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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Silva Tech 40 Trail Leader Pro > Test Report by Ralph Ditton
SILVA TECH40 TRAILEADER PRO WATCH
TEST SERIES BY RALPH DITTON
INITIAL REPORT: 22nd NOVEMBER, 2009
FIELD REPORT: 17th January, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT: 20th March, 2010
photo courtesy of Tech4o
Name: Ralph Ditton
Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight: 71 kg (157 lb)
Email: rdassetts at optusnet dot com dot au
City: Perth. Western Australia. Australia
My playgrounds are the Bibbulmun Track, the Coastal Plain Trail and Cape to Cape Track. I aim to become a sectional end-to-end walker of the Bibbulmun Track. I am nearly there as it is 964 km (603 mi) long. My pack weight including food and water tends to hover around 18 kg (40 lb) but I am trying to get lighter. My trips range from overnighters to six days duration.
Manufacturer's URL: http://www.tech4o.com
Year of manufacturer: 2009
Country of manufacturer: China
Model: TraiLeader Pro
MSRP: US $199.00
Listed weights: Nil stated
Measured weight: 52 g (1.8 oz)
Measured weight of chest strap: 18 g (0.6 oz)
Measured weight of heart monitor: 44 g (1.5 oz)
Battery type: CR2032 (two needed. One each for watch & heart monitor)
Diameter of watch face: 51 mm (2 in)
Thickness of watch: 15 mm (0.6 in)
What does the watch do?
As per the manufacturer's web site it does the following:
Trail Leader Pro Speed & Distance Mode:
Trail Leader Pro Digital Compass Mode:
Trail Leader Pro Altimeter Mode:
Trail Leader Pro Barometer Mode:
Time, Date, Day, 2 Alarms, 50lap Chronograph, 6 Timers, Dual Time Zone
Expectations from the web
I expected a watch that looked the same as the photo on the web site and I duly received this. What I did not expect was a CD Rom, PC Pod and a heart strap and monitor.
I naively thought that the watch did all of these things on its own as there is no real mention on the web site "Product Description" about the above.
The only hint given, in hindsight, is "it even syncs with your PC".
In addition there are three sets of instructions and I expected at least one.
They are a "Quick Started Guide" for the PC Pod, "Quick Start Guide" for the watch and a booklet with a comprehensive set of instructions totaling 51 pages.
The watch came in a well presented display case that was very easy to open, unlike blister packs.
There was a stick on transparent decal showing a sample time menu on the face of the watch. This was easily removed.
When I opened the box and pulled out the plastic tray it was then that I discovered the additional gear as mentioned above. They are not visible through the window of the display box.
I quickly thumbed through the little instruction booklet and my head was spinning. There is so much to learn. This is not what I expected.
So I sat down and had a good fiddle pressing buttons on the watch, using the single sheet "Quick Start Guide" to see what buttons did what.
I was able to scroll through various menus but it was a real lucky dip to find my way back to where I wanted to be.
That was at the Time Menu showing the date/day/time/temperature unit as I had to alter them for my local time zone.
After a bit of trial and error I was able to set the watch to my local time zone, altered the date and changed the temperature to Celsius.
As the weather was stormy when I was setting the watch, I was mightily impressed with the little symbol showing stormy weather.
I tried to find out what other symbols are used for the weather but the instruction booklet is silent.
The numerals and symbols are large and in good light I can see them without needing my glasses.
However, inside the home on a fine sunny day, with no lights on and Lux readings ranging from 9 to 68, I find that I do need my glasses to read the watch face.
I can just make out the time without my glasses.
It is a little better when I use the back light.
This watch is definitely a case of the more I use it, the better I will understand how to scroll through the various applications.
I haven't even looked at the computer side yet regarding the exercise data.
A lot of study of the instruction manuals is required. This will be undertaken progressively over the next few weeks.
I wore the watch for the first time today and it felt really comfortable. However, my wife commented that it looked like a dinner plate on my wrist.
I checked out the temperature displayed on the watch against my Kestrel unit and there was a 10 C (18 F) difference.
The watch recorded 32 C (89 F) and the Kestrel 22 C (71 F).
The instruction manual on page 49 states that temperature measurements can be skewed by body heat by some 5° - 10° higher than the actual air temperature.
The instruction manual does not state if that is Celsius or Fahrenheit.
As can be seen by my variation, it is much larger than what the instruction manual states if it is referring to a Fahrenheit variation.
I have taken it to be understood that the variation is Fahrenheit as it is an American product for use in the US.
I took the watch off and a half hour later checked the temperature against my Kestrel and they were very close. Just 0.2 C (0.4 F) difference.
