Product: Garmin Forerunner 305
Rating: Very Good 8.0/10.0
Pros: GPS tracking, heart rate monitor, reasonably lightweight, large display.
Cons: Battery life, size, spotty coverage at times and expensive for most amateur athletes
Overall:The 305 model is much improved over past designs. While the unit may not be necessary for the beginner athletes, marathon and other hard core runners will appreciate it’s advanced features.
When taking the unit out of the box and upon completion of charging it – I acquired a signal very quickly. There was no configuration required and I started my first run by strapping on the heart rate monitor (I read a tip that said to put water on the monitor before putting it on), putting the monitor on my watch and I was off. Once strapping the unit to my wrist I was immediate able to hit the pavement without any setup required. It is obvioulsy dangerous to stare at my wrist the entire time while running but the unit seemed to keep a signal and gives me the data I needed primarily pace and heart rate.
Design – 8 – Overall the unit has a good design. It is shaped so to the receiver faces towards the sky when running. The unit, although heavier than most watches, is not too heavy or too big to feel uncomfortable (except maybe to very petite individuals). The unit is waterproof, helping to protect from water bottle spillage, perspiration, and other natural elements. The screen is very crisp and easy to read at a glance. The buttons are tactile enough to feel and touch without stopping. The right side has the menu selection and enter buttons, while the left has a power/backlight button and a mode button. The back has metal contacts that we hope will not cause minor zaps. The 305 connects to your PC via a dock and mini-USB port. It can be charged via your USB cable to your PC or with the supplied AC adaptor.
Features – 8 – The unit tells time, pace, average pace, distance, heart rate, calories burned and more. The main screen is configurable to your choosing as well as a two more screens, making the information you need (12 stats) accessible at the touch of a button. There is navigation to help you get back to where you came from–for those very long runs–but don’t expect the unit to replace a fully functional car GPS system. You can download courses to the unit and compete against prior workouts, or you have the option to train against a digital partner.
Performance – 8 – The unit seemed to work well at almost all times. I was actually very impressed with its performance under trees (not woods but still enough foliage) as well as receiving a signal on my covered porch. However, the heart rate monitor was not 100% functional at times. The device is rated at 10 hours of battery and we found it to be right around there, but we also charged it before going dead (when synced with my PC) so don’t count this as a scientific measurement. The heart rate monitor has a 3 hour battery life which we would have liked to see improved, so we can be a little more forgetful with recharging.
Thanks to USB, the 305 integrates seamlessly with the Training Center software and just like that your training history is on your PC. Training Center make it easy to track your performance with graphs, lists, and more. Training Center also lets you define courses on your PC that you can upload to the device. When course information is combined with uploaded workout information, the Forerunner becomes a complete guide, telling you where to go, when to make a turn, and what kind of workout to do when you’re on the road or path. Back on the PC, the software’s ability to overlay workout data on maps of the course makes it easy to see where the course offers up the tough hills and the easy recovery spots. Plus, the ability to track historical performance on a given course is a great way to measure your improvement.
The 305 is also fully compatible with Garmin’s MotionBased service and with TrainingPeaks.com.