Friday, March 03, 2006

Day 3: Another Comparison Run with the Garmin Forerunner 205 and Forerunner 201

There must be huge pent-up demand for mobile devices that cater to gadget geek runners because traffic has more than quadrupled since I posted my first look at the Garmin Forerunner 205, my first comparison run between the 205 and Garmin Forerunner 201, and a day 2 solo run with the 205. It probably doesn't hurt that there are not many 205s out in the wild yet.

Before I get in to today's run, I posted all the Forerunner-related photos in my spanking, new Flickr account so you can see everything in one place.

This morning I decided to take the 205 and 201 out again on another comparison run. As opposed to the first time, I wore both on my left wrist (see above). I also set the 205 back from every second recording to smart recording.

The weather was pretty miserable: a chilly 42 degrees (for the Bay Area) with a light to steady rain, and a slight breeze. It even hailed for part of the run. Also, the fact that my power button is broken meant that I couldn't use the 205's backlight, which made it tough to see info during the earlier part of the run due to it still being dark out.

I kept both devices under the sleeve of my windbreaker most of the run to minimize getting rain on them. The 205 supposedly can be submersed in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, but I don't know how that translates into rainy conditions.

I ran an out-and-back route (see photo above with red line indicating the route of the 201 and the yellow line representing the 205) with the first 2.6 miles on local roads then the next 2 miles on a paved trail that drops roughly 175 ft in elevation (620ish to 450ish). I then turned around and re-traced my route. The photo above and below were both generated by SportTracks and Google Earth.

The trail section I ran is part of a paved rails-to-trails path that has every .25 miles marked. The markings are pretty accurate since I believe they were measured with a wheel by the local college an/or high school.

The second mile (going out which is the third mile coming back) of the trail section goes through a canyon of sorts. In the picture below you can see open space hills on the left and trees on the right. The path itself is not really under cover, but I've lost the GPS signal on my 201 there in the past.

The overall run I estimated at 9.2 miles. The 201 and 205 both gave me similar results. The 201 had me at 9.28 miles with SportTracks calculating it at 9.37 and MotionBased at 9.40. The 205 had me at 9.26 miles with SportTracks at 9.25 and MotionBased at 9.30. The out and back sections were also pretty much the same and the 2 mle measured trail section came out as 2.00 for both on the way out and 1.98 for the 201 and 1.99 for the 205 on way in. Not much of a discrepancy.

I was pleased with the 201s performance since I haven't used it on this trail for almost two years due to past GPS reception problems. I'd have to credit Garmin for the improved performance because I have updated the software on the device several times and that seems to have made a difference.

However, if you look closely at the photo of the mile section described above, you can see that the 205 (yellow line) pretty much follows the trail while the 201 (red line) wanders. This is probably why SportTracks and MotionBased calculated the mileage for the 201 higher than the 205.

You can see the run details at MotionBased for the 201 and 205.

One last note. I usually don't read manuals until I'm stuck on something so I didn't catch this cool new feature of the 205. When you power up you get the locating satellites bar. If you hit the up or down buttons, you can see a bar graph of which of 30+ satellites are acquiring plus the signal strength level. There is also another screen which shows the satellites in a compass format with the ones acquired highlighted. Very cool stuff that only a geek could love.

I'll try and take both out on a fire trail that I never could measure with the 201 if things dry up here. Also I'll play around with the elevation stuff to see if I can write intelligently about the subject...

Here are links to:

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