Combining powerful performance-tracking features with a GPS receiver, the Garmin Forerunner 201 offers runners and hikers a unique way to track their exercise regimens and goals. Unlike Timex’s BodyLink sport monitoring system, its main competitor, the Forerunner 201 integrates the GPS receiver into a single body (BodyLink has separate housings for watch and GPS).
At first, the device felt a little bulky on my wrist, both in weight and in size (it measures 3.26 by 1.71 by 0.69 inches). But it really is light enough (less than 3 ounces) so that it felt comfortable and transparent. I did, however, position the band a bit higher up my arm to ensure full mobility of my wrist, as the length of the Forerunner tended to get in its way.
The large display–with equally large, easy-to-read characters–helps you avoid having to squint at the readout. Just a quick glance at your numbers and you’ll maintain your training concentration. The six rubber buttons on the front of the chassis are easy to access (unless you’re wearing bulky gloves). I easily got the promised 13 hours out of the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. At the end of the day, I’d just recharge it for around two hours and it would be ready for me the next morning.
While this is definitely a workable GPS receiver, the Forerunner is slim on overall GPS features–which is not to its detriment (think of it as a performance monitor with a dash of GPS). That said, the Forerunner was able to pick up a GPS signal just about wherever I went outside (though it had very slight hiccups in the center of downtown). But if you’re looking for a full-fledged tracking device, the Forerunner isn’t for you. (You’ll want to start with a basic GPS unit like Garmin’s eTrex.)
The Forerunner 201 has a variety of helpful tracking, monitoring, and navigational features. The History function enables you to view your workout statistics broken down by individual days, cumulative weeks, or your entire workout history (if you track different workouts during the same day, they’ll be broken out as different laps). You can even view a map of your route. And much like other GPS units, you can save “waypoints” (called “locations” in Forerunner parlance) to mark the coordinates of a place you want to return to later.
(Please note prices are subject to change and the listed price is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of posting)