Garmin FR60

Before anything else: There’s no GPS receiver in this watch. Yes, we know it is from Garmin and all but still. No GPS. Garmin’s doing really good with training devices out there such as heart rate monitors and the software that goes with Forerunners so they’re trying to take advantage of their market share by introducing Garmin FR60 which can wirelessly connect to other sensors such as heart rate monitors and a foot pods.

It can download workout data to a PC or a Mac using USB stick, keep track of speed and distance, heart rate, and calories burned.

There will be two bundles for the FR60 series, one with both the heart rate monitor and the foot pod, the other with the heart rate monitor only.

Triathletes will embrace the versatility of the swim-friendly FR60 as it helps them train and race indoors or outdoors, on the bike, in the water or on the trails. The featherweight foot pod enables the FR60 to track and record speed, distance, calories burned, steps and cadence without excess burden. Cycling enthusiasts will enjoy the versatile options of adding a bike speed and cadence sensor and a handy bike mount. Adding to the wide range of uses and wireless connectivity, FR60 users in the United States will be able to link effortlessly to their ANT+ compatible fitness equipment such as treadmills, spin bikes, elliptical trainers and more.

Garmin FR60 can track and record up to 15 hours and 100 laps of detailed workout data.

more on forerunner 405

We have a few screen shots from the new Garmin Forerunner 405 that is expected to hit the market soon after April 21st.

This is the training page. You can set up two additional training “pages” and you can scroll through with a tap to the watch bezel. You can also choose up to three data fields to customize each training page. There are over 30 types of data you can display. We’re talking way more than distance, pace, elevation and calories. You can also view GPS accuracy, grade, lap distance, heart rate average, zone, % max and more.

This screen is the virtual partner. It gives you a virtual competitor for every training run. You pick your goal pace, then see how you match up to the virtual partner.

This is the heart rate page. It shows your heart rate and zone numbers as well as a chart that shows your progression at a glance.

The last screen shown here is the navigation page. Since the 405 is GPS-enabled, it has some basic navigation capabilities, including a feature that guides you back to your starting point. Nice for when you strike out on a run in a new city or if you like to “run outside the lines” once in awhile.forerunner-405-4.jpg

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Forerunner 405

Garmin today announced a GPS watch that actually is the size of a watch. Called Forerunner 405 this GPS watch is really not that bad looking meaning you can almost wear all day every day - something impossible to do with the older 305 and 205.

Expected to cost about $300, the Forerunner 405 can track your speed, distance, heart rate and location. The new user interface is a touch bezel on the face of the watch which makes navigating the menus easier. The bezel responds to tapping, holding or running a finger along it.

Like previous models Forerunner 405 also features the Virtual Partner whose pace you can adjust as you wish - which may defeat the purpose of a challenge for some people.

The watch itself does not come with a heart rate monitor but supports it, in addition to an optional speed/cadence bike sensor which can help cyclists monitor their pedaling cadence and wheel speed.

Another nice feature of Forerunner 405 is the connectivity:

Using ANT+Sport technology, the Forerunner 405 sends workout data to the user’s computer via automatic wireless data transfer… the computer automatically syncs with the Forerunner 405 as soon as the user enters the room… Runners, joggers, cyclists and hikers can send courses, goals and workouts to their Forerunner 405 before they begin, and then the data gets sent back to the user’s computer when the workout is over. Athletes can log their workouts, track their totals, set goals, share workouts with coaches, friends and family and participate in an online fitness community at Garmin’s online training site at

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GPS for runners

If you are serious about running and keeping track of your performance you probably have heard of GPS systems that can help you along the way. Most of these little devices are equipped with little fitness computers that can report on your speed, average speed, distance covered, location, heart rate, and much more.

If you are ready lets go over a few of the most popular GPS systems that can assist you during your workout:

suunto-x9i-001.jpgSuunto X9i ($421):

Suunto X9i is a very capable GPS wrist watch that can give you information on altitude, vertical speed, thermometer, atmospheric pressure, compass, and of course your location. People at Suunto also recently developed a software called Suunto Trek Manager (STM).

With STM you can create routes on the maps you have uploaded, edit and erase existing routes, visualize the altitude profiles for your routes, analyze and plan your training, and keep a training diary. You can also create your own activity reports by adding photos and text to the profiles.

So the X9i does provide some performance data, but mostly after you’re done working out and have uploaded your data to your PC using STM. If you are looking for more data during your workout you’ll have to look elsewhere. However the small size and compactness of the X9i makes it quite desirable.

forerunner-305-001.jpgForerunner 305 ($263):

Garmin’s Forerunner 305 is nothing less than high tech personal trainer. It includes a wireless heart rate monitor and can alert you based on time, distance, pace, and of course heart rate. To make your workout more interesting the Forerunner 305 integrates smart features. For example you can download a previous course on to the 305 and compete against it. If you don’t want to compete against your previous performance you can give the “virtual partner” a try. Virtual partner is a digital runner and you can race with it based on time, pace, or distance. And if you get the holographic add-on you can see him/her running right next to you :)

Other features include a Auto Pause, that lets you automatically pause your work out based on a lower speed limit, so you don’t have to hit a button every time you stop to tie your shoe laces. Similar to Auto Pause, there’s something called Auto Lap. It can record lap data when you reach a specified time, distance, or position.

