|by The Fitsense Team
fitness & training articles
The Garmin Forerunner 405 is the newest incarnation of Garmin's popular GPS training device. Updating the Forerunner 305, the 405 was released for sale just before the 2008 Boston Marathon.
For one thing, the style has changed, with a sleeker and more watch-like appearance. It comes in either green or black.
A wireless connection, using ANT+Sport technology, sends data to your computer. No more cables!
The touch-sensitive bezel minimizes the need for buttons on the unit. The map screen found on previous Forerunners is gone (it was pretty rudimentary anyway, showing only waypoints and tracks). The Forerunner 405 is a runner's training partner, not a navigation device.
Being a retailer of the Garmin Forerunner 405 I was lucky enough to get hold of one as soon as they came out. I have so far run numerous half-marathons in it and 2 marathons including New York.
When I first heard about it, it appeared to offer everything I might want from a running watch – sleek design, smaller than the 305, GPS built into the watch and compatible with a wide range of Garmin accessories.
What’s in the box?
Depends on which version you order. But here’s what’s in every box:
The watch itself
The USB ANT+ Sport Dongle
USB Charging Cable
Power block to connect to USB charging cable
If you ordered a version with the heart rate monitor you also get the heart rate monitor strap.
Perhaps one of the biggest plus points of the 405 is its size. The appeal being in that it almost looks like a regular watch in comparision to the 305. The 405’s size is very impressive. Although do note that it is larger than the usual watch and probably not suitable for ladies with small wrists.
Upon powering on your Garmin 405 for the first time it will walk you through a brief tutorial regarding the basic functions and how to use some of the newer features such as the touch bezel.
The menu system on the 405 is very much like the 305. You’ll find many of the same menu features and functions. In addition, you can specify modes such as cycling or running and the data fields to display.
You can choose amongst 35 different data fields to display – such as: HR, Avg HR, Pace, Distance, Lap Pace, Speed, Elevation, Grade and even Sunset time. You can also choose a graph of your HR – basically showing a mini history that moves as you go along.
The Garmin 405 supports three concurrent data fields being displayed at any one point and time (the 305 supports four fields). You can then set up three different ‘screens’ (each with three views) to cycle through.
The 405 features a touch-sensitive bezel. Unlike a regular watch, none of the buttons (except the two on the side) actually depress. The bezel doesn’t actually move, it’s just touch sensitive – like an iPod.
Because the tiniest of touches will trigger the bezel to react, you can also lock the bezel by simply pressing both side buttons together. You unlock it in the same manner. While locked, the bezel will not respond. This means you can’t change screens and/or turn on the light, you simply can top/start/lap the timer. In addition, you can change the sensitivity of the bezel, depending on your touch.
The bezel is a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it. If you are running hard or cycling hard then using the touch bezel can be a challenge. I generally leave it locked, but sometimes I want to change screens or if running at night – turn on the light. When I unlock it and try to change screens while still running this can be a problem and i have to stop. You really have to decide what you want to display before you start.
Syncing data to your computer
Once you’ve gone out and done a few runs you will want to synchronize your watch to your computer. Unlike other Garmin devices, the 405 connects to your computer using a specialized semi-propriety wireless technology called ANT+Sport. I’m sure there are some similarities to Bluetooth – but it isn’t Bluetooth (primarily for reasons for battery life). ANT+ Sport allows other companies to integrate wireless devices with the Garmin devices.
On the computer side you have a small USB dongle about the length of a paperclip. And it simply connects to the device. Once you finish pairing the device for the first time (which can be a bit of a pain), all you have to do is bring your device within range of your computer and it will automatically sync the workouts to your computer. This happens via a little program called the “ANT Agent” that detects when the watch to come near your PC or Mac. This of course requires the USB stick be in the computer to see the watch.
Most of the time the sync works really well, although some people prefer the cradle that comes with the 305 which works every time. The cradle also charges the 305. Obviously without cables, it’s not charging anything.
