I can switch to a Barfly TT?

    Thanks,
    Dan

    • You’ll get a little mount in the box, same as the quick release for the FR910XT. No way to purchase just the strap/backplate I don’t think But yup, fully compatible with the Barfly

  47. JakiChan

    Well, I’m fairly happy with my Edge 1000, other than battery life for long rides. But that being said: When did the 510 and 810 get support for DFly/Di2?

  48. Nicholas

    I hope great minds think alike because I’ve got several of the recommended devices here myself. (Wahoo RPM v2, Wahoo TICKR, GoPro Hero Black)

    I also own a Tomtom Multisport and having owned it for several months, I wouldn’t recommend Tomtom products even at the reduced price that the Runner is at now. People should be aware that the quirks associated with what was very promising hardware haven’t been worked out. For example LAPS is still a training mode and cannot be used with anything else like heart rate zone, pace or interval. So for example you cannot tell the watch you want it to alert you about staying in a prescribed pace while having it actually mark off each mile or kilometer you run. It is a bit deceptive because Tomtom uses the terminology but their support forums are full of people wondering why they can’t get their products to work in a manner that everyone understands for said terminology. To make it as simple as possible to understand, most other products let you set an array of alerts and then you train. For Tomtom the alerts are considered a form of training and only one at a time is available. If you want to be alerted about your heart rate it will not alert you about finished laps, pace or anything else.

    In the meantime the promised updates to improve said quirks have moved from roughly a monthly to quarterly to a now completely missing roadmap. Yes it has actually disappeared from their website.

    Finally there have been numerous complaints about the instant pace, and inability to manually mark laps and the lack of auto-pause. I mention these specifically because I’ve watched the same patterns occur repeatedly with regard to Tomtom users. They don’t understand why the watch doesn’t have auto-pause when every other watch has had it for years. They complain bitterly about the terrible manual pause. They discover LAPS is a training option. They try to compensate for the inability to use auto-lap with any other training option like pace or heart rate by manually marking their laps and discover the three little dots on the glass face are either useless or way too sensitive depending upon which firmware they are on and the weather conditions themselves. In the end they realize they are stuck with a very compromised watch that had all the right terms of the box but that said terms don’t really work out in a meaningful way with regard to helping their training.

    I would stay away from Tomtom at this time. They really do appear to promise much more but those promises are using terminology in a half-baked manner or the promises are awaiting firmware updates that haven’t shown up for a year and now the roadmap that gave hope for them is gone. People on their support forums are actually wondering if the entire company has gone on vacation for the holidays due to not responding to any of these complaints for months now.

    The M400 and Garmin FR15 are more expensive but things will work as they ought to with those watches and people will be happier because they didn’t overpromise and underperform. They are configurable and as the reviews note, you can even work around their limitations (for example to use the FR15 in the gym for weight training or on a bike.) The Tomtom forums are full of people wondering why a freestyle mode can’t turn the GPS off or configure any variables related to the training. So again my advice is stay away from Tomtom for now.

    • I think part of the problem though is expectations. For example, the FR15 simply can’t do a lot of the things you noted (like different training mode). On the other hand, the challenge the TomTom units have had is that they’re being compared to higher end Garmin units. In the case of the Multisport, that’s fair – I’ve long said I believe the multisport is generally overpriced.

      But in the case of the runner at $99, that’s not really fair. If you compare a $99 TomTom Runner to a FR10, or a Soleus GPS watch, it’s in a totally different league. Which, is the thing – price does matter, and it’s important to compare watches at like prices. Comparing it against the M400, almost twice the cost, it’s really fair. On the flip side, I believe the M400 is probably underpriced, though…I’m certainly not complaining!

    • Nicholas

      I think we will have to agree to disagree here. I noted the expectation aspect and said that Tomtom over-promises and under-performs. Also I would disagree that some of the other watches can’t do what the Tomtom does because they simply consider alerts to be features rather than a training mode. On the Garmin FR15 for example you can add heart alerts, add auto-lap and then pick say virtual pacer or interval training. On the Tomtom if you ask it to give you an alert when you’ve hit each mile, it completely precludes use of the other training features. This language confusion makes the Tomtom appear to do more than it really can do. Sometimes though it is better to simply say to someone if you want X, you have to go to the next price tier. While the other recommendations are more expensive, they also have all day activity tracking which is a big bonus.

      You note the Soleus GPS watch which is more limited than the Tomtom in some ways but it delivers what it promises. As an example, the Soleus allows you to review your laps on the watch. Most watches do this but the Tomtom does not. Likewise the Soleus has a very functional hardware lap button which allows you to manually select laps. The Tomtom does not. The Soleus allows an indoor mode where you turn off the GPS and can track with chrono and laps. The Tomtom does not do this (hence why people have been begging for the freestyle mode.)

      There’s a reason the Tomtom is being blown out at $99. It is because it promised enough features to sound like a $150 watch but didn’t deliver them. The muddled implementation though might make people think they are getting a value but I contend they aren’t. Even if I bought the Soleus, I could run the same course daily, hit a lap button at this tree, that house, this intersection, etc and review my run afterwards to see how I did. With the Tomtom it is doubtful the manual lap would register and I would need my phone or to sync with my computer to do something as basic as see how my run turned out by reviewing my laps.

      Anyway even though I disagree I hope you feel I’ve done so respectfully and thanks for the forum to share my thoughts with you on this topic and thanks for all you do with your site.

    • Tom Taco

      At least the TomTom has a very good vibration feature that the Polar totally lacks for no apparent reason.

      Unlike you I have been impressed with the TTrunner. Of course I picked it up for $70 on eBay.

  49. Pieter ZA

    I am planning to buy the FR620 for a running watch, but want to do just one Ultra marathon next year, which I target to finish in 9-10 hours. Will the battery last or do I need to go to something bigger/bulkier like the Fenix2 or FR920?

    • I’d be hesitant there. 9-10 hours is right at the boundary, and if you need the backlight or go a bit long you’ll be short. I’d look at the FR920XT if I were you.

    • Pieter ZA

      Thanks,
      Arrgggh….seem that the FR920XT will only be available in limited stock late in December locally in South Africa, and buying online and importing will take between 2 to 4 weeks.
      Got a lot to think about….FR620 or Fenix2 or wait for FR920XT…

  50. Here’s another gadget, completely new idea and ability for bloodless lactate measurement:

    link to bsxinsight.com

    It’s due to be released in a couple of weeks. It’s worth keeping an eye on kickstarter and others, it’s where true innovation is born these days.

    • Yup, I posted a detailed look at it here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      I watch Kickstarter weekly, the challenge though is that many of the projects fail to deliver. While I think BSX will be one of the few that does – most projects out there in the sports tech arena are horribly late and often can’t meet what they promised.

  51. Mark

    Thank you for this awesome post!

    My Forerunner 305 finally gave out a month ago and I’ve been looking for a replacement. I’m looking at the M400, but I would prefer to stay in Garmin’s ecosystem. If I recall, the 220 came out about a year ago. I’m not really up to date on Garmin’s typical product cycle, but do you think there will be a replacement/iteration over the 220 in the next 1-3 months?

    Thank you, enjoy the site!

  52. Tom

    Ray-
    At what price would you buy a Magellan Echo or Echo Fit? I picked up an Echo at a discount rather than the Fit and find it to be very handy on long trail runs when I always have my phone with me. I’d really like to see something like the Echo Fit with beefed up waterproofing and enough memory that I could store a swim workout and upload the data later.

    Not sure how committed Magellan is to the market, though, and I keep watching to see how the fitness smart watches will react to the Apple Watch.

    • Yeah, the challenge for the swim workout piece would be then adding in logic to track the swim – which in turn introduces more complexities for on-watch capabilities.

      I’d agree that I’m not really clear on how committed they are to it.

  53. Bob Croucher

    Hi Ray,

    With your previous enjoyment of your Garmin 610 running watch, it seems that it may be a good deal at $219 for new and $149 for refurbished with free shipping at Rakuten.com (formerly Buy.com).

    -Bob

  54. Niklas

    Hi Ray!

    Thanks for a good sport gadget recommendations. A few questions.

    1) You claims that there is no good open water swim clock. What open water swim features do you miss on to days multisport watches?

    2) Is there a good GPS-pod (GPS/GLONASS-pod) to put under the swim cap, that could transmit the GPS-position to a clock that is below the water surface? (Yes I know that the 2.4 GHz-band do not work under water).

    • 1) I’m referring to dedicated OW swim devices. The other GPS watch options are fine.

      2) No, nothing that I’m aware of that works well (some people have done it with the older Polar pods, but it’s blah at best and not really designed for it).

    • Niklas

      1 So if it would come a Garmin Swim 2 whith GPS, you would call it a dedicated open water swim-watch?

      2 Do you think it possible to make a suitible GPS-pod for open water swim with low frequency transmitting. Any market for such GPS-pod?

    • 1) Yup, basically. Right now about the only actual ‘dedicated’ option would be the FINIS Hydrotracker, which is wonky.

      2) Technically, sure. But you guessed it – there just isn’t a market there for one of the big guys to do it, since from their perspective they’d rather you buy a higher end unit. I suspect we’ll see FINIS back at it again down the road.

    • Niklas

      2 My wish is a multisport watch with an internal GPS/GLONASS, that during open water swim mode would have the option of recieving position signals from a seperate GPS/GLONASS-pod.

  55. Fabrice

    Hi Ray,

    Regarding cycling GPS units, you don’t talk about the Edge 1000. Is there any reason ?

    Cheers and thanks for this great list of products !

    Fabrice

  56. lindsay

    Hi – thank you for this post. Looking to buy my husband a new gps running watch. He currently has the Garmin Garmin FR610. He runs long distances and training for a marathon. Do you recommend the Garmin FR620 or the Polar you mentioned?
    Thanks!

    • In general, since he’s vested in one platform already (in this case, Garmin), I’d recommend looking at staying at that platform. That said, you could save money and go with the FR220, which is pretty similar to the FR610 (minus bike support).

  57. Hi,

    Thanks for another great review
    It’s not been my year, I bought a Suunto Ambit 2 S just before your Ambit 3 post, now I have done the same with a Mio link two days before you recomend Scoche to be a better bet.
    Does the Scoche transmit Ant + over a long distance too or is this just for bluetooth? The mio link has to be on the same arm to get a constant reading when running !

    • That’s actually the very reason I recommend the Scosche over the Mio Link, due to the ANT+ transmission length limitation on the Mio Link. I don’t have that issue with the Scosche.

  58. Franck

    Hi,

    I am really struggling to make my mind up. I have been using,very happily the 310 xt for the last few year but with waterproof issues I need to move on to a new model. I am mainly a trail runner (and a swimmer only once or twice a week as extra training). I was looking at the Fenix 2 but with so many bad reviews I am a bit skeptical. The 920xt looks great but I dont do triathlon. Also with IQ software coming out in 2015 is not better to wait for the next wave of watch early next year. Are we expecting any new garmin in 2015 which will fit my purpose ( Fenix 3 ???)

    Many Thanks

    Franck

  59. Scott

    Hi Ray,
    my old original Garmin HR strap has given up (consistently, absurdly low results). Not even a battery change helped. I’m looking to replace with a new HR monitor to pair to my FR220 but don’t know whether to go optical or ECG. I did a quick search but couldn’t find an article specifically comparing the two technologies.
    I sweat a *lot* and I have wondered if that is what is affecting the readings on the old HRM – the contacts becoming too wet and moving around. For that reason I’m leaning toward optical but that’s really a guess.
    Can you provide a quick pros/cons breakdown of the two technologies?
    Cheers

    • Large pooling of sweat (for lack of better term), can impact the HR strap. It’s odd, you want a bit of sweat – but you don’t want too much that it effectively makes a puddle. I sometimes have that problem on really humid days in the summer with traditional HR straps.

      For optical, I find that it works well for perhaps 95% of the people out there. There’s about 5% that at present just have issues. Additionally, you’ll find that it may take a few runs to figure out the ideal location for the optical sensor. For example, if on wrist, the inside might be better than the outside, or vice versa. Or further up away from your hand, etc…

      With the exception of having to test specific heart rate straps, when it’s just me I’m using the Scosche Optical HR strap these days. Love it.

  60. Oliver

    I am considering purchasing a garmin vivofit ($80) without the heart monitor. As I have no heart rate straps, I am looking at the viiiiva ($72) and the Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband ($64). I understand that the viiiiva mini might actually ship in January. If I picked up the vivofit and the Scosche Rhythm+ for $144, I think it would be a better deal than the garmin vivofit with the heart monitor for $120.

    I could also take a leap of faith and buy a Basis Peak for $200. I am very interested in feedback as this is not my area of expertise.

    PS I would like to have a fitness tracker with heart monitoring prior to the end of the year.

    • Yup, I’d agree with your assessment. I also agree that while the Viiiiva Mini might ship in January…it very well might not – it’s basically a year since announcement. And, once it ships, it still has to be good. It’ll be the smallest form factor for an optical sensor – so accuracy will be a concern for me (the smaller the optical sensor unit case, the more light comes in, light is the evil-enemy of optical sensor accuracy).

      As for the Basis Peak, it should arrive in my hands any moment now according to FedEx.

    • Oliver

      If your review of the Basis Peak was positive, I would probably get it. More precisely, if I knew the heart monitor was accurate, I would buy it. However, reviewers who have tested this have come to widely divergent conclusions.

    • Went out for first run today with it. Once it found my HR, it seemed to be pretty consistent with the HR strap I was wearing. Stable, yet reactive.

