RW Review: Garmin Forerunner 405

RW review Garmin's new speed and distance monitor, the Forerunner 405

Posted: 3 April 2008

Garmin are soon to release their new and sexiest-yet speed-and-distance-monitor in the UK. With just a handful of 405s in the country before its release date (end of April) RW was lucky enough to put one through its paces.

Fans of the reliable 305 will immediately notice a striking difference in the shape and design. Gone is the over-sized square display unit as well as five of the navigation buttons and in their place are a new circular touch bezel control and a host of new features. It’s sleeker, sexier and more than 20 per cent lighter, so it’s a lot more practical to wear as a watch than the 305 (not to mention a pleasure to show off).

The improvements aren’t restricted to looks, though. The 405 is a great deal more user-friendly than its predecessor.

It’s still packed with all the features that made the 305 great: it monitors your time spent running, distance, pace, calories and heart rate, and your runs can be stored in the memory, so you can review and analyse the data and the routes you’ve taken later on. Once you’ve activated your unit for the first time, you’re whisked through a set of simple tests that act as a guide on how the unit works (so no need to read the instructions then). It’s simple, and the iPod-esque bezel means it’s easy to navigate while those who are new to this kind of technology should have no problem picking it up and using it.

The bezel replaces the need for all the buttons the 305 had. Scrolling through the right side of the bezel moves through functions while tapping the bezel in any place enters a particular screen.

A minor down-point is that the smaller screen means the 405 only displays three fields, compared with four on the 305, and that there is no map page on the 405, but it does have three customisable data screens to allow you to display all the meaningful data. All you have to do is simply tap the bezel to scroll through the screens on the run.

The hottest new feature is the ANT+Sport technology that enables the device to transfer data to your computer as soon as the device is within range, meaning there’s no complicated method of transfer or leads to use. There’s also a heart-rate-specific training display, which wasn’t on the 305.

One of the 305’s main sticking points was its delay in receiving a satellite signal. The new 405’s high-sensitivity GPS receiver provides improved tracking under trees and near tall buildings and therefore a stronger signal during your run. So even in cities as built up as London, finding a signal was greatly improved, taking just a couple of minutes to locate and hold reception.

The Garmin 305 was such a successful piece of kit, it was hard to see how it could be improved on, but the 405 seems to have the edge in every respect.

Release date: End of April
Price: RRP of the product is £229 and £259 (with heart-rate monitor).

For a full spec on the 405 click here.
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    spd, garmin, test, speed and distance monitor, garmin 405, spdm, heart rate, 405

    Discuss this article

    Anybody read this review? Was it written by someone in marketing?

    It's "sexier" - really? I think not, I've never fancied inanimate objects personally and I don't think that "sexy" is at all helpful in a review.

    It's really good? Why? What does it do that the 305 does not? It's a speed distance/ hrm but there's lots of that about. What is different about the 405?

    It's sleek - oops there we go, almost said sexy again

    It uses awesome new ANT tecnology to upload wirelessly without you needing to plug it in!

    Right, so as opposed to the daft way of corroded brass studs in a cradle or the irDa alternative of similar products, they are using wifi. Hoo Hah!!!

    So far, I'm not sure whether the product is cack and the article is a sublime bit of smoke and mirrors or whether it's a decent bit of kit and poor writing.

    I can't see anything that references usage so why do I believe the writer hasn't used it?

    OK - So I'll do my own. Without ever actually having touched one.  No point in moaning without having a go.

    Garmin Forerunner 405.

    This is a speed/distance monitor combined with a heart rate monitor that you can wear. It comes in two parts, a wrist unit that looks like a watch and a HRM strap which is an elasticated, belt like object, that goes round your chest.

    The unit can measure and record your speed, your pace, the elevation and grade of your runs as well as your heart rate.

    It allows you to set heart rate zones and can output your time in zone for maximum training granularity.

    A host of alerts can be set from max hr to max speed so that you maintain your desired effort levels during draining.

