What's nice about a GPS watch?

| Comments (4) | Gear Sports
Joe Hall asks why one would want a GPS-enabled watch. Roughly speaking, there are three features I want:
  • Altitude measurement (though note you can get sports watches with a barometric altimeter, which is actually more accurate, at least when you want to measure elevation gain;/lost).
  • Speed and distance. It's nice to be able to get some sense of how fast you're running and I find the GPS more convenient and comfortable than the foot pod pedometers that are the alternative.
  • Performance comparison. For my money, the coolest feature of a GPS sports watch is that you can get real time display of where you stand compared to a previous performance on the same course, which is a lot easier than remembering your time at multiple checkpoints. I can't figure out whether this is really useful—in fact I suspect it encourages you to push your workouts too hard to beat your previous pace—but it's still pretty sweet.

In principle a gizmo like this might be useful for getting you un-lost, but the fact that you don't have a real map, just a view of where you've been, makes it pretty hard to use for anything other than backtracking. If, for instance, you're doing a loop and there are multiple trails but not a dense enough network that you can just vector in on your start point directionally, than without a trail map a GPS is pretty useless. Pretty good for out and back trips, though.


I would say that the fact that it encourages you to push your workouts harder is the best feature, isn't it? ;-)

You would think, wouldn't you? But a lot of your workouts should just be done on an easy pace and so pushing them is actually counterproductive.

Its all about information isn't it? I mean we struggle day in and day out for data to back up our claims or propose new solutions - its nice to a gadget like this even if its completely irrelevant for work.

I recently purchased the Edge 305 which is the biking equivalent of the Garmin 305. The main feature I like about it is that it gives me an accurate idea on how far I've gone as in "WTF I've only gone 4 miles?!?!"

The secondary features are comparing workouts over the course of the summer and the altitude measurement - I didn't know I drop some 120 feet between my home and my present client which explained one or two things (at least for me).

Thanks, ekr! Altitude would be pretty wicked... my weekly hill bit is a bitch of a set of hills and I've always wondered what the various gains and losses were (although, as a 6'2", 230lb. former triathlete, I'm never happy with my workouts anymore knowing what I was able to do in the past... prolly should get over that quick!).

I do wish the 405 et al. were a bit more water-resistant in case I get the crazy idea to swim more... I suppose my HR monitor will have to suffice.

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