      For my test, I wore it as you should (on the wrist, in a ‘normal’ positioning). I saw this because some of the reviewers I’ve seen have worn it in wonky places (way up forearm, etc…). Of course, by the same token, I’m generally the easiest person on earth skin-wise to get good optical readings.

      The biggest challenge though I’m seeing is the lack of GPS with it. With so many GPS-enabled optical units bursting onto the market over the next 45-90 days, at prices equal to Basis Peak, it’s challenging.

      I think I’ll have some variant of a first thoughts post on it mid-next week since I know many folks are really interested in it.

    • Oliver

      Looking forward to your thoughts!

      PS It seemed to me some of the problems occurring in other reviews were when the HR was changing quickly.

    • Bora

      Hey Ray,
      Did you get your hands on the Viiiiva Mini or is this still a complete black box for you yet? Their website says Spring and I was wondering, if there is already any kind of sneak preview info about how it compares with other devices such as Rhythm +
      Thanks
      Bora

    • It’s been pushed to summer (at earliest), I’d kinda write it off for now if I were you. My hunch is we won’t see it till the end of the year or beyond.

  61. Michael Herald

    I signed up for VIP yearly subscription and ordered the 920xt from Clever Training. I should get it next week, which is perfect timing because I start training for my next race. 🙂

  62. Hi, Awesome post! The guide and detail about sports gadgets you have shared with us is great. I am looking for activity trackers and your blog really help me to buy this. Thanks for sharing such blog.

  63. John

    Thanks for the great recommendations! After not wearing it very often, I just sold my Jawbone UP24 and am again in the market for an activity tracker or potentially smart watch. Have you had much time to play with the Microsoft Band? It seems like another great offering from a company that forgot to properly waterproof. It seems hard to pass up a Garmin Vivofit at $79 though, so I may end up getting that.

    • It’s not a bad band. GPS seems fairly good on most runs (minus my first run, which seemed a mess). HR is really tough to tell, because there isn’t any way to actually export the HR data at this point (the full second by second data, not just a summary). So casual looking at it seems OK, but I’m not watching just the band 100% of the time. Then there’s the display itself, while beautiful, it doesn’t handle any form of sweat or even the slightest sprinkle, it becomes useless (particularly troubling when you need to dismiss a low battery warning…).

  64. angelbsl

    Hi DC, thanks for your useful reviews!

    What dou you mean when you say “hardware limitations of the existing Ambit3 platform”? Apart from vibration alerts, what other hardware limitations does the Ambit3 Peak have with respect to Polar v800?

    I am not sure what watch select: Polar v800 HR (350€) or Ambit3 Peak HR (380€). Which one do you recommend me?

    Best regards

    • Vibration is the major one, which really does matter to many people. The other challenge is that Suunto simply hasn’t hinted at doing any other advancements there. Given the two, and given Polar’s plans, it seems more appealing longer term. At the same time, in most categories the Ambit3 is actually more advanced than the V800. I guess it’s kinda why I don’t really recommend either right now for a triathlete.

  65. Turn The Damn Cranks

    Ray — Picking up on a few comments above (including one of mine), and one I saw on the Black Friday thread, if already in the Garmin ecosystem, do you view the FR210 as a solid option at the Costco price of $140, including HRM? It seems like a much better deal than the FR15, and although not quite as functional as the M400, it’s a Garmin, avoids the cost of a new HRM and footpod, and doesn’t seem to be missing any really important features of the current gen. Is that right? On a closely related note, is there any good way to get data from an M400 to Garmin Connect? I’ve looked and looked on Google and the options all seem poor. Thanks!

    • It’s a good option at the $140 price including HRM, though, if you don’t care about intervals, then the FR15 might honestly be a slightly better option and you can activity tracking.

      As for M400 data, it does export as .TCX files. I don’t remember offhand if those .TCX files upload cleanly to Garmin Connect (it does support .TCX file upload), but I do know at worst you could use some of the utilities listed on the Tools site (link to dcrainmaker.com) to tweak it and then upload it to Garmin Connect.

      Alternatively, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tapiriik support Polar’s API soon, which sorta solves that problem in theory.

  66. Lowell

    Looking at the smart scales.
    Can’t seem to find a review on the site of the Wahoo balance scale. Any good? Wahoo seems to make great products. (Looking at the KICKR) and just thought about it. But already have the Withings in the cart on its 25% off. Just wondering if wahoo has been reviewed or not. I might just not have been able to find the review. Cheers.

  67. Chris

    I noticed from your photo that your M400 appears to have an issue I noticed with mine. The band has totally discolored into a weathered grey. Is it just me, or does your too? For a watch that is hoping to be worn as an activity tracker, having an ugly band is not a good strategy. Also, should I be worried about this plastic they are using?

    • I think the lighting actually makes it look worse in this case, where I took the photos is tough, and I was running tight on time so didn’t clean up the photos and reset things very much.

  68. Tina D

    I’m considering purchasing the Samsung Gear Fit or the Garmin Vivo…I normally workout 6 days a week which includes cardio, strength training and two days of running. Can you assist me on which one would be the best fit for me? Thank you

  69. Kevin Glynn

    Has anyone had issues with Garmim wrist bands failing? My Garmin Swim is a year old and the band broke. Had the same issue with fr10’s. Seems they have about a 1 yr shelf life.

  70. Hi!
    Thanks for your job, it’s amazing how much you clarify my decisions about my shopping for training…. If I would have the money… Jejejeje
    To the question…
    Why don’t you mention the Bryton Amis S630? What do you think about it? They make me an offer and bought it for 150€ with HR…. but I’m not really happy, because the GPS “rob” me km’s, like 40m each km, and this is so much.
    What do you think about??
    I would like to buy the 920 but… Impossible for my economy.
    Thanks a lot!!!

    • I haven’t played with the S630 yet, so I can’t really comment there.

      The challenge I’ve seen with the rest of the Bryton line is that while it’s generally an OK GPS device, it’s the software and ecosystem around it that falls apart.

  71. Guillermo

    Congratulations on your awesome site.

    I have been a Garmin user since the first FR201. The new iterations are nice, but I am waiting for the one unit that does everything (GPS, HR, cadence) from the watch itself. Do you see Garmin coming out with such a gadget in 2015?

  72. Kathleen

    Hi Ray,
    I am wondering if you will be giving us an in-depth review on the Vivosmart? I like the appearance of it over the vivofit but based off of the different reviews, it is hard to get feel if it worth the cost.
    Any additional opinion about it would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks!

  73. Dave

    I always love reading your write ups. No stone indeed.

    I’ve been waiting for someone to produce a wrist mounted battery for ultras. it seems like that would be preferable to large form factors to gain battery life. It’s so rare that we run longer than 10h. Having just replaced my 310 battery, I’m almost tempted to try this approach link to polyenios.blogspot.co.uk

    One suggestion for a product category you might consider adding. There are now several hub dynamo products available and several options for USB charging off dynamo power.I personally own a SON and it’s my absolute favorite piece of gear for commuting and touring. I wonder if you’d consider getting into lighting and charging system reviews. Specifically, I wonder if someone has hooked up a hub dynamo to periodically charge their gps head unit and/or di2 battery.

    I’d really rather have a iPhone in the edge 500 form factor and a handlebar mount. That would be perfect for riding and running along with earbuds for voice calls and a tablet for data consumption when not in motion. Ironically, phones just keep getting bigger and bigger. but how nice would it be to only charge one primary device and keep the wrist devices limited to sensors (hr, cadence, impact) which rebroadcast.

    I’ll be picking up the scoshe soon. After a dozen chest straps over the past two decades, I’m ready for some innovation there.

    • Dave

      Soon after posting this I picked up a Scosche rhythm. As far as downsides compared to the chest strap, I’ve only noticed 2. The first is that it has a limited battery life as noted, right around 8h. The second is that there seems to be more variability in HR, i.e. more data points which I don’t trust than with a chest strap. I had my share of these low/high readings with the Garmin chest strap too, when not properly rinsed or before I start sweating, so I figure it’s a matter of the tech getting better over time. The rhythm delivers 90-95% of what I want, doesn’t chafe at all and it’s easier to get on and off. Cost is very reasonable. Overall, I’m quite happy with it and I use it far more in training than I ever used the chest strap as a result of how much more practical it is.

      I also recently bit the bullet and got the 920 after 5 years of 310xt’s. It still ran out of battery in my 100 but I think that is my fault for not configuring it for 50h use? Other than that, it has worked flawlessly. The wifi upload is dramatically better than my 310xt and the dreaded ant agent, I’ve probably saved an hour of my life since I bought it. The charging clip is also substantially better although I have had one instance of dead battery due to bumping it while charging. I thought that only happened with the alligator clip, but it seems to be possible with the new style cradle as well so best to not to disturb while charging. Price is/was the only major downside of the 920 for me, at least vs the 310, otherwise it excels in all areas. Never owned a 910 as I didn’t see the value vs 310 until the 920 came out. The 620 raised my eyebrows with wifi upload, but the 920 seems to win out by comparison in every category except price.

      Overall very happy with these devices but looking forward to the next generation as well.

  74. Andy

    I have noticed from your reviews that the Garmin swim seems better than the 910XT at detecting change in direction at the end of a length. Do you think they use different technology? Would you rather have a 310XT and a garmin swim or a 910XT? I know there is a 920XT but I’m going to be buying 2nd hand and have been offered both the choices listed above at comparable prices.

  75. JD

    Thanks for the great recommendations. I have a question though about the Wahoo sensors for cycling.

    Do you think they will create a “bundle” for speed / cadence with the RPM v2? I was looking at getting the Wahoo blue SCv2, but then saw the RPM and liked the idea of it also being a footpod I could use if I went a gym for ease of swapping. Thinking I will probably end up with the blue since I want both speed and cadence, I was just curious if I should hold out and see if they add something like the garmin magnet less option to go with the RPM.

  76. Jeff E.

    I have a Garmin 620 and am wondering if there is any chance that Garmin will add daily activity tracking (i.e. steps/sleep) to the 620. If so, any guess on timing?

  77. Hugo

    Hi Ray,

    At the moment I’m thinking about buying a new multisport watch. The activities for which I would like to use it are triatlons and hiking/trekking. The 920XT, Fenix 2, and Ambit 3 are the ones I was looking at and based on the recommendation in this article I’m currently leaning towards the Fenix 2 because it seems to be more suited to the trekking part. However, if a ‘hiking’ app for the 920XT is a possibility this might be the smarter choice. What would be your recommendation in this case.

    Love the site, thanks for the effort you put into it.

    Regards,
    Hugo

    • A hiking app could be in the cards from 3rd parties, in fact, I saw some posts today in the Connect IQ forums about one person looking to create something just like that (he was a developer working on it).

  78. Craig

    I’m wondering if there are any activity trackers that look like a normal everyday watch, not just a fitness band. ie a nice big display, so its easy to tell the time.

    So far it seems about the only option is the Forerunner 15. But it lacks Bluetooth, so you have to plug it in to upload. Or maybe the Polar M400, but it looks a bit expensive and overly complicated.
    The Basis or Withings watches look nice, but even more expensive, and not available in the UK yet.

    • Full options (GPS + Activity Tracking + Bluetooth transfers):

      FR920XT
      Polar M400
      Polar V800

      Partial options:

      Suunto Ambit3 (lacks exact steps)
      Basis Peak (lacks GPS)
      Withings Activite (lacks GPS)
      FR15 (lacks Bluetooth)

      On Withings, it should be available in the UK, mine shipped last week in Europe and I just picked it up at the post office an hour ago actually (bought online like any other person.

    • Jeff

      From a activity tracker standpoint (that also serves as an exercise tool), providing you keep your phone in your pocket while walking or exercising, I see the HR monitor as more of the issue than GPS. Remembering to wear or bring a strap along is the barrier for me. If the basis peak transmits to the phone or another bluetooth device, I see that as a more integrated solution. Same with the surge (with GPS), but there are big ifs about whether the data is reliable and transmits to phone if a way that you can upload to training peaks or a tracking program of your choice.

  79. Ken

    I found the FR620 with HRM for 399. I am looking for this combo. Do you think I will find a better price on this during the next few weeks or should I jump on it now? As stated earlier there aren’t many deals on the 620

    • For US folks, I don’t expect any FR620-specific sales. You can also get the FR620 with the HRM for basically the same ($404) using the DCR Clever Training VIP Program, which does include free shipping. Cheers.

  80. Miguel Pinochet

    Hi. Greetings from Chile. I need your advice, for someone that´s new to the sportwatches (I tried the Nike + in 2011), I’m not the kind of guy who wants a lot of different watches, band, etc. I just want a watch that makes it’s all, from day to day time/date, bike rides, running from 5k to 21k, and that also may track you every day time activities. I ‘ve read your articles and it seems that the winner is the garmin 920xt.
    At first I was going to buy the nike + , but when you analyze it , it’s tech from 2011, now it sells twice the price (300 dollars).

    Would you recommend the garmin as an overall watch for an amateur guy (beginner guy). The money is not an issue. ( some people spent 500 in watches only for the brand, luxury, etc… that’s not my interest, I just want a watch for all day/night activity.

  81. Geo

    Hey Rey,
    great website, first and last place I look for objective fitness Tech reviews these days.
    if ever in Cape Town, lemme know, could offer you a place to stay for a couple of days and there’s awesome mountain bike trails and runs in Stellenbosch.
    GMM

  82. makeenb

    Planning a Christmas eve 100k ride with 3000m of climbing. Thanks DCR and CT!

  83. bottle

    I have seen your recommendation on Garmin Edge 500 many times in your blog. You probably doesn’t use Edge 500 for a long time. As a 4-year owner of Edge 500, I need to say that Edge 500 has lots problem: GPS inaccuracy (even in open space!), freezing screen (have to force restart), corrupted fit files etc.

