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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS > Test Report by Andrea Murland

Timex Ironman Global Trainer with GPS & Digital Heart Rate
Test Series by Andrea Murland

Initial Report - May 31, 2011
Field Report - August 9, 2011
Long Term Report - October 11, 2011

Tester Information

Name: Andrea Murland
Email: amurland AT shaw DOT ca
Age: 25
Location: Elkford & Rossland, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Weight: 125 lb (57 kg)

I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.


Initial Report – May 31, 2011

Product Information

Manufacturer: Timex
Manufacturer's URL: www.timex.com
Model: Ironman Global Trainer with GPS & Digital Heart Rate
Year of Manufacture: 2011
MSRP: US $360 ($300 without Heart Rate Monitor)
Listed Weight: 84 g (2.96 oz)
Measured Weight: 84 g (2.96 oz)
Listed Watch Size: 56 x 64 x 18 mm (2.2 x 2.5 x 0.7 in)
Measured Watch Size: 59 x 65 x 19 mm (2.3 x 2.6 x 0.75 in)
Listed Display Size: 33 x 20 mm (1.3 x 0.8 in)
Measured Display Size: 33 x 22 mm (1.3 x 0.87 in))
Battery Type: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion
Specified Battery Life: 15 hours with GPS, 12 days in time-only power off mode, 1 year with fully powered down LCD
Water Resistance: 50 m (167 ft) water resistant
Warranty: One year limited warranty against manufacturing defects

Description, Initial Impressions, and Reading the Instructions:

The Timex Ironman Global Trainer is part of the Ironman series of Timex watches, designed for use training for single or multi-sport pursuits. For me, not being a triathlete, that means that this watch can provide me with just about every piece of information about a workout or activity that I can imagine, and quite a few I never would have thought of.

The watch arrived packaged up with quite a few things inside the box, as in the picture below. Inside the box was the Global Trainer watch, a USB cable for charging the watch as well as connecting it to a computer to download information or configure the watch, an AC adapter for the USB cable (compatible for 100-240 V), a handlebar bike mount, a Heart Rate Sensor, and a Quick Start Guide. Note that the watch is available without the Heart Rate Sensor as well.

Timex Global Trainer Packaging

The Global Trainer watch is compatible with sensors using ANT+ wireless technology. That means that the watch will pair with sensors from Timex or other manufacturers as long as they’re transmitting using ANT+. The Heart Rate Monitor that came with the watch uses ANT+, and there are speed, cadence, and power sensors available for bikes. I am working on getting a speed/cadence sensor, so my Field Report will have more on that.

My first impression was that this watch is BIG. I was expecting that, having looked at the website, but actually seeing it is something different. I’m not a big person, including my wrist, and I almost never wear a watch, so it was a bit of a shock. The face of the watch is black and grey, with a few orange markings. The strap is black rubber and is 2.5 cm (1 in) wide. It has a standard watch closure (pin through a hole), and on my wrist I need it on the second or third smallest hole.

The Quick Start Guide that came in the box was enough information to get me started fiddling with the watch. A quick flick through it told me that I needed to charge the watch, by connecting the USB cable to the watch and my computer. The instructions for attaching the cable were straightforward and easy to follow, and the watch charged from the 40% it started at to 100% in a few hours. I wasn’t able to time it exactly courtesy of a power outage, but the estimate of 3.5 hours that was in the Guide doesn’t seem too far out. The picture below shows the back of the watch, the watch with the charger/cable attached, and the screen showing the watch charging initially.

Charging

The watch has seven buttons. Looking at the face of the watch, on the left hand side there are three buttons, which are (top to bottom): “INDIGLO”, which turns on the blue-coloured backlight, “Back/Pwr”, which is the power button and allows me to back out of menus, and “Mode”, which scrolls me through the different modes of the watch. On the right side there are also three buttons: “Up”, which lets me scroll up through menus and screens, “Enter”, which allows me to select and item, and “Dwn/Stp/Rst”, which allows me to scroll down through menus and screens but also stops the chronograph when it’s running as well as resets it. In the center of the watch, below the display, is the “Start/Split” button, which starts the chronograph the first time it’s pressed and starts a new lap when it’s pressed in the middle of a workout.

