Friday 18 July 2008

Garmin Forerunner 405Garmin Forerunner 405

Left QuoteI've been looking for a new gizmo ... something to record my heart rate and tell me how many calories I've used when I go windsurfing and cycling. From what I could see, most heart rate monitors (HRM) attach round the chest but a few take their readings from the watch itself. I've read that wrist pickups are notoriously unreliable, so I guess if anything is going to fit the bill, it'll have to use a chest strap.

From there, I started looking at watches with built-in GPS, so I could record speed, distance, and where I've been, as well as heart rate. I wasn't too bothered about displaying maps on the screen, as long as it could record everything and display it at a later date.

/photos/garmin_forerunner_305.jpgVarious running and windsurfing websites recommended the Garmin Forerunner 305, which seems to do everything I wanted. You can even upload the data and see your routes on Google Maps. Nice!

The 305 costs around £160 with HRM, which is reasonable enough, and has been recommended for windsurfing use by various different sources ... but look at the size of the thing! I'm not sure I really want something that size on my wrist.

The next contender was the Suunto X9i, expensive at almost £300, but fully waterproof and much tidier-looking than the Forerunner.

/photos/suunto_x9i.jpgIt does everything I'm after too - mapping, heartrate, speed, distance etc, and it looks great. £300 however, is a lot of money for a training watch. I then heard that Garmin are in the process of releasing the successor to the 305, the imaginatively named 405, containing all the features of the 305, but in a tidy watch-sized unit.

Here it is then, the Garmin Forerunner 405. It's only a little more expensive than the 305, and considerably cheaper than the Suunto. Unfortunately, being so new, there are very few reviews available, so I had to do a lot of research before I could find out enough to seal the deal. I couldn't find a single bad word said about it though, so went ahead and got one.

/photos/garmin_forerunner_405.jpgI'm so pleased with it! The training screens are customisable, and can display any number of the 35 available data fields. Not all of them are particularly useful (I'm not sure I'll ever need a real-time heart rate graph) but the amount of information it can display is phenomenal. I've set mine up to display (on 2 separate screens) current time, distance traveled, total time, current speed, heart rate and calories used.

The 405 comes with it's own Bluetooth-like device, and software which can either download your data to PC, or upload it to Garmin's own website Garmin Connect. First impressions of the website are slow and a bit basic, but Garmin say they are busy transferring all the functionality from their old site MotionBased so by the end of 2008 it should have the map player and community working on Garmin Connect.

In the meantime, here's a quick 30-minute ride I did to test everything out. Sweet!Right Quote

Next article: Bournemouth Pier to Pier Swim (21 July 2008)

Next Gadgets article: Popcorn Hour A110 (27 October 2008)

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