It’s All in the Wrist

Motorola Motoactv

Motorola Motoactv    Photo: Courtesy of Motorola

The Best Combined Heart-Rate Monitor and GPS Watches

The Motoactv could be as revolutionary for the wrist-top market as the iPhone was for cell phones. Hyperbole? Consider the features: an iTunes-compatible MP3 player, real-time GPS, and an auto-sync feature that uploads your workout data as soon as you’re within range of your computer’s wireless network. The touchscreen is fast and intuitive, and all your data—a live map of your route, pace and split times, elevation, and heart rate—glows quietly on your wrist. Also, the optional wireless earbuds (from $99) sound great and use an embedded sensor to track your heart rate via blood vessels in the ear, doing away with the need for a chest strap. The watch isn’t waterproof, and the dock connecting the device to the wristband and bike mount isn’t as solid as we’d like. But one afternoon with the Motoactv and that $300 performance watch you bought last year will seem straight out of 1985.

Garmin Forerunner 910XT

Garmin 910XT
Garmin 910XT   Photo: Courtesy of Garmin

It won’t win any design awards, but with the ability to toggle between vital stats for running, biking, and swimming with the push of a button, it’s the ideal tool for serious multisporters. The 910XT also has the best swim-tracking capabilities: it distinguishes between strokes and can calculate your swolf score, a measure of the number of strokes and the amount of time it takes to cover a certain distance. The device comes with a hefty price tag, but its simple syncing software and large display make parsing exercise data as easy on the road as it is in front of a computer. Plus, the 910XT is compatible with virtually every ANT+ sensor.

Timex Run Trainer GPS

Timex Run Trainer GPS
Timex Run Trainer GPS   Photo: Courtesy of Timex

It doesn’t have the Garmin 910XT’s swim- and cycling-data-tracking capabilities, but the Timex Run Trainer is probably the best heart-rate-monitoring watch on the market for budget-conscious runners. You can create your own interval workouts, and a motion sensor automatically pauses the recording and tracking functions—while you’re waiting at a crosswalk, for example—so pit stops don’t screw up your results. Back home, Timex links the watch to Training Peaks’ excellent online log. And unlike most GPS watches, the Run Trainer is stylish and low-profile enough for everyday use.

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