I downloaded the full 42-page User Guide, in .pdf format, from the Timex website. However, I took off on a weekend trip before I could read it, so with just the Quick Start Guide I muddled my way through configuring the watch. Even without instructions, I found it quite straightforward. The buttons are well-labelled and do exactly what they say. The menus are pretty clear and I found them easy to navigate. I was a bit confused about how the Performance Mode really worked, and couldn’t figure out the MultiSport Mode at all (more about those later), so I guess I didn’t figure out the watch all that well, but I did manage to get it set up the way I wanted and track a hike on the weekend successfully. I read the User Guide later and everything became much clearer.

The full functionality of the watch is realized when it’s hooked up to the computer. The Quick Start Guide indicated that I should download the Device Agent, which is software that is downloaded to my PC (running Windows Vista), and it basically allows me to talk to the watch without using the screens on the watch itself. Everything in the Configure Mode menus (more on those later too) can be done using the Device Agent software, which is easier and faster than flipping through menus on the watch. Having said that, I got everything set up on the watch itself before I even had the software downloaded, so it wasn’t hard on the watch either. A comparison of the same screens on the watch and in the Device Agent can be seen below. The Quick Start Guide also directed me to create an account with TrainingPeaks, which is an online training tool for tracking and planning workouts (as well as nutrition, if desired). I created a free account with them and the site is fairly straightforward to use, with videos to help figure it out, as well as a help file that so far I have found to be pretty useful, though I have done a bit of head-scratching. The Device Agent is the interface between the watch and TrainingPeaks as well, and can be used to download workout data from the watch, save it, and upload it to TrainingPeaks.

Configure Mode

There are six modes on the Global Trainer watch. A brief summary of each of these modes follows.

Variables Performance
This is a single-sport mode which tracks a variety of variables about a workout. In Performance Mode, there are five types of workout that can be configured, to show different data on the screen during the workout. The display can show up to four pieces of information at once, of my choice. The options are shown in the picture to the right. For example, the watch comes with displays pre-configured for “Run”, “Bike”, and “Swim”, as well as two more settings, “Custom 1” and “Custom 2”. I have changed what information I want to see while running, biking, and swimming, and also renamed and configured “Custom 1” for “Hike”. Before starting a workout, I choose which activity I’m doing and then press the “Start/Split” button to start the workout. My hike display (with no data) can be seen below, configured to show the distance I’ve travelled, my altitude, and my speed. My run display shows me my heart rate, distance, speed, and time. I can switch between displays during a workout by pressing the “Up” button. A workout can be paused and re-started at any time as well. Although only 4 pieces of information can be shown on any screen, other information is tracked and can be reviewed later either on the watch or on the TrainingPeaks software.

Hike Display


The watch can track up to 20 workouts and 1000 splits, depending on memory space.

MultiSport
MultiSport Mode is similar to Performance Mode in that it tracks workouts, but instead of tracking a single activity, it can be set to switch from one activity to another within a workout, as well as track information about the transition between workouts. For example, I could bike, then run, and the watch would tell me information about my ride, information about how long it took me to change my shoes, and then information about my run. The screens for the different activities are configured the same as in Performance Mode; changing the settings in one mode also changes them in the other mode.

Navigate
This is the GPS part of the watch. Here, I can mark waypoints for my current position, get the watch to tell me how to get back to a waypoint I’ve previously marked, or set up a route consisting of several waypoints for the watch to guide me to. The watch also has an electronic compass that will display a heading and speed of travel when I’m moving (not when I’m stationary). A map can also be displayed of my current position in relation to any waypoints and routes, though there isn’t any background information on the map (i.e. roads or topographical features). As far as I can tell, I can’t change the format of the coordinates in the watch.

Review
This is where I can look back at the data from any saved workouts. For each workout I can view information that I didn’t see on my main display but that the watch tracked. I can look at data for the whole workout or for individual laps.

Configure
This is where the settings of the watch can be changed. I can set when I want the watch to beep, what units I want displayed, my time zone, my personal information such as my age, height, and weight, information about my bike, etc. I have inputted my personal data, which is used for automatic heart rate zone calculations (which can also be personalized), and chosen metric units. The watch can also be configured to start and stop workouts without any button-pushing, by setting, for example, a minimum speed required to be considered part of the workout. I haven’t configured any of the hands-free functions yet, as I need some information about what my speeds are first! The Configure Mode is also where I can pair the watch with a heart rate sensor or speed/cadence sensor on a bike. This is important if I’m going to be around other people with sensors also using ANT+, so that the watch knows which one is me. I have currently paired the heart rate sensor that came with the watch.