    Routes and courses can be compared over time using the downloadable Training Centre software that can build up a detailed picture of your training progress and allow you to fine tune your training periods for maximal training benefit. Or alternatively cock it right up.

    It's quality information but only you are responsible for your training.

    Further gadgets can be bought such as the cadence sensor that will allow multisport athletes to accurately assess their cycling performance.

    Is it any good for a triathlete?

    No idea. The specs say it is waterproof, to a specification, but I don't know if that spec means I can swim in it. I can swim in my polar RS200 and it does HR and zones.

    So I can wear it as a watch but it's battery life is 8 hours or less. So that's no use and it's no use for long distance tri work as I will be defiantely taking longer than 8 hours and there is a swim.

     In conclusion.

    There is nothing that this unit does that you can't get cheaper from other bits of kit. It's a good looking piece of kit and if you really, really need satellite tracking rather than a footpod then this would be worth looking at if you didn't have anything already.

    An upgrade from a 305? Not for me. Too limited, too short a charge life, not worth it.

    What am I looking at instead of my 305?

    I'm torn between polar and the footpods, and sunnto - Knowing my speed via uncle sam just isn't that much of a plus.

    If you liked the iphone then this will appeal to you

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 12:04

    Sexy review
    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 12:11

    I think the looks are definately an upgrade. Nowt wrong with a 305, but people do look like Star Trek extra's wearing them.

    And if you're wearing it as a watch the battery life is something like a couple of weeks, no?

    I can't see why you would upgrade from a 305, but it's most definately a better proposition to me than the 305.

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 12:24

    Imski - what about the article?

    Forget the product! Peeps will buy it whatever is said.

    What do you think of RW's attempt at a review?

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 12:27

    What I really want to now I can't find out 

    Is it now compatible with a Mac computer ?    Garmin website doesn't really make this clear

    Does anyone have a definitive answer ?

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 13:50

    Hi Stump,

    I'm sorry you didn't find the review helpful, but like all our reviews it was based on personal experience of testing the kit. If it reads like a marketing piece that's only because we're genuinely impressed with it - and bearing in mind that we see pretty much all the big gear releases, we're in as good a position as anyone to say if a new piece is really good.

    re 'sexy' - it's not top of everyone's list of priorities, but as Imski says, the 305 made people look like they were on Star Trek and for women in particular, its size and shape were a real drawback. Plus, the point of the review is not to be a list of features but to try to give some idea how it feels to use it, so some subjective comments have to be in there.

    On the triathlon side of things, one element I did miss is that the history feature doesn't allow you to separate cycling and running miles in the unit. It is possible in Training Center though.

    I think (and I'll check) Garmin are working on the Mac issue and it should be resolved within the second half of the year. I'll post back once I know more. 


    Dan RW

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 14:04

    There is a beta test version of Training Center available, downloadable from the Garmin website. I don't have a Mac, so can't try it.
    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 14:12

    Here's a link!
    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 14:14

    OK, hold it right there....

    I'd forgotten that the 405 uses ANT for connectivity. The requisite ANT agent isn't yet available for MAC, so the Mac TC beta is only of use to 305/205/301 owners, I think.

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 14:18

    Always one step ahead SOK...

    I'll wait for the chaps at Garmin to come back to me.


    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 14:20

    The RRP is £229!  So only going to be used by fools and those who got it for free at the moment then.  Given that you can get 205/ 305s for around £100 (less for the 205), they'd be better options for what most people are looking for in a speed/ distance/ HRM device.

    Personally if Garmin wanted to upgrade the x05 models then they should look at extending not shortening the battery life and making it properly waterproof (ironmen triathletes will buy anything so there's a guaranteed market). 

    But if they want to send me one to try out then I'll see if I can give an unbiased yet still sexy review. 

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 14:32

    Sorry KK. I'll put my tinfoil hat back on. That usually stops the voices.
    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 14:34

    i currently have a 201 model, which although fairly bulky does the job very well.  I didn't bother with the 205, as it looked even more uncomfortable, and my friends who do have one seem to take much longer to get 'missile lock!'.

    however, the new one really does appear to be a step in the right direction.  Looks much better, and is supposed to have even quicker aquistion time.

