- This all-in-one device is so easy to use, you won’t need to read a bulky manual to figure it out. We loved its rechargeable battery with 15 hours of juice, convenient at-a-glance feature with its four-window data display and ability to stand up to 50 meters of water. It is a little heavy and runs big on small wrists. www.timex.com
- We liked the lightweight feel of the three-ounce Fortex 401 and its comfortable Velcro strap that stays put. The waterproof device takes a few minutes to acquire satellite, but is able to maintain reception, even in deep canyons. The TracBack feature retraces your path and can also memorize and draw your routes. As you travel, the position icon moves and marks your trails via waypoints. www.garmin.com
- The Accelerator Pro Plus uses an accelerometer sensor that can measure speed and distance without a foot pod or GPS. The watch is a bargain for tracking speed, distance, pace, calories and steps. Setting up the basic features of the watch is easy but programming your stride length is a bit challenging, as you’ll have to refer to the online stride length calculator. www.tech4o.com
- You need a special chip to manually turn the watch on and off, which can be troublesome if you lose it. The RC1209 relies on the R3 transmitter chest strap to track speed, distance, calories burned and your heart rate with a sensor that also measures your acceleration. But make sure to program your watch accurately to set the interval alarms and to avoid delayed tracking. www.sigmasport.com
- Once you get through the hassle of programming the watch, the RCX5 is a keeper. A rival to the Timex Global Trainer, the RCX5 can measure your heart rate even while you’re underwater. The GPS sensor shows your route online, where you can download training plans. It comes with a sensor you attach to your laces. It monitors your cadence and strides, and scores your run based on the recorded data. www.polarusa.com
- The M5 prescribes a seven-day workout schedule based on the goals you’ve programmed. It measures your progress using the HRM and prompts you to speed up when you’re slowing down or to slow down if you’re going too hard. The black display with white numbers became difficult to read in low light conditions, even with the backlight, so choose your workout times wisely. www.suunto.com
This review first appeared in the September issue of Competitor Magazine.
From water-resistant features to GPS capabilities, these six sports watches can be both your coach and training partner.