Once the ANT Agent picks the data off the Forerunner 405 – it sends it somewhere. Where…depends on where you tell it to send it. You can either send it to the locally installed Garmin Training Center (GTC) Software, or you can send it to Garmin Connect online, an online version of Garmin Training Center.
Garmin Training Center (GTC)
GTC is the application you install if you want to have a local copy of the data on your computer. It's a farily basic bit of software but if you want to get the data off the watch and to other non-Garmin applications like Training Peaks – it’s required.
If selected, the ANT Agent software will send a copy of your workouts to GTC. Once in GTC you can view all your data or you can export it to other programs to analyze your data. One reason to do this is that the mapping software is fairly basic.
A much better option is to upload the data to Garmin Connect. This is the free web-based successor to site Motion Based. It’s cool in that without prompting you for any username/password after initial configuration, your data is automatically uploaded to the Connect site. Your data is of course only visible to you unless you share it or mark it as public (great for finding new routes!). You can rename each of your workouts and view all of the data, as well as share it with other folks.
3rd Party Software
While Garmin provides the above noted software you have the option to use 3rd party software including:
Sports Tracks 2.0: Sports Tracks now natively supports the Garmin Forerunner 405. When you select to import an activity, it will automatically connect to the data retrieved by the ANT Agent (which is still required) and pickup the workouts. Quick and easy.
Once in Sports Tracks, you can easily edit/tweak/view the data as you see fit, plus view it on top of satellite imagery and install dozens of plug-ins. Best of all – Sports Tracks is free with a vibrant user community.
Training Peaks: In order to get the data to Training Peaks, you must first use Garmin Training Center to collect the data and then export a TCX file to upload to TP.
The 405 charges its Lithium Battery via a little clip on cable that then connects to either a USB port, or the AC adapter block provided.
You can’t ever turn it off. Just like a normal watch it’s always on, so it’s always draining the battery life. This means that if you left it in your bag and went to use it a week later – it may not have enough battery life to get you through your workout. So just remember that the battery is always draining away slowly. I get about 7-8 hours before it runs out of battery. It does charge pretty quick though. Just about 2-3 hours to fill it up completely.
If your a runner who always runs outside, there’s likely little need for any of the various 405 accessories. However if you’re a triathlete, or one who runs indoors – then you’ll want to read through some of your options. Here’s an overview of a few of the accessories that are available for the 405.
Bike Speed/Cadence Meter
This allows you to use your bike indoors on a trainer and to pickup cadence (while indoors or outdoors). In addition, if you drop into a tunnel, it will use wheel distance to determine how far you’ve gone.
Running Foot Pod/Cadence meter
Like the bike sensor above, the Foot Pod allows you to use your 405 indoors while running on a treadmill. You have to first calibrate it outdoors, and that takes about 5 minutes of running around while it uses GPS to calibrate. You can also use a known measured distance such as on a track to calibrate it. The foot pod has the ability to give turnover rates (how many times per minute your foot strikes the ground) which is quite useful. Broadly speaking, the higher the cadence, the better – so this is a useful way of see how different paces affect your turnover.
Heart Rate Monitor Strap
When you purchase the 405 you can choose to get the unit with or without one. if you already have a HRM strap from the 305 then you won't need one.
Unlike the 305, the 405 is not detachable from the wristband. Thus, a different bike mount is required. The 405 bike mount is essentially a block of rubber that the watch winds its way through.
I think the Forerunner 405 is a great addition to the Garmin fitness range. It is firmly targeted at running, with just enough cycling features to make it work for that application for casual use – but it’s not the ideal tool for cycling. If your a triathlete – the 305 is still the premier Garmin multisport watch. If you’re only going to be using it for running then it’s an ideal watch marathons etc. For triathlon it is workable but the 305 is still probably more suitable in many ways.
As a runner I would whole heartedly recommend it for marathons and other on-road/off-road races. I would recommend the 305 for traithlon but remember that it is not a watch and is only suitable for use whilst training or competing.
If you don't like the size of the 305 for triathlon and want a watch to wear all the time, the Polar RS800CX, Timex Bodylink Plus or Timex Trailrunner provide the serious triathlete with everything you could ever need.