You can still rely on Forerunner 305 to keep track of your performance on those rainy days when you have to hit the treadmill instead of the asphalt. You can buy the Foot Pod which attaches to your running shoe and transmits distance and pace data to your Forerunner 305 when GPS reception is unavailable.

Also in the box, you’ll find the Garmin Training Center software that helps you customize your workouts to meet specific goals and objectives. You can create your own workouts or use workout templates included on the CD. Interactive analysis tools let you chart performance overlaid on a map.

frwd-007.jpgFRWD W600 (€400):

FRWD W600 is somewhat the combination of above two. It does provide a lot of vital data during your workout and also includes a barometer and an altimeter. It is a bit smaller and more stylish than Forerunner but you’ll have to carry an extra bluetooth GPS receiver.

Just like the other two it includes software to analyze your performance on your PC. Speaking of PC, FRWD W600 connects connects wirelessly to your computer. USB dongle for your PC is included.

After the performance you get to relive the best aftermaths on a computer screen with fabulous satellite pictures. You can analyse your route, speed, distance, heart rate, altitude profiles, oxygen consumption etc. You can also compare performances and start a virtual competition against your own or your friends’ performances and see where the differences appear.

The only problem with FRWD is designed by a Finnish company and is not very easy to find in the U.S.

amaryllo-gps-001.jpgAmaryllo Trip Tracker (€160):

Amaryllo Trip Tracker probably has the least functionality compared to others. It lacks heart rate info, calories, altimeter, barometer, etc. But it does cover all the basics. You can see your speed, average speed, and distance covered. It also displays the direction you’re heading and lets you store waypoints along the way. No way you can get lost with this device.

Different from the rest is Amaryllo Trip Tracker can also be used as a bluetooth GPS receiver - so you can pair it up with a PDA, laptop or cell phone and with the help of some navigation software you can have yourself a navigation system.

timex-gps-943.jpgTimex Trail Runner ($300):

The Timex brand may be familiar to triathlon runners and such. Their advanced product with GPS functionality is called Timex BodyLink Trail Runner. It is another GPS system for runners that is easy to get hold of in the U.S and if you can ignore a couple bad reviews on Amazon it sounds like a good buy. The BodyLink Trail Runner has three components - the wrist computer, GPS receiver, and the heart rate monitor; all of which talk to each other wirelessly. It can store waypoints (only 10 though), help navigate back to these waypoints, show directional info, create 5 different training zones for your heart rate, and various other features.

In terms of price, functionality, and the amount of stuff you have to carry, Garmin Forerunner 305 seems to be the clear winner here. We’d also like to hear what you think. Let us know if we missed any other brands.

how to convert Suunto and ForeRunner data into Google Earth format

x9i-005.jpgIf you have one of these Suunto GPS watches you may want to see your recorded tracks on Google Earth since there’s only so much that tiny LCD screen can show you. Well you’re in luck because Suunto now has a free software called Track Exporter that does exactly that:

At this version Suunto Track Exporter has only the most core features. Suunto Track Exporter downloads the tracks from your X9 and X9i and exports them into the Google Earth application.

If you are a Garmin Forerunner owner, there’s another free software you can use to re-live your experiences in Google Earth.

There’s a free application called Foreconv that lets you take your GPS data you’ve recorded as you’ve walked or run with any Garmin Forerunner wrist GPS device, and convert it into data that can be read by Google Earth. It’s a free download, and works beautifully. All you do is export your history file using the Garmin Training Center software that’s included with each Forerunner device, then you open that file in Foreconv, where it quickly converts all that data into a .kml file that can be read by Google Earth.

Suunto X9i GPS watch costs $381 currently, more than $100 cheaper than what it was 5 months ago. Garmin Forerunner 301 - which works best with the free software we just mentioned sells for $150 on Amazon.


now garmin forerunner 305 will work indoors too

Garmin just added a new accessory that will work with Garmin’s GPS enabled personal trainer Forerunner 305. Named the Forerunner 305 Foot Pod, it allows athletes to train indoors where a GPS signal is unavailable. The foot-pod ties to your shoe and wirelessly communicates with the wrist-worn Forerunner 305 to provide accurate distance and speed while training on treadmills or indoor tracks.

The little mysterious looking gadget that is likely to cause you problems at airport security and it is only a little bigger than AAA battery which should last you about 70 hours. Suggested retail price is $99.

suunto x9i: GPS integrated wrist watch for $500

We came across this watch while searching for GPS integrated wrist watches. The Suunto X9i is not necessarily a new gadget. It’s been around since 2004 and you can still pick it up for $499. The X9i packs in a lot of functionality. It’s a GPS receiver, altimeter, barometer, compass, and a thermometer, all in one.

