Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gear Review: Soleus GPS Fit 1.0

About two weeks about I purchased the Soleus GPS Fit 1.0 from ACTIVE GearUp. I've been getting these emails the past month of so from ACTIVE GearUp. I normally ignore them-- it's just more spam, right? But when this specific email came through I was intrigued. Claiming "$54.95 GPS Soleus Watch" I couldn't not check it out. I feel like I've been talking about wanting a GPS watch forever, but the price has always stopped me. Did I really want to throw a couple hundred dollars into a watch when, really, my phone could do what the watch does anyway? 

The price was a big selling point for me. After shipping I paid only $60.90 by using ACTIVE GearUp (side note: totally recommend checking out their website). 

The first thing I did before purchasing the watch (after putting it in my online cart so no one else could buy it) was to read some reviews. The reviews all came up pretty positive. A few of the reviews I read did a direct comparison with the super fancy Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS Watch, and for what the Fit 1.0 claimed to do, it was just as good as the Forerunner 610. I thought, "What the heck, why not give it a try?". My watch came in the mail about a week later. 






The watch is pretty simple. It does speed, pace, distance, calories, chronograph. It can store up to 30 hours, 30 files, and 100 laps of data. The watch is rechargeable using a USB. It charged up pretty quickly. When the GPS is running, Soleus claims 8 hours of battery life. I have not used it that long yet to know how far I can go in one workout before it needs charged, but so far I have used the GPS for three separate workouts and have charged it once. I only charged it for fear of it dying partway through my workout. 

Some reviews I read claimed the Fit 1.0 to be much slimmer than other GPS watches such as the Forerunner 610. The watch looks huge on my wrist, so I don't know if I would ever refer to it as "slim". I have not had the opportunity to compare, but I wanted to provide the information because I'm sure it's relevant to some people's decision. 

The watch set-up was not as intuitive as I hoped it would be. It took me a little while reading the directions to figure out how to get it set up with my information. 

The first time I used the watch I was on my bicycle. I didn't pay close attention to compare my watch and bike computer to see if the distance/speed matched up. I mainly used it this way because I wanted to have non-important data that I could play around with to figure out how to save/view data. I noticed that it took awhile for the watch to find the satellites for GPS. I started riding and probably got 0.25-0.5 miles before the GPS started running. 

I got to really try my watch out on Friday during my 11 mile training run. I used my Soleus GPS Fit 1.0 as well as the MapMyRun app on my phone. I wanted to have something to compare to. I have noticed in the past that the distance the MapMyRun app tells me during/after my run is slightly off from the distance Google Maps tells me if I look up the run online.

From the main screen of the watch (the Time screen) if you hit the "Mode" (lower left) button one time you will enter "Run" Mode. The watch will automatically try to find the GPS when you're in this mode. Again, it took a few minutes for the watch to finally find the GPS. Slightly annoying, but not a deal breaker for me. Once in "Run Mode" you can display four different views. 

1) chronograph/distance/clock










2) chronograph/distance/pace










3) chronograph/distance/speed










4) chronograph/distance/calories










You cycle through the views by pressing the "View" button (upper left) until you reach the desired screen. 

During my run I used view #3 mainly. The first mile of the run the distance was dead on with the MapMyRun app. MapMyRun is set to tell me the distance every 0.25 miles. When I would hear the app talking I would look down at my watch. Once I passed the one mile mark the watch and app were off by 0.03 miles. Not a huge deal. It was off by exactly this distance until I reached my turnaround point in the run. MapMyRun told me to turn around earlier than the watch did. I followed the watch which threw the rest of the run off as far as distance comparison goes. At the end of the run, MapMyRun told me that I reached 11 miles way earlier than I was expecting. Fit 1.0 put me right at the end of the driveway for 11 miles. 

Another cool feature of this watch is that you can set it up to "Auto Lap" you can choose 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 miles. You do this is the "Set" Mode by pressing "Mode" five times.

The speed seemed accurate based on my exertion, but it was slow to update. It definitely was not an instantaneous speed. For a general sense of your pace/speed at any given time, it was pretty accurate. At the end of the run, the Fit 1.0 said that my average pace was 10:10 min/mile, but when I plugged my numbers into my Fitness Document on Google Drive my average pace was 10:03 min/mile. 

When you are finished with your workout, you can save the data by pressing the "Stop/Save/-" button (middle right) once to pause/stop the workout and then hold the button down until a new "save" Screen pops up. This brings you into the "Run Data" Mode where you can choose which slot the data is saved into. It will automatically come up with the next open slot. Press the "Enter" button (bottom right) to save the data. In this mode you can cycle through your saved workouts. You access "Run Data" by pressing the "Mode" button three times and then pressing "Enter". Once here you can press "Start/Lap/+" (top right) or "Stop/Save/-" to cycle through the saved workouts. When you arrive at a workout you want to view, press the "Enter" button. You can then use the same "+" and "-" buttons to cycle through the screens. The following screens will appear:

1) Start Time/Stop Time
2) Chronograph/Distance/Average Speed
3) Average Pace/Calories
4) Average Speed/Average Pace
5) Lap 1
6) Lap 2
7) Lap ...

A con of this watch is that there is no way to upload your saved data onto the computer for viewing. Kinda stinks. You can do it manually, but you won't get any automatic pretty graphs of your workout. If this is something that you must absolutely have-- I would recommend choosing a different watch. But if you don't need that feature because you don't mind typing in your splits then this is a great choice. 

All in all, I think this was a good purchase. It does the basic things I would want and expect from a GPS watch, with decent accuracy at a low cost. 

The bottom line--

Pros: Great price, accurate distance, accurate enough average pace
Cons: GPS slow to connect, no mechanism to upload data to a computer