    I won't be rushing straight out to buy one, but it may make it onto my 2008 Xmas list.

    Be interesting to see what the feedback is from more people, once on the open market.   Also i'd like to know about the swimming issue, if only for in the pool on holiday!!!!

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 14:46

    I thought the review was okay.  Maybe a little effusive for my liking but informative and not the worst i've ever seen.

    And the 405 is the first Garmin I've been seriously tempted by as the size of the previous ones have put me off.

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 15:23

    DanRW - you speak in tongues man!

    You're even worse than the reviewer! You're impressed and cos you're all professional city magazine peeps then it's bound to be spot on?

    Maybe I'm just a dumb hick from the sticks but that doesn't wash.

    Don't get me wrong. I have a polar and a garmin 305 already. I love toys! I've spent hours with my garmin.

    It's not the kit I've the issue with. It's the review.

    If I hadn't spent the best part of 2 hours ferreting out info on the 405 from various sources over the last couple of months the review would have been pointless advertising.

    It's front page on the RW site with a "sexy" fade in. Serious money in terms of ad space.

    Zip in terms of critical review.

    Come on Dan, I respect this organ and what it says but this is just a bit slack. You lot have worked hard to establish credibility but this does you no service.

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 15:24

    Mister W - You going to shell out 200+ quid  and that article helped?

    If I was shelling out 20 quid then I'd agree

    For that kind of price point I expect some meat not just some garnish!

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 15:26

    I just followed Dans link to my reviews! Cheers mate.

    Nice distraction to read my amateur ramblings and compare them to RW's polished professionalism

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 15:30

    Now, where is the B Ark?
    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 15:32

    I have to say that I agree with the tortoise ... I mean the stump.

    There's no indication in the article of someone actually taking the 405 out for a run (or several runs, just to be sure) Garmin claim quicker satellite lock-on and better signal especially under tree cover and among tall buildings. They claim that it's easier and more intuitive to use. And what about the claimed battery life - Garmin say 8 hours training use, a couple of weeks on powersave. Do all of these claims hold up in practice? Does the new data transfer technology work as advertised? And what about the new and rather smaller screen - is the readout visible and readable on the run?

    It does look more like a marketing spiel than an actual hands-on review.

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 16:50

    I also concur. I read the review and instantly thought 'advertising deal'.

    Bit like Saucony shoes (no, I didn't win a pair)

    The review is fine, but there's no real sense that the reveiwer took the 405 out on a long run. It sounds like he walked around the block with it, then rushed back to watch the 'magic' happen as the data flew through the air onto his PC. What I want to know is should I bother buying it? Does it make your arm drop off after 15miles? Can I bosh it into rocks and drop it in the bath? Why is the 'ipod' esque scroll thing better? I only have a shuffle, I'm not blessed with such experience. Why is not looking like a StarTrek extra better than looking like a Star Trek extra?

    I'd go and review the thing myself, except I haven't got £300 lying spare. If I did, I probably wouldn't need to read reviews in the first place!

    Ok, that is all.

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 17:13

    I like my Star Trek-esque 205. When I encounter chavs and other pond life I can murmer into my wrist "beam me up Scotty, there's no sign of intelligent life down here".

    Btw ... how many ears does Mr Spock have?

    Answer: three. A right ear, a left ear, and a final front ear.

    Okay, okay, I'm going now ... 

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 17:17

    I've only just bought my 205 and am still swooning over it, I like the big display, it's easy to read

    I'm sure they will eventually make a version that's too small to even see like they'll make a mobile phone that doesn't actually fit between your ear and mouth but where's the practicality there?

    Sure it will impress other runners because it's not square and looks like a watch but to impress non runners get a 205 because it is square and doesn't look like a watch.

    I'm definately trying the beam me up thing!