PC Sync
This is the mode I put the watch into when I want it to talk to the Device Agent, which allows me to download workout information off the watch, change the settings in Configure Mode on the Device Agent instead of on the watch, and update the firmware of the watch if necessary.

A few interesting things that I came across in the User Guide that I feel I should point out:
  • the GPS and Heart Rate Monitor won’t work underwater
  • I shouldn’t push any buttons under water, to maintain water resistance
  • I should store and operate the watch at reasonable temperatures
  • I should use only the power adapter that came with the watch
  • I shouldn’t consult the watch while moving for safety reasons

Trying It Out

As I mentioned earlier, I did most of the setup of the watch prior to reading the User Guide, and found it quite intuitive and straightforward to navigate through the menus and options in the watch. After reading the User Guide, I did some more personalization of the displays in Performance and MultiSport Mode.

I took the Global Trainer for a (very) short run (turns out that running on a trail covered in mud, snow, ice, roots, and loose rocks with a sprained ankle is a lousy idea) to gather some data and see what the interface with the Device Agent and TrainingPeaks was like. I put on the Heart Rate Monitor and it successfully displayed a heart rate that was believable for my resting heart rate (around 60 bpm). It also jumped around quite a bit while I was putting on my shoes, but I don’t know if that’s normal or not. I marked a waypoint at my house, started the chronograph on the “Run” display in Performance Mode, and started running. When I decided to turn around, I started a new lap, marked a waypoint, and then headed back down to my house. When I arrived back home, I stopped the chronograph and then saved the workout.

When I started my run, I had the watch buckled on the second smallest hole, but found it a bit restrictive and uncomfortable. I loosened it to the third hole, and that was more comfortable, though the watch bounced around a bit. I can’t extend my wrist while wearing the watch, so it’s a good thing it came with some other way to attach it to the handlebars on my bike. The GPS maintained a satellite fix during the run, even on the trail in the trees. Looking at the map, the GPS looks pretty accurate both on the trail and the road, though the maps in TrainingPeaks don’t have a satellite view for my area at a close enough zoom level to really be able to tell for the trail.

I reviewed the data from the run on the watch. The first three (of four) screens in Review mode can be seen in the picture below. I then downloaded the workout to the Device Agent and uploaded it to TrainingPeaks, where it appeared on my calendar for today automatically. Clicking on the workout in the calendar showed me the Quick View, and clicking “Map & Graph” showed me the map and graphs also shown below. I have Lap 2 highlighted on the map and on the graph.

Run Review

The data from the run seem fairly reasonable for heart rate and speed. The elevation gain and loss shown in the Quick View are different despite starting and finishing in the same spot, but the altitude is calculated from the GPS position, so I’m not surprised by that.

Summary

This was only a brief summary of the features of this watch, despite being a bit of a technological ramble. I’m really looking forward to playing with all of the features over the next several months, including the speed and cadence from my bike. So far the watch seems fairly straightforward to use and very functional. I am interested to see what the battery life is like (a concern on overnight trips), how much I use the navigational features, and how I figure out how to wear and carry a watch this big!

Field Report – August 9, 2011

Search and Rescue Training

Field Conditions

I used the Timex Global Trainer during the Field Testing stage while running, cycling, hiking, and on Search & Rescue (SAR) exercises and real searches. My usage is summarized below.

Running: Three runs in Edmonton, Alberta, Elkford, British Columbia, and Rossland, British Columbia, up to 5 km (3.1 mi), all in warm, dry conditions.

Cycling: Three rides in the Rockies, distances up to 75 km (46.6 mi). Two of the rides were in warm, dry conditions, and the other was in cool, damp conditions with intermittent rain.

Hiking: Four day-hikes of distances up to 10 km (6.2 mi), in conditions varying from 30 C (86 F) and sunny to 5 C (41 F) and pouring rain.

Search & Rescue: One full-day regional training exercise in warm, humid, sunny conditions with intermittent rain, grid searching in the bush. Also one full day of active searching, in warm, sunny conditions, doing road sweeps and grid searching in cutblocks.

Observations

How it works & Accuracy
Overall I have really enjoyed using the Global Trainer so far. It’s provided very good information on hikes, bikes, and runs, and been surprisingly useful for SAR. I have further customized the displays since my Initial Report as I’ve determined what information I like to see during each activity, but I haven’t made any major changes to the configuration.

