Gear Reviews

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Kasumigaura Marathon 2016

When \\\\\\\"blustery\\\\\\\" wasn\\\\\\\'t even the right word. Read the race report here!

31st Marathon and my 6th Consecutive GCAM. Race report here.


Leaping From Garmin To Polar

I recently posted my exasperation with my 10-month old Garmin Forerunner 610 that it couldn’t recharge. But that’s not my only grouse with it. Here are more:

  • Both the back plate of the watch and the charging clip are corroded, despite rinsing and really taking care of the watch. I’ve been handling the 610 with kids gloves after going through the pain of the 205. I’ve not had issues with the 305 as I used it for less than a year prior to selling it off.

The corrosion on the magnetic charging clip

The back of the 610 isn't spared either.

  • My frustration with the brand reached its zenith after failing to reconcile the fact that I’ve paid a lot of money for it and after so long they didn’t do anything to resolve the battery and durability issues.
  • Servicing the Garmin after the 1-year warranty period is a very costly affair. A few years ago, I was quoted RM500 just to replace the then 3-year old 205’s battery which the local authorized distributor was not able to do. The unit had to be sent back to Taiwan. Naturally I didn’t go with it because for that price, I might as well buy a 305 which comes with HRM features, which I did.

The 610 with the most used accessories. Not shown is the ANT+ foot pod.

As much as I like the Garmin’s strength in mapping and all-in-one GPS functions, I decided that enough is enough. Made the switch to Polar and while there’s no perfect watch, I’ve grown to appreciate it a little more as I rack up the miles using it. Depending on your preferences, the Polar may need a bit more customization and poking around before you cozy up with it. Here’s how I set up the 6 customizable screens on the RCX5:

Screen 1: Pace > Average Pace > Distance > Stop Watch
Screen 2: Average Pace > Pace > Stop Watch > Distance
Screen 3: Stop Watch > Average Pace > % HR > Zone Pointer
Screen 4: Distance > Average Pace > Calories/HR > Zone Pointer
Screens 5 and 6: Disabled

The reason I’ve repetitive settings over different screens is because I’ve options to collapse the data fields from 4 to 2 or 3 lines to increase legibility. I won’t delve into each of the extensive menu as DCRainmaker has lend his trademark detailed review, which you can check out here. Do check out the video of the neat HeartTouch feature of the watch!

Size comparison against the AAA.

The important parts, clockwise from the top: USB charging cable, hybrid HRM, GPS arm pocket, GPS unit, USB stick, RCX5

Charging the GPS. Each charge lasts 20 hours.

Give the back a twist and you can replace the battery yourself. Battery type: CR2032

Best thing is I don’t have to worry about battery life when traveling. The watch has enough juice for close to a year on a user replaceable battery and the GPS pod can last up to 20 hours on a single charge. In fact, there’s no need for me to pack the USB charger when I travel. And there’s really no need to use the GPS arm band as sat lock is still good despite being in the shorts pocket or SPIBelt (as evidenced during my recent usage during the Gold Coast Airport Marathon). Swimmers and triathletes would be interested to know that all components work underwater within reasonable depths of course (again, check out DCRainmaker’s photos and notes).

Screen cap of the Polar Personal Trainer

Interval setting menu. These are default values after going through a questionairre.

Where it’s rather weak is the integration to social media and workout logging sites. Garmin, for example, is well integrated into Buckeyeoutdoors, DailyMile, Training Peaks, SportTracks (Windows only) besides the Garmin Connect/Training Center. Polar’s answer is more training-centric, so they only have the Polar Personal Trainer and Training Peaks.

So the question you may find yourself asking is which is the one for you. There’s no perfect watch but here’s the comparison between both watches that I’ve come up with after just 2 weeks with the RCX5. There could be some gaps in my understanding, so do research on your own as well. You can download the PDF sheet of my comparison here.

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