    In your early review, you even said GPS in Edge 500 is even better than Edge 800, if I remember correctly. In fact, Edge 500’s GPS sucks. Once powered up, It often takes few minutes to locate and sometimes loses GPS signals in the middle of the ride.

    This year I tried to find an alternative to Edge 500 (accurate GPS, long battery life/recording time, simple navigation), but haven’t find one suitable. Not Edge 510, because I don’t need functions like a color screen or connect to the phone. It might be great if you can recommend one.

    • It sounds like you should reset your Edge 500. All the problems you describe are easily fixed via a hard reset. If still not, I’d ring up Garmin support.

      Do keep in mind that the Edge 500 is by far the most popular and widely used GPS bike computer ever. It sounds like you’ve just some issues with your specific unit.

  84. Hendrik Fagard

    My daily commute… 3km on a normal city bike.

  85. Carmel

    Hi, love your site and your reviews, your review of the Bkool helped me choose a replacement for my aging Axiom Power Train. Looking for advice on the ViRB Elite, I’ve read the manuals, the reviews, but still have some questions and none of the stores near me stock ViRB-E or have a demo unit. I have an Edge 500 (plus all the sensors on 3 bikes and HR strap) but the mount ears have snapped off the 500, getting tired of epoxy repairing it (thank you YouTube) and the on/off button is almost broken. I’m trying to avoid gadget proliferation. 1. Would I be able to just use the ViRB E to video and GPS my rides (like the 500) and upload to Strava (and myGarmin)? I currently ride with a GoPro Hero 3+ front and back for car insurance (was hit by a dishonest driver this summer) but the battery life is awful, and I like the VIRB is already waterproof. 2. I have a Xiaomi 5200 1.5A external battery can I plug that in for the long summer rides ~100 miles or up to 6 hours of 1080p and GPS, speed HR, cadance data? 3. I really only pay attention to HR these days, would the display (dashboards) be suitable? My favorite bike is a fixie so not important to display cadence, also in a group ride/race I know if I’m going fast enough or not. 4. Can you auto scroll or manually through speed, elapsed time, distance screens easily and safely while riding without another gadget / remote connected to it? 5. Would switching between bikes be a pain having to re-pair the sensors every time? 6. Lastly I have 32 GB Micro SDHC UHS-1 cards and a 64 GB micro SDXC (90mb/s) is the SDXC compatible? Sorry for all the questions. Thanks in advance! PS If your answers are that I’m basically good to go with the ViRB-E then for all your readers I have 2 x 4 month old GoPro Hero 3 cameras for sale 🙂

  86. Rodolfo Araujo

    Hello Rainmaker! Do you know if any head unit is capable of showing the VI (variability index) data field? I think it’s a very useful metric and it’s calculation is pretty straightforward (NP/AP). Maybe they could add implement it? Thanks!

  87. Andrew

    Hi Ray,

    First, thank you for such excellent reviews and info (on all of your site).

    I am not a runner (mind block associates it with being punished for doing something wrong during other sports practices when younger). My wife however, has gotten into it big time over the past year. I was looking at the Garmin FR220 for a new watch because she likes that it can upload her location and track in real-time via her iPhone 6 during long runs. I’ve been reading tons of reviews and forums, and it appears that many people are complaining about the GPS inaccuracies and bluetooth connectivity on the FR220/620, but many of the reviews and posts are older so I am not sure if issues have been resolved…people don’t normally post in forums when things are working fine. Her running is all on the road, no trails…and she is constantly in training for Half/Full Marathons. Is the FR620 the watch to get, and what “gadget” accessories can I get to make her training better. I want to get her the “best”…I don’t care about the cost.

    Thanks for any input,
    Supportive Non-Runner Husband of Runaholic Wife

    • Andrew

      After reading even more of your site…now I am torn between the Garmin 920XT and the Suunto Ambit3 Sport. Im leaning towards the Garmin 920XT for the Vibrating alerts, but I really like the customization that can be done in the Ambit3. Which one would “The Girl (your wife)” use?

    • In general, without apps, the FR920XT offers more customization than the Ambit3. With apps, today, the A3 can do more, but realistically we’re only talking a few weeks until Connect IQ releases, at which point we’re looking at far more capable apps on the Garmin platform than Suunto apps.

  88. Andrew

    Oh nice…so I will be able to make the FR920XT show exactly what she wants to see. Thanks. That pretty much settles it. I’ll go with the FR920XT.

    Thanks again.

  89. TSanke

    I have the Garmin 610, but it has it limitations when it comes to Ultras. Trying to decide on either staying in the Garmin family (fenix vs fenix 2) as from what I can tell after all the updates they are similar and the regular fenix is fairly cheap now. OR moving over to the Suunto family. From what I can find; it almost seems like the Ambit 2 is a better all around buy than spending the extra on the 3. Any suggestions on where you would go?
    Thanks Ray, love the site by the way.
    TSank

  90. DavidF

    Hello,

    I have been using my polar RS800CX and polar pro trainer 5 for years and I would like to upgrade to another GPS watch (v800 maybe) but I am wondering about software capablities nowadays. What I miss, or feel i am missing, with strava, garmin connect, etc is the flexibility and analytical capabilites of polar pro trainer 5. What kind of desktop software would you recommend to keep track and analyze my running/swimming/cycling + daily weight/sleep/etc.. ?

  91. Mitch

    First off, great website.

    I had done some comparisons, and I am favoring the Ambit 2 as it seems to do what the Ambit 3 sport does, albeit slightly cheaper.

    What are your thoughts?

  92. Paulo Dinis

    Hi Ray,
    It was a very good surprise to find your website and such detailed reviews.
    Nevertheless, even after reading them quite some times, I would request your opinion on the following, I am running and cycling, but do intend to start swimming also.
    I like tech gadgets but do not feel I will ever use all their advanced functions, therefore what would be a tri watch recommendation for me? Is the 910xt after the price drop still a good choice? I like the Fenix2, but I have been told that for swimming it is a little too big…
    Thanks!

    PD

  93. Rathore Avninder

    Any hints for action sports gadgets?? I can’t find any good idea to design for participanting in this contest: link to desall.com
    I was thinking of a GoPro mount.. any better idea?

  94. Aubrey Freeman III

    This is a total newbie question about technology.

    I have been using a Garmin GSC10 for speed/cadence, a Garmin premium HRM strap, and a Suunto 2S since the summer and loved the combination right up until I forget my watch for a bike ride. I wonder if it’s possible to get a Garmin Edge 500 to permanently mount on my bike and have the speed, cadence, and HR transmitted to both it and my watch. I’m thinking it isn’t, but I’m not an expert on how the ANT+ technology works.

  95. Anatoly

    I’m looking for budget bike complete solution and stuck with combination: Scosche RHYTHM+, Wahoo RFLKT and Strava iPhone app. Do you think it is a worth looking mix or I have to take a look different set of tools?

    The main concern is how to get HRM connected to Strava: straight to the phone or through RLFKT? I don’t want to use Wahoo iPhone app. Basically all I need is 2 things: track all activity with Strava and display basic data (HRM included) via RLFKT. Thanks !

  96. Steve

    Hi Ray

    Quick question, looking on clevertraining, the 910xt is only $20 more than the Suunto Ambit2 S. Couldn’t see the 910xt mentioned in the post above, just wondering if this is a better buy only being $20 more than the Suunto? Also, just wondering if you have any links to online shops in Australia or do you just recommend paying for the international freight?

    Thanks!

    • It’s more or less kinda a wash. The Ambit 2S is better for navigation than the 910XT, but the 910XT is better for things like structured workouts.

      No links in AUS unfortunately, yet. Sorry!

  97. Ben

    Struggling to decide between the ambit 3 and the Fenix 2. Any chance that garmin could add activity tracking to the Fenix 2? Or suunto could implement the steps in the daily activity tracking?

    Am I understanding correctly that the ambit 3 doesn’t have any internal motor in it that would allow a future vibration feature?

    Thanks for all you do!

    • Unfortunately no chance of activity tracking in the F2, they’ve said the hardware wouldn’t support it.

      Correct on the A3, no vibration motor inside, so no method of supporting that either without a new hardware version. And finally, on the steps for the Ambit, that’s absolutely something they could implement via a simple software update. Fairly surprised they haven’t done it yet honestly.

    • Ben

      Ray,

      Thanks for the response. I read somewhere yesterday afternoon that the f2 doesn’t support a “low power mode” which is what allows the passive activity tracking of steps.

      I appreciate all your reviews. I’ve definitely read more than my fair share the last couple weeks.

      Ben

  98. TallPaul

    I really appreciate your site, plenty of food for thought on all manner of things. These summaries are great for people like me looking at getting into tracking their activities in general without knowing what would suit them. You cater for serious / amateur athletes right through to those just keeping fit. From the expensive multisport and specialist powermeters through to activity trackers (which seem to be basically more advanced pedometers).
    As far as I am concerned I am no longer highly active but want to get into activity tracking with the ability to monitor HR at all time and when exercising (mostly cycle commuting these days and hiking). Information you have provided has helped but with the disappointing review on the Basis Peak I am now at a complete loss what to get. I am now considering the Scosche Rhythm+ strap with phone and possibly a tracker watch.

    I need something watch based with HRM that tracks steps and sleep patterns. A wear it all the time sort of thing, like the Basis Peak but one that works. Any suggestions?

    • It’s still a tough spot. We’ll see how the FitBit Surge looks. My order arrived into my US forwarding box today, and I’ve set it to ship back out again – but unclear if it’ll arrive tomorrow or Monday.

      The Charge was also in there – both of which somewhat meet your requirements. Right now, I’m seeing fairly mixed feedback from readers and others on accuracy though, on both products.

  99. Shawn

    Love this site and so greatly appreciate all your work in reviewing, etc!
    I need a GPS watch for ultra training/racing and for backpacking. I don’t need much though – don’t care about any computer connectivity, or internal bells/whistles. I need only: display pace and distance during runs, view latitude/longitude (to be checked only rarely to position on maps), altitude (barometric much preferred), ability to use as standard watch (no GPS) for weeks. Basically, I want real-time info while running trails, then I want a watch for weeks backpacking that I can rarely turn on GPS to get latitude/longitude to reorient on maps. Help?

    • I’d probably look at the Ambit series or Fenix series, those would be what you’re looking for. While the Ambit2S doesn’t have barometric altimeter, the GPS altimeter data is quite impressive in my testing on that unit.

  100. Richard

    Hi there,
    Thanks for the fantastic reviews!
    I am an experienced runner, averaging 100km / wk and run races frequently. I don’t currently have a GPS running watch but am looking at buying one in the next week.
    I am stuck between the Garmin FR220 and Polar M400. Both seem like excellent watches except for the price difference.
    Please let me know what you would recommend!

    • Either one will work quite well for what you’re looking for. So you might want to dig into details like whether you also want an activity tracker (M400), or more advanced structured workout functionality (FR220).

    • Jason

      Hi Ray,

      I’m right there with Richard. Never owned a GPS watch and currently considering the FR220, M400, and Fitbit Surge. From all the reviews I’ve read, I like the reliability and GPS accuracy of the FR220 but I also want the activity tracking of the M400. I think the Surge will give me all of the above plus I work for a place that I can buy it for $180 but I’m not sure how it stacks up against the other two. Have you put it to the test yet?

    • So far it’s a bit mixed on my Surge testing. I’d give the GPS side of it an B+/A-. It’s good in easy conditions (spot-on), but struggles a little bit in the forest.

      On the HR accuracy side, it’s a bit laggy in fair weather conditions, but super laggy in colder conditions. I’d give it about a C+/B- on optical accuracy.

      Outside of those two items, it’s a neat little GPS watch – though I don’t like that you’re unable to easily export any workout data from it.

  101. Hisham

    Thanks a lot for this, it was really helpful.
    I just a have a question about the TomTom Runner. Can I track my laps on it?

  102. Andrew

    I’m really surprised you can recommend Suunto Ambit products, given that the Movescount website frequently goes down for days at a time, rendering much of the watch’s functionality useless. Cheers!

    • Well, this post was written 45 ago, which would be approximately 41 days before the Great Suunto Outage of 2014 occurred.

      And while Suunto has had outages in the past, so has Garmin (though, Suunto’s were no doubt more impact since you can’t do much without the online component). Ironically, the last time Suunto had an outage, was the exact same time Garmin did. I suspect in the future outages may play a part in recommendations.

  103. JJ Lee

    Nice article Ray! I do have some questions. I just ordered a Garmin Fenix. In the near future I do intend to get the Garmin 920XT. Since the 920XT have an activity tracking feature, is there any point to getting either a Garmin Vivofit/Polar Loop? I don’t see a comparison feature between those devices, but I’m guessing that’s because they’re in different class of products. I’m looking to maximize my data gathering and save money whenever possible!

    Thanks and Merry Christmas!

    • No reason to get another at this point unless you just want a smaller form factor. Same data from the FR920XT vs the Vivofit.

    • JJ Lee

      Thanks for the response Ray! Is the 920XT as accurate as the Vivofit that you reviewed? It’s great knowing that the data is the same. Besides the form factor, are there any other reasons to go with the Vivofit over the 920XT? I think both the Fenix with the latest firmware and the 920XT should fulfill most of my needs.

      Is it still possible to buy the Adidas miCoach Bluetooth Smart Footpod? It seems to be sold out everywhere I checked on the internet.

