Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Ultra Short Garmin Forerunner 305 Review

First of all if you want to read a REAL review on this device, go here : http://dcrainmaker.blogspot.com/2007/11/review-of-garmin-forerunner-305.html. That guy's review is crazy detailed and very helpful.

So I received my Garmin 305 today after some silly fast shipping by Amazon. Ordered it Saturday, received it Tuesday through normal standard shipping - that's crazy.

I wanted to take it for a spin as soon as I got home so I asked my wife to charge it for me during the day. That's probably the hardest thing you have to do with this device out of the box. Seriously. Just charge it. The rest was so easy that I felt like they had consulted me personally to see how I would expect this thing to run out of the box.

I put the watch on my wrist. Now let's get one thing straight - the 305 is a huge device. It does not look svelte or sexy. It is big, boxy and bulky. But here's the thing - it doesn't FEEL big when you're wearing it. I never once during my run thought "Ugh, I have to get this lead weight off my wrist." It's extremely comfortable once you get past the fact that visually, it's huge.

I turned it on. It asked me if I had a heart rate monitor (preselected yes). I hit enter. It asked me if I had a cadence monitor for a bike (preselected no). I hit enter. It asked me if I had a shoe device (can't remember the name, basically the same thing as Nike Plus, preselected no). I hit enter. And that's it. It had already found the GPS satellites by the time I finished the questionnaire and it was ready to go.

I strapped on the heart rate monitor and found it too tight so I took it off and loosened it (which was SO easy) and put it back on. Having read a pro tip, I wet the contacts with water before putting it on to get a better pulse read. I fumbled around with the manual for a minute trying to figure out how to make the watch recognize the heart rate monitor when I finally decided - hell with it, it ought to be able to do that without me telling it to - and you know what? It did!

I walked outside, stretched for five minutes, hit start, and off I went. Out of the box, it gives you your total time in big numbers taking up the top half of the screen and gives you pace and distance split along the bottom half of the screen (each in quarters). I had read some guy had problems with the pace being irregular but mine was rock solid - no major fluctuations. The only thing I'll say is that there was no WAY to read the tiny heart monitor in the top of the screen while I was running. I'll have to read more about that.

Also, I was running at night. Thing's gotta have a backlight, right? Sure does. What button do you think would go with backlight? Tap Power, backlight comes on. So easy...so well thought out.

I ran a very short 1 mile loop and hit stop. Stretched in my driveway for a minute, then took all the equipment off inside.

Ok, here's where I had some really minor problems. I plugged the device into my computer and it brings up the Windows New Hardware Found Wizard. Now in 2000, that might have been acceptable but this is 2009 and the drivers should have auto-installed right off the device, so one minor blemish there.

As I had read, the bundled software sucks so do yourself a favor and skip it. Go straight to connect.garmin.com and enjoy... Garmin Connect is a 95% web based training solution. I say 95% because it needs to install a tiny plug-in on your computer to interface with the GPS watch. I had already synced the device with the bundled software and apparently that didn't clear it because the plug-in had no problems re-syncing the same run. The only blemish on Garmin Connect is made me download the plug-in twice because the first time it gave me an old version. What? Anyways...


So here's my first run. And for a taste of just how awesome this thing is, just hit the play button and watch it go.

That's COOL!

I don't have much else to say. In summary, it works darn near flawlessly right out of the box. The software is a tiny bit iffy but mostly works and the Garmin Connect website is really cool.

1 comment:

Rainmaker said...

Cool - glad I could be of help - and glad you're also enjoying it!

You can change the HRM screen by going into general > settings > data fields, and choose a smaller number of screens (1 to 4). For somet things I'll just simply 3 fields, which means the entire top is HR (or pace, or whatever I choose). That makes the text quite a bit bigger.

Good luck with the running, and congrats on the new baby!