The altitude seems to be quite accurate, especially for being calculated from GPS data. For example, on a recent hike the summit was supposed to be at 2200 m (7218 ft) according to the guide book, and at the top my watch said 2200 m (7218 ft) and my regular GPS receiver said 2201 m (7221 ft). More about the GPS later, but the tracks seem to be exactly where they’re supposed to be when I look at the map of my route later.

One major concern that I’ve come across in the past few days has been in the distance shown while I’m hiking. I noticed on a recent hike that the watch was saying that my distance was about 2 km (1.2 mi) at the summit of the mountain. Well, I didn’t know exactly how far I had walked, but I sure knew that it had been longer than that! My hiking partner and I both turned on our GPS receivers for the way down, and we both got 4.00 km (2.48 mi) when we reached the car, as a one-way distance. The watch tells me that my total distance for the hike was 4.21 km (2.61 mi). The next day I used my regular GPS receiver to track an entire hike, and I compared the data from the two devices at the end. The Global Trainer tells me that I walked 8.38 km (5.2 mi), and my GPS receiver told me that I walked 9.2 km (5.7 mi). The first hike where I noticed a discrepancy had significant elevation change; the second had some climbing but not as much. I’m not sure why there is such a difference in the readings, though I have some ideas about horizontal distance travelled vs. actual distance travelled. I plan to further investigate this during the Long Term testing phase. The tracks from both devices can be seen in the picture below, as well as the altitude profile from both devices, and they look like they match pretty well.

Distance & Altitude Profiles

GPS
I haven’t used the GPS a great deal while out in the field. I like looking at my track once I get back to my computer, but it’s not often I need a GPS while out running to find my way home. If I’m out hiking and lost enough that I need to “track back” with a GPS, I’m much more likely to dig out my regular GPS receiver, which has a topographic map, and which I usually have on and tracking anyway.

There was one bike ride where the GPS didn’t seem to work. Although I recall seeing the satellites logo on the watch during the ride, there was no map of my ride when I got home. I still had a speed and distance because those are calculated from my speed and cadence sensor when I’m riding.
Wrist Divots
Comfort
I have only worn the watch on my wrist during SAR and for running. For running, I find it comfortable on a slightly loose setting, and although I notice the weight of the watch on my wrist, it’s not uncomfortable. For SAR I wear it on my wrist because with my pack and sometimes a vest on with the pockets full I find that I have enough other things hanging off of me or in pockets that I want the watch more readily accessible. Although it’s pretty comfortable in this application, the buttons do dig into my wrist after several hours. The picture at right is of my wrist at the end of SAR training.

I have gotten used to the Heart Rate Monitor strap, and don’t find it uncomfortable on long hikes. Although I occasionally notice it to be damp from sweat and a bit binding while hiking, in general it’s fine. I frequently forgot to bring it with me at the start of the Field Testing stage, since I’m not used to having one, but I haven’t forgotten recently! Just something that I’m getting used to.

Speed/Cadence
I really like the speed & cadence function of this watch. I’ve wanted a bike computer for some time now, and it’s really nice to finally have one. I am using the Global Trainer with a Garmin speed and cadence sensor which transmits on ANT+. Despite knowing that the watch should work with any device on ANT+, I was a bit hesitant purchasing the Garmin sensor. However, the watch and sensor paired rapidly and perfectly the first time I used them together. Twice while riding I’ve had some sort of communication breakdown between the sensor and the watch, both after I’d been stopped to take a break for a bit. I’d notice that the cadence wasn’t reading on my display, but I could easily fix the problem by switching to a different mode, usually Configure, so that I could see what was wrong, and then back to Performance mode, and suddenly it would be working. The only other issue that I had with speed/cadence was with the speed/distance calculation. I noticed on my first couple of rides that the length of my rides was shorter than I was expecting from road signs. I finally did a ride with someone else with a computer and both my speed and distance were reading lower than his. Turns out I’d forgotten to set my wheel circumference in the bike setup, so although the computer knew how many times my wheel was turning, it didn’t know how big my wheel was! Once I fixed that my speeds and distances started making way more sense!

Ease of Use
I have found the watch fairly easy to use. As I expressed in my Initial Report, I find the menus quite intuitive and easy to navigate. There have been two cases where I had to figure out how to do something on the watch without the User Guide and had trouble. One was trying to figure out how to lock the watch (so that I couldn’t accidentally hit buttons) while out for SAR. I knew it was a “push and hold” function, and I made a lucky guess of which button it is (“Enter”). The other was also for SAR; it took me about half an hour of button pushing while walking to our starting point to figure out how to set a 30 minute timer for us to check in with our command unit. I did eventually find the right menu though. The User Guide isn’t useful sitting at home on the counter when I’m out in the field!