      Is there any reason to go with the Wahoo TICKR when you conclude in your own review that the Scosche RHYTHM+ is very accurate and it also measures heart rate. I don’t really see the point in owning both devices when both do the same thing. Am I missing something here? Which one should I ultimately go with?

    • For steps, yup, the same for accuracy – nothing odd that I saw there.

      Besides form factor and battery life, no other reasons for Vivofit over 920XT.

      On the Adidas Bluetooth Smart footpod, it should still be out there, note that it won’t work with any Garmin products.

      And finally, with the TICKR vs Scosche, if you’re looking at just HR – than either is fine. However, there are some FR920XT features that depend on heart rate variability (HRV/RR), which then requires a strap that sends that. No optical ones do so accurately (results vary), whereas all ANT+ chest straps do.

  104. James

    Well, based on your in depth reviews and tons of info, I (well, my wife) bought me the FR620/HRM Run combo. Wow, what a step up from my FR10! The customization is really great. I was considering the 920, but since I don’t bike (been there, done that) and don’t need an activity tracker, I decided on the 620. I will probably start swimming soon, but still like the lightweight of the 620. The blue tooth and wifi work as advertised and sync just fine. I can create workouts on my Samsung tab pro 10.1 and send it right to the watch, no pc needed! Can also load the latest workout to GC using my Moto X after the run. Gotta love it. Auto connected to Strava with no issues either. Technology is great! Wish all of this would have been available when I first started running waaaay back in high school.

    Thanks and keep up the great work.

  105. Brandon

    HI Ray,

    Looking between the fenix 2 and v800. Your thoughts between the the two. Typical races are half IM and Full IM. Like to know your thoughts. I have read all you have given, and tossed up on the decision. Thanks!

  106. Rui Gonçalves

    Hello Ray,

    I’m on the market for a gps unit at first for cycling (cycling computer), but as I do a few runs to, I was thinking if a watch is probably more adequate to what i want to do.
    My dillema here is that i’ve read just about everything about running\cycling watches and can’t figure what’s the best cycling\runing.

    Could you just help me PLEASE

    PS: Can i run with a cycling computer??

    • You can run with a cycling computer, but the challenge is that most don’t show ‘Pace’ (i.e. minutes/mile or minutes/kilometer), and instead only show speed (i.e. 25MPH or 25KPH).

      For a good budget starter crossover unit, check out something like the FR310XT these days, which can be used with the quick release kit to easily mount to bike or wrist strap.

  107. mark

    Ray, thanks for all the great information! I really wanted to try tracking and using heart rate information in my runs. I’ve been running for 7 years just to keep fit and have used a Garmin (201), Nike+ with ipod/iphone and lately Android. Decided to tackle my first Marathon in 2015 and thought an updated running gps watch would help. The TomTom Cardio sounded like a good option until I read your write-up on the M400. However, knowing that I’ll never use the HR chest strap, I opted to try the Mio Link with the M400 – still works out to be a good deal with that discount. Now, I’d like to see Polar follow through on their commitment to deliver the Android compatibility….soon. Thanks again!

  108. Agneta

    Hi, thanks for all terrific reviews. I’ve had Garmin Forerunner 305 and 310, just over 3 years for both. In reality I’ve probably had 8-10 of those due to 3 year guarantee and poor quality. Guarantee is nice. But uptime/availability is better. The thing is the specifications of the Forerunners have met all my requirements (except for HR measurement in the water.) But in reality… Extra important for me is the way I can program intervals in Training centre. I have not been able to find this in any other brand. I do kayaking and triathlon. Especially for kayaking where my hands are busy this is valuable. Imagine doing 15s or 30 s intervals, but befor you go you have to stop and push a button, a bit like starting a run interval sitting down, not to mention the ice that can cover the watch in the winter and freese the lap button. Is there another watch that has as much PC programmin funtionality as there are in Training Center? What is your experience concering quality? I’ve had 2 Forerunner 310 wher the button stopped working and all sorts of other problems. I have to add that I expect everything to work as specified. If it doesn’t I call Garmin support. This has always resulted in them telling me t send in the watch and them replacing it. Now I read about 920 and as I haven’t found what I need in another brand I’ve started to build up a must have urge. I do swim at least a couple of times a week all year. So the pool feature is a nice new feature.
    My questions:
    1. Is there another watch with as much interval programming features as the Forerunner?
    2. What is your opinion about the quality/ working as specified
    3. Do you thing that the new comfortable HRMs are as reliable as the old stiff ones? I’ve had a couple of bad experiences here too. I’m a little sceptical regarding the metal buttons, the monitor not beeing in one piece.

    • 1) No, for interval and workout customization – nobody comes close to the flexibility of the Garmin platform.
      2) In general, I find the major players pretty equal in build quality and working as specified. All of them have their own quirks and bugs, but for the most part I’d say they’re equal.
      3) I think the HRM3 & HRM-RUN’s made after July 2013 are far better than any older strap (soft or hard).

  109. Steve

    Ray – thanks for the awesome reviews. You probably gave me too much to think about. I have a comparison question for you that is price sensitive. I was hoping to spend in the $200 range. I am primarily a trail runner who does some road and mountain biking. I don’t swim, so no swim functions needed. I had been looking at the Polar m400, but was concerned about not being able to see stats while stopped on a run. Was I reading that right from the review? I currently always run with Auto Pause enabled on my Garmin 205 (which is dying fast), so I would want to continue using that functionality. I also see that you continue to like the Garmin 310XT especially in the price range I am looking at. Would it be better, even with the older technology, to go that route instead of the Polar? Thanks for any help!

  110. Daniel

    m considering getting my first GPS watch for running. That said, I’m not committed to the Garmin or TomTom web platform (which Garmin seems to win handily), but rather, have been using Strava and would likely continue to use Strava.

    Would you say that the TomTom Runner with HR Monitor, at $99, is a steal and easily the winner? It looks to have an automatic sync with Strava so I wouldn’t have to bother with the TomTom web platform.

  111. Kevin

    Ray – what activity tracker/software is best for sleep tracking?

  112. Kevin

    Ray – what activity tracker/software is best for sleep tracking

  113. Anthony Langer

    I have a Suunto 6C watch that I have used for Duathlons (in the fat tire divisions) (with bike pod and HR) since it was released and to get distance and pace I used a Garmin foretrex 401. I wear my Suunto daily and my 401 just broke. I have gotten away from any running or biking in the last year and I am looking for something to get me back into being an intermediate duathloner. Last year I have ran a couple of half’s. I am also a trail rider and a hiker.
    So with that being said, I am looking for a watch that can do all of that. I am looking at Suunto Ambit 2, 2S and 3 also Garmin 310xt, 610 and the 900 series. I always lean toward Suunto watches but not a selling point. My concern is with Ambit 3 being released, it no longer support ANT pods. Do I go cheaper with the Ambit 2 and buy all the pods for it, hoping it will last me around 10 years or buy the A3 and hope it will provide updates to last me for a long time. I also do not have an iPhone but heard android app is coming in March. I will probably not use the swimming portion of any watch. I do not want to own 2 watches, one for time and one for activities. I am aware of $$$ for I would like to say that getting this watch will help me focus on improving myself to where I was happy with in my fitness level but I know a watch wont do that. I only can do that. Posting maps and distance to social site might help me though to have that accountability. I can wait to purchase and have just borrowed a Garmin 401 from a friend to test it out. Any comments or suggestions will be helpful

  114. Harith Al Kubaisy

    Thank you ray for your comprehensive website. I am a runner/hiker and thinking of getting a new GPS watch and confused between the 920XT or the Fenix2.

    I like the 920XT because of the in-built metronome, but favor the Fenix2 for its higher navigation capabilities.

    What do you think?

    (Note that I have a FR620 that I absolutely adore for running, it just misses the in-built metronome)

    Regards,

    Harith.

  115. Amy

    Ok, so the internal debate that I am having….

    I was using the very simple Nike+ sport band to track my runs. I liked the ease of use and I really like the website/uploading system. Easy to use and great for tracking.
    For my boot camp, spin, and all other cardio workouts I was using the Polar F7 HRM to track time and calories burned.
    Got the Garmin Forerunner 15 for Christmas in hopes that I could combine both of these into the one watch. But I do not understand how to make this happen? I have read and watched videos for days, and evidently I just can’t grasp it I’ve taken it on two runs and that is easy enough. But I do not understand how to use the HRM while doing the other activities.
    So frustrated thinking about returning it……HELP!

  116. Bill

    Is there any real reason to buy a GPS running watch if you also are going to carry a smart phone? I can understand the cycling device due to screen battery life, so I have the Garmin 510. However, I want to start run training over this winter. Is the Wahoo Tickr run with various apps going to be as effective of a run tracker as say a Forerunner 220? I would like to be able to set training programs for run/walk/sprints, which I know I can do in 220.

    • Lew

      Yes, several reasons for a watch (off the top of my head):
      (a) Much easier to glance at your wrist to check distance/time/pace/etc than to look at a phone in an armband or waist pack
      (b) Phone touchscreens don’t do so well in the rain or with sweaty hands
      (c) Running watches don’t care about sweat or rain.
      (d) Easier to mark a lap or transition from one part of a structured workout to the next part
      (e) Watchband tan lines look less dorky than armband tan lines
      (f) Nobody gets mugged for their running watch… 🙂

      In the end it really depends on what exactly your training needs are and how well a phone fulfills those needs.

      I imagine you *can* do most things with a phone and an app, but the real question is whether it will be as easy/convenient as using whichever watch fits your needs.

  117. René Teixeira Caseiro

    And for indoor activities such as football/soccer in the indoor field that can captures gps signal?
    To have the distance data, the Forerruner 200 with the accelometer (can´t use footpod) it’s the one of the choice?
    I have a doubt between FR15 and the 220. The 15 have the information that i need for measure the distance in the indoors (with gps or no gps signal) probably the 22o it’s the adequate.

    The data will be to upload to GC and Strava (both)

    Can you give me an opinion?
    Thank’s in advance

  118. Willy Sarahan

    Guys i have a question

    I`m from Brazil and i`m going to USA at february and i`m going to buy one sportwatch

    I have a reaaly doubt, should i take TomTom Cardio Multisport or the Adidas Micoach SmartWatch? Wich one is better? Is tehere any good option with integrated heart hate sensor?

    Is it true that i can`t take showels with the adidas one?

    Mio Aplha 2 is a contender?

    Thanks

  119. Matthias

    Hi, I need your help

    I’m a Mountainbiker and I’ve got a Tacx Vortex Smart that I use to train in winter (hobby-grade, nothing serious).

    I’m looking for a good cadence sensor that I can use a) with Tacx and b) when outside in the summer and c) with my Garmin Fenix (already got the footpod).

    Can anyone please recommend me a sensor to go with, would you chose the Wahoo Blue SC2?

  120. Elise

    Looking for some gadget advice.

    I’ve had the FR610 for a few years and use it for running and biking, but am ready to upgrade. I’m looking for a watch for running, cycling and hiking (waterproof/resistant is ideal), would you recommend the Fenix3 over the FR620?

  121. Alex

    Hello Ray,

    Thanks for your tests and feedback. I just came across your site and this is fantastic help.
    I am in south of France and practicing Trail running and road cycling.
    My really old Polar needs to be refreshed and just wanted to get your point.
    What do you use yourself?
    A lot of people say that the Ambit 3 is on the top of the list while when reading your site it would be more the 920xt or Fenix3?
    Is the F3 price difference from the 920xt really justified?
    Was there any use difference from your tests?
    Would you go for a F3 or 920xt? Knowing they are nearly identical.
    Also are you aware of any special discount?

    Thanks,
    Alex

    • It’s a bit too early to tell, but in general I’d go with the FR920XT unless you need navigation. I don’t know many people these days that could justify or say that the Ambit3 is really better than the FR920XT for triathletes, or the F3 for everyone else. It’s just not in the same ballpark unfortunately.

      As for discounts, you can save 10% via my partnership with Clever Training (on anything, Garmin or Suunto), via the details here: link to dcrainmaker.com

  122. Hey Ray,

    Thanks for being such a great resource over the years. Here is my situation: I am leaving in less than 2 weeks for a bike tour through Patagonia. I will start in Ushuaia and head north to Puerto Montt. Along the way, I am going to record coordinates and mile markers for food, shelter, water, camp sites, etc. Additionally, I’d like to record maps for the journey. I am going to have a backpacking backpack strapped to my bike as well so I can backpack Torres del Paine. My goal is to create a comprehensive guide for bike touring Patagonia. I need a watch. I’ve reached out to Garmin and Suunto but so far have not received a watch. It looks like I am going to need to buy one. At home, I am a hobby triathlete, so it’d be nice to get something that will work for that plus cover me in Patagonia. If you had to pick between the Suunto Ambit3 and the Fenix2, which would you choose? The Suunto map videos are pretty cool, but I understand I can set the Fenix to auto-populate my website with location information. That too looks cool. I assume I can get coordinates from either and the battery life looks solid for both. I really want the Fenix3, by the way, but it looks like it will not be available in time. Any idea how to score a Fenix3?

    Thanks!

    Justin

    • The Garmin site gives you a tiny bit more flexibility than the Suunto site for sharing stuff like that. I’d agree, the Fenix3 won’t quite be ready in time.

      Keep in mind neither of them produce useful maps on the device itself, but the Garmin platform allows you to create waypoints on the fly via the app, whereas Suunto doesn’t.

      As for the Fenix3, no luck there, at least in the next two weeks.

