Back in 1812 when Garmin released the Forerunner 305, I was young and fast and the world was a generally better place. OK, putting the Napoleonic Wars to one side, it really was a better, faster and more accurate place.
Or so it seemed.
Garmin’s 205/305 were, at the time, a very popular watch and, to be fair, they were ahead of the sports tech curve. The 305 also probably put Garmin on the path to the sporting watch dominance that they now enjoy. All because they probably sold vast numbers of these and then similarly large numbers of the Edge and 910 and 310 models that followed. And then to the money-spinners that were the Edge 8xx, Edge 5xx and Fenix 3.
I have this recollection of the Instant Pace on the 305 nearly always being ‘spot on’ and I relied on it every week as one parkrun 5k PR/PB after fell and then fell again. Ah yes. The good old days. In some ways the 305 probably also got me started on this blog through getting me keener on running than I had been in the even earlier and even more glorious years.
Anyway. Is it REALLY any good? (For GPS)
It’s packed full of SirfStar III GPS chip goodness. Even now we are only on SiRFStar version V (a la Suunto SPARTAN IV a la Polar V800) and we’re still using the exact same satellites.
Newer chips could conceivably compromise quality in favour of power saving; conversely newer more compact watches might have smaller antennae to fully capture that wonderful GPS signal. Indeed those of you who remember the 305 will certainly remember its size, it certainly WAS NOT compact. So maybe the 305 was just full of a whopping battery and other antennae-signal boosting electronic wizardry similar in capability to your satellite TV dish.
I put the 305 through my GPS test last week. It’s only ever going to have one shot at the test as it’s quite a way to run and other more interesting things will be adorning my wrists over coming weeks.
The test is a hard one. (Details here). The raw FIT/TCX GPS test files of ALL devices are available (here) in a public folder along with an analysis spreadsheet of the summary results (there are three tabs in the spreadsheet).
A: 73%. I was a bit generous. For old times sake. Now you know.
But that was an acceptable performance. On a par with the Suunto ULTRA when first released and notably above the Garmin Fenix 5X and even above the V800 when the V800 is worn on the underside of the wrist. But the reality is that it is at the lower end of acceptability. It is notably below the SPARTAN SPORT and POLAR V800 (the latter when worn properly) which are in a different class. Although the cynic in me would point out that it scored the same as the Garmin 235.
Also when running at a constant pace I am sorry to say that there WAS notable instant pace variation by the ‘industry-standard’ 30secs/km, or slightly more, on the underestimating side and 5-10 secs/km on the over-estimating side. When running at a constant pace in open skies it WAS pretty good though. But then again, most sports watches are.
The 305 got the overall distance accurate to near-enough +/-0.5%…again that’s pretty normal.
Please feel free to reminisce below and start every comment with “Ahhh! when I were a lad/lass we could only afford coal for breakfast”