December 30, 2009

Review of Garmin Forerunner 405

Alright I know this review has been a long time coming, but I wanted to use my Garmin (aka Juliette) regularly so my review would at least be somewhat substantial. The Garmin Forerunner 405 is the newest release from Garmin and considered the ultimate in training technology. The features are certainly impressive - high-sensitive GPS for improved satellite reception; data transferred to your computer post-run wirelessly; tracks distance, route, current and average pace, calories burned, elevation, time, and more; customizable training screens; a virtual training partner to "race"; heart monitor capabilities; and is water resistant. Then there's the sleek new design with a unique touch bezel making it the smallest GPS training device by far. It all sounds great, but does it live up to expectations?

Since this is my first Garmin/GPS, I can't compare it to previous models, but for me this is probably a good thing. Every time I use it I just keep trying to wrap my head around how amazing technology today is. I spent a good hour figuring out how to use my 405 and customizing the features, but it wasn't too difficult to figure out. I would suspect that those who have experience with Garmins would find it pretty easy. Every time I've used it (the first during my marathon!) satellites were located immediately and I never lost reception. However it remains to be seen how it will fare in other places like cities. The 405 has four different modes: time/date, training, menu, and GPS. In training mode you can view your progress during a run, race your virtual partner, run intervals, set your goal pace, etc. Because the screen is smaller than previous models, only three things can be viewed at once, however you can set it up to scroll through multiple screens during runs to see more info. I have time, pace, and distance on one screen, and average pace and a clock on another. The third screen for me has my virtual partner and shows me how far ahead or behind I am of my goal pace. Afterward in menu mode, you can review your workout, including calories burned and the stats per mile. Easily the most impressive feature of the 405 is that it sends your data wirelessly to your computer as soon as it is within range - no cords, wires, or hassle! All the data stored on your device is loaded to Garmin Training Center and allows you to analyze your runs, view your route, calculate mileage, and much more.

But the real thing that made me want this Garmin in particular was it's sleek and sexy design. I always felt that the GPS running watches were cool, but far too bulky; I wanted something that could do all that fancy stuff, but also be comfortable like a regular watch. Well the Forerunner 405 certainly delivers this and more! By using a touch bezel circling the watch face they were able to eliminate the buttons on earlier models and make the whole device smaller. As I mentioned before, the screen is also smaller, but I don't find this an issue; everything is still easy to see for me, even during a run. In other reviews, the bezel seemed to be the feature that was the most controversial. Some people find it too sensitive or difficult to use in the middle of a run, and I totally see where these comments come from, but I've found that with practice you get used to it. The bezel can be locked, too, which I found useful while running to prevent accidental bumps. It reminds me a little bit of the wheel on an iPod, which becomes like second nature after time.

There are a few more features I haven't tried out, nor have I used it to do intervals yet, although I would imagine it would work quite well for those as well. For now, Juliette does exactly what I want and does so superbly.


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