Mini multitaskers: Wearable GPS units get smaller but add more features

GPS Watches are on the rise as more athletes demand precise data.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Consumers these days are jacks-of-all-trades — or, rather, masters of all sports.

They’re looking for GPS watch units that can track all their activities — from running to swimming — in graceful, streamlined packages with a regular watch vibe.

GPSWatches_TomTom_Multisport

TomTom enters the wearable GPS category with the TomTom Runner (MSRP $169) and TomTom Multisport (MSRP $199). As a perceptive consumer might gather, the Runner is geared toward runners, while the Multisport offers all the Runner capabilities plus tracking abilities for cycling, swimming and even the the treadmill.

GPSWatches_Suunto_Ambit2S

Suunto launches the Ambit2 S (MSRP $400/$450 with heart-rate monitor), which has all the capabilities of the previous two models but adds more swim functions to the mix.

The GPS Mini (MSRP $99) from Soleus has an integrated USP, is lightweight with a low-profile design and features 100-lap memory, automatic lap splits, a calorie counter, a simple four-button user interface and a customizable display viewing area.

From Magellan comes the Echo (MSRPs $149/$199), which works with the GPS tracking on a runner’s phone to stream fitness app data in real-time and allow users to control the phone’s music from the wrist.

While GPS-accurate pace and distance are the most important data for runners, an increasing number of GPS watches also are adding limited location features, such as the ability to mark waypoints, which come in handy on a longer trail run or hike.

“The accessibility of having that safety net on your wrist is really, really important,” said Garmin’sMaggie Estrada.

Plus, the tracking devices are a great way to attract business from runners, many of whom are not currently using any sort of GPS unit, said Sam Martin, senior brand manager for Timex.

“One thing that blew me away when I did a consumer segmentation study is that 54 percent of runners running multiples times a week are not wearing any kind of watch at all,” Martin explained. Those folks are ripe for the picking.

GPSWatches_Timex_IronmanRunTrainer2.0

Another goal for Timexis achieving longer battery life, such as in its Run Trainer 2.0 (MSRPs $225/$275 with heart-rate monitor). Though it looks like a regular wristwatch, The Run Trainer 2.0 is a small, intuitive, easy-to-use piece that has an 8-hour battery life. At a more accessible price point is the Iron Man Easy Run Trainer (MSRP $100), for runners.

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