First Impressions: Coros Pace Sport Watch

The company behind the smart bike helmet just launched a watch. Here's our take.

(Courtesy Coros)
coros

Coros, the company that brought us the smart bike helmet a couple years ago, has turned its eye to the fitness watch market. The Pace ($300), a wearable aimed at triathletes, went on sale Tuesday. My initial impressions after a run and a hike with this watch: It’s simple but amply featured, with a big screen and clean graphics. It’s also incredibly comfortable.

Coros’ Lynx helmet grabbed Outside’s Gear of the Show award at the 2016 Interbike trade show, so when I heard the company was releasing a watch, I was immediately interested. Would this smart-tech company, largely unknown outside the bike industry, bring something new to the watch market?

The Pace has many features of other high-end smart sport watches. It has an optical heart rate sensor, barometric altimeter, and built-in GPS that uses highly accurate GLONASS satellites. It enables you to set heart rate or cadence target zones with an alert every time you go outside those zones. It counts daily calories, steps, elevation gain, and hours of exercise. And it has a compass and notifications for texts and phone calls.

What sets the Pace apart (at least, according to Coros) is its battery life—a whopping 30 days in regular daily tracking mode or 25 hours in activity-tracking mode. I haven’t tested the Pace thoroughly enough to evaluate whether the battery life lives up to these claims, but I’ve been using it on a single charge for the past three days (including on a hike and a run), and it’s just below 50 percent. This means if I continue to use the watch with the same settings, I should have about 72 more hours, or three more days, before having to recharge it.

Mechanics aside, the Pace is relatively intuitive to use. Two buttons on the right side of the face scroll up and down between time, daily calories, heart rate, altitude, compass, and quick notifications. The bottom left button brings you to a list of available activities (swimming, running, biking), and the top left button brings you back to the home screen.

coros
(Courtesy Coros)

The graphics are clean and straightforward—the calories screen displays only calories and steps; the heart rate screen shows beats per minute with a color-coded heart rate zone meter around the edges. Plus, the workout screens are customizable through the Coros app. Select the data you want to see and how you want that data configured on the watch face, then sync the app to your watch via Bluetooth. The new screen will be available for your next run, swim, or bike. The Pace also offers a triathlon-tracking option, which allows you to switch from swim to bike to run with one button, without having to pause and start a new activity during the transition. Despite its large face, the Pace is surprisingly light. It doesn’t feel clunky, and the perforated wristband breathes well enough to avoid getting seriously sweaty on hot-weather runs or rides.

These features aren’t unique to Coros. In fact, in both function and appearance, the Pace is reminiscent of Garmin’s popular tri watch, the Forerunner 735XT, which offers customizable data screens and multisport tracking. The Pace’s large face that sits flush with the bezel, the horizontally slatted wristband, and the color-coded heart rate zone screen also resemble the Garmin model.

If Coros’ battery life claims are true, then the Pace will have a notable point of difference from the Forerunner 735XT, which has a stated battery life of 11 days in regular smartwatch mode and 14 hours in activity-tracking mode. The Coros also retails for $50 less than the Garmin and has a barometric altimeter, which delivers more accurate altitude and elevation-gain readings than GPS-based altimeters. If the GPS and heart rate monitor are accurate and the materials just as durable, the Pace could be competitive with some of the higher-end sports watches on the market at a more consumer-friendly price point.

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