Battery Life
So far I have had no issues with the battery life. I have the watch set so that there is no display at all when it is turned off. I have used the watch for two days in a row for 6-8 hours each day, and then an evening activity on a third day, and when I’ve plugged the watch into my computer to download the workouts the lowest that I’ve seen the charge indicator is 20%.
Scratched Display
Scratched Display

Durability & Water Resistance
The watch has stood up well to any rain that it’s been exposed to. I had no concerns after hiking or biking in the pouring rain about the water getting into the watch in any way. The watch hasn’t been completely submerged yet.

One thing that I haven’t been happy with is the number of scratches that have appeared on the display. Several appeared through SAR work, while bushwhacking through dense trees and brush. However, more of the scratches have come from hiking, since I have had the watch attached to my pack and have been known to take off my pack and drop it once in a while. I think the watch may also have touched the ground a few times while scrambling. The display is quite scratched. Some kind of protective coating or covering for the screen might be useful (I’m thinking of what I have to protect the screen on my GPS receiver).

Otherwise, the watch is standing up well. The strap is in great condition, with no stretching of the strap or holes noted.

Training Peaks
I have been using the TrainingPeaks online tool to view my workouts. It has been simple to save my workouts to TrainingPeaks using the Device Agent. I mentioned in my Initial Report that the satellite view in TrainingPeaks didn’t have resolution at close zoom levels for my area; I’ve since discovered that you can look at the data in Google Maps as well, which has much better satellite imagery for rural British Columbia, as well as other viewing options like “terrain”, so I’ve enjoyed that ability.

I used TrainingPeaks to track food intake for about a week and then got distracted and lazy and stopped. I guess I’m just not a motivated athlete dedicated to tracking everything that goes into my mouth... It was pretty easy to use though.

Summary

Overall, I have been happy with the performance of the Global Trainer so far. I really like the speed/cadence function of this watch while cycling. I have had intermittent communication problems while cycling and once the GPS didn’t record data on an excursion, but otherwise the watch has worked well. I have noticed some discrepancy in the reported distance travelled while hiking compared to my regular GPSr and my sense of distance, and plan to explore this more in the Long Term testing phase. As well, the display of the watch has become quite scratched.

Through the Long Term testing phase, in addition to the items already mentioned, I hope to explore more with the hands-free functions of the watch as well as the ability to set zones for heart rate to manage a workout. I also hope to be able to jump in a lake and see how the watch swims now that the weather’s finally warmed up!

Long Term Report – October 11, 2011

Field Conditions

I used the Timex Global Trainer during the long term testing stage while running, cycling, hiking/walking, swimming, and canoeing. My usage is summarized below.

Running: 4 runs in Elkford and Rossland, British Columbia, up to 5 km (3.1 mi) in length and all in dry conditions.

Cycling: 2 rides near Rossland, British Columbia, both above and below the international border. One ride was 43 km (26.7 mi), warm, and dry, while the other was 21 km (13 mi), warm, but with some rain showers.

Hiking/Walking: 8 dayhikes or hunting trips (read: hikes) ranging in distance from 4 km (2.5 mi) to 26 km (16.2 mi). There was one hike when I encountered a small amount of rain but the rest were dry. I also used the watch during a golf game, when I had it attached to my golf bag.

Water Activities: One canoe trip around a small lake, a 500 m (0.3 mi) swim in a pool, and a very brief dip in an alpine lake.
Cycling in Washington (yes, I took the picture while pedaling slowly)
Cycling in Washington

Observations

How it Works, Accuracy & GPS
I have continued to enjoy using the Global Trainer. I particularly like it for running and cycling.

As I promised at the end of my Field Report, I spent some time playing with the hands-free functions of the watch during the long-term testing phase. I set the auto start/stop/resume functions for biking, but initially found that I had set the threshold too low. The watch started as I was wheeling my bike to the sidewalk! After some fiddling I had it figured out, and I quite liked the function for biking. However, I disabled the hands-free functions when I was hiking, because I found that I needed different settings for biking than for walking, and they were more important to me for biking. The function did work flawlessly though.

