The market for sports watches that include GPS functionality has grown quickly from virtually none a few years ago, to a wide variety of top brands today. I've done a buyer's guide to GPS watches, but some new models have come onto the market that are well worth considering.
Polar USA now offers a special Tour de France edition of its RCX5 GPS-capable sport watch (shown here, $390). Polar is making this watch available as part of a Tour de France bike bundle that includes a heart rate monitor, wireless speed and cadence sensors, and a bike mount. The watch may be switched between profiles to be used for running as well as cycling. The watch is waterproof and may be worn during swimming. The watch is light (46 grams) and links up with Polar's Datalink website.
Approach S3 is the latest Golf GPS watch from Garmin. Garmin has added touchscreen capability, and increased screen resolution (from 64 x 32 pixels for the Approach S1) to 128 x 128 pixels. The new Approach S3 ($349) has a sleeker, more rounded look than its predecessors. The watch is rugged and waterproof, and its touchscreen may be used with a gloved hand. It comes preloaded with a free 27,000 worldwide course database. View distances via with manual pin positioning, and see distances to doglegs and layup points. The watch also has customizable yardage points and a digital scorecard.
Motorola is another major player jumping into the GPS watch category in a big way. Motorola creates one GPS watch chassis, then adapts it to different sports with software and accessories. Its latest release is the MOTOACTV Golf Edition ($299). As with other MOTOACTV watch versions, the Golf Edition may be used as a separate, 1.6-inch screen device, or inserted into a rugged plastic sports watch band. The MOTOACTV Golf Edition is the only golf GPS to wirelessly sync (via WiFi) round results and other stats to your computer. The Golf Edition features a color map, and the ability to zoom in and out on course maps. Course mapping and zoom views are features more often found on high-end handheld golf GPS devices.
GPS-maker Magellan surprised me this year by jumping into the GPS watch market with its Switch ($249) and Switch Up ($299) models. The watches are made for multi-sport use, and are rated waterproof to 50 meters. Both models have 1.3-inch, high-res displays. Their high-sensitivity GPS receivers provide elevation, distance, speed, and routing capability. These watches also have ANT+ technology to sync with wireless heart rate monitors and other ANT+ compatible devices. Users can set up to nine activity profiles, and customizable data screens and alerts. A bike mount will also be available for the watches. The Switch Up model includes the added features of a barometric altimeter (supplements the GPS elevation readings), quick-release wrist and bike mounts, a thermometer, and vibrate alerts.
For budget-minded runners, the Garmin Forerunner 210 ($199) provides a nice, feature-rich option. The watch is waterproof, shock-resistant, and easy to use. Its 1" x 1" display is customizable, and shows distance, time, pace, heart rate (if enabled) and more functions, including interval workouts. You can upload your Forerunner 210 workouts to Garmin's free online Connect service to store and analyze later, or to share with others.
If you want to go all-out with the features, take a look at the Garmin Forerunner 910XT ($449). "Designed for open water and pool swimming, Forerunner 910XT is water resistant to 50 m (164 ft). It’s our first multisport watch to offer extensive swim metrics, including swim distance, stroke identification, stroke count and pool lengths," states Garmin. "It also computes your swolf score to help you gauge your swimming efficiency. The 910XT’s robust design and easy operations make it suited for other water sports, including paddle boarding."