Gardening at Night (Part 2)

So I’m vain, and was troubled that, even giving account for the hill, I posted a greater than 10 minute mile last night.

So I went and did the run over tonight. 9:33/8:53/9:55 (I’m skeptical of the last mile time, though). So it’s slower overall, but more consistient mile times.

The new gadget is a Forerunner 101. It rocks. I grabbed the 101 instead of the 201 that Ben has. I went with the 101 because it uses AAA’s instead of a internal rechargeable. The 201’s download feature appealed to me, but its using serial only turned my iBook loving self off – nothing approaching a serial port here. I’ve only had it for 3 runs, but here’s my initial take:

1. Super easy to use. Turn it on, wait until it syncs up with the satellites, push start, and it’s off. Push stop when you want to stop. Reset the counters. The run is now in internal memory.

2. The unit’s got a pretty sensitive reciever. Our neighborhood is pretty wooded, but it’ll gain sync in our driveway, under a giant maple tree and smaller japanese maple. It holds it pretty well on the roads. I haven’t tried a trail run – yet.

3. I don’t think it’s too obtrusive. My lovely wife thought it was a little too big to strap to her wrist. It does come with a band extender; Melissa is thinking about trying it again strapped to her upper arm. The disadvantage would be not being able to see the display, but if you’re just interested in recording, it’s not an issue. That, and most of the functions (mile marker, etc) have audible cueing. I can’t hear the beeps over my iPod, though.

4. Nice features – Clear display, good backlight. The backlight automatically comes on when the unit has an alert (passing another mile, falling off pace, etc). The Training Partner is kind of nice. If Garmin keeps it when the Forerunner is updated, they could speed it up on downhills and slow it down on uphills (GPS gives elevation data).

Gripes:
1. The unit design is not poor by any stretch of the imagination. But, after the iBook and the iPod (not to mention small details like the international power adapters Apple has available that work with both items’ power supplies), my standards are high. My gripe is that the UI is 6 buttons, all pretty similar size and texture, on the side of the unit. One of the reasons I’m skeptical of today’s third mile split is because I accidentally turned the unit off between the 1st and 2nd miles. I stopped and turned it back on again, but it threw off the “odometer”. Yes, I was an idiot for pushing and holding the power button (for like 3 seconds; it’s not really easy to do by mistake), but the backlight is turned on by briefly pressing the power button.

2. It’s missing the geeky GPS features, like a lat/long display, or the ability to select between different GPS data (WGS 84/UTM/etc – you either know what I’m talking about already, or you don’t care). There are some work-arounds I’ve found (such as marking a waypoint at the current location to get lat/long), but I don’t think I’m getting rid of my Magellan GPS 315 any time soon. I think this may be intentional on Garmin’s part – why give away a big part of their market on a sub – $100 device. I think it’ll work backpacking, especially if I take the time to pre-set waypoints. But I’m still mainly a map-and-compass kind of guy in any case. And the 101’s “Back to start” feature ought to bail me out.

3. There’s no ability to turn GPS on/off unless the machine can’t acquire a satellite. There’s also no ability to tell the unit where it is, so initial acquisition of a signal can last up to 30 minutes the first time you turn the unit on, or if you travel more than 500 miles with the unit off. In practicality, mine acquired signal in about 5 minutes right out of the box.

3 thoughts on “Gardening at Night (Part 2)

  1. Let me know when you test it out on the trails. I really want a speed/distance gadget, but I’m reluctant to get a GPS based system with all the hills and trees in Northeastern CT. Thanks for the review; I found it helpful!

  2. I’m thinking hard about a device too. I’ve been considering all makes and models and prices. I know from my experience with buying a HRM that sometimes it’s worth it to spend big bucks for quality and features but I’m just not sure. I’m an Apple fan also (older iBook owner) so I know quality as you do!

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