  123. Kevin

    Hi DC,
    Great site spent hours reading and learning. Now for the question:
    I’m a triathelete I’m never going to break records or win but I like to see what i’m doing and how I’m progressing. My current very old Polar cycle computer and Sunto HRM/foot pod knackered & ready for retirement 🙂
    I’m confused as to whether to get an all in one watch ie Garmin or Sunto or go with my iPhone and the Wahoo Fitness App and their sensors. Swim data isn’t that important to me as I have a swim watch to cover that and I don’t use anything during events in all honesty but may be i should :-0
    I like the Wahoo systems openess to be honest and the connectivity with the many apps out there. In your review above you recommend the Garmin Edge as a bike computer but the RFLT+ seems to cover this option to I suppose the use of phone battery is the limiting factor on long rides
    Any advice greatly recieved.
    Keep up the good work, Kevin

    • The challenge with the RFLKT+ is that some find it a bit finicky. I think it’s a good first generation attempt, but it’s still kinda a first generation attempt – if you get what I mean.

      I’d say whatever you do though, sensor-wise protect yourself by going with dual sensors – which makes any future decisions easy.

    • Kevin

      Thanks Ray for your reply. I think you’ve sold me on the Garmin 920XT route but I’ll double check the sensors issue I am saving for a PowerTap wheel set based on reading your blog so sensor compatibility is a consideration

    • Yeah, with the PowerTap they don’t (yet) have a dual ANT+/BLE model, however, they have caps. So for $100 you can get the ‘other’ cap for whichever model you didn’t buy. So you’re effectively protected, and it only takes about 2-3 minutes to swap the caps out (it’s what I do if I’m needing to use it on Bluetooth Smart vs ANT+).

      Cheers!

  124. Alan

    Hi Ray, your site is amazing and very informative however due to the raft of info on here I’m slightly undecided what to get. Apologies in advance for the long post!

    I need a cycling computer as I’m an XC MTB rider and I’m stepping up my training to include road and I need to track cadence/speed etc. and in the future power hopefully. Currently I use the basic Strava app with no sensors on an old S3 (no I won’t be updating this!!), but I’ve been looking at the Edge 510 and 810 (I can pick both up for similar money to a 500 with sensors) and I’m undecided on which. Riding offroad I don’t necessarily need the navigation features of the 810 as the 510 can do a breadcrumb trail, also the 510 appears to track GPS faster and better. Thing is I can pick up the 810 for only around $40 more so is it worth just getting the 810 and be done? The other question is, according to your website Garmin traditionally updates it’s gear around 2 yr’s post release, given I’m in no hurry for a cycling computer should I wait and see what new Garmin Edge’s will appear this year before buying? Lastly what about a Fenix 3 or Epix instead? I only cycle, no running or swimming for me so is this multisport watch too non specific for a cyclist?

    Thanks so much for your help!! Al

    • Paul S

      Just my opinion, but for a cyclist it’s much better to have a handlebar mounted device with a readable screen than a wrist mounted device with a tiny screen, either road or mountain. If I were you, I’d get the 810 or a 1000. Since the 1000 is less than a year old, I wouldn’t expect Garmin to release a new Edge any time soon, but Ray may know better. I’m getting an Epix myself eventually, but it won’t be for road or mountain biking, where I have my old reliable Edge 800.

    • I’d agree with Paul on handlebar vs wrist for biking. Really prefer handlebar.

      As for Edge 510/810 replacements – I wouldn’t expect anything there anytime soon, since Garmin just pushed out a huge update with new features there. And of course, the Edge is only some 6-7 months old.

    • Alan

      Thanks both Paul & Ray,

      Looks like I’ll be going for an Edge then! I just thought that although the 1000 was new, the 510 & 810 were coming up to 2 years old so they’d be in line to be replaced 🙂 Thanks for the input, I think I may punt for an 810 but not sure yet. Cheers

    • Alan Ashcroft

      Just as a side note, sorry to be a pain! I’ve read in a few places you’ve been looking at Sigma Rox 10 recently, any ideas when your review will be up Ray? Thanks!

    • It’s tough, the Sigma Rox 10 is just barely competitive (I’ve poked at one a bit), but even then it’s really a ways behind in so many ways that it’s tough to justify doing all the work of a full review for something so few have shown an interest in. :-/

  125. Alan

    No worries Ray, makes sense as I can see how busy you are already 🙁 No point reviewing something that won’t get viewed, from my naive viewpoint of little experience with these things it appeared quite similar to the Edge 510 on paper. However as you say it’s not in the same ball park I’ll ignore it and stay focused on the Edge 510 or 810.

    Cheers Ray!!

  126. Paul

    Does the Wahoo Blue SCv2 connect to the Garmin 310xt or is it necessary to pair with a phone app?

  127. Craig

    This is a great blog. Loads of info. Thanks Ray.

    I have a question. On Amazon UK at the moment the Garmin 610 with HR strap is about £140 and I was all set to purchase one. However I am now undecided between this watch and the Polar M400. I have read both excellent and negative reviews for both of them. With the Garmin it seems to be build quality that people pick up on and with the Polar it’s satellite pick up. Which would you suggest?

  128. Craig

    This is a great blog. Loads of info. Thanks Ray.
    1
    I have a question. On Amazon UK at the moment the Garmin 610 with HR strap is about £140 and I was all set to purchase one. However I am now undecided between this watch and the Polar M400. I have read both excellent and negative reviews for both of them. With the Garmin it seems to be build quality that people pick up on and with the Polar it’s satellite pick up. Which would you suggest?

  129. Craig

    This is a great blog. Loads of info. Thanks Ray.

    On Amazon UK at the moment the Garmin 610 with HR strap is about £140 and I was all set to purchase one. However I am now undecided between this watch and the Polar M400. I have read both excellent and negative reviews for both of them. With the Garmin it seems to be build quality that people pick up on and with the Polar it’s satellite pick up. Which would you suggest?

    • Lew

      IMHO it really boils down to features and what you want from the watch.

      The 610 is a nearly four year old design it doesn’t have the modern connect-to-phone type functionality. Yet it’s a running watch and it does that job pretty well. If that’s your focus and you don’t need activity tracking I’d lean towards the 610. Two big misses for me with the M400 today are (a) lack of vibration alert and (b) inability to use a footpod. The first is important when doing intervals or other structured workouts where you might be unable to hear the watch. The second is important for getting cadence information, viewing current pace without lag or smoothing, as well as indoor runs. I believe footpod support is coming for the M400, but it’s usually best to make buying decisions only on extant features. (and the Polar footpod is pretty huge compared to the Garmin SDM4)

      In the end you need to decide which best fits your particular needs.

    • Craig

      Thanks Lew. I will be using it predominantly for running however the fact that the M400 is waterproof was the big draw for me, having read the review on this site, as I do dabble in tri from time to time. The talk of poor satellite pick up troubles me though as I often run in the woods near my house. Think I will probably go for the fr610. Unless anyone can suggest a better gps run watch for the price?

  130. Welsh Runner

    This is a great blog. Loads of info. Thanks Ray.

    On Amazon UK at the moment the Garmin 610 with HR strap is about £140 and I was all set to purchase one. However I am now undecided between this watch and the Polar M400. I have read mixed reviews for both of them. With the Garmin it seems to be build quality that people pick up on and with the Polar it’s satellite pick up. Which would you suggest?

  131. Craig / Welsh Runner

    Sorry for the repetition, my phone kept telling me that the post had failed!

  132. Steven

    Im looking for the best mutlisport activity tracker, been looking at basis peak, fitbit surge and fenix 3 with hr strap. I do like the idea of 24×7 hr tracking tho. I do a lot of running, cycling and my main activity is weight lifting

  133. Steven

    Im looking for the best mutlisport activity tracker, been looking at basis peak, fitbit surge and fenix 3 with hr strap. I do like the idea of 24×7 hr tracking tho. I do a lot of running, cycling and my main activity is weight lifting any help?…..

  134. Steven

    I also apologise for double post phone saying post couldnt be added!!

  135. Steven

    Also didnt mention im kind of a data geek! Love tracking all progress including sleep patterns thanks

  136. Matt

    Hi Ray,

    SHORT STORY:

    Age:31
    Occupation: lawyer (read “I drive a desk 12 hours a day at least”)
    Height: 6 foot
    Weight: 18 Stone (aiming for 15.5-16 Stone – see below. Target to be reached next May!).
    Activity level: NOTHING IN LAST TWO YEARS. Previously, amateur rugby.

    Aims: complete life overhaul. Geeky so information appeals (finding MyFitnessPal fascinating for food tracking). Want to use HR for training, ideally GPS for outdoor runs (a new thing for me…!) and also sleep tracking would be good. Price range: I tend to aim for at least intermediate end (typical professional with disposable income and the fear of missing out on a key element by pricing)

    LONG STORY:

    Up until 2 years ago I played ‘social’ rugby (meaning I trained every so often, played an amateur league match on the weekends). Then I relocated for work and haven’t really done anything meaningful. I’m around 6 foot and currently around 18 stone. My fighting weight would be around 15.5-16 stone. Clearly there’s work to be done!

    On top of that, I’m getting married next May, so I need to look good by then!!

    I was waiting for the Fitbit Surge (and more importantly, your review of it!) but now I’m not so sure… Do you (or anyone else) have recommendations to kit out a (now) beginner, that will take me through to “enthusiastic amateur”? EG, would the combination of a Withings for activity tracking in the day/night, the Scoshe for HR monitoring for exercise, and all guided by a smartphone app be the best solution for me? GPS would be required, but I can get this from my phone?

    Or does the Fitbit Surge (or other) that appears to have mediocre versions of it all built in do the trick?

    Please – any combinations/solutions welcome…

  137. Willy

    Have you tried the Geonaute G-eye 2 Ultimate camera from Decathlon (since you are in Paris you can find it easily, in the US there aren’t Decathlon stores…)??
    I think it’s a pretty good camera for a not expensive budget

  138. Steven

    Hey im looking for a device to monitor my activities, weights, running , cycling, sleeping and would like a hr monitor. I like the idea of exporting all data to veiw collectively but isnt a big problem if it cant! Ray recommended the fenix3 or 920xt with scosche but after looking i do love the fenix 3 but in the uk that with a rhythm+ will cost £530 or $802 which is a little high for me im a beginer to intermediate, but a major gadget and data geek! Any thing i could look at that a little cheaper? And is it only the glass that changes across the fenix3 range?…..

  139. Hey Ray

    Bought the Scosche RHYTHM+… Transmission of signal to watch (M400, BLE) and to rower (Concep2, PM5, ANT+) is very stable. For testing purpose I wear both, the H7 chest strap (connected to watch) and the forearm strap (connected to rower). Well… the HR of the Scosche RHYTHM+ varies a lot. Really a lot. Even on a 40′ UT2 session where my HR is normally quite stable, it goes up and down by up to 3-12 BPM. Very annoying.

    During INT sessions the HR sometimes drops to very low rates (like of a UT2 session).

    Out of curiosity I tried different positions (outside/inside forearm, calf) but I never found a place where the measurement stays stable, compared to the chest strap. I tried different chest straps, like H7, H2, Wearlink and even a portable 500Hz ECG.

    Any idea or hint how can I get a better result with the Scosche RHYTHM+?

  140. Evans

    Essentially I’m looking for a 24/7 hr monitor (without a chest strap) that allows me to collect the data and put in a graph. I’d also like the device to track my activity through the day (swim, bike, run, weights, hiit). I have been looking for quite some time and have not been able to find one specific wristwatch that will do it all effectively. If necessary I will buy 2 wrist watches (one dedicated to 24/7 hr, the other to activities), I just need help on deciding what two wristwatches to get.
    I was going to be a owner of a brand new surge, sadly from many reviews (including yours) the hr side of things isn’t up to scratch.
    the main point is tracking my heart rate throughout the day and being able to record all the data into a graph.
    Any help would be appreciated.

  141. Cecille Villaruel

    Hi guys!

    I’ll be buying my very first multisport watch and I want to be able to buy one that will last me several years. I’ve read great reviews about the Garmin Forerunner 920xt, Fenix 3, and Epix. At this point, I’m already confused as to which one to get. Any thoughts? Which would be the best buy?

    Thanks!

    • Paul S

      Since the Epix and the Fenix 3 aren’t out yet, any reviews you’ve read are either lots of marketing hype or reviews of units that don’t have release software yet. So if I were you, I’d wait until they’re actually released and DC Rainmaker has posted his reviews here before making a decision. If you can’t wait, the 920 XT has been out for months, so anything recent you read about that is based on actual use.

  142. Serge Vartan

    Hi Ray! Thank you for your great reviewes! I`v bought Garmin FR220 and enjoing a lot! I think you should correct your rating for 2014 where Polar M400 beat FR220. May be they are in different segments. FR220 is the best in their price categore as running watch and M400 may be the best multisport and activities tracker. But for pure runners FR220 the best choice:
    1. Cadence info
    2. Vibro alarm
    3. Automaticaly use internal accel. when lost signal GPS
    4. Longer life batt.
    5. Garmin connect flexebility
    6. Less weight
    7. Real durable.
    Tnak you!!!

    • Hi Serge-

      Thanks. There’s nothing wrong with the FR220 – it’s a great little watch.

      But, at the same time, it’s not a better value for the money, which is a key factor in my recommendation. For many people, the M400 is simply a more capable watch these days. It includes daily activity and sleep tracking (the FR220 doesn’t), it includes upcoming Bluetooth Smart alerts and music control (the FR220 doesn’t), and includes multiple sport profiles (the FR220 doesn’t). The weight and battery life are a wash. And the cadence and internal accelerometer are also a wash, since Polar is adding that shortly too. Durability is a wash too.

      Cheers.

