Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Resisting the cult of the new

About a year and a half ago, my wife gave me a Garmin Forerunner 220 for my birthday. Before that, I had just relied on Runkeeper on my smartphone (which necessitated getting a new smartphone when my Galaxy Nexus's GPS started to become erratic and unreliable). Once I experienced the advantages of a GPS watch -- much faster GPS lock, more accurate tracking -- I was sold. I've been super-satisfied with the 220.

Today, I took my dad to Road Runner Sports to look at GPS watches. For his purposes, Runkeeper would be perfectly adequate, but he doesn't want to run with a phone. We looked at the Forerunner 25, 230, and 235, and then I came home to do some research -- i.e., reading DC Rainmaker's reviews. It didn't take long to determine that the 25 would be the most cost-effective option for my dad. (He mostly runs laps at a non-standard track at the local elementary school.) I don't think he would use the fancier features on the 230/235.

However, as I read DC Rainmaker's review of those higher-end watches, I started thinking, hey, those sound like pretty cool features.... I use my Galaxy S5's step counting app, but it would be nice not to be tethered constantly to it, which the 230 or 235 would allow with their activity trackers. (That recent study about cellphones and cancer seems pretty questionable, as this column argues, but it wouldn't hurt to be cautious.) And the 235 has a heart rate monitor based on the wrist pulse, meaning no need for an uncomfortable chest strap.

I began to toy with the idea of offering my 220 to my dad (clearing all the settings, of course), and then getting a 235 for myself.

"Hey, wasn't that a present from Mommy?" my pre-teen son asked.

"Um, yeah," I answered sheepishly.

My wife was non-plussed. (She's so awesome!) "Go ahead and get it if you like," she said.

I got maybe 75 percent of the way toward pulling the trigger by ordering from Amazon, but I read some more reviews/comparisons. The third post in this thread from Let's Run included the following suggestion:

The GPS function of the 230 and 235 are both spot on, so tracking your run is fine. between the two I would get the 230. Less S*** to fail on you. better yet, save money, buy a Forerunner 220 (best running watch by Garmin currently in my opinion)
That threw some cold water on my idea. I did some more reading and it seems that the optical reader in the 235 is pretty new technology, and hence good but not great at picking up the HR. It would make more sense to wait for Garmin to work out all the kinks before adopting it.

The thrill of getting something new faded, and I told my dad that I thought the Forerunner 25 was the best choice for him. If/when my 220 dies, I'll upgrade, but until then, I'll stick with old reliable.

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