• Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Review



    The Garmin 405 was released in April of 2008. As a previous Garmin 201 and 205 owner, I eagerly awaited a GPS watch that looked like a watch. When Garmin made the jump from the 201 to the 205, it was a vast improvement; the jump to the 405 was more about aesthetics and the improvement in acquiring the GPS signal upon starting the watch.
    I love my Garmin 405; I consider it the best running tool a runner can own. It paces me in workouts, in races and I can vary my route at any time and still know my mileage. I am also able to run in races and determine if the course was long or short.

    Timex was late to the GPS party; I was always baffled at why it took them so long to come out with a GPS watch. Their first GPS watch was a complete bomb, the GPS device was separate from the watch, and the runner had to put the GPS device on their arm.

    I was excited to hear about the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS, which came out in early June. Timex has had 26 months since the Garmin 405 came out, to create a competitive product, perhaps a superior product. I was eager to compare the Timex Ironman GPS Global Trainer against my beloved Garmin 405. The Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS was purchased with my own money.



    Appearance:

    When I took the watch out of the box, I couldnít believe how big it was. It looked like a normal watch, but itís bigger than the Garmin 405. My first thought was why they would design a watch that is bigger than the 405; theyíve lost out on the female market right there.

    The Garmin 405 has a clean look, only two buttons; it uses a bezel touch display, similar to an iPod. At first it took me a bit to get used to the bezel, it has itís quirks but for the most part I like it. The Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS uses traditional buttons and it was easy to use.

    Comfort:

    Part of comfort is the sheer size of the watch, thus the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS already had one strike against it. The Garmin 405 has never bothered me, but the Timex just felt uncomfortable on my wrist. It doesnít conform to oneís wrist in the same way that the Garmin 405 does.




    Price:

    The Garmin 405 retails for $225 on Amazon and the Garmin 205 is being sold for $126. The Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS retails for $250.

    GPS Location Time:

    This is the true test and when Garmin came out with the 405 it was 5-7x faster at acquiring the GPS signal than the 205/305. I found this to be a huge improvement, when I want to get going for a run, I hate waiting a minute for my watch to find the satellites.

    In general, the Garmin 405 can acquire the satellites in about 3-5 seconds. When I owned the 205/305, it could take up to a minute and I would often have to set the watch down on a flat surface and face it to the south to acquire the signal. With the 405, you just turn it on and it finds the satellites.

    So how did the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS fare? On average it took over a minute to acquire the satellites, it was awful, in fact Iíd guess that the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS is inferior to the Garmin 205/305 when it comes to satellite acquisition time.

    This truly baffled me. You have to think the research and development team at Timex was comparing their watch to the Garmin 405, so why would you even release a product that takes 10-12x the amount of time to acquire the satellite signal?

    Accuracy:

    The final test and thatís the accuracy of the GPS device. I went to my local high school track and ran 5,000 meters, which is 3.106 miles. I wore the Garmin 405 and the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS on my left wrist and promptly ran my 5k.

    The Garmin 405 told me that I had run 3.09 miles; the Timex Ironman GPS Global Trainer had the run in 3.15. Garmin 405 wins again.

    Conclusion:

    The Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS is rubbish. The one advantage that it has over the Garmin 405 is that it is waterproof. Of course it canít track your GPS positioning while under water, so that might be irrelevant. I would rather have the Garmin 205 than the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS, it's an inferrior product.

    Timex should be ashamed for putting such a poor quality product on the market. Iíve read that they will be putting out some firmware updates in the next month or two to improve the GPS acquistion time, but that shouldnít be needed when you spend $250 on a GPS watch and the Garmin 405 does that out of the box. Unless your name is Flavor Flav, pick up the Garmin 405 and don't waste your time with the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS.
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. Mark Thompson's Avatar
      Mark Thompson -
      Wow, that watch looks huge on your wrist. Of all the pics of this watch on the internet, none have anything within the pic so we can compare the size. Who wants to buy a bigger watch? From the Timex ads they make it look like the size of the old school Timex Ironman (which still is a very handy watch).
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Nice to see an honest review of a product. I get tired of the useless reviews that try to be PC, and simply reiterate the manufacturers claims. I'm glad I went with the Garmin 405.
    1. ESCO's Avatar
      ESCO -
      If I'm heading up the research and development department at Timex, I wouldn't release that watch to the public until it was superior to the Garmin 405. If you're going to release an inferior product, you can't sell it at the same price point.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      I had this watch for a while but returned it (felt I could get by with my 305 until a new Garmin came out). The GPS problems you mentioned were fixed (at least with mine) with the new firmware update on the timex site - did you try those with the watch?

