Back in late July, I decided to upgrade my bulky yet trusty, Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch. I did my online review research and headed off to the local running specialty store intent on buying one of the new Garmin Forerunner 110 watches. Most of the initial 110 reviews were positive and I was excited about adding a heart rate monitor and workout software data capability to my upcoming training season.
Shame on me…I allowed myself to be talked out of the new Forerunner 110 (price $199.95) and into the more sophisticated and expensive Forerunner 405cx ($349.95). I was intrigued by the “cx” dimension with the 405..supposedly it is geared for cross-training data feedback.
I had heard some less than flattering comments about the 405 prior to buying, mostly surrounding the sensitivity of the new bezel touch system. Damn the torpedos, full steam ahead, I decided to give the 405cx a shot. I’ve been running with the 405cx for over four months now and it’s time for a review.
The 405cx comes complete with an impressive package – heart rate monitor and ANT usb stick are both included in the price (heart rate monitor does cost $50.00 extra with some of the lower priced Garmin models, including the Forerunner 110). The ANT usb stick is a nice feature . A usb cord is no longer needed when downloading your workout information from your Garmin watch to your computer. The ANT (short for antenna) usb stick automatically transfers workout information from your watch when your watch is within 9 meters of the activated ANT usb stick. Also included is a charging adapter and Lord knows you’re gonna need it.
My favorite part of the Garmin Forerunner 405cx system is undoubtedly the Garmin Training Center software package. The “training center” allows you to organize your download workout data into graphs, split times, and even a GPS map indicating the exact route of your workout. There’s a calorie expenditure feature but I’m always leery of any system that estimates my calorie expenditure based on just my age, weight, and speed/topography of the workout. Critical to an accurate calorie burning estimate are weather conditions and my personal basal metabolic rate information. All-in-all, the Garmin Training Center software is a useful and fun software package and it comes standard with most Garmin GPS watches.
Software…that’s the good thing about the 405cx. And now, the not-so-good things.
First off, let me say I’m pretty good when it comes to technical gadgets and computer-related hardware and software. I work in a PC network environment and I’m responsible for “first responder” troubleshooting problems with computers and software at work. At home I live in a happy, bulletproof Macintosh computer world. This being said, I’m not at all impressed by the Garmin 405cx – it’s not easy to use and I found everything about it not intuitive. The manual is not very helpful and the online tutorials provided by Garmin are superficial at best. Thank goodness I had the help of a few my more savvy running friends who already owned a 405. The menus are confusing and I still haven’t been able to figure out how to delete all the workout history from the watch itself. I found navigating around the watch menus and adjusting the settings very frustrating.
I do most of my running in the dark of early morning. The Garmin marketing folks touted the smaller, more aesthetically pleasing size the 405 and the 405cx compared to earlier generations of Garmin watches. Unfortunately this also translates to smaller LED font and it’s hard to read in blur of a sleepy, early morning. Okay, so I’m old and I wear glasses. I’ve heard the new Forerunner 110 has larger font and is more readable.
The re-chargeable battery life of the 405cx is good for about one workout, every other day – terrible battery life, requiring me to recharge my 405cx before every run. Again, I hear that Garmin has improved rechargeable battery life on some of the new models, including the 110.
My next beef is with the bezel touch system. There are only two side buttons on the 405cx and most of your menu changes are done by touching the metal perimeter of the watch bezel. I find the bezel overly sensitive and less than easy to use.
For this 51 year-old, 40 miles-per-week runner, the Garmin Forerunner has been a big disappointment. You mileage might certainly vary, but if I could have a do-over, I’d buy the new Garmin Forerunner 110. Maybe Santa will bring me one for Christmas?!
Pros of the Garmin 405cx:
- Training Center software package
Cons of the Garmin 405cx:
- Hard to operate; not intuitive
- Small font, hard to read
- Poor battery life
- Bezel touch system is too sensitive
- Lousy manual and online tutorials
Questions? E-mail Fred at email@example.com