Road Tested: Garmin Forerunner 405
What it is: The Garmin Forerunner 405 ($299; garmin.com) is a GPS-enabled sports watch for runners that monitors time, distance, pace, and calories burned and wirelessly transfers workout data to your computer.
How it works: A touch-sensitive bezel on the face of the watch allows you to navigate through a variety of options, from starting a new workout to accessing your training history. Equipped with a GPS antenna, the watch accurately tracks how far, how fast, and where you run. By syncing it with your computer, you can analyze your workout stats and monitor your training progress.
The benefits: A comprehensive training tool for gadget-loving athletes, the Forerunner offers the latest in sports-watch technology. Having a GPS device in the compact and lightweight form of a watch makes tracking your mileage easier and more accurate than ever. Being able to customize workouts, get instant feedback, and track data motivates you to challenge yourself. The Virtual Partner mode allows you to train with a digital runner who travels at your set pace, so you can clearly see if you fall behind or speed ahead. It's like having a personal trainer and running buddy at your fingertips.
The drawbacks: With all its bells and whistles, the Forerunner isn't very user friendly. Don't expect to open the box and hit the pavement. The set-up is frustrating and time consuming, even with a 45-page instruction manual. The watch must be fully charged before using and when in GPS mode it only offers an eight-hour battery life. Once you've programmed it, you then have to download software to your computer in order to sync data. One caveat for Mac users: Compatible software will not be available until Fall 2008.
The bottom line: While this is a useful training tool for serious runners, it's a big investment of time and money for recreational joggers.