With all of the present GPS watches on the market today, I was very pleased to see this particular product hit stores last fall. I have worn regular Soleus running watches for two years with good results, and the GPS unit by the company was an exciting prospect, indeed.
From my understanding, and true to the company mission, Soleus’ GPS was designed to be a no-frills, easy to use, and highly functional GPS watch that catered specifically to runners. Far less expensive and seemingly more practical than other models by larger companies, I bought both a watch for myself and my girlfriend as soon as they were available last October. This was not a waste of money, and I have been very pleased thus far.
When I first pulled the watch from its box, the first thing I noticed was how small the frame was compared to other GPS units I had seen before. I used to own a Garmin Forerunner Version 101 before accidentally leaving it beside my car at a local park, and I must say the difference in size is dramatic.
The Forerunner was roughly three-inches long and 1.5 inches wide, weighing about 4 ounces, and I often received such witty remarks as “Is that a bomb on your wrist?” by my training partners. Fortunately the Soleus has taken after Garmin’s later models and is no bigger than a normal running watch and weighs about the same, as well. View the side by side comparison below, with the GPS on the left and my Soleus 10K on the right.
I ordered the matte black with lime green color pattern, which looks very sleek and urbane on one’s wrist. It was very comfortable when I first put it on with no irritating corners and ridges to aggravate the bony prominences of my lower arm. A problem some small framed ladies have encountered with larger GPS units is that it hurts their wrists when they run, which can be a deterrent for daily use.
However, the Soleus seems to be far more comfortable for all bone structures than its predecessors due to its design and specific contours which hug the wrist without bumping against it. The watch seems to be very durable as well, although I haven’t tried playing baseball with it or throwing it against a wall quite yet. It is waterproof and can be worn in any conditions with no ill effects.
The watch has the following features which I have found to be “everything I need, nothing I don’t” in terms of practicality: distance monitor, speed tracker, calories burned, standard time/date display, data storage, and personalization so that the watch is accurate for you as an individual runner.
It has a 100 lap memory, and the data storage is easy to navigate. Also, I found the instruction booklet to be very helpful when familiarizing yourself with the unit, and everything is very clear-cut in terms of understanding the watch’s features. I’m not too savvy with tech stuff, and even I found it very simple and easy to use.
A feature of the watch that I found very neat is how it is charged. My former GPS was powered by two triple-A batteries that I had to replace after only 2-3 uses. The Soleus comes with a computer charger that simply attaches onto the watch itself and can be plugged into your PCs standard hardware outlet (see below).
A display screen appears upon charging that tells you what percentage of life the battery has, and with a 100% charge one can usually have power for five to six hour-long runs. However, in my experience the battery life does affect how well the unit receives satellite signals; when it is low (below 40%), I often will momentarily lose signal mid-run or have trouble connecting before I start a workout.
Now let’s discuss how the watch actually performs while running. At this writing, I have logged probably 500mls in the GPS, as I still use my standard watch quite a bit for a number of reasons, so this analysis is objective and time-tested in its depiction of the unit.
I always hit the “Search GPS” button while doing my pre-run warm-up routine, and have found that it takes between 2-5 minutes for the watch to connect to a satellite. It takes slightly longer if you are indoors or driving, but that is to be expected of any GPS on the market today. Once it has connected, I prefer to put it on the “Chronograph, Distance, Speed (Min/Mile)” setting which provides me with the basics a runner would need on a typical run or workout. The watch automatically takes mile or kilometer splits as you run, which is fantastic as you don’t have to watch it constantly to take an accurate split.
In gauging distance, this GPS is second to none. I have run known courses in it dozens of times and it always gives me the same feedback on any given day; other GPS units are fickle and will alter your mile markers from day to day, but the Soleus is very consistent.
As far as pace is concerned, the only issue I have found is that the display pace lags a bit when accelerating to faster speeds, but can maintain a constant pace display if you are consistent with your running speed. For example, when doing fartlek in the watch I may accelerate to 5:00 pace after running 7:00 pace for a time and it has trouble keeping-up immediately. Usually, though, after 200-400m it recognizes the acceleration and gives me accurate feedback. However, on tempo runs where my pace is relatively constant, after the initial adjustment period it will display accurate figures throughout. Despite the display nuances, the splits are always very accurate and are stored into the watch’s database for you to review after your run.
In conclusion, if one is in the market for a new GPS watch I would highly recommend the Soleus 1.0. I am certain an updated model is right around the corner, but I would find it very hard to improve upon the features of this unit. For $99, it is a superb training tool that can be used as often as one would like with fantastic results.