  143. Jack Shi

    Some of us at my company is thinking of having a sort of charity fitness event where people who do not hit the monthly goals have to donate to a charity. I was thinking of tracking steps as that would apply to walking and running, the two most common activities and every activity tracker on the market tracks steps. But it could be something else too like distance traveled, or hours spent exercising, sleep, etc. I’m not sure which and if there is a good social web platform to use as many of these trackers have their own website/app or do not share data easily. Alternatively, if there is a cheap device with good social features, we can try to get most people to buy one.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Jack

    • Paul S

      Hours, probably. Steps is completely useless for all sorts of activities, like cycling, cross country skiing, rowing, etc. (basically everything that doesn’t involve feet impacting on the ground).

      If I worked for a company like that, I’d probably tell them to go do something anatomically impossible. I can choose to contribute to charities and to exercise on my own, thanks. Not that I’d have any trouble making the hours (steps I probably would, since I don’t run or typically walk a lot during the day, maybe 2 miles), but the whole idea is off putting, unless it’s completely voluntary.

    • Jack Shi

      Thanks for the reply. This would be completely optional. I would hate this too if it is involuntary. I think it would be a nice way to encourage people to exercise more and connect people together.

      The thing about hours is that I may walk 8 hours on a weekend like a 20-mile walk coming up and another person might do CrossFit for 1 hour. It would be a lot harder for the high intensive workout person to reach that goal or to reasonably compare between people. So we might need some sort of scaling.

      Thanks again,
      Jack

    • Lew

      You’ve identified a key issue with trying to put a metric on such a widely varied thing like “activity”. Steps are fine for stuff that involves stepping, and is something most people can mentally grasp. But it does nothing for a swimmer, cyclist, or weight lifter.

      Closest I’ve seen to a scaled-to-your-particulars metric is the Nike+ Fuelpoint concept. It’s intentionally a made-up measure and supposedly the fuelbands and other stuff normalize the fuelpoints. Also has an app as well as a web social platform with the ability to form groups I believe.

    • Paul S

      Absent more serious equipment like at least a HR monitor, I don’t see what you can do about that problem. And on your 20 mile walk, if you spend an hour walking up a mountain, you may actually work harder for that hour than someone who’s doing an hour of crossfit. It’s not that easy to compare with just an “activity tracker”.

      There’s also the problem of cheating. If you choose steps, for example, the guy with a paint can shaker or equivalent at home can just do the obvious. In the end, the output of these devices are all just files, and anyone with the technical know how can just manufacture the files, without breaking a sweat.

      So it’s best not to worry the details too much, I’d say. Since it’s voluntary and if the rewards aren’t too high there probably won’t be much to worry about with either comparing whatever metric you choose over various activities or from cheating.

  144. Ben

    Hi there,

    Great reviews…but it is so hard to make a choice!
    My Garmin 610 is coming to the end of its life… it looks like the heat and humidity in Singapore didn’t help.
    I am a runner and only swim or cycle for cross training (once a week).
    I am still hesitating between the 620 and 920 as a replacement (I want to go Garmin). The reason: I am doing more and more ultra.
    The 620 would be ok for my training (as long as I recharge once or twice a week). But I can’t take it for the races as the battery wouldn’t last enough! And I would love to see some of the races on my Garmin records (like the Comrades and maybe Hong Kong100 next year).
    What would you recommend?

    By the way, I used to leave near Michel Bizot. I miss my morning runs in Bois de Vincennes and along river Marne! I am now fighting with the heat and humidity in Singapore…

  145. Lisa

    Hi there, I was looking for a side by side comparison for the basis peak and the fitbit surge however I’m unable to select them both. Can you advice how I can obtain? Thanks!

  146. Lisa

    Hi there, I was looking for a side by side comparison for the basis peak and the fitbit surge however I’m unable to select them both on your comparison chart. Can you advice how I can obtain? Thanks!

  147. Lisa

    Hi there, I was looking for a side by side comparison for the basis peak and the Fitbit surge however I’m unable to select them both on your comparison chart. Can you advise how I can obtain? Thanks!

  148. Rob

    Hi. I have decided to invest in a running watch but there is one question i would love to have answered by a nice helpful person out there – it is very hilly where i run and my particular interest is in calories burned so my question is: Do any of these GPS watches automatically measure the differences in elevation and adjust the calorie burn automatically? Many thanks to anyone who can answer this, ta!

    • Most do not, but to be honest, there’s very little impact there from the folks I’ve talked with regarding it. Pretty much negligible.

    • Rob

      Thanks for your reply. These guys are missing a trick I think, it’s a no brainer to me that running up or down hill consumes energy at a different rate! And the devices already register elevation, surely a relatively simple algorithm could be inserted. No matter, I jus assume that as ever they do the minimum amount to get a product to market. Can I trouble you then with one last question… What might be the closest corollary of this? For example does heart rate corollate at all with burn rate? I am quite interested in the fr 15 from your review….thanks for your help.

    • Paul S

      Not necessarily. Supposed you decided that you weren’t going to run up hills any more, but whenever you reached a hill, then you’d simply walk slowly up. Your power (calories/minute) might even go down, but you’d still eventually reach the top after supplying the required number of calories. As a practical matter, power is bigger going up than down, but that’s a choice, not a requirement. You don’t want to go that slow. And if you make that choice your heart rate will go up when you’re going up, so the typical algorithm (linear with HR) will show more calories burned per minute going up.

      As for the other question, look, for example, here or here, and there are lots of other links you can find that basically say the same thing. For aerobic activity in certain ranges of certain types, the correlation between heart rate and power/energy (calorie burn) is there, but there are big errors and lots of variability.

    • Rob

      Paul . Thanks for that, I see that it’s a lot more complicated than I thought and the most reliable measure of calories used is VO2. Even then the margin of error is huge.

      In the event, I bought an FR15 which I am very pleased with apart from some minor niggles such as the quietness of the notification bleeps. Despite the aformentioned error margins, my current rate of weight loss does correlate with what would be expected from the calorie burn figures from my FR 15 reports so whatever algorithm it is using it can’t be too wildly inaccurate!

  149. Craig

    Hi I am looking to invest in a watch that I can use to track my running and heart rate when I am playing touch rugby (similar to rugby but no tackling). It involves a lot of stop/start action, high intensity.

    I have read a lot of the reviews on your website and am still stuck as to what I should be buying as I have never owned a tracking watch before. I would like to be able to track how hard I have worked for the duration of match and be able to compare it against other games.

    Heart rate and distance are important to me, if I can track where I was on the field as well through the GPS that would be great.

    I am looking at a fairly budget watch at the moment, but these are the options I am considering:
    – Garmin Forerunner 10/15 Running Watch & HR Monitor
    – TomTom: Runner GPS Sports Watch
    – TomTom: Multi-Sport GPS Watch
    – Garmin Vivofit

    If there are any other that you think would be more suitable, that would be great. The TomTom Multisport seems like it would be great as it has a built in accelerometer.

    I hope you will be able to give me some advice.

    Thanks.

    Regards
    Craig`

  150. Paul

    Hello, Advice needed as I am going around in circles!!!!! lol

    About to embark on a new running programme and want a gps watch to support and guide me.

    I have read review after review and still non the wiser. I am stuck between the following:
    1. Tom Tom Cardio multisport
    2. Suunto Armbit 2
    3. Polar M400
    4. Garmin forerunner 220

    I don’t really swim but occasionally bike. I have just signed up for 2x 10km races and need the watch to support with programmes and push me in regards to training. I don’t want to spend a fortune (the wife wont let me, she thinks I wont use it) lol

    Any advice greatly appreciated
    Paul

  151. Phil

    Hi Ray. Thanks a lot. I’m looking to get my first HRM. I’ve read all your reviews, and now I’m trying hard to pick between the following:

    Viiiiva HRM strap
    Wahoo Tickr Run
    Scosche Optical HRM

    I run outdoors 5k – 10k, 2x a week and ride my bike about 20 miles once a week. I hop on a spin class about 2x/wk, run the indoor track and mostly cardio based HIIT workouts and strength training from my gym.

    I like the Tickr run’s built-in accelorometer which is handy when running on a treadmill or indoor track without getting a footpod. (Please correct me if I’m wrong) I like the bridging capability of the Viiiiva but I don’t own or plan to own more sensors than the HRM (I think) so the full compatibility issue with more than 1 sensor is negligible. I like the optical sensor of the Scosche and a smaller band to attach to your arm is a plus. I seem to like Wahoo’s fitness app since it offers additional custom workouts. Since these three are all ANT+ and Bluetooth capable, I can connect to my gym’s spin cycle machine (ANT+) and pair my iPhone 5s. I plan to get the Vivoactive when it’s out. Seems to me with Connect IQ, it has the upgrade capability in the future compared to the FR220.

    Having said that, can you give me your suggestion, having used all three? Thnaks in advanced I appreciate your expertise in the matters 🙂 Cheers!

  152. I like your articles a lot.

    I am not sure if you have any recommendations on time trial bikes.

    Please let me know.

    Thanks a lot!

    • When it comes to bikes themselves, I’m fairly useless to be honest. As long as it rolls I’m generally good. Ultimately with TT bikes though it really comes down to fit. Without a proper fit, much of the benefits of a TT bike are lost.

  153. Carolien

    Hi DC Rainmaker,

    I send you this message a little bit in despair since I am staring at my screen for the last two days trying to figure out which watch I should buy! To explain my situation, I hardly ever sport and I’m tired of having low energy and bad condition. Sometimes I try to do something about it (I had a fitness abo end of last year, I followed YouTube videos of Fitness Blender) but I give up quite early since it is just too hard, I don’t get to train at my own pace and, important for me, I mostly don’t know what I’m doing and lack solid information and guidance. SO I started surfing, and it looks like for me at this point it comes down to firstly start building up my condition and so most important to use HEART RATE as a guide. But I always kinda want it all, the best fit, all the information etc. etc. Moreover I have a Windows Phone which makes the choice even harder since I can hardly use any of de mobile applications. So i have to choose: app + heart rate band, Phone (music) + watch + heart rate band, use GPS in Phone or needed in watch. etc etc. Do you feel my problem 🙂 Anyhow I came to this limitation of options: Garmin Forerunner 220, Polar (RXC5, RC3 GPS, RCX3 or Mio). I want all the info but now I looked at your review of RC3 GPS I am afraid that in total all those watches are going to be too hard to follow… So, I would just like to ask your advice in this. Which watch would you recommend for a beginner, who needs enough information to keep focused but also really wants to see results and thus has to be able to sport effectively?!
    I would really really really appreciate it if you could give me some advice!!!
    Thanks in advance!!!!

  154. Damon

    Is there a cycling computer on the market the integrates with both Bluetooth and ANT+ for HR, Speed, Cadence, and Power Meter? This just seems easier that having dual-channel devices on your body, bike, and power meter.

  155. Rick

    Hi Ray/Readers,

    Thanks for the round-up. Being in the UK , i am subjected to strange pricing & I am looking for my first GPS watch. I primarily Run/Hike and do some cycling .I would like a foot in the door for the two. Its highly unlikely I’ll be getting censors for the bike.

    So at the moment , TT Runner/Multipsport/M400 are all priced nearly the same. Any tie breakers some one can suggest ?

    Cheers!

    • I’d go with the m400, unless you have a cycling cadence sensor, then I’d probably look at the TomTom Multisport.

      The other think to consider, if you can find a good price on it, would be the Ambit2 S – which in the states is just a touch bit more than the units you noted – but far more functional.

    • Rick

      Hi Ray

      Thanks for your response. Ambit2S is on my heart. The price across the ocean is absurd unfortunately.

      Pricing is

      Ambit2s with HRM – £220 (~330 USD)
      M400 with HRM – £145 (~220 USD)
      TT Multisport – £135 (~210 USD)

      I might try and get the ambit2s souced from states (friend etc) , else i’ll take your suggestion for the M400.

      Cheers!

  156. simonB

    I read with interest in your review that the 920xt incorporates pretty much all the features of previous Garmin watches, but has inferior barometric altimeter functionality.

    If money were no object, do you think the Fenix 2 better for trail running than the 920xt?

  157. Ale

    Hi, excelent job!! Can you tell me which activity tracker its the best 24×7 hr monitoring? thanks!!

    • It really depends on what you’re after and how much you want to spend. I’d look at features like whether optical HR matters, what type of notifications you want, and if stuff like workout support is of importance to you.

    • Ale

      It’s only for the daily tracking, because for the training I have the tomtom runner…

    • I’d look at the Fitbit units as a good overall solution.

    • Alan Tri

      I bought myself a Misfit Flash, and liked it so much I bought them for friends and family too on Black Friday. For a general-purpose-have-I-moved-today tool it’s great. It’s waterproof which was a must for me and it tracks sleep. I’m not saying the step count or distance is supreme (but it’s in the ballpark), for me it’s a consistent-with-itself device that gives you an idea of daily progress and also tells the time once you’ve grasped the way it does it.
      The IOS app is better then the Android one, both need BLE so check your phone if you want to benefit from stats and social aspects. The Flash doesn’t need to be told you’re in an activity or that you’re going to sleep, it just works it out and I’d say works it out well. It defaults activity to walk/run but can be told it was really swim / basketball / other and adjusts the “points’ score accordingly.
      For an entry level PLUS, I’d say get one of these and you’ll be amazed.

