Garmin’s Forerunner 305
 Personal Trainer Series

Forerunner 305
Fitness GPS with Highly Sensitive Receiver
October 25, 2006
Review By: Jess Grogan

Package Includes:                                         

Forerunner® 305

  Heart Rate (HR) Monitor

       Garmin Training Center CD

       Docking Cradle

       Expander Strap

       AC Charger

       PC/USB Interface Cable

       Quick Start Guide

       Owner's Manual



Overview

The Garmin Forerunner 305 sports a sleek new design and enhanced features to bring a wealth of information to any avid runner, cyclist, tri-athlete, and/or sports enthusiast.  Among the most dynamic of the features are: a lightweight, 2.5-ounce design;  real-time monitors for distance, speed/avg. speed, heart rate/avg. heart rate, time, calories burned and pace/avg. pace—all of which can be easily accessed by shifting through various customizable display screens during your workout.  The data fields can also be set to auto-scroll, which allows the athlete to see all the differing data fields in sequence.  The 305 model boasts quicker satellite location times than previous models and an ANT heart rate strap which wirelessly links up to the unit while effectively reducing cross-talk with other similar wireless items which may be nearby.  A multi-sport feature allows for easy transitions between sports and alerts may be set to indicate changes in or achievements of speed, pace, distance, time, or combinations of these factors.  Garmin even says it is safe to keep it in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, (but I chose not to do so), which should get you through even the worst downpour.  A compass feature proves to be very helpful, especially when navigating to a pre-marked location on a course or route.  Despite being specifically designed for sports related activity, it also includes many of the features in a basic GPS unit, such as marking waypoints, reviewing track logs and could even work for elementary geocaching.  Other optional accessories include a cadence indicator (sold separately) and a computer-based program called Training Center which is included in the purchase of the unit.  The listed retail price for the unit on the Garmin website is $376.91, but many discount stores offer the item online for a  lower price. Check Discount Prices HERE.

Specifications

                        Forerunner 305                                                                             HR Monitor        

                        GPS:  High sensitivity SiRFstarrIII architecture                               Size: 34.8 x 3.56 x 1.27

                        Acquisition Time:  1 second to 45 seconds                                   Range: 9.8 ft. approx., (3m)

                        Update Rate: 1/second, continuous                                               Battery: CR2032  (3 volts)

                        GPS Position Accuracy:  less than 10 meters 50% typical             Battery Life: 3 years (1 hr./day)

                        GPS Velocity Accuracy:  less than 0.05 m/s                                  Weight:  21 grams (0.74 oz.)

                        Dynamics:  Performs to specifications of 6 G’s

                        Operating Temperature Range: -4oF to 140oF (-20oC to 60oC)

                        Weight:  77 grams (2.72 oz.)

                        Display: 33 x 20.3 mm  (1.3’x 0.8’)

                        Physical Size:  53.3 x 17.8 x 68.6 mm (2.1” x 0.7” x 2.7”)

                        Lap Memory: 1,000 laps                                            

Battery:  Rechargeable internal lithium-ion

Battery Life:  10 hours (typical use)

Water Resistance:  IEC 60529 IPX7 (submersible to one meter for up to 30 minutes)

Buttons

The Garmin Forerunner 305 has six buttons: power, mode, reset, enter, and zoom in/out.

            1…Power:  Turns unit off/on & turns

            on the backlight when in use.

            2…Mode:  Views Timer or Main Menu, Exits the                        

                            current page, and can be held to change sports.                              

            3…Lap/Reset:  Creates new lap or resets Timer.                          

            4…Start/Stop:  Starts or Stops the Timer.                         

            5…Enter:  Selects highlighted options on-screen                                   

            & acknowledges on-screen messages.            

            6…Up/Down:  Scrolls through Menus, Data Fields,

                                                or on-screen Options.

                                                                                                                                               

            (The Mode and Lap Reset buttons may be held simultaneously to reset the unit.)

The Unit

From the Main Menu page, you may select to enter into four main sub-screens, which are listed and briefly described below:

     

                                                                                           Main Menu:   From the Main Menu, there are four
                                                                                       
primary choices: History, Training, Navigation, and Settings.

                      

 

                                                                                    History:    From the History screen, users may access the                                                                                                                                                           specific statistics from any previous run or an average of 

                                                                                            their statistics over a certain period of time.