The moral of the story is to leave the watch off my wrist for at least a half hour to achieve an accurate reading.
The watch has five buttons. Four are large rectangles 12 mm x 7 mm (0.5 in x 0.3 in) with a tyre type horizontal pattern on the top for a better finger grip. The fifth button is a small green round knob with a diameter of 3.5 mm (0.13 in).
The green button, situated centrally on the left (see above photo) just turns on the back light that illuminates the face.
To assist with what the buttons do, there is printed on the watch face the following opposite a button, ESC, MODE, LAP/RESET and ST/STP. They can be seen on the above photo.
ESC stands for Escape
Returns to previous screen.
Provides the answer NO
Displays time or trail menu
Enters setting modes (press and hold for 3 seconds)
Toggles display down
Enters laps and resets timers
Toggles display up
View alternative displays
I have set up my gender, weight, height, birth date and walk stride.
The operation of the buttons was very easy once I got the hang of which ones to press. To arrive at the right numeral I had to either toggle up or down with the LAP/RESET or ST/STP buttons.
To get out of that menu and onto the next item to be changed I had to use the ESC button, then the ST/STP button to move down to the next item.
There appeared to be a default setting for each of the above.
After the above, I tried to install the CD Rom as per the instructions in the "Quick Started Guide" for the PC POD without any luck. The menu is supposed to show automatically as per the instruction booklet.
I had to go into "My Computer" and find it on Drive (D:).
The next problem was trying to locate the PC-Link Display in the watch.
There are no instructions that I could find so it was just a matter of working through the menu on the watch and somehow I jagged it.
Once I had it, the computer recognized it and did its thing and created a file "Daily Records".
I was able to view it when it was being loaded. Now I cannot open the file "Daily Records" with Windows as it does not recognize the programme. Brilliant.
This watch is going to take a lot of study and I have to iron out the computer side so that I can see what has been downloaded to it.
A big thank you to Tech4o for the opportunity to test this watch.
17th January, 2010
Sadly, I have had limited bush experience with the watch over this period.
The main reason is that my usual walking area has been subject to warnings from the weather bureau about fire warnings being at the "Catastrophic" level.
It was plainly unsafe to venture into my favourite areas.
I did venture to the Coastal Plain region for a day trip with the temperature maxing out at 41 C (106 F) and it was dry.
To make up for the lack of field trips (which will be rectified over the next two months) I have done daily walks/runs wearing the chest strap around my suburb and also when walking the dog.
The data from these exercises have been downloaded.
I am now able to read the saved data.
The problem I experienced in the Initial Report was that I saved the data from the panel "Save as type" in the "Wireless Data Manager" format when I should have dropped down the menu and click on "Excel CSV File".
My computer can open the Excel file but not the WDM file.
This watch is my very first digital watch with numerous menus.
As I am not very au fait with this type of technology, I have spent weeks reading through the book of instructions trying to get to the bottom of the various menus and sub menus before I even attempted to start collecting data via the watch and chest strap.
Most importantly, I learnt through trial and error how to navigate to the menus and sub menus where I can change the factory settings to reflect my local area, such as altitude, compass declination, temperature, speed and metric.
By fiddling with the menus and buttons and getting the hang of it, the instruction book started to make sense.
I started off reading the instruction book and my eyes would glaze over with instructions such as these:
Hold M for three seconds
Press LAP/RST to scroll to Daily Records
Press M to select the Daily Record
Press LAP/RST to scroll to the day
Press M to access records
Press ST/STP or LAP/RST to scroll through the screen etc.
There are pages and pages of this type of instruction.
As this is a sports watch, there are some features that I am not that interested in being a bushwalker.
Namely, the chronograph, countdown timer and dual time zone.
Wearing the watch
I find that the strap is quite comfortable on my wrist and that it does not pull at my hairs on my wrist.
The strap is easy to adjust when doing an activity. My wrist expands slightly during exercise, so I invariably have to adjust the strap by one notch.
At night, the backlight shows up the face quite clearly and I have no trouble in reading the data displayed.
One little gripe that I have with the watch is that I cannot lay it down flat with the watch face up. This is due to the design of the strap that has a pre bent arc on both sides of the watch.
I have finally mastered the switching between the Time Menu and the Trail Menu and the scrolling down the side to find the sub menu that I want.
When reached, I press the Mode button to open up the menu.
If I want to go deeper into the menu, I hold the Mode button for three seconds and the sub-menu appears. This is where I can alter the settings, save or stop data, and most importantly, transmit data to my computer from the Log Book Mode menu.
It was definitely a case of practice, practice and more practice to have it imprinted into my head.