  158. KC

    Thanks for all the great reviews. I have had a FR305 for a long time. I do like the courses option (mainly for biking) if I go to new places. However, I never use the HR option since I hate wearing the strap. I would like a better (mainly competitive running with some “coaching” options, $250-300 range but some flexibility) GPS with optical HR options. The TT cardio seemed awesome but it seems to lack some basic runner options and no courses. Should I try to find a watch that does all: courses and optical HR (is there even one?), OR buy something like an Ambit2S and a separate optical HR wrist band (but this will add to the cost and now I have to charge two units, sync, etc.). Or should I compromise on for example courses and buy an awesome running watch and keep using the FR305 if I go places? Or should I wait until Garmin/Suunto/etc. start adding optical HR (but this might be forever?). Any suggestions? Thanks!

  159. John

    Looking for watch for cycling, running and walking. What would you reccommend?
    Thanks – fantastic website

  160. KC

    I picked a TT runner based on the internal accelerometer/cadence option but unfortunately I will have to return it. Given the fact that it had the internal accelerometer and cadence, I assumed it would display RUNNING cadence but it doesn’t. Which watches actually measure/track AND display RUNNING cadence? Maybe an idea to add to the tables? Also, is there a way to search for a specific feature in a unit?
    Thanks!

    • Pretty much everything but the TT unfortunately. Some of the lower end Garmin’s don’t (i.e. FR15 tracks it, but doesn’t display it on the unit). The Polar M400 will via update soon.

  161. James

    DC great review, I am about to get the Polar M400 and was wondering if the Rhythm+ would pair with it. Training for a marathon in August and would love to get the HR aspect of my training runs. I looked at the Fitbit Surge but if the HR is not that accurate than whats the point?

  162. Serguei

    Thanks for impressive work on reviewing all these devices. I have no experience with using them, so if my question is trivial, I apologize. Is it correct that with any GPS watch (no matter if equipped with altimeter or not) one may still get route information with elevation data after connecting to a (for example) PC and using an application that plots the route on a map? Since I’m not a pilot or mountaineer, for me it is not so important to have precise information about elevation change I’m going through while running/skiing/cycling as I am doing it, but it is more important to be able to analyze/plan my routes offline.

  163. Silumet

    I’m starting to run more, and I can’t stand carrying my phone with me during the runs. I am looking in to GPS running watches, but I’m having trouble biting the bullet, especially on a student’s budget. I have about $150 that I can afford to spend on a watch. I’ve looked through your reviews, and the two I am leaning towards are the TomTom Runner or the Garmin FR15. I don’t need many fancy features, just time and distance. I’ve looked at prices for both on Amazon, and the Runner and the FR15 are $130 and $140 respectively. Which would you recommend for me?

    Thank you for providing such a valuable resource for athletes everywhere. Your reviews are in-depth and very helpful.

    • Both are solid products. The TomTom can download/connect via Bluetooth Smart to your phone, whereas the FR15 can’t. On the flipside, the FR15 has daily step/activity tracking, whereas the TomTom doesn’t.

      I’m not sure you’ll really go wrong with either. I think in general the Garmin Connect platform is better than TomTom (well, not in general, it’s just far better). But, at the same time, the TomTom watch itself has a bit more flexibility than the Garmin.

  164. Raul

    Hey Ray, I wanted to get an up to date overview of what’s on the market on ‘slave displays’. I thought this would be a section in this post but nothing on it. Did you write anything on it lately? (saw all the RFLKT things, & Echo)
    It’s hard to search as the device type hasn’t got a definite name yet. (as far as I know, kinda like mine :-)). Googled for ‘external display’ once and got only computer related info……
    Oh yes: and this one: Garmin 810 speed reg sequence is 1. Powertap 2. speed sensor 3. GPS?? I always wondered how PT knows your wheel specs……assuming is not getting any feedback from 810. Am I right that Garmin software only determines wheel size once? (automatically)

    • It’s still kinda limited really to Wahoo (RFLKT) and Magellan Echo.

      You did have Casio, leveraging the same API as well. And Timex, leveraging a variant of it for some of their recent units. Though, both seem to have kinda sputtered out.

      You’ve also got Cateye and the Strava Smart, but it’s a bit different there in that it’s more of a combination sensor display and classic simple bike computer.

      Finally, you have Suunto that did a little bit with the Ambit3 and using an external display (your phone), but that also seems to have been implemented with limited usefulness.

  165. Raul

    Thanks a lot! Pretty strange it’s relatively quiet; this is the most logic development. I wanna get rid of this bulky thing on my bar!! Still some things that I haven’t noticed. (who ever decided to let a day only have 1.440 minutes?)
    What about the speed measuring?

  166. Ed Pilkington

    162 Breckonshire Drive Boone, NC
    Wonderful job you do! Thanks!
    Can you tell me why my Tom Tom MultiSport Cardio with altimeter will read my speed as 16mph on the watch while riding on my trainer and then report on My Sports Connect, when I upload, that my speed was 3.74 mph? There are two speed readouts on the watch and the second one seems to be the one that is uploaded to MySports Connect. I have used a mileage converter to confirm the speeds are accurate but i wish the readout in My Sports Connect, Runkeeper and Strava would print out the the speed in miles per hour .

  167. Roger La Coco

    With respect to the Optical Heart Rate Sensor: Scosche RHYTHM+

    I am waiting for the second wave of the “Superwatch” fitness trackers to be released in the hopes that most of the more serious contenders (Garmin, Suunto) will follow Fitbits lead with the optical HRM built into the device.

    In the interim my old Garmin 405 (indestructible!) HRM strap on has died, and am wanting to get accurate calories burnt data from my runs, Boxing, RPM.

    Will this pair with a Garmin 405 given its so old?, also will this accurately record calories burnt for boxing or cross fit sessions if using a Wahoo fitness app on my iphone whilst keeping my iphone in my gym bag, but within 100M? And assume ill need to buy the cadence footpod to track calories burnt during RPM session?

  168. Carmela

    Hi!

    I’m in love of your job! I love to dive in the different webs looking for my best…car, camera, phone,…and so on.

    Now, I need your best recommendation because I’m a little confused.

    My main training is indoor cycling (three times a week), and not so often, walking, and running (this one with low frequency and short distances and same circuit).

    By that, I prefer a high quality heart rate monitor watch that indicates the heart rate zones as could be Polar RCX3, RCX5, I don`t like FT60 because has only three zones.I knor both RCXs are from 2012.

    GPS is not needed for me, because I use my samsung as GPS with runstatic and for listening music, but as it´s said “more sugar more sweet”.

    I’ve also been looking RC3 GPS (2012?) and M400 (2104), perhaps I think I’ll missed the GPS in the watch. This will not be a doubt for me if I can joint the GPS files got with my phone and the files saved in my heart monitor watch.

    Very important, heart rate monitor must be coded to avoid interferences with others pulsometers beside me in the gym.

    Could you give me your best opinion about which watch to buy?

    Sorry, I’m spanish and my english is very rusty.

  169. Mike

    All – looking for some help / advice from anyone willing to share. I’m a casual-to-competitive runner hoping to start getting into tri’s at some point. My running, when not training for a race, consisted of approximately 10 to 12 miles a week and I had worked my pace down to roughly 7:30. Then I ruptured my achilles in the left ankle and have been working back up since (it’s been about a year and a half).

    Anyway – as we move to the spring I’ll start running outside and was hoping to get recommendations on a GPS watch that may fit my profile. When I say competitive, I mean competitive with myself meaning I try to get better, faster and build up more endurance. Any suggestions on what to get? I have experience with Nike+ Watches but that since has broken. My friends use Garmin and generally like them. Hoping for some specifics (models, etc.) and if I should look into a multisport watch (Fenix2/3 etc.).

    Thanks!
    Mike

  170. Rob

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and with a little cajoling from my kids I’m looking to start C25k. Doing walks to get myself a little better prepared I’ve been using my phone (S5) for steps/map my walk tracking. Reading your recent reviews of the activity trackers I wondered if something like the vivofit/vivosmart would give more information/stats or are the lower end FR watches a better buy?

    Thanks!

    Rob

    • It’ll give you some good stats, though to be fair probably not much more than the S5 will already.

      I’d almost look at more like the FR10/FR15 as far as just geting a good and simple GPS watch that lets one leave the phone behind. While the Vivofit and Vivosmart are good little wrist units, if you’re alread doing activity tracking with your phone, I’d just focus on a running-only device.

      On the flipside, if you want to combine the devices, then I’d look at the Polar M400 or FR15. For me, it’s just not quite as easy to use the Vivosmart/Vivofit for run pacing.

  171. Daniel

    Hi there,
    Is there any running watch that allows you to adjust the distance on the fly? Say, you’re in a race and you’re passing the sign for Mile #10 but your watch shows 10.2mi. If you could by the click of a button round up the distance to the closest mile, and that would in turn adjust your average pace.

  172. Chris

    How important is the ability to read heart rate while swimming for proper metrics? I’m having a hard time deciding between the Garmin Fenix 3 and the Polar V800. Both seem equally matched in regards to feature set for the training I’m doing but the V800 can monitor heart rate while swimming.

    Is that a feature worthy of going with the V800 or is there something I’m not thinking about that makes the Fenix 3 the better choice?

    • I’d rate HR while swimming as super-low. For one, it just doesn’t work well for most men, since the strap often pushes down around the waist when pushing off, due to water pressure. I’d go F3.

  173. Ton Yeung

    Looking for Activity Monitor (sleep + 24/7 HR rest/exercise). Read your reviews of Fitbit Surge and Basis Peak, and both seem to have difficulty with accuracy during exercise. Is there anything else out there I might have missed?

    • Unfortuantely, that’s about it. There’s the Mio Fuse, but it lacks 24x HR.

    • Ton Yeung

      I was afraid that would be the case. Do you know of anything else being released within the next 3-4 months that might be a contender?

    • At this point we’ve seen new products from all the majors already announced, so I wouldn’t expect anything.

    • Alan Tri

      Misfit Shine & Flash?
      I have the Flash and am really happy. It seems super-accurate on sleep tracking – don’t need to tell it, it just works it out (somehow).
      For me, if you want accuracy, pay the money and buy a GPS watch, but for “all day” kind of info, the important thing is that the device is consistent with itself day after day. You can get similar stats from an iPhone or Android with their apps but I don’t take my phone swimming, or running, and the battery life ain’t great once you start tracking GPS signals IMO.
      If you know what you want, go and match the device capabilities.
      If you’re not sure, buy yourself a Flash (it’s entry-level cheap) and see what you learn.

    • Ton Yeung

      @alan as i mentioned in my first post, I’m looking for sleep AND all day HR monitoring (resting & exercise). if the shine/flash had heart rate monitor i’d consider it. I don’t really see any value in the GPS, i’m more interested in the biometric side of things. I never mentioned using my phone for anything.

    • Alan Tri

      My bad, I had read “HR” as hour – 24 hour, not as Heart Rate.

  174. kolosanyi

    Hi!

    Somebody help me please, I’m a little bit confused. I’m planning to buy a watch (band etc.) to monitor my workouts. I’m at a university in Hungary and I will be a firefighter after I graduated. We have 2 P.E. exams in every year and it’s quite complex. There is running in the exam, weight lifting, and basic bodyweight exercises. They are all involved in my training sessions. So I do a lot of strenght training (mostly bodyweight exercises, gymnastic style training and some heavy lifts) and runnig. I’m not a dintance runner, my longest run is usually 10 km-s in hilly roads, sometimes 15 km-s in winter times. As soon as the weather turns good, I switch to intensive interval runs (200/400/800 m intervals). Besides that I do a little bit of swimming, usually once a week for an hour, in a pool.

    So I’m looking for a gadget that can measure hearth rate (accuracy is important, I’m not interested in the average consumer bands/watches), distance (I prefer GPS measurement but I can live without it), it can be used in the pool and it has a stopwatch function for the interval runs. The Tomtom Multisport Cardio seems to be appropriate, but it’s too expensive for me. I chacked Mio products, I like the Fuse, but it lacks the stopwatch function. Adidas Fit Smart would be great, I like the phone integration, but I don’t know anything about the pool usage. So I can’t decide, which could be my choice. Is there a proper fitness gadget for this situation or my Polar H7 and smartphone apps (I use Runtastic and Myfitnesspal for 1,5 years) is better for me?

    • kolosanyi

      I’ve forgot to mention, I checked the Garmin Vivoactive, but it’s not available in our country officially yet and the unofficial retailer keeps the price relatively high. The Polar M400 is not a bad watch, but it can’t measure strokes etc. in the pool.

  175. Creston Fenn

    Looking to get a watch for day and multiple day hiking, running, and maybe biking. I have been looking at the Suunto Ambit3 Peak. Is this watch too much for me? I don’t mind pay extra for an outstanding watch that does everything I want and is top of the line. Key things that I want are:
    1. I want to know my pace
    2. Want to know my last mile
    3. Would like maps that are created from the hike or run but this is not an absolute must
    4 I run every day and hike 3-4 times a years. So, i want it for both but will use it more for running more.
    5. Takes splits
    6. I do like the VO2 max estimator but this is not a must
    7. Good strong gps signal
    Thanks for your help!!

    • Hi Creston-

      Yup, the Ambit3 will easily do all of those things, so no issues there! That said, the non-Peak edition of the Ambit3 will also do all those things, as well will the Ambit2 series. So something to keep in mind.

      Cheers.

  176. apd317

    Hi,

    I’ve been looking to buy my first GPS watch to help track my running. I am stuck between the FR220 and M400. I read your review and saw that you mentioned that price would be the biggest factor that gives the M400 the edge. However, I have an opportunity to buy a FR220 for $175 and the M400 for $150. What do you think would be the better purchase at those price points?

    Thanks!

  177. Ash

    Ray – recently discovered the site as I’m looking for a fitness tracker watch and your site seems to have a great selection of reviews. Well done and thanks.

