The Navman R300

Review by Allory Deiss, August 5, 2005

Since this review is being hosted on the GPS Information website it only seems fair to say right up front that the Sport.Tool is not a GPS receiver in the traditional sense. The unit does not give you information about your location, there is no map page, it cannot be connected to a computer.

Having established what the Sport.Tool is not, what is it? The Sport.Tool is a small training aid which utilize GPS technology to determine distance and timing information. There are five models in the lineup, each with a slightly different feature set optimized for different activities.

Model Market Feature set
A300 Skiing current, average and maximum speed; cumulative altitude gained or lost
M300 Windsurfing and Sailing current, average and maximum speed; heading; automated timer; choice of nautical or statute miles
R300 Running current, average and maximum speed; target zones based on speed or pace; automated timer; estimate of calories burned; choice of statute or metric units
S300 Inline Skating current, average and maximum speed; distance; speed target zone
W300 Walking speed and distance; current and average pace; estimated calories burned

The recently announced X300 combines all the features into one multipurpose unit.

Getting Started

The R300 arrived with an arm band, user's guide in six languages, quick start guide and an AA battery. The arm band is set up for use on the left arm, assuming operation with the right hand. For this left-handed user it worked fine, but there are some things I wasn't comfortable trying on my bicycle.

Setup is a bit challenging, like any electronic device which only has two buttons, but the manual walks through the procedure quite well. Options include 12 or 24 hour clock; date format; beep on or off; kilograms or pounds; user weight; calories or Joules; kilometers or miles; and local time offset.

Using the R300

In use, the R300 displays information on a series of nine screens.

Time and Date. This screen will flash 'NO GPS' until the unit has a satellite fix. The antenna icon will blink if it looses the fix during use. The battery icon will show on any of the screens when the battery is low.
Total time, Lap number and Lap time for the current lap.
Lap distance, Lap number and Lap time for previous laps. Pressing the circular button allows you to cycle through all previous laps
Total distance, Current speed and Current pace (minutes per mile).
Distance, Average speed and Average Pace.
Distance, Maximum speed and Maximum Pace.
Total distance (this counter can be reset independently) and GPS Altitude.
Calories burned. This is an estimate based on the time and distance traveled and body weight. Since the R300 is intended for walkers and runners this number will be inaccurate if you use it while bicycling.
This will either be one screen saying 'ZONE OFF' or three screens indicating 'ZONE ON', minimum and maximum speed. The unit will beep to indicate that you are not moving within the target zone.

In use the unit is quite straightforward. The round button is pressed to turn it on, pressing the triangular button cycles through the screens. Both buttons are pressed simultaneously to reset the lap, time and distance counters. The sample screens above are the result of walking with my son on his paper route, the laps are a result of me experimenting with the functions rather than any defined time or distance.

The unit appears to have a patch antenna which is near vertical when worn on the upper arm. As a result there are occasions when satellite signals are blocked. This is especially apparent when turning a corner and changing the sky view of the unit. I suspect that explains the 5 mph maximum speed above.

Battery life was about 12 hours with the included alkaline cell. This included more beeps and resets than would likely happen in normal operation. The NiMH cell currently in the unit seems like it will give similar results. (I will update this information when more battery cycles have been run.) The unit turns off after 15 minutes if it is stationary and no buttons are pushed.

General Impressions/Conclusions

When I first unpacked the R300 I was not overly impressed. My daily carry GPS is a Garmin eTrex Vista, complete with all the usual bells and whistles. Reverting to something with two buttons and a one-line text interface took a little adjustment. After spending a bit of time actually using it, however, I began to appreciate the R300 for what it is.

If you are an athlete in training or someone who walks for exercise, this is truly a useful tool. There is no sense of guilt about ignoring it, but the information you need is there when you want it.


Comments, complaints, etc.... Allory Deiss.

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