Accuracy of Strava vs RunKeeper vs Pyle PSWGP405BK vs Garmin Forerunner 10

I went out for a hike today, with Strava and RunKeeper simultaneously running on my iPhone 4S, and the Pyle PSWGP405BK on my wrist.  Unfortunately, my wife had the Garmin Forerunner 10, so I have to use an old track, recorded last week, at approximately the same time of day. I know that it’s not an ideal comparison, but it will have to suffice for this article.  The route was in mountainous terrain, through a canyon … a much more challenging for a GPS than the flat route that I used in my last comparison.  Here’s RunKeeper’s take on the track: rk2 Strava’s take, running simultaneously on the iPhone with RunKeeper: strava Strava’s exported GPX file, imported to stravaonrk What’s revealing is that given the same data, and Strava calculate essentially identical distances. This becomes important when we compare them to the Pyle. Strangely, shows a 13 second shorter duration, but identical average pace. The data downloaded from the Pyle and displayed in GPS Master are identical to what displayed on the watch: gpsmaster I used the Pyle’s included wireless heart rate monitor on this hike, and its connectivity was flawless during the entire recording.  I didn’t have to moisten the contacts in order to get a good reading, which was also nice. GPS Master shows my average heart rate was 121, and the max was 155.  The plots above are speed, altitude, and heart rate. The GPX file exported from GPS Master and uploaded to pylerk A comparison table gleaned from the above data:

Distance (mi) Calories
Strava 3.7 N/A
Strava track on 3.71 600
RunKeeper 3.53 422
Pyle PSWGP405BK 3.27 526
Pyle PSWGP405BK track on 3.40 555

Once again, the Pyle PSWGP405BK and GPS Master displayed identical data, and the calculated distance was shorter than RunKeeper’s calculation using the Pyle’s exported GPX data.  I am convinced that the Pyle’s distance calculation is too conservative… 3.27mi vs 3.40mi calculated by on the same data.  Strava calculated 3.7 mi, which is too long, due to its poor filtering of the iPhone’s noisy data stream.  The Google Earth plots below will reveal more information.  Here is a Google Earth plot of Strava (green), RunKeeper (red), Pyle (blue), and Garmin FR10 (yellow) in the most challenging part of the track: all Strava (green) vs RunKeeper (red) stravark Viewing the track reveals why Strava calculated the longest distance.  Strava’s filtering algorithm is clearly inferior to RunKeeper’s in handling the iPhone’s poor quality location data stream. Pyle (blue) vs Garmin (yellow) fr10pyle Again, not an entirely valid comparison, since the Garmin track was recorded on a different outing, but it’s quite obvious that the Garmin outperforms the Pyle in accuracy.  The Garmin is the only device that was able to trace all of the switchbacks on the trail. Even in the less challenging parts of the track, the Pyle wanders a bit.  Still, the Pyle’s accuracy far exceeds that of the apps running on the iPhone. I am very disappointed that several reviewers said that the Pyle is very accurate.  Clearly, they didn’t do their homework.  The Pyle PSWGP405BK consistently calculates distances too short.  The Forerunner 10 kicks Pyle’s ass.  But the Pyle has a compass, navigation, and heart rate monitor for about the same price, and is not that bad, as long as you don’t mind the fact that it miscalculates distance, and have to use other software in order to extract the correct distances from its track. If you want to play with my data, you can download the tracks an view them in Google Earth yourself: Strava doesn’t export KML, but Google Earth can easily import its KML file.  I have also included full size image files of the screen shots I showed above.  In case you decide to compare the gory details of the tracks, when I got to the top of the winding trail above, I took a little break to fix my socks in a tree-covered area.  The FR10 track doesn’t show me deviating from the trail, because I didn’t take the detour during that outing.

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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.


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 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 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:


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 2.44 247
Garmin Forerunner 10 track on 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 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

Previous Related Post: Accuracy of Garmin FR10 vs RunKeeper vs MapMyRun

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