Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Review of GPS systems for Trekking, Hiking, Running & Cycling

GPS equipment for trekking, hiking, running, cycling is a little different to that which you'd want to use in the car. There are a number of different units on the market that provide hands free easy use and the features and functions you'll require. As with all GPS equipment there is one company that takes a lead in this field - Garmin.
Here we are going to look at a number of the most popular hands-free GPS equipment for outdoor activities.

Garmin Forerunner 301
Primarily designed for the runner. It comes with a heart-rate monitor and software for you to analyse your training programme.
Features -

  • Locations - up to 100
  • Training data: Displays training time, pace, distance, lap pace, lap time, lap distance, average and best pace, elevation, and calories
  • Lap history: Records up to 5,000 laps by day or week; stores approximately two years of data
  • AutoPause: Automatically pauses training timer when you slow down below specified resting pace
  • AutoLap: Automatically triggers lap when you reach specified distance
  • Virtual Partner: Displays graphic "virtual partner" that runs with the set goal, letting you track whether you're keeping up or falling behind
  • Pace alert: Alarm sounds if you're slower or faster than the pace you've input
  • Time/distance alert: Alarm sounds when you reach the specified time or distance
  • Interval training: Allows you to set up exercise and rest intervals and number of reps
  • Map mode: Shows location and marked locations
  • Heart rate monitor: Yes
  • Heart rate info: Displays heart rate (beats per minute) and zone (between 1 and 5)
  • AutoLearn: Learns user's heart rate zones and adjusts them as fitness levels improve
  • AutoScroll: Cycles through data pages during workout
  • Alerts: Alarm sounds if you reach minimum or maximum heart rate
  • Multi-sport: Sets up profiles for running, biking, and other sport
  • Display: 1.44 x 0.92 inches, 100 x 64 pixels
  • Temperature range: -4 to 140 degrees F
  • Interface : USB
  • Batteries: Rechargeable lithium ion
  • Battery life: 14 hours
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Warranty: 1 year parts and labor
Plus Points -
  • Lithium Ion battery -14hours
  • Nice size display
  • Easy interface with pc, USB and good software
  • Sattelite reception & pick up is generally good, pick-up 30seconds to 2minutes depending on location. Signal strength remains good in most circumstances.
  • Screen Size/Visibilty is very good for such a small unit.
  • Heart Rate Monitor is generally good, very occasional spikes, though these are probably caused by not fitting the sensor correctly/securely.
  • Training Buddy - fantastic for setting your pace almost worth the price of the unit itself!

Bad Points -
  • No Mac Compatability for the Training Centre software
  • Signal can break out under heavy tree cover or in built up areas.
  • Supplied map software is not very accurate, better maps are available att an additional cost

Garmin Foretrex 201
Maybe not quite as good as the Forerunner 301, but may be a better device for those into watersports due to it's better waterproofing.

Features -
  • Racing timers: Configurable start sequence, alert tones and large-number digital readout
  • Trip computer: Trip distance, trip timer, plus essential navigation data
  • Waterproof: Yes (IEC 60529 IPX-7 standards: submersible in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes)
  • Waypoints and routes: 500 waypoints with graphic identification; 20 reversible routes
  • Track log: 10,000 trackpoints, TracBack technology and 20 saved tracks
  • Display: 100 x 60-pixel monochrome display with backlighting
  • Display size: 36 x 23 mm
  • Batteries: 1 rechargeable lithium battery (supplied)
  • Battery life: 15 hours (typical use)

Plus Points -
  • The waterproofing is the best in its class
  • Backlit display
  • GPS Accuracy - upto 3metres!

Bad Points -
  • No supplied base map
  • charger quite large

The Conclusion -

The Garmin Foretrex wins on most counts in my opinion, for general trekking and watersports, though if I was in need of a virtual training partner or wanted one to help with a training program the forerunner would win.

No comments: