Garmin Forerunner 405 Review
After much anticipation the Garmin 405 has made its debut. The first Garmin watch that I owned was the Garmin 201, which
at the time I found to be splendid. It was a technological breakthrough, a watch that could tell you distance traveled,
average pace, map your route, etc. The Garmin 201 had its faults, first was the size, which was akin to running with a deck
of cards on your wrist. The major downfall was the GPS tracking; I found the 201 to loose the signal frequently, especially in
areas covered by trees or in urban downtowns areas with large buildings.
Then the Garmin 205/305 came out, which was approximately six months after I had purchased the Garmin 201. I had to
make the upgrade, the 205 actually looked like a watch and I had read that the GPS tracking had improved. Thus, I sold my
Garmin 201 on Ebay and purchased the Garmin 205. The Garmin 205 was vastly superior to the Garmin 201. The GPS
tracking had improved significantly. In the 14 months that I had used the Garmin 205, it had dropped it's signal less than
five times. The other advantage was that the 205 used a USB cord to connect to a computer which was an improvement
over the serial port used by the 201, especially since my laptop did not even feature a serial port.
The Garmin 405 was first introduced at the Las Vegas International CES to much fanfare. It was set to be released in
February 2008, but after a few delays it was not released until the weekend of the Boston Marathon. The main improvement
of the 405 over the 205/305 was in the aesthetics department. The Garmin 405 now features a round watch face, the
weight was reduced by 20%, and the screen size was reduced. It also has a wireless configuration where the Garmin 405
can communicate with the computer without the use of a USB cable. Once again, I made the upgrade from the Garmin 205
to the Garmin 405.
The first thing you notice about the Garmin 405 is the looks, in fact now you have two color options, black and a sage green.
The Garmin 405 has a simple configuration with only two buttons on the right side of the watch, compared to the Garmin
205/305 which had seven buttons total. The Garmin 405 is operated by a bezel touch screen display, which takes a little bit
of getting used to.
Configuring the Garmin 405 was a breeze. To charge the watch you have a clasp that snaps onto the watch at two metal
prong points on the watch, the Garmin no longer uses the cradle options that was featured in the 205/305 model. When you
first power up the Garmin 405, it takes you through a brief tutorial which helps one get accustomed to the bezel screen
display. The bezel screen display is easy to use, it's similar to working an iPod and you just spin your finger around the top
of the watch to move up or down the feature settings. You can also adjust the sensitivity/speed of the bezel and I adjusted
mine to "fast" to make it more sensitive to the touch. Setting up the Garmin is similar to the 205/305, you can input age,
weight, maximum heart rate, settings of how you want to record laps, etc.
The Garmin 405 locked onto the signal faster than the Garmin 205. In fact the first time that I used the Garmin 405 it
located the signal in less than two seconds, I'm positive that the Garmin 205 never located the signal that quickly. Garmin
has stated that this was one of the things improved on the 405. One drawback of the Garmin 405, due to the smaller face
size, is now it only has room for three training fields, whereas the Garmin 205/305 offered four fields on one screen. This
wasn't a huge concern to me, as I only find three fields to be important, those are overall time, distance travelled, and
average pace per mile. You can then program two other screens, with a maximum of three fields, plus a fourth screen if you
use the heart rate monitor and to view those screens simply touch the bezel to flip between. I found this to be relatively easy
on the run; I even tested it with my winter running gloves on and was still able to operate the bezel. The bezel also features
a lock, ala the iPod, to avoid any accidental touches. I have noticed that the screen can get accidentally "tapped" if you're
wearing a long sleeve shirt or jacket, but this is only a minor annoyance and can be avoided with the lock feature.
I downloaded the Garmin 405 software and plugged the "jump drive" into my laptop. The "jump drive" acts as the signal to
communicate between the Garmin and the computer. Once the watch gets within a few feet of the computer, they
automatically communicate and your data is downloaded. This is a nice feature, a convenience feature, and I've found
myself examining the data on my workouts more than when I had the Garmin 205 due to the ease of data transfer. The
Garmin training software that with the 405 offers some basic features. However, I feel that software leaves a lot to be
desired, in the past I used Motion Based software (which is now owned by Garmin) but it is not currently supporting the
Garmin 405. The Garmin website states that they are currently in the process of replacing Motion Based with Garmin
The Garmin 405 does not have an off button like the Garmin 205/305. It goes into a sleep mode and functions like a normal
watch. I love the power save feature, often times I would forget to turn my Garmin 205 off after a run and would drain the
battery, only to discover that the battery was dead the next day before a run. Another great feature is that the watch tells
you the battery charge in terms of a percentage, which is superior to the old method of bars. The watch is still to bulky to be
worn as an everyday watch, no matter what Garmin claims.
The Garmin 405 is an improvement over the 205/305, but I would not say it's a vast improvement. The cost has also
increased to $300 for the basic model and $350 for the model featuring the heart rate monitor. However, the Garmin 405
with the heart rate monitor is not any different, thus you can purchase the heart rate monitor at a later date and it will work
with the basic model. Also the heart rate monitor from the Garmin 305 is the same one used for the Garmin 405. The
change from the 201 to the 205 was a fantastic improvement and I would not say that Garmin has made the leap with the
introduction of the 405. However, if the GPS tracking has improved, it may be worth it for runners who use their Garmin on a
daily basis. One of the times that my Garmin 205 failed me was during the Denver Marathon and a watch that is not 100%
reliable is frustrating.
I have mixed feelings on the bezel. It's cool from a technological point of view and it gives the watch a more appealing look,
otherwise it would have to have about three to four more buttons. A good example is that to turn the light on you have to
touch the top and the bottom of the bezel at the same time. When you're running, that's not always the easiest thing to do
on the go. Also, I have had some issues trying to operate the bezel once my hands get sweaty.
Garmins GPS technology is amazing, here is a post on Garmin 405 accuracy. It's hard to complain about a watch that can
track your movements within 15 feet of accuracy. My one complaint and I think the area that the Garmin running watch can
improve in the future is with the elevation tracking. For the most part the tracking is dead on, but then you'll look at the data
and some anomalies will exist making it looked like you either jumped off a bridge or you had to stop and climb a one
hundred foot ladder. Hopefully this technology will improve in the future.
In conclusion, I would recommend the Garmin 405 for runners who use the watch on an almost daily basis. However, if
you're a recreational runner, pick up the Garmin 205/305 for a substantial price difference and you will be satisfied as well
as have a few more dollars in your pocket.