Like several other running bloggers I was given the opportunity to try one of the tech4o watches. Tech4o was kind enough to send me the Women’s Accelerator Hiker to try and review for the Internet People. You know me, I love gadgets, so reviewing this watch was right up my alley. And since I had recently started trail running, I was even more excited. Unlike other satellite GPS-based systems, this watch is a high-tech pedometer which allows it to work under under heavy tree cover. Not that Texas has a lot of tree cover, but it’s nice to know when I hit a patch I am prepared. I was concerned about the “Hiker” part, but after reviewing the Tech4o website I saw that the watch was listed in the running & walking section, so I was relieved.
Before I could take the Tech40 on a trail or road run, I needed to calibrate it. No problem, I grab the watch and the instruction book and head to the track. After arriving to the track I realize I should have brought my reading glasses because the instructions are written in an extra, extra tiny point font on about 20 pages. Okay, still not a problem. I drive home and check out the website just to see if I can get a larger printout of the instruction. Lucky for me they have a “Quick Setup” pdf for download for people like me, who 1) are getting old and can’t see and 2) don’t have the patience to follow a bazillion pages of instructions. Needless to say, I highly recommend the pdf to simplify the setup process. There is also a pretty nifty interactive online tutorial.
So, back to the track I go to calibrate. I did the walk and run tests and adjusted the stride length a bit and few punches of the button later I’m running laps around the track to make sure I calculated correctly. It does both steps and mileage, so make sure you have it on mileage, unless you’re one of those freaky runners who knows that 10,000 steps is a 5k. Go me, I did it right because the watch is right on target – two miles around the track the watch read 1.97. Pretty darn close, because at this point in the setup process if it didn’t work, I was sending it back.
The next step was to take it on a trail run. I ran with a friend of mine on a pretty hilly and difficult 5-mile trail loop. I didn’t know ahead of time, but there was lots of jumping of creeks, zig-zagging, climbing and mixed speed running across the terrain. My stride was mixed and I was curious how the pedometer would measure against my friend’s Garmin. Miles 1 and 2 were pretty close, but by the time we got to the 5-mile marker my Tech4o watch said 4.1 and her Garmin said 5.23. That’s a little over a mile difference. My first thought was that I needed to calibrate the watch while actually running on the trails. But that proved to be no easy feat and I messed it up so bad that I ended back to the track to calibrate it one more time.
At this point, I decided I need to run with it on a road course with a little more distance to really see if I did it correctly. I took it for a spin on a course that I knew to be six miles. The Tech4o said 5.82. Not bad. I also took it on the Cowtown 5k course that I ran with Kenza’s running club to see how it would do. There was so much weaving in and out of kids I expected it to be a bit over. I didn’t look at the watch until the finish, but it said 3.77 compared to Garmin’s 3.82. Pretty good. I’m happy.
A few more road runs with more hit than miss accuracy and I decide to try it on the trails one more time, this time a slightly flatter 5-mile course that didn’t involve as much climbing or zig-zagging. This time the watch read 4.5 when I got to the 5-mile mark. Better, but not on spot. I’m not exactly sure why the distance is off more on the trails than it is on the road, but my suspicions are that it has something to do with the difference of arm swing on the different terrain.
I find myself wearing this watch a lot. I feel bonded to it after all I’ve been through to get it working properly. Also, I have really small wrists and it is a lot more comfortable than my Garmin 205. It was tough (and frustrating) to get calibrated, but the watch works fine for most of my needs – but if you are a stickler for accuracy, then I would say this Accelerator watch is not for you.