Garmin Releases Forerunner 201, GPS-Enabled Fitness Monitor

I'm heavily into both cycling and running, as well as measuring my performance and fitness levels. So, the latest gadget from Garmin is definitely aimed at me. The Forerunner 201 combines GPS and stopwatch, neatly collecting much of the data that I could want about my run.

According to the information I've read, it also has the ability to create a virtual race partner to add a little competition to solo workouts. We'll have to see how useful that feature is.

There are a number of fitness monitors already on the market that are aimed at data junkies like me. I use a Polar S720i which is a heart rate montor primarily designed for use by hardcore cyclists. The key feature of the S720i that is lacking in the Garmin Forerunner is the Polar Precision Performance Software package. This software allows you to create a very good training log. It has real value to a serious athlete, but some weekend warriors may consider it overkill for their purposes.

I brought up the Polar S-Series heart rate monitors not to say that their design is hands-down better than the Garmin Forerunner, it's just different. If you are more of a trail runner than I am and you don't need or want to record heart rate information or calories burned, the Forerunner might be the best fitness monitor for you. But, if you want to create a detailed exercise journal on your PC, and you value features like heart rate management, and infrared or sonic uploading, you should carefully compare existing products on the market to the new Garmin Forerunner.

Update: As Operation Gadget reader Kent Folsom points out in an attached comment, my initial review of the Forerunner 201 said that it had heart rate monitor features. It doesn't. I am not sure why I thought it did. I have modified this story to make it more accurate. --Dave Aiello, 11/20/2003