                                                             Training:  Choose between a Quick or Interval Workout on the Training 

                                                               screen or customize your own Advanced Workout on Training Center and 

                                                               upload it to your 305.  Also turn off/on the Auto-Pause and Auto-Lap

                                                               features, or set alerts for changes or achievements in speed, pace, distance, 

                                                                    etc.  Accesses the options for the Virtual Partner feature as well.                                                                      

                     Navigation:  Mark a new location, Find a previously marked location,

                       Navigate to a marked location, Examine Routes on an on-screen map, 

                             or view current satellite locations, strengths, and accuracies. 

                                    Also creates routes between multiple locations.

    



        
                                                              Settings:  From the Settings screen you may adjust practically any setting
                                                                        of the 305.  You can configure specific settings for your various workouts,

                                                change the display features, update your personal user profile, configure 

                                                        accessories, or change the display language, to name a few.

 

Specific Functions

Training

Alerts

This is especially helpful when you are exercising on a Course which you have done before.  The Virtual Partner icon represents your fastest time and your icon represents how fast you are going in relation to your personal best.

Workouts

Quick—enter your time, distance, or pace goals, and the Forerunner displays the Virtual Partner to help you achieve them.

Interval—enter the time or distance you want to run and the number of repetitions you want to complete.

Advanced—allows you to create and save advanced workouts that include goals for each workout step and varied distances, times, and rest laps.  Can be used in conjunction with Garmin Training Center to schedule specific workouts as well.

Auto Multi Sport—This feature is used if you are using the Forerunner in some kind of a triathlon or other event where you transition from one sport to another.


Quick workouts were very useful for when I used the 305 to play sports like soccer and football because they allowed me to press only one button when I arrived and one button when I left.  Interval workouts are great if you are running short distances and want to rest in between them.  They work great if you want to exercise in stages, with staggered exercise and rest periods throughout your workout.  When I wanted to combine different workouts, switch between different courses, or if I felt like I wouldn’t have time to configure a workout on the spot, the Advanced option was a great feature to have at my disposal.


    Courses

            This allows you to customize a 'Course' from a  previous workout to measure your progress on that particular route and distance.  On the map page,                    your position will be represented by an arrow on the course you select.  As you move through the course, the map will scroll to show your movement.                  The Virtual Partner feature of the Course option,  which   can be see on the right, is very useful on this setting and is in the form of two dots on a line                   which represent the course upon which you are exercising. (When you start navigating using     this feature, the only way to stop it is to press the reset/lap             button on the front of the unit.)

Navigation Tools

Specific functions of the Navigation Tools are listed below:

Mark Location
This is how you mark and create a waypoint.  It is also the only way to see your current latitude/longitude and altitude.  You can edit the specific latitude/longitude and the waypoint symbol and name.



Find Location

Navigating to a waypoint is done in this menu.  Options include ‘all’ waypoints, ‘nearest’ waypoints and ‘delete all.’ When you select to which waypoint you would like to navigate, the map screen appears on the left and an arrow with the distance to the waypoint shows up on the right.  You can navigate to the waypoint on this page, including a geocache.  (There is no dedicated geocaching function, although the Forerunner is compatible with EasyGPS, a program used to upload geocaches/waypoints to a GPS unit.)  By selecting a specific waypoint, you have the option of ‘Delete’, ‘Map’ and ‘Go To’ as well as editing the name, symbol, latitude/longitude, and elevation.

Back to Start
When you begin your run, the Forerunner can lead you back to your starting point with the help of the on-screen compass.  It uses the internal tracklog to return you to the point where your workout began.  This feature is similar to Garmin’s trackback option in other units.

Routes
This is where you can build a route of waypoints and then allow the Forerunner to route you from one waypoint to the others.  Not really helpful in fitness training, but good if you are using the Forerunner for basic GPS navigation.  You can select a new Route and then build the Route using the Find menu.

Satellite Page
This element gives you two on-screen views of the satellite statistics.  The first will show you the round version, showing the satellites and where they are in relation to the sky.  (This screen can be seen above in the brief description of the Navigation Menu page.)  Pressing the up/down key will display the second satellite page, which displays the current GPS accuracy and a graph page, allowing you to see the signal strength of each satellite which is connected to your specific unit.