    Posted: 04/04/2008 at 22:38

     Looks nice, bit lighter than 305,  I'd expect it's got better reception, the iPodesque control, hmm. hope it's better than that on the move or it'll suck big time.

    The wireless thing's bogus, possibly even a step backwards. Firstly it will need charging regularly so the cables aren't going anywhere and you're going to end up with yet another wall wart that needs a socket. Secondly, you'll still need to plug something into the computer, since it doesn't use anything you're likely to have built in to communicate, such as say Bluetooth.

     For the extra cash seems to make little sense to all but perhaps the aesthetes or slim wristed windows users (no mac support until Q3 2008) amongst us.

    Posted: 05/04/2008 at 02:42

    i=pod controls fins, but I am left handed, and wear watch on left hand,on the move in a race, how sesitive is it?   

    I had a Polar Rs200 speed/distance, but not accurate, and fell apart just after 2yr guarantee expired. Older Garmins 205 £99, 305 £130, this new one Uk price £250, Us its $300 -why.....

    Posted: 05/04/2008 at 02:51

    I agree that reveiw is bollocks...i have a 305 and i love it, and i also just think its another way to scam people out of there money i can still see 305's in shops for £250 notes....when you can get them online for £125 or less. with teh 405 not really offering anything more its just another scam...

    if you have a 305 you will never need anything else for the rest of your running lives. a smaller screen no thanks, i need the big screen, 405 is good under trees? really wow, i have never lost a signal with the 305 ever....and it takes less than  minute to find sats whilst im doing me laces up and i have just moved house and still no probs.

    i have a suunto watch as well for hiking so i am covered.

    nop not for me i wont be recomending it to anyone the only good thing about it is will lower the cost of the 305 a bit more.

    PS dont ever pay full price for these things eh.


    Posted: 05/04/2008 at 05:58

    I gather it only has eight hours battery life too
    Posted: 05/04/2008 at 07:29

    Does anyone ever pay full wack? Am intrested, but will purchase from the states later in summer on a trip.

    I do like the fact its smaller.

    Wish Suunto made GPS Garmin type watch, my altatude watch is bullett proof, bomb proof and made of rubber.

    Posted: 05/04/2008 at 07:38

    As well as using it for running I used the old 305 on a cycling holiday to navigate.  Although it took a while to programme in the routes it was very simple to navigate with despite the very simple maps.  Guess that's a step backwards with the new model.
    Posted: 05/04/2008 at 16:23

    I wear mine round my ankle so that everyone thinks I've been tagged and the chavs get out of my way. It's a bit of a pain when you want to known how fast you're going though.
    Posted: 05/04/2008 at 17:42

    I agree with Lemsip, Suunto should make a GPS running/climbing/hiking device... I have a suunto mounatineering watch and it is great!!! I also am sticking with the old 301... as the 305 does not fit around my dinky wrist and I ain't spending money on something that onhly runs for 8 hours... the 13 of the 301 are just about sufficient for long runs on the fells, but when I am going to do the BGR I will need 3 Garmin405's to tick me over for 24 hours! Actually, lets make that one Suunto
    Posted: 05/04/2008 at 19:14

    I'm with Muttley and BunnyPhobia; what I really need out of a review of the 405 is info on real world satelite reception, battery life, whether or not that small screen and ipod navigation really works well 10 miles into a run in the pouring rain. I'm also sceptical about the wireless data transfer - it seems like a gimmick considering that you have to put it in its cradle to charge it every day anyway but if there is an upside I don't see it in the review.

    Comparisons to existing kit would be very welcome. In fact if RW lets me borrow their review 405 for a week or so I'll be glad to write a comparison with my 305.

    Posted: 05/04/2008 at 19:43

    Smaller size is the only aspect that remotely appeals from this review.

    Had 4 happy months with my 305 thus far, aside from needing a sweatband around the wrist to keep the watch bit on, and my HRM strap has actually fallen around my waist when I haven't managed to wedge it into my bra enough - bah.