With the X9i, you can plan routes at home with a map, and save them into your watch. When you’re out in the field, your watch will advise you on which way to go, as well as tell you how fast you’re moving, how far you’ve traveled, how far you still have to go, and when you’ll be arriving at your destination. Mark a “home” position, and you’ll be able to hit “find home” from anywhere and get the route and distance back.

You may think $499 may be a bit too steep for a wrist watch that doesn’t even have a single precious stone on it, but think of this way: The closest alternative to this is a Garmin Forerunner which lacks the altimeter, barometer, compass, and thermometer part and it is a lot bigger, but it is less than half the price.

Fitness technology helps measure, motivate

bicycle-483.jpg…Devices from companies like Olathe-based Garmin International use satellite tracking to help runners, walkers and bikers calculate their speed and the grade of that hill they just climbed, and even show their course on a computer using satellite maps from Google Earth.

Heart-rate monitors help them calculate the calories they’re burning and see whether they’re working hard enough, or too hard

Based on sales at online retailers such as, Garmin has grabbed a dominant spot in the fitness world in only a few years. While companies like Timex and Polar may be better known, Garmin’s popular Forerunner fitness trainers have caught the imagination of both serious runners and moms pushing baby strollers.

“It’s amazing the lengths we will go to improve our performance,” said John Wickstrom, a Prairie Village cyclist who uses a Polar heart rate monitor. “If we all lost 30 or 40 pounds, we could just fly.”

All the gadgets generally are designed to accomplish the same task — make us smarter about how we work out.

The best of the gear warns us when we’re working too hard, provides motivation and makes exercise a little more fun.

“After all, it’s supposed to be fun,” said Sean Staggs, project manager for the Mid America Chapter of National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Staggs uses his Garmin gear for both running and cycling. But he also uses it to plot routes for MS fundraising walks and the MS150 bike ride.

For the upcoming 50-mile MS Challenge Walk, for instance, Staggs will use Garmin technology to map hills and other challenges, giving walkers a heads up to rest up before the big ones.

Of course, there are some other, less tangible, issues.

“There’s always a little bit of competition involved,” Wickstrom said. “Somebody gets a new device, and then someone else wants to get something better.”…


Running with Garmin Forerunner 205 and 201

Both the Forerunner 201 and 205 were set to the most smoothing for pace. The 205 also has a data recording option of either smart recording or every second, which is most accurate but only allows you to store 3.5 hours of activities. I kept it on smart recording, but will play around with this feature on future runs.

The weather this morning when I left was about 38 degrees and clear skies with some fog in some areas. As usual, I put the 201 in my backyard to give it time to acquire a satellite and then I put on my shoes in my garage. I tried to start up the 205 while in my garage but it took a while to acquire the satellites. It seems a little faster booting up than the 201 but I wasn’t timing it.

The Run
I got started at around 6 am and ran a relatively relaxed 9.7 mile run. I picked a route where I sometimes had a weak signal on my 201. Above is a photo of the overall route. The yellow line is the path generated by the 205 and the red line is from the 201. These maps were generated by first uploading the runs to MotionBased, which I believe then uses a complex algorithm to map the GPS waypoint data from the device. I then exported KML files to my desktop and then played with them in Google Earth… via

Very handy web based GPS software does it all

GPS Visualizer is a free web based software that lets you create maps and profiles from GPS data, street addresses, or simple coordinates. You can use it to see where you’ve been, plan where you’re going, or visualize geographic data (business locations, events, customers, real estate, etc.).

The site also has a calculator section that can help you calculate the great circle distance between two points, draw a direct route between airports, draw range rings around a point, and convert degrees/minutes/seconds (or degrees/minutes) to decimal degrees. You should check it out.

GPS Visualizer can read data files from many different sources: GPX, OziExplorer, (.loc), IGC sailplane logs, Garmin Forerunner (.xml/.hst), Timex Trainer (v1.3+), Cetus GPS, PathAway, cotoGPS, CompeGPS, TomTom (.pgl), IGN Rando (.rdn), Emtac Trine, Suunto X9/X9i (.sdf), NetStumbler/WiFiFoFum, and of course tab-delimited or comma-separated text. You can also enter waypoint data or street addresses manually, if you just need to plot a few points.

GPS Visualizer can draw maps in SVG, JPEG/PNG, and Google Maps format, and can also create map overlays and KML files for Google Earth. For non-Google maps, JPEGs are easier to deal with, but SVGs are interactive — to view them, make sure you’ve installed Adobe’s free SVG Viewer plug-in. (NOTE: if you’re using Mozilla or Firefox for Windows, you’ll need to download the latest beta version of the plug-in.)