Strengths: Great satellite lock times Looks pretty Very small and light Keeps satellite reception in very difficult areas
Weaknesses: Occasional problems getting satellite lock Tracking can be erratic in the most difficult conditions Real time pace measurement not really practical
Overall: I was one of the lucky people who won one of these from Runners World. However, it took over 6 weeks to arrive, and managed to get to me just after FLM, so what with the aches and pains in my legs for the first week I owned it, and the fact that I have had a bad cold this last week, this is more of a first look than a full review.
Straight out of the box, the thing that most struck me was its size - I was expecting something much bigger. It is not really much bigger than the watch for the Polar 625X which I had before.
On the hit side, runs from home have been very successful - the watch gets satellite lock in a couple of seconds in my front garden and once locked, keeps good accuracy, even under reasonably dense foliage (I often run down a disused railway line which in some part forms a tunnel through quite dense bushes).
Runs from work have been slightly less successful - fistly, among the tallish buildings outside my office (City of London) the unit can take as much as 5 minutes to lock on to satellites, and even then, on one run, the track seemed to wander all over the place as I set off down some narrow streets.
The other main issue for me, even with great reception, is that the pace measureemnt is all over the place compared with my 625x, even with "smoothing" set to maximum. You really can't use the "pace" number in any meaningful way. There are work arounds, i.e. to use the average pace for the current lap, but I was surprised that the real time pace was so jumpy.
Despite these couple of problems, the 305 is a really cool toy - If I didn't have any system, I would definately go for this above the Polar 625x. I'm just not sure it is worth someone who already has the Polar upgrading to the Garmin.
'I HAVE FINALLY FOUND MY PERFECT FIT - A GREAT SHOE'
Strengths: Comfy, cushioned and feel very light on.
Weaknesses: None really
Overall: I am very glad I found this shoe (thanks to another review on this site) as I give it credit for sorting out a few recurring niggles I had.
Fit: - Toe box is a bit wider than some shoes I've owned (I find addidas & mizuno shoes a bit tight in the forefoot) - Heel tabs are lower than some (which means they don't irritate my achilles tendon) - Good arch support that isn't intrusive - More flexible than some cushioned shoes which makes it seem more responsive
When I first tried them on I mentioned to the shop assistant that there must be an art in making shoes that feel great when you first try them on, but that I would reserve judgement until I had run a few hundred miles in them. Well, now 250 miles on, they are still the most comfy pair of running shoes I have worn.
Cushioning: Feels great to me
Support: I am a very mild overpronator and these suit me fine - I can get away with some cusioned shoes, but not others (addidas Supernova Cushions have been OK in the past, whereas I got injured in Asics Nimbus)
Strengths: It isn't a GPS system, therefore: - quick start up time (don't have to wait for satellite reception to lock); - doesn't need a clear view of the sky so it works in the densest forests and the narrowest city streets with the tallest buildings I bet it would even work underground if you could find somewhere subterranean to run
- Accurate speed & distance monitoring (once calibrated)
- Most comfy heart rate monitor strap I have worn.
Weaknesses: It isn't a GPS system, therefore: - No pretty map output of your route - Changes of pace really throw the distance calculation - Needs calibration to measure distances accurately
- UGLY - Watch is very big and chunky. Foot-pod, though light and not uncomfortable to wear, is big, bulky and very obvious (The number of times some child has asked "Mummy/ Daddy, what is that big black thing on that man's shoe?")
- Advanced functions (e.g. intervals) difficult to use
- Have to buy a separate USB infrared port if your computer doesn't already have one
- Polar software not the prettiest interface/ most flexible.
- If you have more than one pair of shoes, the foot-pod has to be moved between them.
Overall: Anyone choosing a speed or distance monitor should carefully consider question of an accelerometer system (like the Polar) vs. a GPS system. The reason I made the choice of the Polar 625x rather than a GPS is that it better suited the type of running I wanted to do. Principally, the majority of my running is either in town (including some quite narrow streets with tall buildings) or on routes with a lot of tree cover. Both terrain where GPS systems really struggle with reception. It will be interesting to see whether the new Garmin GPS based systems (205 and 305) have really solved these issues.
As for the other aspects of the units performance - I have found the speed and distance to be very accurate once calibrated (+/- 0.1 miles over an 8 mile run), however the measurement takes a bit of time to catch up with quick changes of pace (great for steady training or races, less good for interval training).
My main bugbear (apart from the looks) is that the advanced functions are quite difficult to use - for example, I have completely given up on programming intervals, as the programming itself is difficult enough, but as I don't use them often, I forget how to progress from the warm up to start the interval session - I end up either changing the display options, setting a lap time or turning the timer off instead!
Overall, I'm pleased I bought the 625x. It has made a real difference to my training, whether helping me pace my runs, measure how far I have gone, but also remembering the key details of the workout for me to put in my training diary at a later date.
If you want to measure your speed and distance, don't want the disadvantages of a GPS system, and don't have unrealistic expectations that it will measure your interval efforts to the nearest metre, I would thoroughly recommend buying one.
In fact buy mine when I put it on Ebay after winning the competition to get one of those new good looking Garmin GPS systems!