Garmin Forerunner 10 vs Pyle PSWGP405BK

While I like my wife’s Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS watch, it’s irritating to me that it is a GPS device which is not capable of displaying GPS coordinates (latitude/longitude). This makes it essentially useless to use as a navigation device. After browsing around the web, I happened upon the Pyle PSWGP405BK.

PSWGP405BK

What struck me immediately was that for a list price of $150, it has a GPS, wireless heart rate monitor, digital compass, navigation functions, and is waterproof to 30m. Though there were few reviews of this GPS watch, they were generally favorable, and I was able to purchase a “used – good condition” unit from Amazon.com for $27 after getting a $50 credit for applying for their credit card, and got free 2-day shipping with a trial subscription to Amazon Prime.  When I received the unit, I was delighted to find that it was actually a never used, open box item.  The Pyle PSWGP405BK is essentially the same device as the Runtastic GPS watch, in slightly different packaging.  It is also available from several other companies with various names. As far as I can tell, the manufacturer is Latitude Limited, from Hong Kong.  It’s called the Nav Master II on their website.

This article is not meant to be a detailed comparison between the Garmin FR10 and the Pyle PSWGP405BK, but here are some of the differences:

  • Battery life with GPS on: Pyle – 8hr, Garmin – 5hr
  • Pyle has digital compass,navigation functions, tual time, and 5 alarms
  • Pyle is bigger and heavier
  • Pyle comes with clunky PC software, called GPS Master, which runs only on Windows.  Garmin interfaces to their Garmin Connect online service.
  • Pyle is much more customizable, and displays more types of data
  • Pyle has wireless HRM, Garmin doesn’t support HRM
  • Garmin is simpler, easier to use, at the expense of less functionality
  • Pyle takes a bit longer to get a GPS fix
  • Pyle outputs GPS track points at selectable interval in seconds, Garmin uses an adaptive approach, outputting GPS points at varying intervals depending on terrain

For me, the clunky PC software and lack of online service is a non-issue, because the included GPS Master software easily exports to various formats, such as GPX, TCX, KML, and even NMEA. Many of the phone softwares have online services which allow uploading of externally gathered GPS data, so I upload my Pyle tracks to RunKeeper.com. Today, I had a chance to wear both watches and simultaneously track a workout.

One minor inconvenience of the Pyle vs Garmin is that when you press the start button on the Garmin, it automatically waits for a GPS fix before it lets you start the workout. On the other hand, the Pyle will happily start the workout clock even when it doesn’t yet have a fix, so you must first start the GPS, wait for a fix, and then start the workout. Also, I found that the Pyle took a bit longer than the Garmin to get an initial GPS fix. Minor irritants, but how about GPS performance? The overlaid tracks below tell a big part of the story, Garmin in red, Pyle in blue:

fr10vspyle

The Garmin FR10’s track is noticeably more accurate, especially at the bottom of the plot. However, the Pyle PSWGP405BK is no slouch, it is still significantly more accurate than anything running on an iPhone. However, there is a significant bug in both the PSWGP405BK and the accompanying GPS Master software’s distance calculation. Here is a synopsis of the above route:

Distance (mi) Calories
Garmin Forerunner 10 2.43 153
Pyle PSWGP405BK 2.37 242
Pyle PSWGP405BK track on RunKeeper.com 2.44 247
Garmin Forerunner 10 track on RunKeeper.com 2.43 232

Notice how the Pyle came up short on its distance calculation: 2.37mi vs Garmin’s 2.43mi, a difference of .06mi.  However, the Pyle’s GPS track uploaded to RunKeeper.com comes up .01mi longer than the Garmin track.

Though the Pyle’s GPS accuracy is not as good as the Forerunner 10, and there is a glaring bug in its distance calculations, for the $27 I paid, it’s a keeper.  I like its extensive customizability and functionality, and I don’t mind the distance calculation bug, because I always upload the tracks to an online site for analysis. Please take my results with a grain of salt for now… I have only used the Pyle for one workout so far.  I have not seen any reviews which complain about the inaccuracy of its distance calculations, so maybe today’s track was just an aberration.

Update 2015-01-26: GPS Master’s exported GPX files don’t contain heart rate data and the only usable export format is CSV, which isn’t compatible with any software or website that I could find. Therefore, I have written two utilities, csv2gpx and csv2tcx, which you can use to convert the GPS Master CSV format to GPX and TCX files containing heart rate data. You can read more at: GPX and TCX output from GPS Master Software

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