The Timex version of a versatile, Jay-Z sized, GPS-enabled multisport watch that is allowed to go swimming.
Better battery life and swim performance, a calibrate function for powermeters, and less of a sundial-esque size.
A nice first effort from Timex in this category. With a few tweaks this watch could be a real player.
While this isn't meant to be a side by side comparison by any means we feel that it's relevant in this case because there are really only two competitors in the multisport "all-in-one" GPS-enabled watch category, the Timex Global Trainer and the Garmin 310XT. (You can check out our review of the Garmin 310XT here) We like for each review to stand on its own but we will draw quite a few comparisons in this particular review. We've been using the Garmin 310XT at TriBomb for quite some time now and we feel like it will be a tall order to dethrone this watch, but hey, were are open minded so here we go.
Size Matters (oh yes it does)
Like other GPS-enabled watches the Timex Global Trainer is rather gargantuan, in fact it even makes the Garmin 310 look normal...well, ok not quite. We realize there's a lot to cram into such a small package (ha ha...yes, that's juvenile humor, and yes, we think it's funny) so it's really not all that surprising that the size of this watch might make a rapper jealous. Even though the Timex is the larger of the two we feel like the overall "style" of the Timex is a little more modern looking.
So, the Timex Global Trainer is a little larger than the Garmin, it also sits a little taller on the wrist. This taller profile can make it more difficult when dealing with getting your wetsuit off when T1 rolls around.
The buttons on the Timex are large and easy to find, but they are also very sensitive. You will probably want to utilize the lock function on this watch. It's simple to activate, just hold down the Enter button on the right side of the watch for a few seconds. Do the same again to unlock the watch.
Good news for this watch and those who use it is the addition of ANT+ technology. Pairing devices such as power meters, cadence sensors, etc. is a snap with the Timex GT. All you have to do is go to the Configure screen by pressing the mode button.
From the configure menu arrow down and select sensors.
Locate the sensor that you want to search for and select scan.
From there the watch pretty much does the rest, all you have to do is make sure the device is on and ready to be detected.
We had no issues pairing our compatible equipment, including a power meter, cadence sensor, and heart rate monitor. In our tests the Timex scanned and found all our devices quickly and effortlessly and maintained that pairing very well.
Unlike the Garmin, the Timex does not have a designated sport mode for individual activities. You simply get the data displayed "generically" This is a feature we've come to appreciate with the Garmin. We like the way it keeps each activity separate, it just seems to make more sense. Why make a run or swim data screen available when you're biking, to us it just makes the watch more cumbersome to use. Especially when scrolling through data when your hauling ass down the road. Purely a preference thing, but one of the things we would change if we could. Since there aren't separate "modes" for each sport we'll touch on each activity briefly and then cover some of the features that pertain to all activities while using this watch. First off, to use the watch for actual activities you will be in Performance mode (cause it's all about performance) unless you are using the Multisport feature.
Like the Garmin 310 the Timex GT leaves quite bit to be desired...no GPS signal in the water. Yes, you can do the watch under the swim cap thing if you want to but we don't like jacking with it (at least not in a race situation). Both watches will give you a swim time and that's about it.
Not to harp on the buttons, but with their size and the sensitivity of them you will probably want to lock the buttons for the swim portion of any triathlon. In our experience it very easy to inadvertently bump one the buttons especially during the full contact swimming of a mass swim start. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters which is a good thing in a watch that's going to make a splash.
Solid performance overall on the bike. Like most gadgets these days it probably displays way more information than you'll ever need, but it's there for the data obsessed. The most important items as far as cycling goes such as speed, cadence, power, are all available if you have the appropriate devices/sensors available.
If you wear the watch on your wrist on the bike use the lock feature or a bike mount of some sort. We were constantly hitting buttons inadvertently on the bike.
The ANT+ capabilities of the watch are an excellent addition especially for cycling. However, one major thing that seems to be missing from a cycling standpoint is the lack of a calibration feature.
For those of us who use a powermeter (we run the Quarq and frequent calibration is recommended for best results) this presents a pretty major hurdle. What good is displaying data that can't be calibrated??? The lack of this feature alone would be enough of an issue to pass on this watch if it was going to be your only "computer" for cycling.
The Timex Global Trainer does a good job in the run department. Like other GPS watches you get instant feedback of pace, distance, heart rate, etc. Again, the ability to display more data than you can digest but with all the options available you'll certainly be able to find what you're looking for.
Our experience running with this watch was good. One thing we noticed is that the run pace on our unit seemed to fluctuate quite a bit and was sort of all over the place, even on flat, steady efforts.
A watch designed for multisport use should probably have a multisport mode and the Timex Global Trainer does. To get to Multisport Mode simply press the Mode button until you see multisport on the display.