Settings

General Settings

Data Fields

Customize the view of the data fields during your workout.  (Data fields are the statistics about your workout such as time, distance, calories burned, etc.)  Select to view one to four fields at a time during your workout from a huge list of information which include:

      Cadence                       Grade                           Speed-Last Lap

      Cadence-Average        Heading                        Speed-Max

                        Cadence-Lap               Heart Rate (HR)           Speed Zone

                        Calories                        HR-Average                 Sunrise

                        Distance                       HR-Lap                       Sunset

                        Distance-Lap                HR-Zone                      Time

      Distance-Last Lap        Laps                             Time-Average Lap

      Distance-Paused           Speed                          Time-Lap

      Elevation                      Speed-Average            Time-Last Lap

      GPS Accuracy             Speed-Lap                   Time-Paused

Time of Day

                       

                        This option is fantastic for athletes who want to see specific information.  These customizable options really show off the versatility of the                                   Forerunner 305.  I found that these options are very fun to use in non-conventional ways as well. For instance, when I used these features on                           Quick Workout setting when I tested the product on my nephew’s go-cart, we entertained ourselves for hours.

                        System

                        This page allows you to turn the GPS off/on.  You may also switch languages between English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.  Set the                             “Tones” to make a sound when you press a button, when a message appears, or for both.  I found the language options to be a nice addition.                            In addition, it was a relief to turn off the annoying beeps that you normally hear when you press a button.

                        User Profile

                        Enter your gender, age, and weight to make your statistics accurate.  A helpful feature but it doesn’t allow for more than one user profile,                                 which makes it difficult when accessing your workout History if multiple persons use the unit.

                        Display

                        This page allows you to set the timer on the backlight between 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, or always on.  Also allows you                             to adjust the contrast on the screen to adapt to the lighting in your area or the time of day. The Auto-Scroll option will automatically shift                                   through the different data fields during your workout.  (Usually, you would have to manually press the up/down arrows to shift through the data                           fields.)

                        Data Recording

                        The options on this menu control how the Forerunner records detailed data for your runs or other activities.  Choose from “Every Second” or                         “Smart Record.”  The unit’s default setting is “Smart Record” which picks up key points where you change direction, speed, or heart rate.  This                           option saves the most amount of data because it is less precise than the every second option.  In contrast, the Every Second option will record                           highly detailed data from your workout every second, rather than just at key points.  However, due to the detail of this type of recording, it                               causes you to be able to save only 3.5 hours worth of exercise history.

                        Note:  If you use the Training Center software that comes with the unit often, the “Every Second” option is the best choice.  However, if you                             rely on only the305 to access your history, “Smart Record” is definitely the way to go.

           

                        Accessories

                        Adds, configures, and scans for the included Heart Rate monitor or the optional Cadence sensor.

           

                        Map

                        The map menu permits you to show or hide the map, show or hide your marked user locations, or change the orientation of the compass from                           “North as up” or“Track as up.”  

                        Units

                        View statistics in metric or statute values or change the Heart Rate (HR) units to/from Beats Per Minute (BPM) or as a % of Maximum HR.


                        Time

                        Set the clock to operate on a 12- or 24-hour cycle.  Also select from 40 different time zones around the world or choose to make daylight                               savings time an automatic adjustment.


                        About Forerunner

                        General information about the Garmin Forerunner 305.

                                    -Software Version:  2.20

                                    -GPS:  2.40

                                    -Unit ID#:  [example-1234567890]

Running

On the running options menu, you may select to measure your workout in speed or pace units or add extra weight which you might be carrying.  You can also set your own customizable Heart Rate zones for your run.  Configuring your pace zones is another choice on this menu and it allows you to set your level of what Garmin calls “Pace Smoothing.”  Pace Smoothing averages your displayed pace over a certain amount of time to avoid errors in GPS position and speed due to varying satellite signal reception.  When you turn on or increase pace smoothing, the pace displayed on your Forerunner is steadier (which means fewer large jumps).

Biking


Configure 3 different bicycles and their specific weights.  Similar to the Running Menu, you can set your speed and/or HR zones for your bike workout as well.

Other

Other options include adding additional weight to your user profile, changing your speed/HR zones, or changing your speed/HR units of measure for Quick or Interval Workouts.