      I personally didn't like the included trainingpeaks software - it's available for the Garmins as well.
    1. ESCO's Avatar
      ESCO -
      I did not do the firmware update, but good to know that the issue has been addressed. Still, that watch should not have been brought to the market if it took a minute to locate the satellites. People made a big deal about the iPhone antennae and this was worst than that.

      Another thing that I thought of later is that I was also not a fan of the charging method. The Garmin 405 has a simple two prong charger, while the Timex Global Trainer GPS you have to wrap the charger around the entire watch and it takes a bit of finagling.

      I returned my watch as well.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Just did a 10mi with the TGT. I have really no complaints now. I had some issues getting a satellite fix before, but after went outside and set it on the trunk of the car while doing a 30s stretch, the thing sat-fixed. The beep is most satisfying after so many tries while in the apartment to fix. The position where I got a fix was just one floor down and a few meters out. I guess there is a necessity for the SIRFStarIII to have a 360 deg view of the sky before fixing. A few days ago, I also couldn't get a gps fix (that was the first time) but setting it outside for about 5 mins for an initial synchronization did it. It was the second gps fix today, because I normally run on a treadmill.

      I think a lot of the issues have been rectified. The main complaint now has devolved to just a comfort issue because the watch face is fairly hefty and knocks constantly on my wrist bone. After 9 mi, it starts to actually feel sore and I had to switch to the other hand.

      Some other niggles are basically location-based; I got elevation gains when there shouldn't have been any whilst running under a flyover etc. I do live in a busy city so this is something that is completely understandable. I got through 50-80m stretches (the flyover is an elevated highway or overhead electric rail) that run parallel to the road without significant loss of data that cannot be smoothed out.

      In general I'm quite pleased with the watch, but it is my first GPS/HR watch so I cannot compare it against Garmin 310xt/405 or now the 110.

      Firmware: v.2.94
      Date: 12/31/10
      Running time: 61min
      Distance: 9.43mi (TGT), 9.2 (Google Earth) [I don't think it's bad due to the heavy building/infrastructure interference]
      HR: I think it felt worse than the reported value although the time-smooth HR would be accurate due to the constant start-stops in morning traffic (even on New Year's Eve!)

      Hope this helps!
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      You have had much better luck than I have with the Timex Ironman Global trainer in securing a satellite signal fix. Even under clear skies the signal fix lies somewhere between 30 seconds and never. I live in Michigan and experienced these issues. While vacationing in Seattle [even during the no-rain season of August] forget it. Tried to hike with the watch. The elevation data reported was extremely erratic. Starting at 1000 ft, dropping precipitously to -200 before coming close to reality [2400 ft]. Very frustrating and it essentially renders the device as useless. If there is a firmware fix that anyone knows of, please advise.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Not really a fair comparison when considering price and size. The TMX wasn't put out to compete with the 405. It is a multi-sport watch; ie IronMan. and thus is a direct competitor of the Garmin 310xt which is much closer in size and price.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Most of the issues raised on the Timex Global Trainer has been addressed with the latest firmware.

      It might be important to note that the Timex Global Trainer is not on the same spectrum as the Garmin 405. A comparison between the two is like comparing a sedan and a full sized SUV in terms of size, price, capability and purpose with the Timex being the SUV.

      A more appropriate comparison would be the Garmin 310XT against the Timex Global Trainer. Both of which are water proof and were designed for triathletes.

      HTH.
    1. Tom's Avatar
      Tom -
      I've been running with a Global Trainer for about a year. I lucked out and picked it up on a clearance table at Sports Authority for 75 bucks. I frequently have long delays getting a GPS lock, although I've found leaving it plugged in a charging by a window when turning it on leads to a lock in just a few seconds. Whoever designed the band, however, should be made to wear this watch all the time. The metal clasp digs into your skin. I wear a home-made wrist band (cut off the end of a sock) under it so the clasp doesn't dig into the skin. Accuracy seems to vary quite a bit.

      On the plus side, at least it was only $75 and using an online format conversion tool (.pwx to .tcx Converter) I can use Endomondo to graph pace, HR and such.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      I bought my TGT week ago (used), did some workouts inside and outside and I love my TGT. Very accurate and I have not find any problems what described in many reviews - poor GPS fixing and poor battery. Cold start take 2-3 min, but hot just few secounds. Longest workout took 11h, 4h was with GPS turned on, all 11h HR belt was on. End of day i had 40% battery, I think it is very ok. Probably all problems is fixed with firmfare updates, I have 3.19 (I think). And pwx-tcx converters work good.
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