Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tech4o Running Watch

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says running watch? For me, I always think “if your watch is running you’d better go catch it,” but that’s just because I’m a comedic genius with a hilarious internal monologue. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that some of you duller folks think of the Garmin Forerunner series when you think of a running watch. Congratulations, your assimilation into the Garmin way of life is now complete, you’ve been brainwashed.

Back in October I had mentioned that I would be reviewing the Tech4o Men’s Accelerator Trail Runner watch and I’m finally getting around to posting my findings. The watch is basically a pedometer and like all pedometers it needs to know the length of your stride to be as accurate as possible. It took a couple of easy laps at the track to determine my length (stride length that is, minds out of the gutter) and I calibrated the watch. The first test was to run a few more easy laps and check the distance; it was pretty exact, reading 0.248 miles after one lap. The next test would be to run some intervals at a faster pace, and unfortunately the watch was not as accurate at the faster pace. Perhaps I’m too fast for my own good. It gave me a single lap reading of 0.20 miles at the faster pace, a miscalculation of almost 20%.

I ran home from the track at an easy pace, and once again the watch easily fell within the 95% accuracy rate that Tech4o claims on their website. Predictably, the watch is very accurate when running at the pace at which you calibrate it, but woefully inaccurate at a faster pace due to the likely change in your stride length. Here’s a few more pros and cons:

- Size matters (a great deal according to my junk mail folder) and this watch is nice and compact.
- It can be used as your everyday watch.
- There are several advantages in it being a pedometer and not a GPS system:
  • It doesn’t take 5 minutes to start up and find a signal.
  • It doesn’t ever lose a signal and can thus be used near tall buildings, under trees or even indoors.
  • It even works on the treadmill. (Not sure why you’d need to use it on a treadmill, but there you go.)

- It doesn’t need to be charged after each use, although presumable the battery will die at some point and I’ll have to replace it.

- Not as accurate as a Garmin.
- Doesn’t track nearly as many stats as a Garmin and doesn’t upload to your computer. This will be a major disappointment for those of you who like to geek out over your splits and elevations and heart rate etc.
- It’s not useful at all if you plan to be running at varying paces.
- It doesn’t display pace, instead it displays your speed in mph so some math is required to convert that to a miles/minute pace (or you could just look up a conversion chart online). However, the speed is listed to 2 decimal places (i.e. 6.24mph) so it can still be an accurate indicator of pace.

While I won’t be doing a whole lot of training runs with this watch I will probably use it when I travel so that I don’t have to worry about bringing the charging dock for my Garmin or worse yet, losing my Garmin. If you’re just looking for a simple watch to give you distance and speed (assuming you’re running at a fairly consistent pace) then the Tech4o line of watches might be right for you. At a list price of $69.99 it’s certainly cheaper than a Garmin.


  1. I did a review of the watch about a month ago, but noticed the same thing that if you alter your pace the accuracy decreases.

    The mph calculation is funny. A lot of times non-runners will ask me what my mph pace was in the marathon. I know my average mile pace, but I have to stop and think for a minute to convert it to mph. The only time I care about mph is when I am driving or on a bike.

  2. This is why I tried a pedometer once for exactly one run. And never used it again. My pace is all over the map. I guess if you are doing a constant pace long run or something it could come in handy but, really, wouldn't you be always wondering? Garmin (p.b.t.n.)!

  3. Uh - why is it a Trail runner? Their regular men's running watch lists the same features. And why did they give you the trail version?

  4. Awwwhhh hells nah would I ever ditch Garmin. But hey since they gave it to you fo free . . .

  5. I got a Timex IronMan for Xmas in addition to my Garmin and I hate the Timex. I wanted something for swimming which I thought since it said IronMan, it would be, I was wrong!

    I think Pedometers are great when you don't care too much about accuracy. I'm a Garmin-ite...won't leave home for a run without it =).

  6. It looks smaller than the Garmin laptop, at least.

    What no give away? Pfft.

  7. Yeah, now that I have a Forerunner I don't think I can go back. Although, to keep me grounded I have a Timex that I use on the treadmill.


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