GPS watches have always amazed me. The first in history was the Casio SatNavi watches, namely the ProTrek PRT-1 and PAT2GP. You had to wait for ages to get a GPS fix, and pray your battery lasted during the wait. Those were the days.. Then came the Suunto X series, which are "bulky", plastic, fragile and unreliable. The bezel and strap issues were stubborn and never been resolved by Suunto. However, I still use my X9i's and X10 sometimes for hiking and cycling. The X10 has a newer machinery inside, but still feels like a toy watch, though it is the most densely complicated device I have ever owned. I routinely check if new GPS gadgets are commercially available. My latest find is the Ascen GPS 300 watch. Unfortunately the Ascen site and user's manual is Korean, and although I tried hard, I was not able to translate them into English using google's translate service. However the manual is short, and you can easily figure out the watch's menu system and its functions yourself. It only took one evening for me.
UPDATE (Jan, 13th): An identical watch is found on internet by Sedi, and the webpage has an English manual for the watch:
http://api.viglink.com/api/click?for...6%2F&title=New comer%3A Ascen GPS watch (Comprehensive review with pics)&txt=Discover GPS - GPS Watch | Tech4o&jsonp=vglnk_jsonp_13264523165042
I bought the watch through eBay, it was $160 + $7 for shipping, and it arrived only in 5 days from Korea to Turkey. The seller is both fast and kind, I highly recommend him:
Smart GPS Watch GPS300 Tracking watch Waterproof Sports Watch | eBay
The Ascen GPS 300 sports watch.
It is designed and made inTaiwan by Ascen Ltd., a GPS manufacturer. Released as a sports watch, it can also easily be a dress watch, because it is elegant and it feels high quality. Comes in a nice looking factory sealed package which includes the Korean manual, a CD which has the same manual's PDF version and the "GPS master" software, and a USB charging snake mouth cable.
The watchband which is continuous with the bezel is black resin. The glass is mineral. It is not heavy, only 55 g, is 30 m water resist, wears comfortably. It somehow feels like a 6900 series G-Shock on your wrist. It is not big like the Suunto's. Actually it is smaller than our beloved Protreks... Side by side with Suunto X9i, GW5000 Gshock, and PRG240t:
The plastic back has the metal/gold connectors for the snakemouth USB connector which uses standard USB for data exchange and charging. One full charge gives you 1 year of time keeping (no GPS and no compass or backlight), or 8.5 hours of continuous heavy GPS usage and navigation functions. This is the best in GPS watches I ever owned. The nearest one, Suunto X10 has a few months of time keeping and 6 hours of GPS, which is a bit short for a day spent outdoors.
The normal timekeeping mode screen has high contrast and is readable under any lighting condition. Backlight is very dim and you can only see that it is there only in pitch black darkness, which is the only condition you will need a backlight, because of the high contrast of the nice graphic screen. The watch has 5 buttons, two on left, three on right. The buttons are almost level with the bezel and it is a pleasure to press.
Now let's see what it can do. You have 5 independent alarms which can be set either Mon-Fri, Every day of the week, or any day of the week. The alarm sound is very high, way higher than any Casio, it made me jump out of bed this morning and lasts for thirty secs. Dual time can be set half hour intervals, but no city codes, but you have the home city time on the same screen. We have the timer which can be set down to seconds. The stopwatch functions are sophisticated and are combined with sports profiles, which I am still trying to figure out. You have a choice of two different operating modes: Navigation and Workout. Navigation screen has an arrow which shows you where your waypoint or track is, and many fields that tells you your speed, distance, time to go etc. Workout can be chose as any of a few different activity types, which are cycling, hiking, sailing, running and user customized modes. All thse activities have three individual pages that can show any data you wish the watch to show. That means you can customize any data on any page for that activity. The data types are time of day, calories, speed, time elapsed, pace, heading, distance, altitude, max speed, avg speed, lap no, lap distance, heart rate parameters, and many more... Finding your way around menus are very easy. Navigation function mainly takes you through prerecorded waypoints, backwards or forward on your recorded track, or lets you record a track or a waypoint. You have ten paths that can hold 99 waypoints each and about 48000 track points to record. I am still trying to learn using them properly. Cold start of the GPS is very fast, never more than 40 secs. Hot or warm starts are almost instantaneous. It is highly sensitive, works in the car or at home near the window. Compass works very efficiently, way better than my protreks or suuntos. I can rely on it during my mountain hikes. You always have the GPS altitude, which is quite accurate (at least more accurate than any Core or Protrek..!) on any screen you'd like. The GPS master software that comes with the device is a complicated piece of software that connects your watch data with google earth and has other advanced archiving functions. You can plan ahead a track in the mountains using google earth and upload it to your watch and realize it the next day. The time of day can be set to be updated with every GPS fix. It is better than an atomic watch. The watch can be turned off for power saving purposes (it still keeps the time and your setup and navi data). Here are some screen samples:
All these for 160 dollars.. It's a steal. I liked my new GPS watch a lot. I strongly recommend it to GPS fans, gadget freaks, cyclists, hikers, runners. Of course carry other professional navigation tools with you during outdoor activities. Thanks for reading.