Above: Side view of the

Garmin Forerunner 305.

Training Center

      Training Center is an included computer program which allows you to store and assess your data on a PC.  After downloading your fitness data to your PC with the included USB cable from your 305, Training Center calculates graphs which compare various statistics of your workout and stores the entire history of your exercise.  This is a great way to store your entire history with the Forerunner since the unit itself has a limited memory when used over long periods of time.  (After a certain amount of memory is used, the Forerunner will automatically delete the oldest data to make room for the newest.) It also plots your routes, courses, etc. on a map and allows you to examine each section of your run in detail. 

Battery/Battery Life


Throughout my testing of the Forerunner 305, I experienced no problems with the battery or battery life whatsoever.  The manual states that once full charged, the 305 should be able to function for up to 10 hours and it really lived up to the challenge during my workouts.  Once I even used the product for a 2 ˝ hour workout and then left it on my desk for a week before using it again.  The battery remained charged and the unit never once cut out on me during my workouts.

Areas for Improvement

The Forerunner works great but it is a little bit bulky.   It does not suffice as a navigation-based GPS system but works great for short-range navigation to individual waypoints.  The satellite may take anywhere from 3-10 minutes to locate but is normally pretty quick.  However, a few times it took so long to lock to satellites that it asked if I was inside when I was actually out in the middle of a field, but this rerely happened. I had a hard time getting the auto-lap to work a few times when I was exercising through a course.  The manual entry of letters and numbers for titles for your workouts or courses can take a while to do and I makes your finger a little sore after some time.  It allows you to set multiple bike profiles, but not multiple user profiles, which I thought a little strange and somewhat inconvenient if multiple people will be using the device.  Also, a few of the charging terminals on the back of the unit looked a little rusty after only about 5 or so uses, despite the fact that it hadn’t been exposed to any moisture except my own sweat.  This could certainly turn into a problem with extended use and the expected wear-and-tear associated with products such as this one. I had to re-check the owner’s manual a few times before I felt like I could use the product to its fullest potential, but once I had it figured out, it was actually pretty easy and fun to use. 


Questions                                                                                                                              

Can I use the Forerunner on a bike?
Yes, use the Setting's page and select "Biking" and then select "Use This Sport."   It is even possible to use the device on other vehicles such as a golf-cart or while rollerblading, etc.

Can I use the Forerunner in a car?
Yes, but the unit does not function like a traditional GPS unit because it doesn’t show the roads on the map.  You can use it to navigate to a specific point that you mark, but it will only show up on the map page as a straight line to that marked position.  It also drastically altered my averages of actual exercise.

Would you say the Forerunner is a suitable unit for basic GPS navigation?

Yes, for basic navigation, such as what you would get out of the basic eTrex or Geko models.   It is especially useful in parks or while hiking, but no mapping or car navigation is possible.

Can I wear the Forerunner as a watch?

Yes, but you will probably have to recharge it every night and the wear-and-tear will be dramatically sped up.  Because of the redesigned shape, it does look more like a watch when compared to the long, skinny shape of the 101, 201, and 301 versions.

Conclusions

Overall I was quite impressed with the Forerunner 305’s ability to deliver precise statistics for a variety of workouts.  The battery life is long, the unit is smaller than most all of its predecessors, and the accessories with which it functions such as the Heart Rate Monitor and the Cadence Sensor make it stand out among its peers of fitness-based GPS systems.  Not to mention “Training Center” is also a huge plus for any dedicated athlete looking to take his or her workout to the next level with the help of a PC.  And, if you use it to play sports such as soccer or basketball like I did while I testing it, you are likely to notice how durable it is and how easy it is to replace the strap if the play gets a little rough.  In addition, I was amazed with the versatility of the unit when used in an unconventional way, for instance with a go-kart, on a lawn tractor, or while rollerblading.  Another find was that I could use the 305 to locate my car when I parked it in an unusual place in the city or if I parked in a large parking lot/deck like at a football game.

In conclusion, although the Garmin Forerunner 305 is not a viable option for traditional GPS use, its versatility and accuracy make it an athlete’s dream come true when it comes to working out or enjoying sports.

Visit the Garmin Website:  http://www.Garmin.com


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Comments?  Corrections?  Suggestions?
 Email Jess Grogan

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