Setting Time and Date
Surprisingly, I had very little difficulty in setting the watch to my local time and date.
I really did not read the instructions for this operation. It was just a case of having a fiddle inside the sub-menu for the Time, Date, System and User. I just noticed the flashing numerals and using the ST/STP or LAP/RESET buttons to go up or down to arrive at the correct numeral. When reached, use the ESC button to lock it in and the back to the MODE button to move onto the next numeral that had to be altered.
Under "System", sub set "Sound" I chose "Keytone" for the noise that the watch emits on the hour and alarm tone.
The second menu in the Time Menu is where the Alarm settings are.
When it is opened up ALM 1 is the first one to appear. Again I did not use the instruction booklet to set my alarm as it was very straight forward.
I set the two alarms, one for 6 am and the other for 6.30 am.
When I go to bed, I place the watch on my dresser next to my bed. It is only around 90 cm (2.9 ft) away and I can clearly hear the alarm going off at 6 am.
However, when I am up, I place the watch in the lounge next to my reading chair and then have breakfast at the kitchen table which is in another room some 6 metres (20 ft) away. The door is open.
For the past week while I have had the second alarm on, I could not hear it from the kitchen table, but my wife could. The first time she said, "What is that beeping?"
Now she just says, "Your alarm has gone off again. Can't you hear it?"
When I get up to turn it off, I only hear it when I am about 2.6 metres (8.5 ft) away from the watch. Yes, I am 58 but I don't think that my hearing is impaired in any way. Must be a female thing that they can hear two gnats banging together from a great distance and everything else going on in the home.
Barometer and Altimeter
When I first used the watch, the Altimeter showed that my home was situated at 206 metres (676 ft). This was definitely wrong as it sits at 7 metres (23 ft).
I adjusted the setting on the watch very easily after a quick look at the instruction book some weeks after having the watch and using it.
The Barometer had to be set to my country's measurement of hectopascals and it works just fine. Unfortunately, I cannot report any sudden drop in pressure signaling a storm approaching as we are in the second longest record breaking period without rain, some 56 days with no relief in sight. We might even break the all time record of 64 days set in 1876.
I received the watch on the 19th November, 2009 and it has not rained since the 20th November,2009. Hence no wild fluctuations on the Barometer readings.
The Barometer does fluctuate up and down a bit, but nothing to get excited about. We have this massive High sitting over the southern part of our state which is blocking the weak cold fronts that bring rain and it shows no sign of moving on.
From my log downloaded from the watch via the PC POD for the 8th January 2010, it shows a Maximum of 1034.9 hPa (30.56 in Hg) to a low of 1031.4 hPa (30.45 in Hg).
The altitude is incorrect as I had not altered it to my local environment at that date. It should read around 7 metres (23 ft).
I have not really tested this out in the field as such yet.
The book of instructions has a section on calibrating the compass. I had to hold the watch face level in my hand while rotating myself 360 degrees and watch the square border on the watch face fill in to indicate that it was successful. I had to do two rotations which is about normal. I have to do the same for my GPS. The instructions say only one rotation over 30 seconds but that did not work, hence two rotations.
I can take a back reading by pressing the ST/STP button. This is 180 degrees from my actual bearing. Very handy to check where I have come from to ensure that I am on the right track and not drifting to the left as that tends to be my default in compass bearing off-track walks.
I just line up the back bearing to the object that was my previous bearing of go-to.
There is also a facility to lock a bearing which I was able to do. However, I cannot see any reason to do so as a locked bearing is useless to follow. No matter where I point the compass, the locked bearing will point in the direction I am currently facing.
I had to enter a declination for my area. The book of instructions has Declination maps for Europe and North America only. Not a lot of help for Australia. Fortunately, I know my own area. It is -2.4 degrees.
I can only enter whole numbers into the watch, no decimals.
What the book of instructions does not tell you is whether I am to add or subtract the figure from the magnetic north bearing. It just says that if any point is west of the zero line where True and Magnetic north are in the same direction, the compass needle will point east of True North. This is called "Easterly Declination".
If the compass needle points east of the zero line then this is called the "Westerly Declination".
What would be useful is a statement along the lines of "If magnetic north is east of grid north, it is a positive value. If magnetic north is west of true north, it is a negative value."
The maps in the booklet have positive and negative value numerals but there is no actual instruction for novices as to how to interpret the maps. If you live or are traveling outside the two printed maps then you are declination challenged.
The Heart Stuff
This is an area that is very dear to my heart. (No pun intended).
Once I had figured out how to transmit data to my computer from my watch and save it in a format that I can read, I have gathered evidence of how the ticker is performing.
