Sun - January 29, 2006

Review: Garmin Forerunner 305 Wrist-Mounted GPS Personal Training Device - First Look from Paddler's Perspective


Garmin Forerunner 305

Rob Mousley from South African surfski.info provides a quite extensive review of the new Garmin Forerunner 305, a watch style gps unit equipped with a heart rate monitor after he paddled with the new Forerunner over a weekend. It must be the first independent public review worldwide of the Forerunner 305. Rob is currently using the Forerunner 301.

According to amazon.com the new gps will be released in US on February 13. As soon as my old Garmin Etrex Vista or my Polar heart monitor dies I will be shopping for the new Forerunner unless Garmin develops something new by then.

Below, I am quoting some highlights from Rob's review:
First Impressions

The unit really looks the part of a new generation – the case feels far more robust and the screen has a far higher resolution than that of the 301. The heart rate monitor strap also has the appearance of much better quality; it’s softer and more comfortable too.

What I like

  • The robust case.
  • The high definition screen.
  • The added functionality.
  • MotionBased.com. (Most of which is free to use)
What I don’t like
  • The units generally cost about R1000 more in South Africa than in the US. “Grey” imports are not supported by the local distributor so you’re taking a chance if you bring them in yourself.
  • The antenna design, which is optimized for running, not paddling. (It doesn’t seem to be an issue though. My test unit worked just fine.)
  • The USB port on the cradle; my USB cable did not fit snugly, about 2mm of the metal tongue being visible outside the socket. It should plug snugly all the way in.
  • The cost of the advanced features MotionBased.com!

Summary

If I could afford the estimated retail price of R3200, I’d buy one of these units like a shot. As it is, I’ll be content with my 301 unit that, let’s face it, provides me with all the training and recording functionality that I need. When the 301 dies, I’ll upgrade.


Highlights from Garmin technical specifications:

  • Sleek, stylish, lightweight design that "wraps" the GPS antenna around part of the wrist for a better view of the sky, improving reception during training
  • High-sensitivity GPS receiver provides faster acquisition times and improves tracking under trees and near tall buildings
  • Robust wireless heart rate monitor with softer, more comfortable chest strap eliminates cross-talk with other devices and helps you train in your zone
  • Customizable screens let you view up to 12 data fields on 3 data screens for immediate feedback on the information you need most when training
  • Multi-sport™ capability lets you seamlessly transition between sports without resetting the unit, so you can use it for running, biking, and more
  • Easy to use — no calibration required. Just turn it on and go
  • Courses feature lets you download recorded courses and compete against previous workouts
  • Auto Pause® pauses and resumes training timer based on a specified speed so you never have to start or stop the timer
  • Auto Lap® records lap data when you reach a specified time, distance or position so you never have to punch the lap button
  • Virtual Partner™ lets you train against a digital person at specified time, distance or pace goals
  • AutoScroll™ cycles through data pages during a workout
  • Monitor your pedaling cadence as you ride with the purchase of the GSC 10. Like the heart rate monitor, this self-calibrating, wireless speed/cadence sensor uses the same robust wireless technology to measure and report your pedaling strokes per minute.

Certainly, the new Forerunner has a plenty of great features, great for training or for the virtual racing.

The simpler model, Forerunner 205, has similar features to the 305, but does not include a heart rate monitor. As usual with the new model release it should be possible to get a better deal when buying the older Forerunner models: 301, 201, 101.

You can see a picture of the Forerunner 205 worn on a wrist in GIZMODO. It is not a small watch ...

Do you have experience with the Forerunner 301, Timex Bodylink or other GPS units with heart rate monitors? MotionBased services?

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Posted at 06:17 PM    


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