    Reason for this message is that I’m looking for a fitness tracker watch that has GPS, built-in HRM (don’t want the chest strap), ability to track activities such as run/swim/cycle/sleep, and a built-in MP3 player (this is where I’m not finding anything) so that I can listen to music without having to take my phone/another device out too – and I don’t know if this last bit actually exists but would have thought it would or will soon…

    Do you know of anything that fits the bill?

    Many thanks in advance

  178. Marques

    I guess this would be the right place to put this.

    I’ve been eyeing the Garmin 920XT/910XT or a 620 and a swim. I run 3-4 times a week and with the spring rolling in I’m looking to swim and bike more often. I never competed in a Triathlon , I just learned how to swim, so maybe one day in the future. I love technology and metrics though which is why 920 seems to be calling my name. I don’t really care for the step counter. As a beginner basically to all the 3 sports I’m wondering which device would be best investment for the next 2-5 years, Connect IQ looks so promising. Also as a beginning biker would it even be worth it getting a vector biking system for a mountain bike or speed/cadence pods? I know I need foot pods for running on threadmills and a HRM as well.

    • I’d definitely go with the 920XT, primarily because you’re looking for a longer term investment and because of the swim aspects.

      I wouldn’t get Vector at this point though for where you are sport-wise. I think over the next few months you’ll see power meter prices drop significantly if 4iiii’s accuracy testing pans out (I’m sitting here waiting for FedEx to delivery it to me any moment), so we should know soon…

    • Marques

      Thanks for the quick response. Forgot to add I have a Windows phone not to sure on all the connectivity with power meters and such just starting to read up on them to get educated. I’ll read the reviews on what you have in here and see where to go from there. Thanks again

  179. Lindsey

    Hi there,
    I would love to get your opinion on something. I have read a lot of your reviews and spent way too much time researching, but I think what I am looking for doesn’t exist. 🙂 I would like a watch that has GPS and a built in heart rate monitor and you can swim with it. Smart alerts and stuff are good but not necessary. I like the idea of a fitness tracker also. I know I may need to just give up the built in heart rate, but I don’t like wearing the strap and I like to be able to work out and not have to remember the strap. It seems the really nice watches like Garmin 920xt don’t have built in heart rate monitor. Then lower end ones like Fitbit Surge don’t have good GPS and aren’t waterproof. I like the Tom Tom MultiSport Cardio, but wanted to see what your thoughts are on the best all around watch. Thank you in advance.

    • Lindsey

      I really like the navigation ability of the FENIX 3 because I really like to plot a run ahead of time. Are there other watches that have that ability? With heart rate monitor built in? And Waterproof? Or am I crazy?

    • The challenge is this part “GPS and a built in heart rate monitor and you can swim with it.” – There are none that exist today. The TomTom Multisport does that, but you can’t really use the optical sensor and capture swim metrics at the same time.

      As far as plotting a workout ahead of time, most of the Garmin lineup above $200 includes that functionality (except the Vivoactive).

  180. Gary

    Question more than a comment.

    I have a Moactv that was never tied to the portal. is there a way to get the data to any system for review? All the posts I have found and tried assume there was a connection to the Motorola Portal.

    Is there a good alternative device, frustrated? I like the GPS,Bluetooth for headphones, MP3 with performance and song comparison,and cadence tracking all in 1 device.

    No way to review, no support and rude people at Motorola.

    I am in my mid 50’s and starting to run to live to be a real old man.

    Thanks in advance

    • There’s a bit of commentary on the older Motoactive Review I did, within the comments, with solutions people have cobbled together. May want to check that.

      Otherwise, today for devices that are similar – you’d basically have to look at the Adidas Smart Run GPS.

  181. Chad Brosius

    Hi,

    I might have missed it but what is the recommended speed/cadence meter that is compatible with a Garmin Foreunner 305. I plan to use it on a Specialize Roubaix?

    Thanks

    C Brosius

  182. rob

    Do any of the watches you review work well with an andriod tablet? It seems everything is based round phones, I detest running with my phone and no longer have a laptop so am entirely tablet based.

  183. Eduardo nasta

    for ultra running 30+ hours what would be the best watch option with great battery / gps accuracy?
    i dont care for any extras but that.

    i have a 920xt right now and the accuracy is awful.

    thanks

  184. Frederik

    Hi Ray,

    Concerning cycling navigation:
    with Connect IQ being included on all new units,
    should we expect to see a replacement to the 810,
    or do you think it’s possible the 810/1000 will get Connect IQ?

    I’m looking for a cycling navigation unit,
    but would hate to buy one now,
    only to be left out of the Connect IQ ecosystem.

  185. Andrew C

    Hi Ray, thanks for the in-depth reviews!

    I’ve been running with the old forerunner 205 for quite some time, and I’m looking to upgrade my gps watch. I use it almost exclusively for running. In addition to gps, it would ideally have a good running log software (capable of syncing to my iPhone), and a built-in HRM. The other features aren’t deal-breakers. I would prefer to stay under $300, but it’s not crucial. Also- if there isn’t a really great and economical option right now, do you think there will be a better option in the next 1-2 months? (Do you expect garmin to release a successor to the 220 or 620 that has a built-in HRM anytime soon?)

    Thanks!

  186. Alex

    Garmin is currently offering a $25 rebate on the FR220 (and $50 on the FR620) – now that the price difference is down to $45, would this change your recommendation for the mid-range running watch?

    Personally, I have absolutely no use for daily activity tracker or multi-sport functions (I’ll use it for running only), which is why I’m questioning the Polar M400 and have ruled out the Vivoactive completely. (Excellent reviews on all btw)

    • Generally doesn’t change it for most. If you have no interest in smartphone related functions (i.e. notifications, activity tracker, etc…) – then the FR220 is probably a better running-specific watch than the M400. Only barely. Whereas at $70, it’s always been hard to recommend the FR220 over the M400 for pure road running.

  187. David Fishman

    Do you have a suggestion for a GPS watch that has a heart rate monitor on the watch. I dont want a strap. I want the watch to include the heart rate monitor…take it from pulse….. for running marathons?

  188. Which GPS watches can record while charging from a USB battery and how well does that work? I think you mentioned the Vivoactive and Fenix, how about TomTom or others? My Forerunner 10 does not and the 4-5 hour battery life is not even close to long enough for the 140.6 tri’s and 100 mile runs I do now. It was very reliable until it mysteriously started taking much longer to find satellites, over 5 minutes. I have tried a 910XT and had the ANT+ stick die after a week, finally returning it when Garmin refused to replace the stick without a troubleshooting session. I also returned a Fenix 2 which froze on me three times on longer races.
    I don’t think the reduced sampling modes will work well for me, so I’d ideally like a reliable waterproof unit with a battery large enough to record for 50+ hours at 1s intervals. This may not exist yet in a watch, and I’m not keen on using a footpod GPS though I hear they work well. Right now I’m using my cell phone with Strava for longer runs and rides.

    • Pretty much No, unfortunately not. Essentially it’s just the Garmin’s, and within that, really only the Fenix series (1/2/3), Tactix, and Vivoactive. Some of the older ones sorta support it (FR910XT/310XT/305), but have varying limitations.

      I’d note that the Fenix3 is a totally different beast (codebase), than the Fenix2), fwiw.

  189. Brian

    Could use some advice, on possibly updating to a new device. I very rarely run outdoors, but I do cycle, and swim a good bit. I currently run a Polar S725x with Speed and Cadence for cycling, And run Endomondo for my tracking of routes, and online syncing of MFP, I had dropped the watch for a little while and just used Endo since I use my phone for music. Then I wore the watch and endo and realized calorie burned were any where from 150-400 calories, greater on Endo. Polar said due t the own index etc the 725x is more precise.

    So I started using Polar Beat, but noticed the same thing it was a few hundred calories over, but it did import into Flow, but I was unable to adjust any of the data when imported.

    So I really don’t think I need the V800 but not sure if the M400 or A300 would work, I’d like to have most of my data in one place, instead of having HR in one spot and GPS speed data on another. Not sure how running polar beat for distance without HR and flow with HR, would merge the data. Any suggestions. Hopefully this is somewhat a coherent post. Thanks for your time.

  190. Haroon

    Hey Ray. Big fan of the site, you do great work.

    Was wondering if you will be posting a Spring/Summer 2015 recommendation guide any time soon? Was interested to see how the recent price reduction in the Adidas Smart Run GPS would impact your recommendations for moderate-priced GPS running watches.

    Thanks!

  191. Koen

    Ray,

    I couldn’t find it in your review, or maybe I just haven’t read them thoroughly enough. I’m looking for a tracker on my bike. Now I’m using my Garmin FR220 but I’m not that fond of using it on my bike for a few reason, 1. GPS seems to take quite a while before it catches up on my speed, 2. I always seem to forget to switch the data fields before I start a workout (so I’m stuck tracking km/h when running and on ‘pacing’ while ridding my bike), 3. Attaching the watch onto my bike properly is a bit harmful for the strap of the watch, 4. Everytime I upload workouts onto strava/sporttracks.mobi/GC I need to adjust it afterwards manually. So predominantly I’m looking for a unit with whom I can 1. which gives me an instant speed (I’ll guess I’ll need a speedsensor to achieve this) while it keeps track of the route i’ve went on (no navigation, just tracking), 2. which is ANT+ compatible with my HRM-strap and 3. Not that expensive, I’m using my bike more and more (1-2 times per week) but I’m not willing to invest a lot of money in a device since it doesn’t have to do that much.

    • Hi, this is what I am in a quandry about, not sure if to get 2 devices, garmin 200 and FR15 or one unit like the TomTom Multisport with HRM etc.

      The price is more or less the same here in the UK, but as the RainMaker has said products that are not overally complicated just work so I am really in two minds now, was looking at the Garmin VivoActive but thinking would I use the features.

      Just want something that has a little more shelf life as been using the FR305 which is a little dated now, takes for ever to pick up GPS!

  192. Raul

    It doesn’t have to to that much? Still a couple of things.
    Hate to put it on the bike? Then keep it on your wrist! You’re using a running device on a bike so you should accept compromises.
    Forgetting to switch it to the right discipline? Again: a compromise! And why not get used to speed instead of tempo for running? Tempo is from the days when we couldn’t measure our speeds!!!

    • Koen

      “You’re using a running device on a bike so you should accept compromises.”
      That’s why I’m looking for an another device for cycling.

      It comes in very unhandy when you have to check your wrist while riding. It wouldn’t be a safe option for me;) Tempo in terms of speed isn’t useful for me when I’m running.

  193. Raul

    Use yr phone, buy 2 external displays and sell yr FR! Most modern! Or buy a 2nd hand bike computer, like Edge 500.

  194. Aaron

    Looking for the best all-around watch/HRM. On any given week, I might swim, bike, run, paddle board, or use the machines at the gym (in addition to working out). Ideally, I’d like something to monitor heart rate without the use of a strap. Does this sort of device exist? not looking to go all out with training and pace – I just want to have a better idea of my fitness levels, etc.

    I’m also confused if I should buy a watch, or a HRM and sync it to my phone (which I have all of the time anyway).

  195. nebrejen

    Helll Ray,
    Yesterday i wrote a comment but i dont know why its not posted..
    I will ask one more time my question.
    I have read many pages from your blog. By the way-great job!
    Im football(soccer) player so i need gps watch for my training. It will be used mainly for pure running, during my football sessions or in the gym(also during strength training on the pitch).
    Could you suggest me some pieces from any price range?
    Thanks in advance!

  196. JJ Lee

    Ray,

    Should I get the Wahoo TICKR RUN if I want to do both cycling and running? I know the TICKR Run does some extra stuff which adds to the price premium over the basic Wahoo TICKR, but will the cadence information and other run analytics transfer over to other iOS/Android apps? If not, then I think I may be better off with the TICKR unless I also use the Wahoo app. I don’t want to spend the extra $20 if I don’t have to.

    • It’s really up to you. I don’t find much of a benefit of the TICKR RUN since the analytics are only within the Wahoo app. As noted, my preference is really the Scosche.

  197. Raul

    1. Check if data is ‘coded’
    2. Whether data will be used depends on the app
    3. Are strap rundata as accurate as those gathered by a pod? Ray has tested this I guess. Pod costs more that 20 bucks.

    • While I think Fellrnr does some interesting tests, I do not find it representative of how everyone uses watches. He focuses on them from a trail runners perspective. His tests are exclusively done on a single run section (just repeated over and over again), mostly all trail focused.

      He also ranks watches that connect to footpods considerably higher, which while interesting, it’s applicable to most runners (plus, the M400 connects to a footpod not anyway.

  198. Uhagen

    Thank you so much for the great work. Also based on your reviews I just picked up a Suunto Ambit 2R and am really enjoying it. Took me just about an hour to make simple but really useful apps like marathon finish time prediction based on distance run and rolling average pace.

    It starts to appear nicely discounted now and I would think that at $150-170 it should be a really worthy competitor in the mid-range.

  199. Matt

    I always turn to your reviews when looking for reliable and accurate information. I have a question… (Forgive me if I missed it in the thread above) Lets talk Ultra Running. I own a 910xt and love it and it is hands down the best Tri watch and “running” watch I have ever owned, and I have owned a few. As I run further and further I wonder about its battery life with the GPS running. After all, the fun of a hard 50- 100 miler is seeing the GPS and elevation and not simply the footpod data.

    Do you have an”Ultra” watch for best in category?

    Thanks!

    • Right now the ideal upgrade path for you would be the Fenix3. But it’s having some teething issues on the ultra side specifically (notably around trails/trees and shorting the distance on turns). Garmin says they’re working on a firmware update for it, but don’t have a specific release time.