The one area that stumped me was how to collect and save the "Beats Per Minute" (BPM).
Every time I clicked on the "Save" button no data would be recorded. Then the penny dropped. I had taken the chest strap off after an exercise to record my other data.
I had to be wearing the chest strap whilst at the computer. The hint was the tab on the screen "Real Time".
Once I figured that out, I have had no trouble recording and saving my "BPM" data.
Set out below is a sample after I had been out walking the dog.
I am very interested in the other heart data that the watch collects.
The top row of the menu collects the average heart rate, calorie expenditure, exercise time, heart rate in zone time, maximum heart rate and minimum heart rate.
The ones that really interest me are the maximum/minimum heart rates and the average heart rate.
The middle row shows the beats per minute and the % of estimated maximum heart rate. I find this useful to make sure that I am not overdoing it and putting a strain on my heart.
The reason for my concern is that I have a partially blocked artery behind the heart that lets blood out of the heart. I am on medication for it.
The bottom row shows the current time.
Below is my records over a 10 day period. As can be seen, I have just collected data on 6 days only.
The watch is programmed to collect data for a 10 day period, so if I miss a day then it shows up as 0
As I had to visit my doctor for new scripts for my heart, I showed him the printout and he was impressed. It showed him that my heart was performing as it should, especially after exercise.
There was then no need to alter my medications.
The logbook allows me to record and send information to my computer.
It has a free memory capacity of 3521. There is no mention as to what it is. Are they KB's or MB's?
I suspect that the 3521 may be KB's because I fill up the memory in just over a half hour of starting my walks. The watch beeps and shows, Memory Full.
When I start to collect data, a little heart icon appears at the 12 o'clock position and a blinking "log".
About every 10 seconds the watch emits a little single beep. I take this to tell me that the watch is collecting the data and that the link between my chest strap and the watch has not been broken.
I could not find any information in the book of instructions about the beeping.
Below is a sample of my logbook captured on the 15th January, 2010.
The average heart rate was 84 BPM.
Below is a very small sample of the data collected in another part of the logbook on the same day, the 15th January, 2010.
Sometimes after I download my data and clear the memory, the watch still collects data. I thought that I had stopped it from doing so but obviously I am occasionally doing something wrong.
I only become aware when the watch face shows "Memory full".
I am still trying to master how to stop it from ongoing collection of data when I don't want it.
The book of instructions tells me how to do it, but I must be missing a step on occasions.
Practice will overcome this little problem that I have.
When I was first confronted with this watch I had a mild panic attack. How on earth was I going to come to grips with all of the features and understand what I am doing.
Initially, I tried to read the book of instructions from cover to cover and as I mentioned earlier, my eyes glazed over at the "press this button, then this button etc".
I spent many hours fiddling with the various menus and checking them against the book of instructions.
I found that this was the best method to get an understanding of how it worked. A lot of trial and error and plain lucky dip at times.
When I got to somewhere I wanted through a lucky dip, I had to think very carefully as to how I arrived at it, then consult the instructions to see if I was on the right track.
At the beginning I had trouble in having as my default the Time/Date Mode that showed the time, temperature and date when I wanted it as just a time piece watch.
I could get the menu ok, but my mistake was that I kept pressing buttons trying to find the above. All I have to do is get to the menu and DO NOTHING. The watch will after a few seconds delay, show the temperature, time and date.
I only stumbled onto this by accident when I got to the menu and I was distracted by the wife and when I looked back at the watch, bingo, there was the display as mentioned above that I wanted.
Just to make sure that I had it right, I got out of the menu, had a look around at other menus and then came back to the Time/Date Mode menu on a number of occasions and it worked every time.
Another feature nailed into my memory.
Long Term Report
20th March, 2010
We have experienced the hottest, driest summer on record and it was only late last month and this month that I was able to get out into the bush and do some testing.
There have been a host of extreme/catastrophic fire warnings, hence the lack of field trips.
The three times that I did get out, I went to an area on the Darling Scarp in the Pickering Brook region and it was all off track.
Daytime temperatures were on average 33 C (91 F) and the humidity 20%.
The elevation was around the 340 metre (1,115 ft) mark.
On each occasion that I used the watch, I had the chest strap on also. I used up all of the memory on the watch each time.
Wearing the Watch
Apart from wearing the watch when out in the bush, I have been wearing it almost daily as my regular time piece.
I just love the large display of numerals and letters. I can read it without glasses.
In addition, the strap is very comfortable and at no stage have any hairs on my wrist been plucked by the strap.
The base of the watch does get wet from my perspiration when I am doing an activity in the heat. This has had no adverse affect on the watch.