I also played a bit with the cadence and heart rate zones. I initially set the watch to alert me (visually and with a beep) when my cadence dropped below 50 rpm, but found that on a steep climb my cadence hovered consistently around 50 rpm so the watch was continuously beeping at me. That was extremely annoying on an 11 km (6.8 mi) climb back up to my house. I have since lowered the limit to 45 rpm, which means that even on a hill I need to pick it up a notch. I initially tried the heart rate zones while biking and found the alerts not useful for controlling my ride, and the beeping annoying. On the way downhill the watch was continually telling me that my heart rate was low, and on the way up that it was high. Since on a road ride I don’t do anything to control heart rate, and in a lot of cases I can’t (I’m going up that hill regardless of my heart rate!), I disabled the heart rate zone for my other ride. The heart rate zone was a little more useful when running, but I need to spend some more time fine-tuning my range. One thing that I noted was that the zones, in addition to the hands free functions, are either on or off at whatever settings I have them at. I can’t customize different zones for different activities, so I have to remember to change them depending on what I’m doing.

The accuracy of the GPS data was good. The tracks always matched where I’d been. I found the speed at which the watch obtained a satellite fix to be painfully slow. More than once I had to delay my hiking partners from actually starting hiking until the watch would obtain a fix, which took several minutes and usually only occurred after the watch had already asked me once if I wished to reset the GPS. I certainly find the watch much slower than my handheld GPS receiver. Once it finds the satellites though, the accuracy is good. On one hike that was below some cliffs and through a steep, narrow gully, the watch lost GPS signals and then had patchy signals until I emerged above the cliffs. That type of terrain is typical for patchy signals, though my handheld GPS held onto a signal much better than the watch.

Marking waypoints is straightforward and easy. The ability to change the coordinate format along with other units would be nice. I can’t use the coordinates in the watch for Search and Rescue, for example, because we report in UTM and the watch spits out degrees/minutes/seconds. I have also noted that the coordinate format displayed in the watch is not the same as what is displayed in the Device Agent when a waypoint is viewed.

For hunting I turned off the audible alerts and button beeps so that I wouldn’t make too much noise if I needed to use the watch while creeping through the bush. However, the wash still makes noise in certain cases, such as when turning it on, starting a workout, starting a new lap, stopping a workout, or turning the watch off. Although the noise isn’t really loud, I was wishing I could figure out a way to shut off all the sound from the watch when I was getting dirty looks from the guys I was hunting with.

The distance data from the watch continue to be suspect. On some occasions it seems to be fairly accurate when on others it seems completely off. I can’t even directly correlate it to elevation gain. That’s a shame, as when I’m hiking the distance data are what I’m most interested in. I trust the distance only when I’m cycling, since then it’s based on my speed/cadence sensor and not on the watch.

Comfort
I noted in my Field Report that the watch digs into my wrist when I wear it there. I haven’t noticed this while running, because I generally run in short sleeves or very light long sleeves at this time of year. However, I have continued to notice the discomfort when wearing a jacket or something that pushes the watch down towards my hand. None of my jacket cuffs actually fit over the watch, so I can’t do much about it. When I first noticed the discomfort (in the field testing stage), it was during Search & Rescue activities, and I suspect I was distracted enough that it didn’t really bother me much. While hunting recently it was very noticeable, to the point where I removed the watch.

I found the watch extremely uncomfortable while swimming. It was a heavy weight on my wrist that made my stroke feel uneven. Perhaps I just needed to spend some more time with it and get used to it. I didn’t notice the watch much while canoeing; it was comfortable for that.

Heart Rate Monitor Strap
The Heart Rate Monitor strap was great – comfortable and easy to use...right up until it disappeared. I noticed when I got home from a bike ride in Washington and got changed that I wasn’t wearing the strap anymore. I didn’t remember taking it off, but after tearing apart my car and every bag I had in it, I determined that it probably hadn’t made it back across the border with me. Reviewing the data from the ride, I had the strap on for the entire ride, and it disappeared sometime while I put my bike on top of the car, changed my shoes, and stopped on the way home to find two geocaches in roadside bushes. I typically wore the strap fairly tight to ensure good contact, and my guess is that one of the snaps popped while I was doing something. I ordered another strap and the second one has been just fine. I loosened it off a bit to make it a bit less likely to come off, but noticed on my next ride that the heart rate data was very strange, often going up to 220 bpm while I wasn’t even pedaling, heading downhill. A quick pulse check while moving confirmed that my heart rate certainly wasn’t that high! I wonder if the wind was affecting the reading somehow since I didn’t have the strap as tight.

