Sunday, June 14, 2009

Review of the Garmin Forerunner 405

Last month, I praised REI for its hassle-free return policy that allowed me to exchange my two-year-old deteriorating 305 for the nifty and sleek 405. Well, my excitement about owning the 405 quickly diminished once I started getting to know the device. Here’s my story:

Set-up: Initially, setting up the device seemed fairly easy. But I had a few problems correcting my profile and setting up the training screen. So, I went back to REI for help. After the REI associate spent 30 minutes with the device, he couldn’t figure out how to fix the problems either. Not a good sign. Eventually, I had to erase the data and start over again.

Pace Accuracy: I was really excited on my first run with the 405, but that feeling didn’t last long. Why? The pace reading wasn’t accurate. I ran with the 305 for two years and I had a good sense of my running pace on my routes. On downward hills where I knew I was running a 7:50 to 8:00 minute-mile pace, the display showed a 12:30 pace. During random stretches of my runs, the display reported a slower pace than what I knew I was actually running. I rely on the pace reading in road races to judge my performance, so this issue has been a real concern for me.

Ease of Use: The bevel responds inconsistently. Just trying to get to the training screen for the start of my run has been a challenge. Sometimes it’s easy to find, other times I can’t get it to display. During the Summerfest 5K, the training screen disappeared a few minutes into the race … which meant I could no longer track my running pace.

Also, the wrist band seems oddly over designed. A small metal piece in the rubber loop on the band makes it a bit hard to secure the wrist band in place.

I was hesitant to write this review, not knowing if perhaps my experiences where due to a defective device. But after doing a bit of research, I’ve found other users complain about similar problems with the user interface and device accuracy. To be fair, there are also plenty of reviews from people who simply love the Garmin Forerunner 405. But, I’m not a runner with a lot of patience … especially for a device. I’ve felt so frustrated with my experience that I didn’t even bother to download the software from Garmin to sync the device with the computer. What’s the point if I don’t trust the information it shows me during my runs?

As a busy mom with a full-time job, I want something simple and easy to use. While the Forerunner 305 is a bit clunky, I loved the fact that it was easy to use and the information was accurate. I could push a button instead of scroll through seemingly endless screens of information.

Given the number of positive reviews I found for the Forerunner 405, it is worth checking out if you don’t mind spending the time needed to learn the device. But if you’re looking for something simple, stick with the Forerunner 305. You can find more reviews at and at

For me, it looks like I’ll be heading back to REI to exchange the Forerunner 405 for the 305.

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