Strengths: Seems perfectly happy in the woods even now that the leaves have come.
Average Lap Pace gives a very good idea of your current pace, specially if you press the lap button while you are on the run.
The displays are fully programmable: you can select the data fields you want to display in any combination: I have HR and current lap time on one, Lap pace and current lap time on another, and then the third page shows four parameters which I chop and change from work-out to work out. For example.
Changing things (settings, display) is almost intuitive (unlike the S625X).
Data uploads easily and painlessly and there is a brilliant shareware web-based programme Sporttracks available with a Google Earth interface which provides quite a bit more detail than the Polar S625X software, and is a heck of a lot more intuitive than MotionBased.
Accuracy is what you'd expect from a sensitive GPS system. My wife and I ran 5 miles through woodland, she with the S625X and me with the 305: the difference was less than 200 yards, and she was running with the S625X calibrated for me, so her measurement was probably the wrong one. The 305 is so accurate that if you run 200 metres on a track it will show 200 metres! Yes!!! Time after time!!!! As long as you press the lap button at the right moment, of course ... But it's nice to have a true picture of your rep pace without having to worry about the missing metres on the S625X.
Oh, yes ... you don't need to calibrate the 305. At all.
There is a good thread on RW under "Gear" with lots of tips and hints for 305/205 users.
You can (and are encouraged to) download the latest software to your unit; Garmin has an email subscription service which will notify you when updates are available.
The lack of a footpod makes it easy to rotate your trainers: I have three pairs on the go and moving the Polar footpod was a bind. So sometimes I didn't change trainers as often as I ought.
It picks up satellites from my windowsill (or even while I am at my PC sometimes!) It isn't as heavy as it looks. The Garmin reps (at least where I live) are extremely helpful.
Weaknesses: The early 305s (and 205s) have been a bit fragile I believe. At any rate mine went bananas last Saturday and even the kiss of life failed to revive it in the end. But I mailed Garmin on Sunday and on Monday morning there was a reply: just bring it in and we'll give you a new one. And they did. I expect reliability issues will be resolved in the next few months, don't you?
The calorie counter is a complete joke.
There is no way of manually editing the data: Garmin's own Training Centre software seems to massage extraneous tracks out before presenting the results of your workout, but when you upload to MB, SportTracks, etc, funny lines keep appearing where you certainly never ran ...
The manual should include more on troubleshooting.
[Update 05/09/06] I am now on my fourth unit as they keep dying on me. I have had no trouble getting them replaced (same day) but I would never rely on the 305 for an important race. That being said, this unit has done more miles than the first three, so I am living in hope.
Another reviewer (later than my original review) points out that there are sometimes problems with satellite reception with trees on one side of the path; I have experienced this too. The Gramin awarded me some amazing splits during that race ... unfortunately they didn't match my finishing time.
Overall: I keep my 305 on my desk where I can see it at all times (even when it's off) :-)
Strengths: Versatile, robust, comprehensive, easy to operate once you know how
Weaknesses: Needs recalibrating for different surfaces, but this can be done in a few seconds using your own calibration data.
Overall: Does this scare you off? It shouldn’t. Out of the box the S625X will satisfy most users, delivering great HR monitoring and software plus speed and distance data that is accurate to within 98%. That means your flat, relatively unbendy 10 k race may show up as 9800 metres.
But throw in some undulating terrain and a few different surfaces and unless you recalibrate your S625X for each variable, the accuracy you achieve will fluctuate fairly wildly. The pace monitor is only reliable on the run if you refrain from sudden surges, turns or stops. It takes from 10 to 30 metres for the watch to “catch up” as you increase the pace, for example. So your 400 metre rep on the track may show up as 350 metres when you get home to your computer.
However, on long, steady runs the S625X behaves impeccably; most of the marathons I’ve run with it come out to within 300 metres of the “correct” distance, and on woodland trails or city streets this is far superior to any GPS device I’ve come across. In such circumstances correct distance also translates into correct pace: the main reason why anyone would buy such a piece of gear. You can select the info you want the watch to display at any one time as you run; just be careful not to trip over as you take your eyes off the path to do so!
You can calibrate the S625X manually as well as by using the automatic calibration feature. It isn’t difficult. The HR transmitter doesn’t seem as bothered by electrical disturbance as some other makes. And as for those “short” 400 metre reps: do you really need a gadget to tell you how far 400 metres on the track is?
Strengths: These shoes feel quite light. They grip well on mud and grass. I'd had Achilles problems for over a year and a treadmill video showed that my ankle didn't just roll one way as I landed: it rolled back again as well! The Kayanos stopped the rolling and six weeks later I completed a marathon.
Weaknesses: A bit less waterproof than some shoes. Puddles can deliver cold, sharp shocks. Expensive.
Overall: Nice and wide. Comfy. Equally at home on road, track, or trail.