Durability & Water Resistance
I have no concerns about the durability of this watch except for the screen. The strap and holes look as good as new, but the display screen is even more scratched than two months ago. Perhaps I’m not being careful enough with the watch, but even pushing through bushes and branches while hunting with the watch on my wrist was causing me concern about scratching it. I think a protective screen cover would be beneficial.

The water resistance of the watch seemed fine. It worked in the brief rainshowers it was exposed to, and survived the (very) brief dip into a cold alpine lake. I didn’t notice any effects of swimming with it in a chlorinated pool either, though I was careful to rinse it off thoroughly when I got out of the pool.

TrainingPeaks, Device Agent & Watch Data
I have continued to use TrainingPeaks to track my workouts through the long term testing stage. I discovered that I can send workout data to friends if I click the box to make it “public”, which was nice to do after a couple of hikes that I went on with other people. However, it doesn’t show them whatever I’ve named the workout, just comes up telling them that it was a walk on a given date. Small nitpick.

I used TrainingPeaks on and off to track food consumption over the past two months. I liked doing it, it gave me quite a bit of insight into what I was eating, but at the end of the day I’ve been too lazy to keep it up. It’s quite straightforward after a bit of fiddling around and getting common foods into it, but there’s still a lot of time required to keep it up to date.

Recently the Device Agent started prompting me to download an update every time I opened the program. It was straightforward to update the software and I encountered no problems. I also went into the Configure menu in the Device Agent and it informed me that there was a new firmware update for the watch. After a quick review of the User Guide to remind myself how to back up the data, that was also a quick download and install. I have noticed a couple of changes since the new firmware was installed. The watch turns on to a page telling me its progress on locating satellites instead of to Performance Mode. As well, when I press and hold the “Dwn/Stp/Rst” button to save workout data and reset, I get a pop-up screen counting down how long I need to hold the button for to get the reset options. Those are the only two changes that I’ve noticed, though I’m sure there are probably more.

I want to comment on the GPS data available from the watch. The GPS track is visible on TrainingPeaks on maps, can be viewed on Google Maps, and can be exported as a .kml file. This file is a Google Earth file, so I can then view my track in Google Earth, but still can’t look at it on any topo maps or in any mapping program. I have to use third party software to convert it to a file format that can be viewed in my mapping software (in my case, a .gpx file). Quite frankly, it’s a bit of a pain. Obviously it wouldn’t be practical to offer the ability to download the file in a million different file formats, but the most common ones would be useful. I have also noticed that any waypoints that I mark don’t download with the track. Not only that, I haven’t actually figured out how to download them at all. As far as I can tell, in order to put them on Google Earth (or any other program) with my track to save them, I have to manually input them by looking at the coordinates that the watch has saved. Nothing in the User Guide has led me to believe otherwise.

One last comment about the software and online interface. The data from the watch are able to be viewed on the watch itself, and then on TrainingPeaks. There is no way that I can download a workout to my computer and view it offline. Even if I just want to look at the map data on an offline program, I have to use TrainingPeaks to generate the .kml file. Even if I have a laptop out at a hunting camp, I sure don’t have an internet connection!

Summary

The Timex Global Trainer with GPS is a great training tool. It offers a suite of functions suitable to managing distance, speed, heart rate, etc., with the additional functionality of showing a GPS track at the end of a workout, waypoint marking, and the ability to track back if necessary. I don’t believe that its strength is in the navigation functions, but rather in the data and training functions. For the most part, my nitpicks with this watch are fairly minor, and I look forward to using this watch for many years to come. It will certainly be my bike computer, and I will continue using it while running and hiking as well.

Thumbs Up:
Speed/Cadence functions
Compatibility with ANT+ Sensors
Good GPS location and altitude data
Hands-free functions
Tons of data provided about a workout – more than I can imagine using!
Ability to share workout data with others through TrainingPeaks

Thumbs Down:
Scratched screen display
Heart rate monitor strap popped off
Digs into my wrist when wearing it with long sleeves
GPS data only exportable to .kml
Waypoints don’t download with track, and don’t seem to be downloadable at all
Unreliable distance data

Thanks to Timex and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test this amazing watch! I look forward to continuing to use it.



Read more reviews of Timex gear
Read more gear reviews by Andrea Murland

Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS > Test Report by Andrea Murland



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