Electronics of all kinds have been giving me a serious case of the ass lately. I could fill up my own landfill with the junk they send me. I saw Garmin’s Forerunner 305 combination watch, GPS and heart rate monitor on sale at REI and even though I’ve always wanted one of each I looked for reasons not to buy it.
Finally I took the plunge, and after a couple weeks of using the 305 I am surprised to report… it works! Not only does it work, it works well. As an added bonus the "quick start" manual is exactly that, and I was up and running – well, not literally, you know what I think about running – within minutes after charging was complete.
The 305 let me put in my own five heart rate zones that had been tortured out of me by the thugs at Seattle Performance Medicine. I strapped on the included wireless heart rate chest strap, which synced immediately and stays connected within at least fifteen feet so you can leave the wrist unit on a shelf while you lift weights, for example. I stepped outside and it acquired satellites very quickly. I hopped on my mountain bike and knocked out twenty miles, ogling the beta throughout. For the truly sick you can even get add-on kits to measure pedal strokes and foot strikes.
Back at Flogger Central I installed the software on a PC and plugged the watch into the USB port; the cable also plugs into a wall adapter for charging. No need to RTFM, I found the "retrieve data" button and bingo, there was my workout graphed however I pleased, with a crude but readable route map to boot. The software tracks how much time you spend in each heart rate zone, speed, distance, you name it. The only downside is that the unit, while small for a GPS, is largish for a wrist watch. I ordered a kit that will let me swap out the rubber wristband for a more flexible strap that will also allow me to hot-swap it between bike and body. There’s a lot left to learn about this unit, but I’m here to report the out-of-box experience is sweet!