5 GPS watches and other devices you would NOT buy


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Usually in the blog I bring you all the news, tests of watches and other sensors and devices, offers, etc. In short, all the information and tips for buying your new training partner. Well, today I come with the opposite, a list of devices that I personally would not buy and logically I would not recommend you either.

And of course I'll tell you why in each case. It doesn't have to be a bad device, but you may simply have better options for the same price. Don't drag out the introduction any longer, let's go straight to the products and warning, there's one for everyone.

Garmin Forerunner 30

The first on the list is one of Garmin's latest models. Introduced in late September 2017, it offers LESS features than the model it is derived from without a significant price discount. Honestly, it doesn't make sense.

And it doesn't make sense because we are starting from a model that is already quite sparse in features, whose maximum interest is simplicity and ease of use. Cutting out something that is already quite limited is like having a broken arm and tying up your healthy one.

All this is what cuts down on Forerunner 35:

  • Interval training mode: NO
  • Running/Starting mode: NO
  • Virtual Pacer Mode: NO
  • Support for external sensors: NO
  • Possibility of transmitting heart rate by ANT+: NO
  • Widget with weather forecast: NO
  • Music control on the phone: NO
  • Activity profiles in addition to career: NO
  • Heart rate, time, distance, or calorie alerts: NO
  • Clock display customization: NO

It is not a problem of a bad product or a malfunctioning, it is a failure in the market, at least in Europe.

Garmin Forerunner 35

It is legal to set prices by the manufacturer, so all you can do is give a recommended retail price. The seller can then set that price, lower it or offer discounts. This is often the case with the Forerunner 35 which is usually much cheaper than the recommended retail price.

It might make more sense in the United States, where prices do admit of being blocked by the manufacturer and the price dictated by them has to be sold. But the funny thing is... the Forerunner 30 is not available there!

In short, if you are thinking of buying the Forerunner 30, stop drinking a Coke today and with what you save you can buy the FR35. Or who knows, it depends on the day, you might even save money...



Xiaomi My Band 2

I play hard, don't I? I'm going to start getting sticks here... It's amazing how popular this little gadget from the well-known Chinese brand Xiaomi is. As a sign of its popularity, at the time of writing more than 1,100 comments on Amazon.

🔥 🤑 The best prices every day

As it often happens, I buy products simply out of curiosity and if it's worth it, I publish an article with the proof. Here is mine, bought several months ago.

Xiaomi My Band

I used it for a few weeks, put it in its box and then in the drawer and to this day. 30 euros thrown away (well, I'll use it for the device collection).

Don't get me wrong, if what you're looking for is a watch to match your phone and that can alert you to notifications then perfect. If you know what you're buying and that it's little more than a toy I don't object.

The problem is that this isn't a toy page or a gadget page for the phone, it's a sports technology analysis page, and in that respect the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is worthless. Step measurement is like playing the lottery: every day you look at it in the hope that the number will be the same, but deep down you know that something totally different will come out.

I have tested the bracelet throughout the day with several devices of different brands. All others end up giving very approximate figures, but the data on the Xiaomi bracelet has absolutely nothing to do with the rest. It would have the same effect if pressing the button under the screen would generate a random number.

What to say about the optical pulse sensor. A real joke, although perhaps it can serve as a flashlight in the dark. Like any other optical sensor at rest it offers a "more or less correct" record, but in activity we return to the tone of before, it is a totally random number.

So if you assume you're buying a toy, but if you want to make minimal use of activity tracking, you'd better look the other way. Because if you're throwing money away, you can always buy a Power Balance.


I have no problem with TomTom. Their watches do what they advertise and for easy use they work perfectly. If you have had one for two years you are sure to be a happy owner, there is no reason not to be.TomTom Runner 3 / Adventurer

Buy it now? I wouldn't do that, except for a one-off offer (like when I posted the TomTom Adventurer offer for £139). The reason is none other than complicated situation that TomTom's sports division is going throughDon't get me wrong, TomTom isn't going anywhere or disappearing as a brand, but they'll most likely leave their sports division behind. Or hopefully they'll sell it and see the products reborn somewhere else.

It's just my opinion and my recommendation, but it doesn't mean you should follow it. All I'm saying is that if you're about to buy something from TomTom, you should know the situation and be able to weigh up the pros and cons of the decision. That even if you know the situation, you're willing to put your money into a branded product? Well, if it's the product you're looking for, it's definitely the right decision.

Samsung Gear Sport

Even though Samsung has done well in all these years with its different watches, this is not the first or the second time it launches a model focused on its use in sports. The Samsung Gear Sport is even more focused on sports, because in its last iteration it even records swimming data.

It's all very nice on the spec sheet, but Samsung has not solved the sports part well, especially in the two fundamental aspects: GPS performance and optical pulse sensor. It's not complicated to read user ratings with criticism on both aspects, both on the official Samsung forum and in stores like Amazon.

Highly variable running rhythms, insufficient performance in recording heart rates, irregular GPS tracks, etc.

If you are interested in smart watches and you don't give too much importance to the sport part, Samsung watches with Tizen operating system are a good option. But I repeat that we are on a page dedicated to sport, and with such a poor performance it is something that I would not buy and therefore I could not recommend.

