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Chicago Running Review

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Soleus GPS 1.0 Product Review

I did a side by side comparison of the Garmin Forerunner 610 and Soleus GPS 1.0 in order to answer everyone’s questions on the true value of the Soleus GPS 1.0 which retails for just $99.

FIT

I actually preferred the way the Soleus watch fit compared to the Garmin 610. I have a small wrist and the band on the GPS 1.0 is not quite as wide as the 610. I also found the GPS 1.0 felt lighter (some might say cheaper…) because of its plastic body where the 610 feels heavier because of the metal casing. I am going to use arbitrary units of measure which you can interpret as you may in order to quantify my experience. For FIT I will award the GPS 1.0 7/8 Fish.

DISPLAY

The GPS 1.0 display is similar to a LCD of a typical sport watch which means it is much more limited than something like the Forerunner 610 display. The GPS 1.0 shows 3 lines of information and few additional icons for battery life, satellite connection, connection strength, and chime activation.

Take away: if you are looking for a watch with a big display this isn’t it. I didn’t have issues with the backlight though to be fair I wasn’t running when it was dark out. It appears to function like a typical LCD watch backlight. DISPLAY receives 8/14 Doughnuts.

ACCURACY

In order to compare accuracy, I simultaneously ran 400m (0.2486 miles) on an outdoor track with a GPS 1.0 and a 610. After one lap (400m) the GPS 1.0 read .24 mi while the 610 read .26 mi. GPS devices typically have difficulty with curves since they calculated distance traveled by comparing the shortest difference between two points. Over one lap the accuracy wasn’t bad +/- 0.01 mi however even over the course of 4 laps on the track you’d be off by nearly 0.04 mi or ~211 ft. This is one of the reasons I don’t typically use a GPS watch.

Total workout distance was 1.62 mi on the GPS 1.0 and 1.65 mi. This difference is half of what my track test would have predicted probably because I ran back on streets (which generally have right angles).

My average pace was reported as 6:40/mi on the GPS 1.0 and 6:56/mi on the 610. Based on feel, I believe the Garmin wins out on accuracy. I highly doubt I was running any faster than 6:50/mi.

I believe the :16/mi difference is due to the fact that the Soleus GPS 1.0 doesn’t show a real-time average pace (it shows a calculated average pace when reviewing completed workouts). The GPS 1.0 tracks only instantaneous paces which are highly variable. Instantaneous pace is calculated based on at least two different points and the difference in time it takes to span those points so if you slow down briefly to let a car pass or speed up to hop over a puddle, the pace the watch shows will briefly be either much slower than your actual pace or much faster.

My one unanswered question is why the Soleus GPS 1.0 calculates my average pace for the workout to be 6:40/mi when the time & distance stats match up pretty closely with my Garmin. According to the GPS 1.0 average pace I should have covered about 1.71 miles at 6:40/mi instead it reports I covered 1.62mi.

That said, the total distance is pretty accurate and if you’re not averse to doing math while running you can do your own average pace calculation using the time elapsed and dividing by the distance traveled.

I give the ACCURACY of the Soleus GPS 1.0 a score of 17/25 Figs. This score is hurt by the nonsensical average pace calculation.

SUMMARY

This is an awesome watch for the price. If you are looking to track how far you’ve run and how long it took, the Soleus GPS 1.0 may be for you. The only thing it won’t do for you is upload your workouts automatically from the watch to the computer.

The Soleus GPS 1.0 is not for you if hate doing math while running, want any sort of interval timers or sophisticated training features like heart rate, need a large or customizable display, and/or want the watch to upload directly to your computer.

PROS

Price

Accurate distance measurement

Nice fit

CONS

Inaccurate pace calculation

Weak display

Can’t upload workouts automatically

Overall score: 7/10 Bottles of Merlot

Would I buy the Soleus GPS 1.0 at full retail?

For me the answer is yes. I like to run by time (versus distance or pace) so it would be helpful to see how far I’ve run in a given amount of time to gauge if I am recovering well between workouts. The display doesn’t really bother me that much and I liked how light the watch was and how it fit. I think the price would allow me to feel free to not wear it on every run.

Andrew says:
Mar 03, 2012

I don’t think GPS watches are very good for short distances. I use my Garmin for Marathon training and its perfect, particularly with the foot pod and heart rate monitor. I’d suggest re-doing the comparison over 5 to 8 miles with a calibrated foot pod and then compare.


stan says:
Mar 03, 2012

I ran with my partner who owns a FR610. I have a soleus 1.0. We compared our speeds and they ranged from 5-25seconds difference at any time. I felt that the soleus was suggesting a faster time as I did not feel like I was running that fast.

I am a bit concerned about this as i have a marathon approaching…

usually, if I can, I run with my partners’ FR610 :) as it is a far superior watch…just very expensive


Darren Walker says:
Jun 06, 2012

Never really tried the Soleus, liked the review though very fair. I’ve been using the Motorola Motoactv (http://www.motorolamotoactv.com) since it’s release last year and can definitely say that if you don’t mind paying the extra wedge it’s an awesome gps watch. It even does twitter and facebook updates now, very ‘gadgety’.


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