Timex Bodylink 59551 review: Timex Bodylink 59551

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2.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Spot-on GPS; delivers accurate speed and distance measurements; excellent feature set.

The Bad Expensive; clunky multipart system; PC-upload accessory not available; delay in cycling-speed data.

The Bottom Line We had high hopes for Timex's GPS training device, but they were dashed by a really bad design.

This product is available through mySimon.com

5.7 Overall

The Timex Bodylink is a multipart GPS-enabled training system that delivers precise speed, heart-rate, and distance data. In our tests, measurements and GPS were spot-on, and we really wanted to like the package. Unfortunately, the clunky design and the lack of a PC component really burst our bubble. If Timex issued a new version with a smaller antenna and a USB interface for uploading data to a PC, we'd be psyched. As it stands, despite its accuracy, the current model has far too many flaws to justify its $300 list price.

There are three versions of the Bodylink system, each with slightly different features. This version supplies the whole enchilada: a multifunction watch, a heart-rate transmitter belt, and a GPS antenna. If you wanted to upload your training data to a PC, you'd have to buy still another gizmo, the Data Recorder; however, according to a Timex representative, the Recorder is no longer available. We don't get it--optional or not, that component would've really boosted our ratings for this system. Instead, the system delivers a lot of great data but can't do anything with it. The mostly plastic watch is a nice size, fits well, and is water-resistant to 50 meters; the belt wore well, and it's also water-resistant to 30 meters. The splash-proof GPS sensor, which you can wear clipped to your belt or strapped to your arm, was heavy and refused to stay put. We had to continuously readjust it, which, of course, spoiled our sprint times.

Despite the poor design of its accoutrements, the Timex Bodylink offers excellent capabilities. The watch's three-line display allows you to view heart rate, speed, pace, and distance along with chronograph data, and you can customize the views that are most relevant to you. It stores up to 100 laps of performance data and 100 hours of chronograph info. The system offers really comprehensive heart-rate measurement; it has five programmable HR zones and a manual mode. While we ran through Riverside Park in Manhattan and biked in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, the GPS data was right on target, and unlike the competing Garmin Forerunner 201 , it didn't require frequent calibration during our two-week testing period. The alarms, which you can set up to announce that you're outside of your targeted heart-rate, pace, speed, or distance zone, sounded adequately loud. There is a delay of a few seconds in the cycling-speed display while accelerating and decelerating, which can be disconcerting for serious performance snobs, especially cyclists, who have a much larger velocity range than runners.

Even though we like the Bodylink's features, the sad fact is that once you have all that data, you can't do anything with it. If you were really ambitious, we suppose you could manually log your performance data using the free Timex Trainer software, but plenty of other devices offer easy PC uploads. If you're looking for a PC-friendly training device with integrated GPS, check out the Garmin Forerunner 201, which has its own set of issues, but we prefer it by and large over Bodylink. Don't need GPS? There are several smart multifunction watches to choose from. If you take your workouts outdoors, check out the Suunto X6-HR or the Highgear Axis . If you're a runner, you may prefer the Nike Triax Elite . If you're a cyclist who's willing to spend that kind of money on a training device, go with a cycling computer, such as the HAC 4 . Since the Timex Bodylink is so precise, you could use it to establish training reference points and input that data into a cycling computer or other device. But why spend the dough when you could get the whole shebang elsewhere?

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