Since the release of the Timex GPS Speed and Distance System in 2002 we've been waiting for a combination system that integrates speed and distance and heart rate monitoring. The Timex BodyLink is a complete system that uses one watch to complete this role.
At a first glance the watch is presented in a small and attractive package. Sleeker and less bulky than the older speed and distance model, you wouldn't know that the watch integrates one of the most advanced wrist mounted wireless receivers in the world. The watch comes in an attractive silver/dark gray polymer case with a comfortable polyurethane strap. As a sports watch alone the BodyLink is a good looking watch and is certainly a timepiece that can be worn casually without drawing unnecessary attention.
The watch display has been dramatically improved. A high-resolution dot-matrix display replaces the traditional LCD display used in the original speed and distance system. The clarity and definition is excellent and large characters mean it's a great choice for those who find it harder to read smaller displays. Timex's trademark Indiglo? works effectively with a negative contrast illumination that is easy to read in low-light or night time conditions.
Timex have done some homework with the interface. Gone are the two front mounted start and lap buttons that drew numerous complaints from users who were frustrated with hitting STOP instead of LAP during workouts. Instead, a single large easy-to-hit START/LAP button is ergonomically mounted below the face. Its definitely a considerable improvement and is perfect for taking splits during a workout. Whilst using the monitor for speed and distance and heart rate buttons on the right hand side can quickly switch between speed and distance and heart rate views giving you precise workout information at your finger tips.
The mode button mounted on the right hand side of the watch cycles easily through the CHRONO, LAP DATA, SUMMARY, TIMER, ALARM and CONFIGURE menus. Each mode is straightforward and is controlled by the three buttons on the right side of the face. Setting up the functions is no problem at all and the manual easily walks you through the necessary steps.
The GPS unit works in the same way as the older Timex GPS units and it was easy to lock on to the signal in the suburbs of Bristol. Accuracy seemed to be pretty effective whilst testing over a measured loop, there was an undermeasurement of a fraction of a percent, negligible for most users. The heart rate monitor function worked in harmony with the GPS system and with a push of a button it was simple to switch from heart rate to speed and distance monitoring. The most impressive new feature was the AUTO-SPLIT function. By setting up the distance monitor in the configuration mode the BodyLink watch can actually take splits for you hands-free during a workout. This worked really well during a fartlek run with an audible alarm at every mile mark. The heart rate monitor seemed simple to use and added a heart rate sample over each of the miles.
The Timex BodyLink is one of the biggest advances in training technology this year. Simple to use functions and real-time data make it a winner for those wanting a virtual coach for their workouts. In terms of value and convenience, you can't beat the combined package if you compare it to a separate combination.