From here you can begin your activity (or race) by pressing the start button. Moving to the next activity is done by pressing the stop button (kinda seems strange to hit the stop button when all your thinking is GO...but it actually works out nicely). Using the stop button instead of a "lap" button is actually a great idea because you can still take splits within the activity if you want to.
The Global Trainer will automatically switch to the next activity for you each time you press the Stop button. It will track your individual swim, bike and run splits for you, as well as your T1 and T2 times. As you (hopefully) cross the finish line you can press the Stop button one last time and the Timex GT will complete the multisport activity.
Similar to other watches, this watch allows you to display a number of data fields that you can customize to fit your personal preferences. You can display pace, heart rate, speed, distance, calories burned, altitude and more. The problem with the Timex GT is that in spite of the fairly massive size of the watch, the display is hard to read. If you display the available 4 data fields the size of those fields become pretty tiny.
This is a pretty close up view, but our experience trying to read the watch with it mounted to your bike when you're flying down the road is difficult at best. The numbers are just too thin when it's that far away. You can display less data to get the fields larger but we feel like that kinda defeats the purpose of having a watch that can display multiple data fields in the first place.
This will be the main reason this watch doesn't get a higher rating. If you're gonna be the official Ironman watch you better have a battery that will last long enough to get through an Ironman...Right?
For example, in one test, we took the Timex GT and the Garmin 310XT out for a 3 hour ride. The results, the Timex GT had 50% battery life left and the Garmin 310 had 83% remaining (yes, both watches were fully charged). Another test yielded similar results, a 3 hour bike/run combo with an 80% charge left us with only 30% at the end.
Battery life is "rated" at 15 hours but from what we've seen that's a stretch to say the least. There are lots of forum posts on this subject. Erratic battery indicator levels, varying numbers for hours of use on a full charge, etc. There are many factors that contribute to the drain on the battery... So, we'll just say based on what we have seen this watch needs some serious improvement in the battery department.
Auto lap/Auto Pause and Alerts
The Global Trainer allows you to configure all these features in the appropriately named Configure mode. Once again, change modes by pressing the mode button repeatedly until the desired screen is displayed.
As you would expect you can create an "auto lap" function to alert you of a certain point in a workout. The most common being distance based, like every mile of the run, or 5 miles on the bike, you get the picture.
From this screen you can use the up/down arrows to tweak your own personal settings for the watch. "Hands Free" is what Timex calls the Auto Start/Stop and Auto Split functions so don't get your hopes up about some type of sweet bluetooth phone capabilities :) In the Hands Free section you can set up the Auto Start/Stop settings and set a speed at which the feature is activated.
The configure menu is where you will also set Alerts. You can create alerts for distance, heart rate, power, cadence, speed, and even altitude. Please do your riding buddies a favor and keep these to a minimum, no one wants to hear your watch going off every five seconds...just saying.
It seems odd to us that there's not a time based alert available??? We get an altitude alert but not a time alert...strange. Alerts are great tools when racing especially long course events when these reminders can help you stay on track with nutrition, pacing, etc.
One thing we have come to appreciate is the vibrate feature of the Garmin 310XT along with an audible alarm. Not a major thing, but when it's noisy because of traffic or wind, or if you're just fatigued, the extra reminder of the vibrate feature is a nice touch.
In a word slow. Or at least it was when we first received the watch, the latest firmware update resolved this issue for us. We didn't experience any problems with loss of signal either, once the watch got locked in it stayed that way for us.
Another option the Timex has is a Time feature. Basically it allows you to use the watch as...well a watch. In other words you can power down the watch and put it in a low power state and still display the time of day.
The only time we could see this being useful is in the hours before a race when you may not have a second watch. We suppose you could wear the Global Trainer for a daily watch if you wanted to (but you shouldn't). Otherwise, all your doing is draining an already "iffy" battery.
Transferring data is also an easy task with the Global Trainer. Timex uses Training Peaks to allow you analyze and store the data you collect out on the road.
The charger doubles as a USB connection for transferring data to your computer. Once you download and set up Training Peaks and the Timex Device Agent software on your computer data transfer is pretty straightforward.
Go to PC Sync mode and open the device agent on your computer. In the device agent click Download from Device.
Once the files download you'll see them on the device manager screen, from there you can click save and your workouts will be transferred to the Training Peaks website. The device agent is also an easy place to change settings on the watch based on your individual preferences instead of going through it all on the watch itself.
A nice feature that is built in to the Global Trainer is the ability to review data right on the watch. Not just basic information, you can drill down to several pages of some pretty detailed info. Just go to Review on the screen by pressing the mode button.
This is a nice touch, especially if you are away from your computer or you just want a little instant gratification from your last training session.
High. A little cheaper than the Garmin 310XT, but not enough to justify buying the Timex over the Garmin in our opinion.
TriBomb Bottom Line
If you want a watch you can wear from start to finish come race day this watch will do the trick. It just doesn't do it quite as well as it's primary competition does.