Single-sided potentiometer

For years we have seen how power measurement in cycling has become increasingly important, and the increase in popularity has led to a reduction in costs and, consequently, in the price of the product.

Not many years ago to start training and competing for power was expensive, very expensive. Few people could afford the almost 3,000 euros that an SRM power meter costs, so opting for one-sided measurement options made sense. You had almost the same performance for a fraction of the price.

It is a segment in which Stages succeeded because he was able to identify a need: to train economically by power. And they have done it well, because for years they have been one of the references among amateur cyclists.

Power Meter Stages

But it's not necessary anymore, don't buy a one-sided power meter. If there's one crucial thing about power it must be well measured, at all times, so that it can be effective as data. And if we measure on one side only we are losing a 50% of the information.

The way this type of power meter works is that it measures the power of only one of the two legs and then multiplies it by two. But we are not robots and nobody has an exact distribution of the 50% on each of the legs. And not only that, but this difference is variable. Some days the distribution between both legs can be 51-49, the next day 47-53 and so on to the third 45-55.

If you only measure the left side and multiply by two, when there is a power difference you will be training with a figure that will not be real. I would not object if, even though the power distribution is not 50-50, there is no variation in time. But experience tells me that we are not machines and that even during a training session we will be varying the way we pedal.

Now imagine you're doing a series and you have a power target to meet, but the real-time data is distorted by that difference... don't you think something will go wrong?

The difference in price between a single-sided meter and one that measures total power (or even separately) is currently quite bearable. If you are going to start training by power, do it the right way.


Well, there you have it. Five products that I would recommend not buying (with objections in the case of TomTom if the offer is very good). Obviously everyone is free to do what they think is right, but just like other times I can recommend what to buy or what can best fit your uses, it is only fair that I also include the less recommended products.

I'm sure more than one will have objections to the chosen products, so here are the comments to express them :-).

And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. Very interesting, and also a great help to understand a little more this world of heart rate monitors, which sometimes to save a little then you get frog

  2. Very interesting your opinion, it helps to understand a little what is the world of heart rate monitors, they offer much and the reality is that they do not work so well and sometimes save a few bucks then you get expensive.

  3. I touched a garmin 30, and I was amazed at how fluid the interface was compared to my 735XT. Besides, for a person with a very thin wrist (I'm looking for one for my niece who runs), I really thought that this equipment, for less than 150 ? ready price, could do more than that. The Garmin 35 with the integrated sensor, already adds a rear hump that fattens it a bit. What equipment would you recommend for this price and very thin and light. No need to calculate anything special... distance, rhythm, time and little more

    1. The FR30 and the FR35 are exactly the same in everything (the 30 also with optical sensor). The only difference is the reduction in the performance of the first one. Looking at the prices (today) there is a difference of 12 ?. It is not worth losing the additional performance for that small difference.

      As for extremely thin and lightweight watch, there was the original Vivoactive but it is already complicated to find it:

      1. The original vivoactive very good watch, I had it. I loved it! and also with swimming. Maybe it's true that it was the lightest.

  4. On the potentiometer issue I do not agree. The price difference is relavant (not double but almost). I have a P1 that measures both legs, and on average always gives me a 52-48% or 51-49%. There is always one leg that is a little more predominant. But as you say we are not machines and training by watts is also something "approximate" you are not going to poder do a series of 2min for example at 285W nailed if that's what you get. In fact, maintaining an exact constant power while pedaling and on the road is unfeasible. You will always be in a margin... plus the own error of the machine, etc...

    1. In the case of Powertap, for example, the difference between the P1 and P1s is 300 euros, that is, a 30%. But we are already spending a quite relevant amount since we are talking about 600 euros.

      What I mean is that since you are going to spend a significant amount of money to improve your training by one or two steps, it is better to invest a little more and "do it right". Especially since you now know what your dysmetry is because you have been able to get the data thanks to having the dual power meter. But if you only had the power multiplied by two, you would be almost blind.

      And then there are also the days after a strong training with the legs more exhausted... (for example slope intervals) I have come to see differences of up to 6 or 7 points in those situations.

      In my opinion, we are no longer talking about choosing between a 450 Euro Stages or a nearly 1500 Euro 2inPower Rotor. Luckily we already have a lot of options and it is always more interesting to opt for solutions that offer us at least the real total power.

  5. Thanks for the information. If I may ask, have you had any experience with the Fitbit Surge? How did it go? Mine was initially very pleasant but in a short time two problems appeared that, apparently, have no solution. First, the mail breaks right where the watch is secured and, second, the battery life becomes very quickly very short. As far as I could find out Fitbit does not offer a solution for any of these problems. For the mail they offer on the market (e.g. Amazon) replacement straps that have to be changed in a rather handmade way. A great disappointment.

    1. I stopped using Fitbit products because of this device and had both the battery and the strap problem. When Fitbit people became overloaded with complaints and replacements, they started a campaign of criminalization of the customer and made unreasonable demands (demanding that the damaged watch be sent to them before sending the replacement at the owner's expense; that's within the warranty period). I understand that this was a deterrent because with a previous device the replacement was immediate and without these demands.

