Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Timex ONE GPS+ Review

Date: Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Gear Review: Timex ONE GPS+ by Eric Charette

Background Information: I have been running for 11 years and have logged over 34,000 miles and competed in over 360 races of every distance from the mile to 50 miles. I have run in nearly every state, been to all four corners of the country, to the highest and lowest points in the lower 48. Beyond running, I am an Electrical Engineer with my P.E. license working in the power utility industry. Every mile I have run has been chronicled in a detailed log and most of the miles have been tracked on GPS devices. In the early days it was the Garmin 105, then onto the five consecutive Garmin 205’s. More recently I have been wearing the Garmin 910XT for running and cycling. On occasion I will carry my iPhone 5s and use various tracking apps including Strava and MapMyRun. I am also the director of team operations for Fleet Feet Racing Huntsville. Part of my duties include managing partners and sponsors, often with product testing and gear reviews. So when Andrew asked me if I wanted to test out the new TIMEX ONE GPS+ I was all in. Running plus technology plus writing equals my sweet spot!


First and foremost I want to thank TIMEX and Andrew Hodges for the opportunity to product test the new ONE GPS+.

I have been looking at GPS watches for running that can not only track every mile on foot and the bike, but one that can sync workouts immediately upon completion. The method of bringing the GPS back home to sync with a computer via USB stick is very antiquated, only to see that everyone else I ran with has already uploaded their run via various smart GPS watches. Reading that the ONE GPS+ features a data plan to automatically sync workouts without requiring a smart phone was an immediate benefit. The upload process is very easy, with just a single button to send the data to Garmin Connect, which I have linked to Strava.

I liked the feel of the watch on my skinny wrists. It fit very snug and the low profile of the device was slightly smaller than my Garmin 910XT. It still is a little large to be worn as an everyday watch but the size of these devices are trending in the right direction. The band hinges are fixed, meaning that the watch will not lay flat. The only time this causes any issues is when charging and wanting the watch to lay flat to see the percentage charge that I am used to seeing.

Having run with the watch all over the country, I have been in places were normal cell phone coverage is nonexistent. Still the watch worked great! I attempted to upload the data from the run which appeared to succeed but with no coverage it was just kept on the device. I was able to upload the data when I had signal overage again.

The touch screen has taken some getting used to. I do prefer side buttons, especially when running with sweaty fingers when I can’t quite figure out how much pressure to apply to the screen. Being able to configure the data on screens is plus. I was able to swipe through the screens to see different data during the run. After the run, I was able to look back at historical runs very simply.

Out of the box I did play with the emailing feature but have to note that it is quite arduous to compose the messages. I sent a few messages and can see that this might be a good emergency feature. But the built in emergency features to send a signal to an “angel” takes the place of emailing. Before fully understanding how to use the feature, the watch was sending my wife emails about my location then updates along my running route. This could be a very nice option for when running alone or while on travel with giving your loved ones an idea that I am safe.

The accuracy seems to be very good. I have worn it several times on one arm while wearing my Garmin 910XT on the other arm. Over the course of 10+ mile runs, both devices ended up being within a couple hundredths of each other.

The battery life is substantial when it is in watch mode. Despite dozens of runs, I have yet to master the power situation. With some more practice and attention I should be able to master when to put the watch in standby mode vs. leaving it powered on and ready to run which seems to take a toll on the battery after days. The charger plug has a USB option which provides versatility with charging the device.

I was excited about the idea of adding music to the watch. The process was pretty easy with a simple drag and drop from either Windows Explorer or Mac Finder. Where I was let down a little was I assume that the watch would have a small speaker to play the music; that would have been amazing! But the option to listen to the music is via Bluetooth (headphones).  I got the powerbeats2 wireless headphones for Christmas and these worked like a charm!  Great to listen to music from your wrist and not to have to carry a phone.

The smart phone app that goes with the watch is pretty helpful to do some basic configuration of watch. I was able to edit my profile, locate the device (similar to a find my phone feature), manage my contacts, review messages that were sent/received and manage the angel locator settings. Pretty much everything that I wanted to do within the app was there. The running events are not logged within the app as those are kept in the Garmin Connect app. I can understand the separation as this allows for all logged events from any GPS device to be kept whereas the ONE GPS+ app is just for this device. Simple enough.

The autopause feature could use some improvements. For city running with lots of stop lights, the watch would pause just as expected. But when starting to run again, the watch would take a significant amount of time and distance to start up again. Then once the device started tracking again, it took a while for the pace to be regulated. For example I would be running seven minute pace when the device started tracking, but the watch would be measuring barely over a walking pace. This really was frustrating as it played havoc on my overall average pace. The worst part was that it was impossible to disable the autopause during the workout without a reset and starting over. Options such as autolap and autopause should be accessible from standard settings and locked in for the run.

I was a little disappointed that there was not an option to log miles on the bike. I suspect that this will be a future feature which would truly make the TIMEX a multisport watch.

I want to continue testing the watch before I have enough confidence to use it during a race. I am sure that it will perform fine, but pace, time and distance are very important to know during a race.

Overall I am pretty happy with the watch. I think with a few software and hardware tweaks, the next evolution will be right in step with the other GPS watch leaders.