Price: £229.00 Year: from 2009 Garmin Forerunner 405
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.
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