Light, relatively inexpensive, and a heart-rate monitor, too. Not bad.
I’m a techno-phobe, mostly because I’m techno-illiterate. Any app, program, gadget, or gizmo that takes more than five minutes of orientation and I’m right back staring at the lint in my bellybutton.
When the generous folks at Tech40 offered to let me test one of their GPS watches, I thought to myself “Yawn”…but after a couple days in the field with it, I gotta say, it’s pretty cool.
Tech4o markets heavily to runners, but anybody into overlaying their journeys on Google Earth will dig the Discover. First off, the unit has a rechargeable lithium battery–pretty cool idea, as you can always juice the thing up, rather than waiting for the inevitable death of one of those disc watch batteries. I use my altimeter watch (a Suunto) and GPS (a Garmin eTrex) when on courses, ski touring, or guiding, but often when I’m out on my own, I’ll leave them at home. They’re bulky and just another couple electro-gadgets to carry and/or die when you need them most. The Discover is a nice compromise, as it’s lighter than my Suunto, more compact and you can give it a full charge before every outing.
The unit will take waypoints where you like, but (if it isn’t obvious from the size) there is no map display. You can’t view lat/long or UTM data of those waypoints until you’re back home at your PC. (Not your Apple computer, friends! More on this in a sec…) I think most people will use the Discover as a cool device to show themselves where they’ve been while running, riding, hunting, etc, but it’s not an emergency device used to save your ass when in a whiteout on a glacier, etc.
With that in mind, my uses for a GPS are generally a last-ditch back-up to my map/compass. If I’m super lost, navigating in dense trees, or on a glacier, then it’s nice to have the GPS to back up my map skills (or lack thereof!). The Discover won’t do that, so don’t think this is a crazy-light shortcut around having to carry a GPS.
I liked the size of the thing, too. My Suunto is sufficiently large that it occasionally becomes a hassle pulling up a jacket pocket, then pulling it down. A detail, sure, but the Discover made me wonder why Suunto can’t shrink their watches a bit. The Discover also features a wireless heart-rate monitor, so if they can do that, Suunto should be able to reduce the size of their Vector watch by 25 percent!
As a techno-illiterate, you might imagine I’m an Apple devotee. The Discover doesn’t interface with Apple computers, so if that’s a deal-killer, know it going in. If you’re running PC, though, you can download your data when you get home and check out HRM info, as well as your track that day, set in Google Earth. My bro keeps a log of all his hunting outings and it’s a pretty cool way to remember your activities, as well as make them more efficient, etc.
Anyway–I’m not much of a runner anymore, generally I have my iPhone with me when I’m riding (for tunes, an emergency phone call, and using Strava), and I need a full-service GPS when guiding, so the Discover isn’t adapted too well for my uses. To be fair, though, it’s really not designed for me. It’s a great, lightweight, relatively inexpensive ($199) accompaniment to any activity in which you want a record of your travels. That’s a fair bit of what most people do, so I think it’s a pretty cool tool or gift idea. Check it out!