    2. Yes, I tested the Surge at the time, but as I always say, it is very difficult to assess long-term durability in the tests I perform because my use of each device is 3-4 weeks. And of course, I am almost always the one who releases the test unit they send me (sometimes they arrive already bounced from other tests), so in that time logically everything is new.

  6. Happy owner of a Tomtom Runner 2, it's going well, it's doing its job, but to this day, I wouldn't buy it again if I went back... Good value for money, but I think it's worth stretching the budget a little more.

  7. I have a tom tom spark 3 and the battery eats it 3 days it connects very quickly with the application of the mobile, the polar M400 is going very well but I like the clock a little bigger, then I bought the M800 and that is a pity pump that has no built-in pulsometer, by the way the samsung gear fit 2 I gave it to a friend and that is not worth much the only good thing is the color screen and you can put a different screen personally I like the brand polar I bought the ft and those were hard but have been evolving for the better

    1. Disable the bluetooth synchronization of the Tomtom, you'll see that I change... In my Runner 2 was to disable it and easily triple the autonomy.

  8. Let's assume that a Volkswagen Golf is a good car. If tomorrow it is rumored that things are going bad for Volkswagen... Is the Golf a bad car? I already said so in another post on your blog.
    A GPS with a heart rate monitor, barometer, bluetooth music and 24h mode like the Tomtom Adventurer which is lately between 130-200 euros, even at the 225 euros it was always. How much does the same product cost in the great Garmin? If it has an equivalent model...

    My point. Reading your reviews of the similarly priced Garmin 235 and Tomtom Adventurer and then seeing how you rate Tomtom devices as "not recommended"... it's a bit of a shock, really.

    1. No, the Golf will continue to be a good car, but the problem will be that it is in a delicate situation when the rest of the competition also offers good products, at a similar price, and does not have that problem on top of it.

      Which I repeat, I have no problem with the product. And I have always indicated this in the tests. They have always offered something very specific and that has worked for them; they were the only ones who have offered music in watches for years, they use an optical sensor that works quite well, they bring route navigation to all pockets...

      But the fact that it's possible that you may run out of support in the short to medium term I think is an important buying factor. I'm not just talking about software updates, but things that may happen on a day-to-day basis.

      What if in two years the strap breaks and no one makes it anymore? What if Windows releases an update that breaks the compatibility of the sync software (this has happened to Suunto)? What if there is a new iOS/Android update that breaks the Bluetooth? sync operation (as is happening with Garmin and the latest Huawei)?

      There are many variables to take into account, and I cannot recommend anyone to buy a product with that sword of damocles on it. I did it when the Adventurer was at 130, but always making note of those objections (which I think is my duty, to report the situation).

      TomTom's current problem is that it's no longer the only manufacturer to have affordable watches with navigation. Nor is it the only one to offer an optical pulse sensor at a contained price. Nor is it the only one to offer music playback.

      There are other equally capable options that have no problem in the future, and if I had to put my money in one basket I would certainly choose a different one.

      Does that mean that TomTom's watches stop working or that they automatically stop working? Not at all, I never said that.
      And the TomTom user who uses his Runner, Spark or Adventurer will still be a happy user, but the day he has to replace it he should do so in an informed manner.

  9. Interesting... Instead of xiaomi Miband 2 I would have put in the Amazfit Watch (if it's not really convincing), which is a full-blown sports watch. They have just presented their second version and this time it's really waterproof.

  10. Hello.

    Your articles are very interesting.

    I'm very indecisive, and I'm looking for a watch/band for activity, sleep and amateur running (approx 5 min/km). So that, GPS, wrist frequency and I would like VO2MAX. The range is 200-225 Euro maximum.

    I had thought about Polar M430, Garmin Vivosport or Garmin Vivosmart HR+. I am open to any other recommendation, I have a small wrist and I would not like it to be wide, as some do, on the sides.

    Thank you very much, a greeting.

  11. Hi Eduardo. You have humped me with your comment about the stem, because I was considering getting one 😉 ( just kidding ) . In that sense those of you who use power regularly in your training, I suspect that you would prefer a powertap g3 hub for example, as you lose the cycling dynamics and leg balance, but you gain the "real" power transferred to the drivetrain, and it is always a variable, which with experience would bring more than a pedal that multiplies by two.
    Thank you for everything, a greeting!

    1. It depends a lot on various circumstances. In my tests with PowerTap I have not noticed a very noticeable difference between the power to the pedal or the power that reaches the hub. Obviously it should always be less (bending losses of the frame, dirty transmission, etc), but it depends on many things on the bike.

      But in the end the important thing is that it is something constant and repeats itself over time.

  12. Hi, interesting to see a bit of what's on this varied market. I thought it was going to look like the Garmin 230 as it has been left a little behind by the 235 and the new model but the explanation I can not find is that it does not drop in price. I had intended to buy it for the reasons stated but I see that it still has market can you tell me the reason. Thanks

    1. The 230 and 235 came out at the same time, so they share the market. It's just another buying option.

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