Review: Soleus GPS Fit 1.0 watch

Accurate, easy to operate, and an outstanding value

Review: Soleus GPS Fit 1.0 watch

(Photo courtesy of Lindsey Bertomen)

In addition to maintaining the fitness requirements of military service, people are motivated to exercise because it mitigates stress and gives the body an edge when recovering from injury. A fitness watch has become one of the most essential tools for endurance athletes. It’s the easiest way to log training and monitor progress, and I use one daily.

I decided to test the Soleus GPS Fit 1.0 digital running watch. It proved to be accurate, simple to operate and an outstanding value. One of the best-looking fitness watches on the market, the GPS Fit 1.0 is suitable for casual, everyday wear.

For a watch with an integrated GPS, it is low-profile and lightweight, with a simple display that has digits big enough for runners, like me, who need large print. What’s more, the backlit display is helpful for running after dark.

Comfortable to wear

The GPS Fit 1.0 is water-resistant, not waterproof, but this would only be a problem for triathletes and watersports. It easily handled misty runs and a rinse-off when I doused it with my electrolyte drink. The band has about a bazillion holes in it, affording it great breathability, and  the keeper that clicks into the end of the band locks the watch on securely.

While several similar products use external GPS units that send information to the watch, this one has the GPS built in, but still rivals competitors in size and weight.

The GPS Fit 1.0 measures the essential information: distance, speed, pace and calories burned.  The display can also be prioritized. Personally, I like my pace to be most prominent, and my GPS Fit 1.0 complied.

Powerful to run

The GPS Fit 1.0 recharges and synchronizes using a cable that clamps on to the edge of the watch using a clothespin-like device.  It connected and uploaded seamlessly on both my Mac and my PC using SoleusSync, which uploads directly to Strava, a web portal for endurance athletes to connect worldwide and share their workouts.

The amount of data storage on the device is more than reasonable. For example, it has a full 100-lap memory and I stored a couple of weeks’ worth of workouts, which barely made a dent in its capacity.

I was a little concerned about battery capacity. Activating a GPS on any integrated GPS watch drains the battery at a much faster rate, of course. While I was cranking out six miles, the three-bar battery display dropped down to two bars after the second mile. At that rate, I thought, I couldn’t recommend it to marathoners.

However, the watch stayed at two bars a long, long time, and I let it run until I had to recharge it. The watch charged quickly when plugged in. I think ultra runners could use this one, especially if they turn off the battery-hogging GPS.

Easy to use

When I first used the GPS Fit 1.0, I should have read the quick start guide. Instead, I pressed the buttons until it looked like it was ready to track my run, and then took off. It didn’t record a thing and it never acquired its position. Had I simply glanced at the quick start guide, I would have found that it picks up GPS signals as well as any of its competitors.

The GPS Fit 1.0 has four simple buttons that are far enough off the wrist to prevent accidental button pushes, and the operation is somewhat intuitive. Compared to similar products, getting up and running (literally) includes an extra button push, which will not bother users much.

I did a side-by-side of two other devices and found that the GPS Fit 1.0 competently tracks and uses smoothing, an algorithmic method of compensating for GPS error. Even when I rapidly changed directions (I was riding bike trails), the product easily maintained trail features from my route.  If I were to add anything, it would be a heart rate monitor.

The bottom line: The Soleus GPS Fit 1.0 is likely one of the best fitness watch bargains on the market today. It has features comparable to watches costing up to three times more.  For any user at any level of fitness, this one’s a no-brainer.