    Aside from that, my 305 has been beautiful out in the country and around centre of London without a single hitch, and never having owned an ipod, I can't conceptulise how some bezel malarky could be better than a big button when out on the move.

    I'm a complete technophile but this review doesn't make me want to part with my money in any hurry...

    Posted: 06/04/2008 at 09:31

    Again smaller size and a faster gps signal pick up maybe the only plus points in my opinion.

    At first I thought the 305 a little bulky but when I wore it for the first time I did no feel this the case. I did not run weighed down on one side because I noticed it weight or anything  I feel it is well balanced with a good sized display that I can read from simply turning the wrist. A smaller display on the 405 would be a huge blow in my opinion if it meant having to raise it close to your face to read it.

    Running this winter and training with gloves on I can also hit the lap button and navigate through the screen with reasonable ease on the 305 which may seem a little more difficult on the 405 but I have not tried one so will wait and see.

    I don't reallly see the wireless stuff bothering 90% of buyers as most runners but iy for it's running / training features and couldn't give ahoot about the computer side

    Posted: 06/04/2008 at 13:36 kit out.  THat means the 301 I want to get will be nice an cheap 

    I got the 305 when it came out...found the smaller screen a real PITA, and no real improvement in the GPS lockon in London.  Much preferred the big numbers of my old 301, and never got the 305 to do the run/walk intervals I wanted....then I lost my trusty 301 a couple of weeks ago (if you rent a car from Hertz in Myrtle Beach, look under the drivers seat for a bonus, think it slid under there)

    Posted: 06/04/2008 at 14:25

    James, if you're still reading this thread.....completely unrelated your picture of Santa Maria Beach, Sal, Cape Verde????  

    Sorry, ignore me, i just clicked on properties and its of Cottishall beach.   Is that in the UK?? it looks fantastic.   

    It looks just like the one in the cape Verdes!!!!!

    Posted: 06/04/2008 at 19:38

    I think we take these technological marvels - which is what a GPS running aid is - way too much for granted.
    Posted: 06/04/2008 at 19:46

    Hi Clamshell.

    The picture is Cottesloe beach, Perth, Western  Australia and it is truly fantastic. Glad you like it and I have never been lucky enough to go to Cape Verde.

    Posted: 06/04/2008 at 20:07

    I do hate to say it, but I would argue that quite a few RW reviews on here pander towards the sponsor or ultimately give a weak half-analysis on things.  I agree with what has been said about the Garmin review - I just see nothing that critical, which ultimately, is what we need to know should we want to buy the product. If RW had spent the time with the product (which they obviously have) then why could we not have read something a bit more in-depth?

    Personally, with or without the review there has not been that much (bar the new design) that has attracted me to the 405 - I may upgrade at some point to it but it seems like Garmin haven't done that much to justify the change now.  I'd rather wait for better GPS technology, and further enhancements rather than having a model which appears slimmed down (in many aspects). 

    Posted: 06/04/2008 at 21:18

    I agree with Stuart G here. This is probably one of the weakest points of RW, the reviews. I would be loathed to buy anything after reading a review in RW to be honest, even the regular shoe reviews. Somebody mentioned it above, you often feel that they haven't gone away with the product and given it a thorough real life way. Case in point, this month they choose the best summer kit, though absolutely no indication is really given as to exactly why the choices were made in each category, or how extensively the kit was used before the decision was made. The Garmin 405 review seems pretty pointless to me, i don't really get much from it. My 305 acquires a signal in <30 secs and I live in London. Isn't it usual to quote the 'time to first fix' for warm and cold starts for these type of comparisons for example? This may well be a great device, but the review doesn't help me at all.

    Ok, that was tending towards rant - sorry !

    Posted: 06/04/2008 at 23:00

    Does anyone out there actually own a 405? I was on the verge of buying a 205 (not bothered about the HR monitor) but my head has been seriously turned by the 405. Have I just succumbed to the design?? Is it worth paying an extra 120 quid for something that looks more like a watch rather than a teleporter?

    Posted: 07/04/2008 at 09:35

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