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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS Tracking Watch Review

By Dave Thinel

The Garmin Forerunner 305 is very similar to the Forerunner 205 in fact; it is identical in size, shape, performance and features with only a coupe of exceptions. The primary difference is the 305 includes a heart rate monitor and may include a cycling cadence counter. These options make the 305 a good choice for even the most serious athletes. Notable Features; Unit Size (W x H x D) - 2.1 x 2.7 x .7 inches Screen Size (W x H) - 1.3 x .8 inches Weight - 2.7 oz. Battery type - Rechargeable Lithium- Ion Battery Life - approx. 10 hours Water resistant - Yes (IPX7) Heart rate monitor - Yes Lap memory - Yes, 1000 laps Waypoint memory - Yes, 100 Routes feature - Yes, 50 max Warranty - One year If you are interested in getting the most out of your training efforts, we feel the heart rate monitor is a must. It works well and there is no other accurate substitute for measuring your heart rate and adjusting the intensity of the work out, to maintain the desired cardio targets. When training on varying terrain the effect on heart rate is very pronounced, it would probably surprise anyone who has not used a monitor previously. In use, we found the readings to be fairly steady enough so that we had confidence that they were accurate.

This consistency is not to be taken lightly, if the readings varied constantly you would end up checking them more often which could become tiresome. Our take is that a quick glance would give a good reading and that very frequent checking was unnecessary. The Garmin Forerunner 305 is one step up from the Forerunner 205 so it might be helpful to read our product review for that model. The key differences are the 305 includes the heart rate monitor, a feature the 205 lacks. Another optional feature available with the 305 is a cycling cadence counter but we did not test that option. It should be mentioned that the heart monitor and cycling sensors will work indoors since they do not rely on the GPS signal to function.

Accuracy is to be expected and required for this type of product to be truly useful. In our use we checked the readings with several other GPS units and also checked with a measured mile. Moderate tree cover did not adversely affect the unit's performance which is important since that could be encountered frequently. The overall accuracy was excellent, given the presence of a strong signal, and should be enough to satisfy literally everyone. One area where great strides have been made is the ease of use. The unit itself is not bulky to wear while training, it's similar to wearing a regular watch, just a little bigger. Overall the design and functionality is excellent. The buttons become intuitive fairly quickly so you shouldn't be long in getting up to speed. Establishing a regular charging routine will be needed, the average life of a charge is about 8 to 10 hours. We would opt for the 305 over the 205 since the difference in cost is only about $100, and the benefits are great. Garmin has made this generation of GPS tracking watches better than ever, you should not be disappointed.

Dave helps individuals to learn about GPS tracking watches, like the Garmin Forerunner 305.


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