Dave's Not Here

Polar RS200 -vs- Garmin Forerunner 305

by on Nov.27, 2009, under Dave's Rants

I’ve been using a Polar RS200 for a year or two now. I have really enjoyed being able to keep my heart rate where I want it during exercises. And, since it downloaded to the computer, I have enjoyed being able to log my heart rate with my workouts. (And, there are even ways to download it to my Mac! — Though, those are third party applications, Polar does not support Mac’s)  It is also nice to be able to step onto any machine at the gym, and have it automatically read my heart rate.

I was looking at my friend Hal’s facebook page and I noticed that he had a running log complete with a map, and detailed HR information for the duration of his run.  I had tried making maps with Trail Guru, but they were never very good.  And, I only had heartrate summaries.  I chatted with him, and discovered that he used a heart rate monitor with a built in GPS, a Garmin Forerunner 305.  After surfing on e-bay, I discovered that the Garmin was only about $40 more than my Polar.  So, assuming I could sell the polar, I could upgrade for $40 ish.  So, I bought one, and pitted it head to head with my Polar.

My son and I ran about 2.25 miles Thanksgiving morning.  He wore the polar, and I wore my garmin.  I used MotionX on my iPhone to provide the GPS.

First up: MotionX and Polar RS200

MotionX generates a KMZ and GPX file that can be used in google maps, or other mapping software to view the route:

Google Maps view of route

Track Record

As you can see, two separate programs, but, they work acceptably.  My son’s heartrate goes much higher than mine does!

The challenger:  Garmin Forerunner 305

Turkey Trot

The above picture (and link when you click on it) are from Garmin’s free “Garmin Connect” web based service.  I’ve also used TrailRunner on Mac, and I know there is a really good application called SportTracks for windows.  The drop in heartrate and in speed was when we went off trail to look for a geocache site.


As a running device, the Polar can not touch the Garmin.  The built in GPS works really well, and, since it stores samples of my heart rate every second, I get a much better view of the entire work out, not just averages from the end.  Working out indoors, though, it lags a bit.  While it still records detailed heartrate information, it is almost impossible to read your heart rate from the device.  The font is VERY small.

So, while I prefer the Garmin, the Polar still wins in two places:  Better view of heart rate from the device, and, it’s monitor works on the machines at my gym.

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