Sunday, February 12, 2017

GPS Watches Review: Soleus SG100 and Garmin Forerunner 25

          Comparisons between these two brands have been written about ad nauseam as evidenced by a Google search, however, allow me to put in my two cents' worth, if you please.
          In the middle of 2016, the rubberized button of my previous decade’s Garmin Forerunner finally melted to the point where I couldn’t turn it on anymore. So I researched and looked for a replacement GPS watch on the internet and came upon a brand called Soleus. I had seen the brand before and I think they even sold it in Kohl’s Department stores. They were cheap as far as GPS watches go and I found the most basic Soleus SG100 on Ebay for $35. $35???!!! I don’t run much anymore so I don’t need a device with fancy schmancy bells and whistles, just something to measure time, distance, and pace.
          When the product arrived, I set it up, had it connect to the GPS satellites, which it did within about 30 seconds, then read the instructions. I took it out for a run a few days later and it seemed to function pretty well. What I had a hard time remembering was how to save the workout and turn off the GPS. It was months later when I finally figured it out somewhat (press the buttons in a counter clockwise direction). For the first few runs, I trusted the device like I used to trust my old GPS watches, but one time I plugged in the numbers in an online pace calculator and the Soleus measured about 30 seconds slower on the pace. I did that several more times with similar results. I emailed Soleus customer service and the response I got was basically when I stop running and turn the timer off, the device will continue measuring another 1/10th of a mile, resulting in the discrepancy between watch measurement of pace and the online pace calculator. So after every use of the Soleus, I would recheck the pace online and log the online pace in my exercise log instead. So Soleus: low price, lousy pace calculator. I don’t know if their higher end devices are any better.
          I wasn’t planning on buying another GPS watch anytime soon, but somebody gave me a $10 Amazon gift card for Christmas so on to the website I went and found a Garmin 25 for about $93, so the gift card took care of the taxes and the shipping was free. When I received the device, I set it up as usual and found that it was more intuitive or maybe I was more intuitive to its functions. It even had a step counter and a sleep tracker to boot. And it was much less bulkier than my 2 previous Garmins and it connected to the satellites much quicker.
          I tested it on a run and it tracked distance and pace as expected and after comparing it to the online calculator, the results were exactly alike. At last! Charging it via the USB plug launched a setup screen, I downloaded the software and signed up on the Garmin Express website. On my initial login, the system updated the software and as a result, also deleted my first run. Fortunately I had already written it in my exercise log. Subsequent logins and even a change in computers automatically recorded my workouts.
          One day, I was going to do my workout on the recumbent bike and I had a thought. Since the Garmin had a step counter, why not strap it to my ankle and see if counts how many pedals I did. Indeed it did. It counted about 4000 steps on one leg so that probably means I did 8000 pedals in a 45 minute workout. I’ve been strapping the device to my ankle ever since while doing a recumbent bike, spin bike, stairmaster, or treadmill walk workout at home. I hope that’s not considered cheating because I’m still doing an activity after all.
          All in all, I’m quite satisfied with the Garmin because it meets my needs. I have no idea what to do with the Soleus though.
          Oh, I forgot. The Garmin has an interval run/walk timer while the Soleus does not.
Here's an update: I finally downloaded the Soleus Sync software, signed up with Strava, and uploaded my runs to that website. First, I didn't recognize the last 2 runs that were uploaded because I was already using the Garmin by then, and it was a faster pace than what I'm capable of. The rest of the log showed the elapsed time of my runs were always a few seconds shorter than my actual time. For example, an hour run showed 59:49 and a 50 minute run showed 49:54. So in addition to the inaccurate pace, the watch logged some ghost workouts, and inaccurate time as well. How does that happen? And did you notice the photo above? How can the Soleus say it's March 14th when it's just February 11th, and I hadn't made any adjustments to it since I last used it? So I guess, buyer beware and read those ad nauseam reviews first.