Friday, April 07, 2006

First Look: Garmin Forerunner 205

As many of you know, I've been talking for some time about upgrading my favorite mobile device, the Garmin Forerunner 201 GPS running watch and replacing it with one of Garmin's Next Generation Forerunners.

The Garmin Forerunner 205, pictured to the left, just started shipping. Originally, due to my procrastination over which model to purchase, the 205 or the 305 with a heart rate monitor, I ended up waiting too long. When I finally ordered the 205 via, it was on backorder until mid-March.

However as luck would have it, I'm an impatient gadget geek, and while calling REI to check on the status of the order last Thursday night, I was told by the customer service rep that the Seattle retail store actually just got in a couple of units.

I quickly called the Seattle store and ordered the 205, paying $20 extra to have it shipped 2nd day air. Usually I go all out to pay as little as possible for shipping, but I figured I already had gone this far so it made little sense to torture myself even longer to get my hands on the product.

The Forerunner 205 arrived this afternoon and I had a chance to play around with it. I didn't get to take it for a run, but will compare it to the 201 on my run tomorrow morning. Here are my initial thoughts on the Garmin Forerunner 205:

  1. It's bigger than I thought it would be. The picture on the right is a side by side comparison (201 is on the left and 205 on the right). A lot of the size of the 205 is taken up by the antenna, which is built into the bottom of the display. It still feels a bit smaller because it's not as wide as the 201.
  2. The display of the 205 is a little smaller and for some reason doesn't seem as bright or sharp as the 201.
  3. While the 201 had 3 set screens and one customizable with 3 data fields, the 205 allows you to customize 2 main screens and a third activity specific (i.e. run, bike or other) one with 1 to 4 data fields per screen. For example, on my main screen I have 4 fields - total time, total distance, average pace and time of day. On other screens, I have lap time, lap distance, lap pace, elevation, GPS accuracy, etc. This is very cool, especially for data-driven geeks like myself.
  4. I like the 205's plastic strap much better. I was never a fan of the 201's velcro strap.
  5. The side buttons seems a bit hard to push. I hope they loosen up. The Lap and Start/Stop buttons on the face are nice and large so that's another plus.
  6. The GPS receiver seems much stronger. I can lock onto a signal inside my house next to a window. This never happened with the 201.
  7. like the fact I can connect the 205 to my PC via a USB cable and the charging cradle (see pictures below). Charging via USB is a nice bonus. For some reason, the watch doesn't feel that secure in the cradle. It's not a tight fit.
That's all I can think of right now and I need to get to sleep so I can wake up early for my run (I hope it doesn't rain). If you're in my neighborhood tomorrow morning around 6 a.m. make sure to say hello. I'll be the running dork with the big devices on both wrists.....
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