December 30, 2014

Bia GPS Watch: A Review, Part 1

For the past two years or so a Garmin Forerunner 410 has donned my left wrist almost every time I run or hit the trails. It has done a decent job at tracking my miles and pace and has a ton of features I have no clue how to use, so I ignore. I've used it enough to know that it drops 1 mile out of every 5 in the woods which is fine by me and can be accounted for. So why change it? Well, it doesn't fit me very well, is annoying to get things to upload off of and the battery life is only 8 hours requiring me to shut it off at every hold if I want a watch at the end.

Dusty scoured the internet for me looking for a suitable replacement and came up with a brand new product. A new product is both exciting as you go into uncharted waters hoping to strike gold (or catch a white whale or whatever analogy works well here), but it is also nerve wracking because well, it just might not work.

We found a product that seemed very promising...the Bia GPS watch. 

Having never heard of it before, I delved into the internet to read all about it, find reviews and any small piece of information that might lead me to either by passing it or purchasing it. In the end I got one and have now tried it out twice.

What is Bia?

Its a GPS watch that does what all good watches of the sort do: tracks time, pace, mileage. It has modes for swim, run and bike, but unless Gem dumps me in a lake or I need to "borrow" someones mountain bike to catch her, I won't use anything besides the run feature. It happens to be made specifically for women, which isn't a particular draw for me, but it does mean things like shiny colors and a size that actually fits my 5" wrist. The company wants potential users to know that this is not a fancy schamncy watch with millions of features nobody knows how to use. It does the basics and claims to do them very well. 

The watch itself come in two pieces. There is the typical wrist watch that displays all your data. It is set at a jaunty angle that supposedly makes it easier to read. This has non rechargeable battery with an 18month life span. When it dies, you replace it.
The watch. See the odd angle?
The second piece holds the technology and is called the Go Stick. This clips onto your belt and actually finds the satellites and transmits data. Without it you get nothing but a time piece. This has a 17 hour battery life and does need charged.

Go Stick
Ok... that is the basics, but what drew me to it and what was I worried about going in?
Lets start with the fun stuff...the PROS:
  1. Light weight and came in a  size that fit my small wrist
  2. No more of the Garmin touch crap that I can't ever work. One button starts, pauses and stops everything. The large touch screen does the rest. 
  3. Automatically uploads your workout using a cell signal. As soon as you are done and a signal is found, it is online. No more annoying Garming stick.
  4. Automatically uploads upgrades to the watch which apparently roll out frequently
Those are all nice, but you want to know the real reasons I chose it?
  1. SOS
  2. Live Tracking
Yep, those are what sold me. SOS is a great feature that is free. If you are lost like me or feel in danger, you hold down the button and a single goes out to any cell number you pre set up online to receive it. It goes out every 5 minutes or something like that until you turn it back off. Not only does it send your help message, but also a location and if on a smart phone it even includes a google map. And it is scary accurate.

Live tracking is not free, but isn't super expensive either. A month is $5, quarter $9 and year $36. You can allow people access at all times or just for certain events. I would love it if Dusty could watch my progress during a ride while he is at home with Wyatt.

The downside to these two features is that they don't run off the GPS, but on a  2G cell signal. For those of you who ride in areas without any cell signal at all, these won't work. I have yet to ride anywhere without a signal, so for me these were a big draw.

The not so fun stuff...the CONS:
  1. The two pieces thing. Ick. More to break, more to forget and even more to not work when one doesn't see the other. 
  2. No back light. Its a little thing, but something they should fix. I don't ever go out at night without a head lamp, so I do have light to read it with, but why not just add a back light?
  3. The actual Go Stick doesn't have a read out for battery life. It isn't until you hook it up with your watch that you can see the battery life on it. This means you either have to remember to check it the night before by setting the system up or hope that when you climb on up Gem and hit go that it actually works. 
  4. No beep for mile markers. Again, a small thing but it is really nice to hear the beep to tell you. I didn't realize I liked it so much until I went without and I miss it.
  5. I also worried about the fit. The angle looked like it could jam into the top of my hand with wrist bent.
Pretty much all of the cons are livable (except #5, I don't need to add more pain to my body on a 50!!)  as long as the benefits are there and the thing can accurately (as much as any GPS device can) tell me the information I need when I need it. 

Next test spin....

No comments:

Post a Comment