I have become reliant on the alarm function of the watch as I have been sleeping on and off on the lounge floor due to the excessive night temperatures. My wife accuses me of being like a hot water bottle so I am banished.
The alarm works very well and it turns itself off if I do not reach over and press any button to stop it.
Barometer and Altimeter
Since my Field Report, I can report that we have had the grand total of 0.2 mm (0.008 in) of rain to date.
This means that I have not noticed any wild fluctuations in the barometer. They readings have been boringly stable.
When I ventured onto the Darling Scarp, the altimeter did reflect the change in altitude.
Temperature and barometric readings
Below is a snip of the data recorded.
The temperature down on the sandy plain close to the coast was much cooler than further inland on the Darling Scarp.
I am not a big fan of compasses on a watch.
I had to hold it very level which was very difficult in rough off track terrain.
I found that taking a sighting was difficult as there is no mark on the strap or edge of the watch.
I did utilize the buckle tooth in an upright position as the direction arrow and sighting point when I took the watch off.
The slightest movement and the direction would change immediately.
I am more used to holding my baseplate compass up, take a reading, pick out a distant mark and head off to it as it has a nice arrow on the baseplate to line things up with.
What I did find useful was to use it as a check against my baseplate compass and for the back readings. Saved me the math.
I could find no use for locking the compass. When it was locked it was useless to navigate with.
I only persevered for a short time.
For some reason the compass went out of whack with "north" pointing towards "south"
To recalibrate the compass was very easy and I did not have the book with me for reference. I just remembered that I had to rotate until the borders of the square were completely filled.
The Heart Stuff
This is where the watch stands out for me as I am very heart conscious due to our family history of dickey tickers.
The Heart Rate taken whilst at the computer has remained very stable over the test period. For me, that is excellent. All is well.
There appears to be a programme error with regards to the date.
From a sample of my recordings I note the following:
Date reading taken Date recorded by unit
Day Month Year
4 1 2010 10/1/2004
5 1 2010 10/1/2005
8 1 2010 10/1/2008
10 1 2010 10/1/2010
11 1 2010 10/1/2011
21 2 2010 10/2/2021
6 3 2010 10/3/2006
The pattern appears to be that the year and day are at the wrong ends. The 10 is the year and the last two digits in the supposed year are the actual days of the month.
This next table shows my heart working whilst bushwalking with a day pack weighing approximately 6 kilos (13 lb) of which 4 kilos (9 lb) was water.
I am a little mystified with regards to the Maximum Speed and Average pace. They appear to be wrong. I certainly was not running. The Average Speed and Minimum pace appear to be correct.
All that I can put it down to is that somehow data must have been collected when I was in my vehicle driving very slowly due to the extreme corrugation on the road at the end of my walk. That would explain those speeds.
I fully used up the 3521 bits of memory when out in the field.
This took approximately 1 hour.
Below is a sample of the 6th March, 2010.
The data shows my heart working away at a higher rate than normal because of the nature of the activity, bushwalking.
My pace was steady in the off track environment and the ground was flat.
All was good.
Matters that need attention
These are set out below and are in no particular order of importance.
1) Weather Forecast Display. There needs to be a list of the symbols in the instruction book to eliminate any error of interpretation.
Sometimes I get a cloudy symbol when in fact there is no cloud in the sky. Why is this so?
Maybe an explanation is needed in the Instruction Manual for conflicting symbols to the real situation.
2) Need Declination Maps for other parts of the world. People do travel and live elsewhere apart from Europe and North America.
3) There is a programme error regarding time and date for the Heart Rate Log.
See above in "Heart Stuff".
I had a little bit of apprehension when using the chest strap with a pack on and the pack's chest strap in place that the data may not get recorded.
As it turned out, the data was collected with the pack's chest strap in the way and with a shirt on.
I am still coming to terms with the features of the watch. It is an ongoing education by actively fiddling with the various menus until they become burned into my brain as to how to get there. Getting out of the menu is too easy. I keep making mistakes in pressing the wrong button and immediately I am out of where I want to be. Getting back to the menu from that situation is the real learning curve.
No matter how hard I try and remember, the Mode button is the major cause of my trials and tribulations. "Do I hold it for three seconds or just press once?"
There are features in this watch that are of no relevance to a bushwalker carrying a backpack such as Chronograph Mode and Countdown Timer Mode.
They are nice if I should get the desire to go for a run but that is highly unlikely. Walking is my preferred speed.
Maybe just a watch for bushwalkers with those above mentioned features eliminated would be the go.
This watch is definitely a watch for those people who undertake running and walking for enjoyment.
Read more reviews of Silva gear
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