GPS sport watches
When you're out training, it's nice to know exactly how much ground you've covered – and exactly what effect all that exercise is having.
These three bits of smart wrist candy will do exactly that – but which watch is the one for you? Well, it depends entirely on how you want to train. Read on…
Adidas MiCoach Smart Run (£300)
Adidas MiCoach Smart Run
Best for Stylistas
What is it?With a big touchscreen dominating its front, this part-smartwatch, part-running watch instantly brings to mind Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. It’s no bandwagon jumper, though – the Smart Run has proper sportswatch skills of its own, taking your pulse by measuring the blood flow on your wrist and auto-syncing with the miCoach website over Wi-Fi. The inclusion of a 3GB Bluetooth MP3 player is an added bonus.
Is it any good? As a training partner, it’s spectacularly comprehensive – it’ll even serve up helpful videos of exercises in the gym. The beltless heart-rate monitoring is great, too, but all this comes at a cost. For starters, it’s bulky – definitely too big to wear all the time. Battery life also takes a hit: all too often we’d get ready for a run only to find it’d died. Even in non-GPS mode it won’t last a full day. What’s more, we had to stand around in the cold while it took a leisurely 90 seconds to pick up GPS, compared to a speedy sub-15 seconds by the TomTom and Garmin. More training needed, Adidas.
Me me MiCoachAdidas’ MiCoach app is great, but it’s the only software the Smart Run talks to. Shame it doesn’t link to MyFitnessPal and other health trackers, too.
Stuff saysAs smart as they come, but not quite fit enough to keep up.3/5
Showerproof ● 1.45in, 184x184, colour LCD ● Wi-Fi, USB, Bluetooth ● Optical heart-rate monitor ● 79g
TomTom Multi-Sport (£180)
What is it? TomTom’s first solo effort in the fitness world is slim enough to wear all day as a normal watch. Straps are interchangeable and data syncing is done by docking the watch in a USB cradle. The LCD screen is clear and straightforward, with navigation via TomTom’s simple ‘one-button’ setup – which is actually a four-way rocker. The ‘swim sensor’ mode uses accelerometers to track your time in the pool, and it also logs treadmill workouts.
Is it any good? TomTom keeps things simple here, and while the menu layout initially seems odd, you’ll soon learn where to find everything. Tracking of runs, swims and cycles makes it great for triathletes in training, but the lack of a dedicated triathlon mode means it’s more awkward than it should be for actual races. The accelerometer-based swimming mode can also be a bit patchy. But it lasts for days, the clear display gives stats at a glance and the ‘training partner’ pacing function is brilliant. There’s no Wi-Fi transfer, and TomTom’s MySports website is in a rather messy beta state, but the potential is great given the price.
Appy days to come The TomTom’s web app isn’t as slick as those of its rivals. But a bespoke smartphone app has just gone live (we'll update this review shortly) and you can sync to some 3rd party services.
Stuff saysA comparative bargain and a must for multi-disciplinarians4/5
Garmin Forerunner 620 (£330)
Garmin Forerunner 620
What is it? The 620 is the latest in a long line of Garmin GPS fitness watches. Its combination of touchscreen and physical buttons seems muddled at first but soon makes sense, and while it looks pricey, it does come with a heart-rate monitor belt. The watch syncs with Garmin’s Connect app and website, even allowing for live tracking of runs with a paired smartphone. And while there’s no swimming mode, water resistance means it can still time swims.
Is it any good? Garmin’s GPS pedigree is soon obvious here. The customisable data fields that you can swipe through while running (even with gloves on) are brilliant, though the screen could be bigger and clearer. Its battery lasts for days at a time in use as a normal watch with occasional bouts of GPS activity and the HR belt adds a wealth of running data, including cadence, ground contact time (GCT) and vertical oscillation. These aren’t essential for beginners, but they’re great for the dedicated improver; if you can do without them, the otherwise identical Forerunner 220 (£250) could be for you.
Sync and be merry Garmin’s Connect app and website provide huge amounts of info, and the 620 is a breeze to hook up to any of the other popular fitness tracking sites.
Stuff saysHelps you get scientific about your runs, but you’ll pay for the privilege.4/5